Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Bryher Mod

Check out Olivia-in-Australia's post about scarves she's made for her three best friends. She modified Bryher into a neckwarmer and it's just gorgeous.

I just realized that no one ever knits any gifts for me. I'm constantly unloading stuff on friends, but nothing ever makes its way my direction.

Except for my friend C. who is apparently knitting a wedding gift for me. (Note to C: They say you have a year before you breach etiquette. You have 2.5 months.)

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Knitting Travels: Gastonia, NC, and other Crafts

I've been out of town the past few days with my husband M.A.P., visiting his parents in Gastonia.

I've been wrestling with a knitting project, that must remain secret because it's off to a magazine as a submission when it's finished. I have knit and ripped this project 5 times now, which is a lot even for a trial-and-error designer like me. I had to set it down and take a walk today, and realized as I was walking that I had a bone-crunching headache--I didn't even notice the headache because I was so caught up in the project. My sister called as I was walking and I told her about the project, and she said, That doesn't sound like fun.

So true.

Question: Is knitting always supposed to be fun? If you knit a project for weeks on end and you feel frustrated, or even miserable, shouldn't you QUIT? I'm calling this knitter's angst. Has anyone else ever experienced this? What did you do to get over it?

While I've been here, I commandeered the garage and worked on some wood. A good break from yarn. Two bed-side tables that I inherited from friends, received a refinishing.

And my M.A.P., a fabulous carpenter/cabinet-maker, built custom cabinets for the laundry room we built.

That's a link to another blog I keep, where I've tracked the DIY construction work at our home. The thing is, crafting is crafting, right? So if I rehabilitate found furniture (like this) I can talk about it here, can't I? I added sewing a few posts ago, since fabric is fiber (right?). Well wood is fibrous too, isn't it? I'm kind of tired of keeping up with two blogs. Does anyone have any opinions on this? Um, like Jordynn?

My mother-in-law offered to take me to the local yarn shop one afternoon this week. It's really a yarn corner tucked into a frame shop. I bought a ball of sock yarn and some size 3 dpns (the size recommended on the ball band) but I should have bought 2s, because that's what Cookie A. always uses in her patterns. And I got to have me some of those socks.

Here's my mother-in-law shopping in the store, Things Remembered (isn't that also the name of a chain store in shopping malls?):

gastonia yarns 2.jpg

They have Berroco and Cascade mostly, and a few other things.

Here's my small haul:

gastonia yarns 1.jpg

I'm doing well keeping to my promise to support my knitting expenditures solely with knitting earnings. The paypal account looks small right now, though. I need to launch another pattern.

Coming up:
1. Durham Centerfest, where some knitting buddies and I will be selling knitting wares. If you're local come out and find us. We're called the Durham String Thing.

2. The N.C. State Fair. I'll be entering a project in the crafts category come September. (Another secret project. I hate not being able to share WIP pics on the blog.)

Friday, July 25, 2008

Stitch Marker Heaven

So, I go through stitch markers like crazy. I never buy the fancy kind because I know I'll lose them. If you looked under the seats of my car, you won't find pennies. You'll find dozens of stitch markers.

Today I reached for a little packet of 20 stitch markers for $5.00 and I thought, there has GOT to be a better way to buy these.

My husband is a woodworker. He once observed that stitch markers look an awful lot like plastic washers.

Check out what I found.

$1.50 buys you 50 nylon washers. You can get big sizes for sweaters, and little ones for lace. No minimum order. $4.00 shipping. I'm so there.

Because Moschino doesn't come around that often...

I inherited this oldish Moschino skirt from my sis. It hung in my closet for about a year. It's this delicious stretchy blue canvas, denimish but not exactly denim. The front has two slits that hit my legs high on the thigh. And I never, ever wore it.

As a college prof., I'm keen on clothes that look formalish but are also replete with comfort. Comfy skirts are high on my list. Especially since the husband bought me a pair of knee-high Camper boots for xmas last year. The boots, a comfy skirt, and a pair of tights--it's almost as good a jeans. But I couldn't wear this Moschino skirt, because I would be too naked.

So I committed sacrilege.

As you can see, I sewed panels into the slits, giving the skirt a neat a-line silhouette. I wear it all the time now. I just hope the fashion gods don't strike me down for f***ing with perfection.

Here's the skirt with one panel finished, for comparison.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

New Pattern: CHOPIN Handwarmers (and Mittens)

In anticipation of autumn (and holiday gift-giving) I designed some easy cabled handwarmers.

I've named them Chopin, after the Polish composer Frederic Chopin. His instrument was piano, and he was sickly most of his life. These would have kept him warm in his drafty apartment in Paris while keeping his fingers free to play Mazurkas and Nocturnes.

