Saturday, December 31, 2011

Auld Lang Syne

Yup. Another year. It seems the older I get, the faster time goes, so I fully expect to be 90 sometime next week.

2011 was full of ups and downs, highlights being marrying my amazing husband, visiting Santiago, and releasing my first patterns, and lows being mom's cancer and laryngectomy, the neighbor flooding our condo immediately after I moved myself and the cats in, and still being stuck in a job I hate. I'm hoping for all highlights in 2012!

Knitting-wise, things looked pretty good:


That's 28 completed projects, and doesn't include the super long scarf for my sister that has still not been photographed, and which she's probably already ruined by putting through the washer/dryer.

But how did I do on the unrealistic goals front? Let's review the promises I made in January 2011: 
  • 10 pair of socks FOR ME! -- I managed 7 pair of adult socks, and 2 baby pairs; not too shabby!
  • Finish the Deep V Argyle vest -- oops. no.
  • Two adult sweaters PLUS two adult, um, "tops" for want of a better word--meaning summery-type floaty camisole things.--I finished 2 sweaters, though both short-sleeved, and 1 camisole; again, not too shabby
  • Colorwork mittens of some kind for next winter. -- oops. again, no.
  • Design and publish TWO patterns -- success!
 Stay tuned for more ridiculous promises for 2012!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Winning Christmas

It is with a heavy heart that I report tragic news: Christmas has come and gone.

Christmas is my very favorite time of year, and it always passes in a flash. Sure, my decorations are still up, and Christmas music is still spilling from my stereo as the season winds down, but the Big Dance is over, and I'm feeling a little glum.

January is always a miserable month for me.

(Shhhh, don't tell my sister--I always put on a brave, I'm-totally-ok-with-Christmas-being-over face for her birthday.)

Still, I've come to report happy news as well: all Christmas knitting was finished and delivered on schedule. Even this:


I got two hugs for this one, and if number of hugs is a fair measure of appreciation, then I'd say the guitar strap was a success. Dad used it for Christmas Eve mass as hoped, and even encouraged me to sell them to guitarist--maybe even for $50!


I'm also getting a better handle on using my fancy camera (though the colors are coming out a smidge wonky on Flickr).



I also managed to finish up the insanely long scarf my sister requested, though I skipped the part where I was supposed to take pictures of it first. Oops.

CP gets to spend the rest of the winter snuggling into this fuzzy looking cowl:


The pattern is Thermis, knit in Cascade Eco Duo, an incredibly soft alpaca blend. The neutral colors are ever so slightly variegated, you can see some gray and camel tones spread throughout.

As for me, I actually didn't get too many knitting or yarn gifts, but I am now the proud owner of an iPad and a shirt so awesome, there are no words:

Thursday, December 22, 2011

On handknit socks and high heels

What I do when I've worn office-inappropriate walking shoes to work, and then need to leave my desk for any reason that isn't a meeting with international diplomats:

Incidentally, a colleague was justifying his purchase of an insanely expensive camera by wandering through the office taking photos, and he caught me in my Puff-sleeved Feminine Cardi:


Not the most accurate office photo, since usually I look like I want to murder someone, but the sweater looks pretty cute (and you can also see a hint of the fingerless mitts I'm wearing--Susie's Reading Mitts, which I finished a couple weeks ago but didn't bother telling you all about because everyone and their brother owns a pair. MadTosh, Logwood.) Hmmm, what else do we see? Wedding photo, paper flower I made while bored, box of tea, LOLcat, photo of my two favorite Orioles . . . at least I've made my desk my home.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Gut check time

Less than a week until Christmas. I'm not panicking, but I am planning to sleep a little less this week. I'm sure I can make up for it with 2 long weekends in a row. My shopping is done, but holiday knitting, not so much.

Let me show you the ONE gift I've managed to finish.


This is the Bramble Beret from one of last year's Knitty issues, knit up in DIC Classy (or is it Smooshy? I can never remember which is worsted and which is fingering. It's whichever is worsted weight.). The colorway is emerald . . . something, and I knit the medium size, medium length, with considerably less than 1 skein.

This was a delightfully quick knit, finished in a week with plenty of other projects worked on simultaneously. But more importantly, hidden in the pattern is what I consider to be a gem of a blocking trick:

"To prevent stretching the ribbed hat band, waste yarn was basted in a running stitch along the round between the ribbed band and the hat body. After the hat was soaked and placed over the blocking form, the waste yarn was cinched, to firmly stretch the cabled hat body."

I always block beret-style hats over a plate, and despite trying to be quick quick quick slipping the plate inside, the band always seems to get overstretched in the process, and smoothing it back into place never tightened it up enough. I tried this little trick on the hat above, with excellent results--slouchy hat, close-fitting brim.

I think I'll use some of my holiday break time to test this out on older hats to see if I can work them back into shape.

Work on the guitar strap continues. I'd put it at 75%, not too shabby. Today, though, my brain tried to sabotage my efforts by repeatedly whispering about how I absolutely needed to include a guitar motif. Just a little acoustic guitar, how hard could it be? Ultimately I became convinced that not only did the strap need a guitar, but also my dad's monogram! And if I don't include them, my brain assures me that the whole project will be RUINED.

I puttered around on Excel all morning (fortunately my sole work responsibility today was sending e-seasons greetings to my country contacts, and washing the mug I used for oatmeal last week and forgot about), charting out a final section for the strap.

At first it was fun, kinda like an algebra equation--whatever you do on one side, you also do on the other. It quickly became apparent that this is easier said then done--which also reminded me that I hate math, especially equations.

And you know, it's hard to make curvy letters with square blocks.

But if it all works out as charted, I think Dad will love it.

What are the odds I'll remember to knit it upside down, so that it comes out right side up on the finished strap?

Monday, December 12, 2011

Bad ideas

(I don't think anyone in my family reads my blog, mostly because they don't know it exists, but I did inadvertently mention it on Facebook a couple months ago, so just in case, DAD STOP READING RIGHT NOW, I'M GOING TO WRITE ABOUT YOUR CHRISTMAS PRESENT!

There. That oughta do it.)

Approximately 11ty years ago, I made the mistake of asking my dad what he would like me to knit for him. This came about, first and foremost, because I make bad decisions. The secondary reason is that I had knit my dad a few things I had rarely seen him use, so I didn't want to waste any more time knitting things to line his dresser drawers or keep his guitar necks warm or whatever.

He told me what he wanted, and I quickly tossed his idea out as impossible and knit him a hat instead.

The good news is, he really liked the hat. The bad news is, he still wanted that other thing.

The "thing" in question is a guitar strap. I had numerous reasons for immediately discounting this idea:

Guitar straps are designed to hold the guitar in front of you at the exact height at which is comfortable for you to play the guitar. This can vary, which is why guitar straps are usually adjustable. Wool is stretchy--if you hang a guitar from a scrap of wool, it's going to stretch out, and ultimately the stretched yarn will break, the scrap will unravel and your guitar will wind up on the floor, where it's much harder to play.

Guitar straps have, for lack of a better term, doohickeys on either end to attach them to the guitar. Fashioning doohickeys out of wool would be difficult at best, and sounded like a recipe for more guitar-on-the-floor disasters.

The guitar strap in question was supposed to be colorful. This sounded to me like striping, which I loathe.

Guitar straps are boring. They're just skinny scarves. Zzzzzzz.

Still, I'm pretty fond of my dad, and also I really hate to disappoint people, so I kept the idea in the back of my mind, trying to piece together a way to make it work. And eventually, I had a brain wave.

I could purchase a sturdy nylon guitar strap (WITH doohickeys), and knit a cover for it.

And to mitigate the boredom factor, I could liven it up with some fair isle.

So, that's just what I'm doing:

I'm using the charts from the Ultimate Stashbuster Vest, and picked out some blues and browns I thought were more "my dad." If I'm lucky, I'm about 1/4 done. (And unfortunately this is the one gift that needs to be done, wrapped and ready to gift on Christmas EVE so I can give it to dad to use for mass. So, in news that should come as a surprise to no one, I really should've started this thing much earlier.)

This isn't a bad first fair isle project--there's no shaping, no worries about long floats getting caught on anything, certainly no steeking. It's just one long tube.

But there are a LOT of ends. A lot. A million. My original plan was to finish, turn the whole thing inside out and spend a day weaving them all in, but this weekend I decided on a different approach where I knit a few inches, then turn the top inside out and weave. I think this might save my sanity if and when the whole project is complete.

13 days 'til Christmas!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

If you haven't got a friendly cat may God bless you!

Well, it's December already.

I'm not entirely certain how that happened. The last thing I remember, it was October.

But suddenly my 12 Days of Cookies from the Food Network is arriving in my inbox, and most of my meals seem to be candy, both unmistakable indicators that the holidays are upon us.

Not that I'm complaining--this is my favorite time of year. I'm just surprised to see it here already.