This is a great project to practice some new skills: working in the round--on two circulars; cables; shaping a thumb. But I promise, this is EASY.

You only need one skein of Cascade 220, Paton's Classic Wool Merino, or any worsted weight yarn. You need about 150 yards. (This sample pair is made of Moda Dea Silk-n-Wool, in color Wasabi. What a great name for this color.)

The thumb shaping is easy--two stitch markers indicate where you work the kfbs on either side of the thumb. Then just cast off and work the rest of the handwarmer in the round. So, no knitting teeny-weeny fingers.

For boy-gifts, leave off the cable, and use navy blue or black.

The pattern also has instructions to make these into mittens.

Buy the pattern now for just $3.95.

Check it out on Ravelry.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Free Pattern: Julian's Blanket

[updated 14 Mar. 10]

I've been taking care of my sister's baby this summer, my nephew Julian. Are babies amazing knitting inspiration or what? I made him a blanket to roll around on while he visits me.

This is my first knitted blanket, because in the past I preferred to crochet them.

A few notes: I'm trying to make the move to a world in which I pay for my yarn exclusively through pattern sales. This might be wishful thinking, but so far it's working.

This means, though, that I don't get to run out and buy yarn a lot of the time--instead, I'm forced to raid my stash. This blanket was born of necessity, in some ways--I've never been able to give yarn away, no matter how much I can't stand it--so I pulled together all of this yarn that I've been either ignoring (the Caron, Microspun, and Cosetta) or fighting with (the Filatura Zarone) for months or years.

Some of this yarn is cheap stuff I bought when I was just getting started in fiber arts. The Zarone was not cheap; I did buy it on sale, though--in Japan at Okadaya craft store in Shinjuku. The Zarone has been knitted into various items, all of which were failures, and frogged again and again. I threw it in a plastic bag and wished it to Hades.

So, I pulled everything out again, made a huge pile on the floor, thought of a few design elements to guide me, and away I went. This only took a week to knit.

Basic instructions for Julian's Blanket
Finished size: 40" x 50"
Needles: Size 10/6.00mm circs
Yarn: Whatever!! Hold strands together so you get a gauge that is roughly 2.5 sts/inch
I used:
Filatura di Crosa Zarone (single-stranded) in red and maroon
Sensation's Cosette (double-stranded) in blue
Caron Simply Soft (3x) in beige
Lion Brand Microspun (4x) in black

Cast on 120 sts
Work 6 rows in garter st (3 garter ridges each side) in the color that will be your trim (TC in pattern)
Work body in stockinette st, changing colors every few rows. I worked in a random pattern of color and stripe width.
Finish with 6 rows garter st in TC. Finish on a RIGHT SIDE row. Do NOT bind off.

Side edging:
Using a size 6.00mm crochet hook and TC, do a row of single crochet along one side of blanket on the RIGHT side. Using crochet instead of regular picked-up knit sts creates a finished edge on both sides of the work, wrapping a band of the TC all the way around. When you get to the end, do NOT break yarn, instead, turn work over and on the wrong side, pick up sts in the crocheted loops. Work 4 rows in garter st., bind off.
Repeat for other side.


My husband says that this looks like a Mexican donkey blanket, and that may be true, but I still think Julian looks handsome on it.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Oatmeal Dalloway FO

I finished my Dalloway project last week and am quite happy with the results. I used Paton's Classic Wool Merino in Natural Mix for the main color and cream for the edging.

I started off making the small size and figured I'd just add enough length for a medium, because my arm measurement was right between the small and medium. But the sleeves turned out to be a little tight, so before seaming them I picked up stitches along one side and knit in a k2, p2 rib. You can see the ribbing below. I still think it looks cute! This made the shrug more fitted across the back and a little shorter than a medium, and I like how it looks!

This pattern was a lot of fun to knit--quick and kind of addictive once you get going! I might make another one for my sister if she likes it.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Why Birthdays Rock, and Stash Enhancement

June is my birthday month, and it was great for my knitting.

My mother's gift was stroke of genius. She is not a knitter (a crazy quilting lady, sure, but not a knitter). So she consulted a friend who is a knitter, asking what a great gift would be, and followed the advice.

The gift turned out to be a fabulous set of interchangeable circular needles made of bamboo and super-flexible, super-fine cables. She also got me a second set of cables. It all stores in this great, compact fabric case. I can't wait to travel.