I'm sure we're all in the same boat, frantically knitting away on projects that absolutely must be done by December 25. Or December 24, so we have time to wrap them.

This year my sister wants a scarf, Dad is getting a guitar strap, CP needs a cowl, and Mom's gift is still a mystery because whatever it is will just be stashed in a dresser drawer, so I'm finding it hard to pick anything worthy of that fate.

I've also added my aunt to my knitting list, since she's gotten in the habit of giving me yarn for gift-giving occasions--it would be more exciting if the yarn weren't 100% acrylic and purchased at Rite Aid in 1986, but it's the thought that counts.

(Yes, seriously, the price tag on the yarn is from Rite Aid.)

The good news is, I'm free to work on all of those projects, because I finished Umaro!


Pattern: Umaro, by Jared Flood
Yarn: Valley Yarns Berkshire Bulky, 9.25 skeins (WEBS' website is being a grinch and won't load so I can link--sorry!)
Needles: Sz 13

I tried to artfully drape the blanket across the bed, but unfortunately it looks more rumpled than anything else. 

Finished, my blanket wound up about the width of a full size bed, and about a foot shy of the length, perfect for snuggling under on the couch.

I cast on 12 extra stitches to start, adding a pattern repeat, because I couldn't stomach knitting on size 15 needles, and moved down to 13. I did the exact number of chart repeats called for in the pattern, but could've easily added another with the amount of yarn I had--I was just ready to be done knitting.

Just look at the many squishy layers of warmth (and also, cat fur):


I already told you guys I didn't really have fun knitting this blanket, but as predicted, I love the blanket itself. So warm. So snuggly. Such a sense of accomplishment. A whole blanket!


And here he is in his happy little home inside my coffee table / trunk:

He truthfully hasn't spent much time there because I've been using him so much (as has CP, who wears short sleeves year round and then complains about the cold), but I love seeing him folded up in there nonetheless--a dream partially achieved!

Completely unrelated: cherry cordial M&Ms--not that good. Stick with the Hershey Kisses version.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Pattern: 17th Street

 While most people try to burn off all their extra Thanksgiving calories by taking hikes or riding bikes, I put my weekend efforts into something a little less cardio intensive, but hopefully equally rewarding.

A new pattern!


Pattern: 17th Street
Project page
Yarn: 250-300 yds DK weight (I used Pigeonroof Studios Cassiopeia DK)
Needles: US sz 6
Sizes: small/medium - 7.5" hand circumference; medium/large - 8.5" hand circumference

These gloves have been in the works for a few months, though the idea for them came to me much earlier in the year. Back when I was still living in Maryland and riding the subway into D.C., I spotted another commuter in a darling coat with ruffles on the outside of the forearm. I thought something similar would be cute on gloves, but couldn't quite figure out how to put them together. Fortunately, I managed to puzzle out my idea over the course of the year, and my gloves came to life.


The cuffs on these are knit flat, with an i-cord edge at the bottom. Stitches are picked up around the opposite edge and joined to work in the round. From there on, it's a fairly straightforward glove, with just a hint of detail in the column of eyelet stitches on the finger. Buttons on the cuffs allow for opening and closing, so you can tuck your shirt sleeves in and fasten the cuffs over them--extra warm!


This is the first pattern I'm offering for sale on Ravelry! I've priced it at $3.99, but I've got a special deal for my blog readers--enter the coupon code LPK11 to receive $1 off the purchase price, through December 4. This promo will hopefully work automatically if you click right here! Or, if I've screwed that up, you can enter the code during checkout.


Thanks as always to each of your for your continued support of both my blog and my design aspirations!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanks, Gracias, Merci

Tomorrow I will have a house full of relatives (well, ok, just my mom, dad and sister), and be frantically trying to time all of the dinner dishes to be ready at the exact same time, so I'll take a few minutes today to tell you what I'm thankful for.

My husband--even when he asks me crazy things like, "Will the kitchen tell me when it's ready?"
(No, dear, I don't think the kitchen is going to tell you anything. Ever.)

My dad--for being a rock for our family

My mom--thankful she's still with us after a difficult year

My sister--for helping me deal with my crazy mom

My friends--I don't get to see them as often as I would like, but I never laugh more than when we're all together

My kitties--a constant source of amusement and tummy snuggles (well, occasionally)


The Harry Potter Knit and Crochet House Cup, and Hufflepuff House--an amazingly rewarding and uplifting online community to be a part of

The Big Bang Theory--it's never not funny (Bazinga!)

Pumpkin--is there anything it can't do?