Jordynn got me a great gift too. First, four skeins of Cascade 220 Tweeds in a great brownish-taupe color, one of my favorite shades. Maybe I'll use it for Forecast. She also got me a subscription to Interweave Knits. This is a great gift, because it's something I would never get for myself--it's the perfect luxury.

But I find that the best gifts can be the ones you give yourself. After all, no one knows what you want more than you do. So I did some stash enhancement at the store closing sale of a local yarn shop--everything was a straight 50% off. Bam.

Blue Dalloway, Labels, and a Bundle of Knitting Inspiration

I finished another Dalloway, and Jordynn modeled it for me:

I'm sending it off today for a dear cousin's birthday. You might not believe me, because it's pretty unbelievable, but her eyes are the same color blue as that trim. (sigh with jealousy)

She's also a Captain in the Air Force, and showed up for rehearsal at my wedding (she was a bridesmaid) in her flight suit. She landed her plane, hopped in her car in Charleston, S.C., and drove straight to the church without stopping. Too cool for

Before I could send the sweater to her, I had to wait for my new labels to arrive. I thought a lot about what I wanted these to look like, and I'm really happy with them.

Now comes the chore of sewing them into everything.

Lately, I've been thinking about knitting for babies. Jordynn is great to work with on this, because she loves babies.

I pretty much only *love* one baby right now, but he's the best thing in the world.

He's my sister's baby, with her husband Y., two of my favorite people in the world. So naturally, their kid would be priceless to me. I've knit him 2 pairs of bootees. One pair, my Fuzz-Ball Bootees, will eventually be written into a pattern. He wears them and people go crazy over the ridiculously cute baby with bootees that are as big as his head. They're like pom-poms on his feet.

What I'm Doing Saturday Morning: Knitting and Tennis

I cast on for Elizabeth Zimmerman's Pi Shawl last night, and now I'm knitting away in stockinette while watching two of the best athletes that ever lived.

As someone who has a beloved little sister who has always pushed her to excellence, no result of the women's draw at Wimbeldon this year could have made me happier than Serena versus Venus. These women have changed the game of tennis and the world in so many ways.

For example, when the Williams sisters started playing tennis, the purses at three of the four the Grand Slams (and who knows how many lesser tournaments) were tens of thousands less for women than for men. Only the U.S. Open granted prize money parity in 1999. The Williams Sisters' electric style helped change that.

Rick Reilly, columnist for Sports Illustrated assessed the situation this way:
Did you hear what happened to Venus Williams after she won Wimbledon on Sunday? She was robbed! She had $52,923 ripped right out of her purse! In broad daylight!

Instead of getting $705,109, which men's winner Goran Ivanisevic received on Monday, she earned about a new Lexus less. You talk about a grass ceiling. Not only that, but it also happened to Jennifer Capriati this year at the French Open. The dinosaurs who run that tournament gave her $29,306 less than the men's winner, Gustavo Kuerten.

Leave it to tennis to jack the only group of players anybody wants to see. You don't believe me? Let's compare, shall we?

In the women's Top 10, you have the riveting Slam Sisters -- Venus and Serena Williams -- the tempestuous Martina Hingis, the sports story of the year in Capriati, the tragic Monica Seles and the big Teddette bear, Lindsay Davenport, not to mention, at No. 11, the world's leading cause of whiplash, Anna Kournikova. In the men's Top 10 you have nine guys you couldn't pick out of a Pinto full of Domino's delivery men, plus Andre Agassi. Combined, most of the Top 10 men have the Q rating of a lamp. Seriously, is Yevgeny Kafelnikov a tennis player or something you cure with penicillin?

The women play amazing, long, topsy-turvy, edge-of-your-seat points. The men hit 140-mph aces nobody can see, and then ask for a towel. Everything is serve and towel, serve and towel. It's like being at a cocktail party with Boris Yeltsin. In a third-round Wimbledon match Ivanisevic had 41 aces against Andy Roddick, who had 20. It is unclear how the rest of the points were won because the official statistician fell asleep. If men's tennis is to be saved, somebody had better start decompressing these guys' balls. Then something has to be done about the equipment.

The women we know by first names: Can you believe what Martina said about Serena? They hate one another, insult one another's fathers, insult their own fathers, bump each other on changeovers, wear body-hugging Technicolor dresses designed by Edward Scissorhands and generally provide more story lines than six months' worth of All My Children, all of which will come splattering out later this month in a new book about the women's tour, Venus Envy.

(Read the rest of Reilly's column here.)

They have blown up expectations of class, race, and gender. As Mary Carillo just said, watching their match at Wimbeldon, "This is where they belong."


Read an old article (1999) at the New York Times here.

Read article about Wimbeldon finally granting pay parity last year here.