Lip balm--I can't imagine life without it

You--my readers. Thank you so much for caring about what I have to say, it's wonderful to know there are people out there listening. You guys are full of win.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Slow slog (now with crappy iPhone photos!)

I've been working on this project seemingly forever. For. Ev. Er.

(Sandlot!!! No? Hmmmmm.)

It all started when we bought the Hunter Trunk.

I'd been in love with this coffee table / storage trunk for at least a year when we finally bought it, and after some annoyances with Crate and Barrel's inability to foresee that we wouldn't want a trunk with a giant crack down one side (nor would we be willing to haul the broken thing back and pick up a new, supposedly undamaged piece of furniture), I was proud to call it mine.

The real selling point is the built in storage--3 different sections open up, so you can throw all kinds of crap in there.

I had visions of filling at least one compartment with cozy, fluffy, snuggly blankets, to be pulled out with exuberant joy the instant a chill was in the air. (Or the air conditioning was turned up too high.)

The problem was, we didn't own any cozy, fluffly, snuggly blankets. We had a couple of ratty old fleece blankets, and that was it.

So I decided, of course, that I would make the cozy, fluffy, snuggly blankets.

I would just try to block out that little voice in my head saying, "But that will take forever. For. Ev. Er!"

I perused blanket patterns on Ravelry, queuing a few here and there, and finally settling on the coziest, fluffiest, snuggliest looking one, Jared Flood's Umaro. I knew it was the right one because I could practically feel the yarn squishing between my fingers in the photos. Also, super bulky yarn and large needles meant it would be a much better bet than something knit in DK weight, which would take forever x infinity to finish.

Pattern in hand, I set about finding the right yarn--Jared used Cascade Lana Grande, but 12 balls of yarn at $7/each was more than I was willing to spend.

(Sometimes I find the logic I use in making yarn purchases baffling--I'm absolutely contemplating buying 5 skeins of madelinetosh pashmina for Alana Dakos' Wildflower Cardigan, which will run me well over $100, but $80 for a much larger blanket is somehow out of the question. I might be crazy.)

I settled on one of WEBS in-house yarns, Valley Yarns Berkshire Bulky--a more reasonable $5/ball with slightly more yardage, and includes a smidge of alpaca for a lovely halo and extra snuggliness.

Finally, I was ready to whip out my blanket--of course it wouldn't take long, I was using yarn as thick as a horse's tail, and needles with a diameter rivaling white board markers. Easy peasy. Piece of cake. (Or "piece of pie," as CP sometimes says; yes, he also says "easy as cake." I know, we should have a sitcom.)

I started out with size 15 needles, but quickly had to give them up. They felt horribly unwieldy, I couldn't get any kind of rhythm going--mostly I wanted to throw the whole project against the wall, which isn't the most productive way to get a blanket. Unfortunately.

After hemming and hawing for a few days, I moved down to size 13 needles, which felt slightly more sane, and added an extra pattern repeat to make up for any size discrepancy.

(Seriously, I want this thing big enough to fit my bed.)

And so I've been knitting.

And knitting.

And knitting.

It just seems to be taking . . . what's the word? Oh, I know--FOREVER! I'm not enjoying it. I will enjoy the blanket, but I'm not enjoying the process. I knit a row, set it down, move to another project, force myself back to the blanket, knit another row, lather, rinse, repeat. I make bargains with myself: OK, 6 rows on the blanket and then you can work on your Dahlia Cardigan. 6 rows on the blanket, and you can play on Pinterest. 6 rows on the blanket and you can book that Alaskan cruise!

Today, though, I'm happy to report that I'm finally halfway done. And you know, it does take up most of my bed:

Monday, November 14, 2011

Catching up

I seem to have finally managed to catch up on the every day life stuff after our lovely vineyard wedding and subsequent relaxing Jamaica trip (the thank you notes are even written! Though, not mailed.), so now I can get back to the fun stuff, like rambling about knitting.

I promised you guys a post/review about the class I took at Rhinebeck, Norwegian Cutting Techniques.

I signed up for this class because I wanted to learn about steeking. Last year, I started a Deep V Argyle Vest, and while I'm still not done knitting it, I might someday actually finish it, and when that day comes, I want to be prepared for cutting it open and watching its metaphorical guts spill onto the floor.

(Or, my couch. I don't sit on the floor while knitting.)

Now, it's entirely possible that I wasn't paying close attention when I signed up, but as I recall, the information available about the exact topics covered at that point was minimal. It said "cutting techniques," I foolishly assumed we would cover a number of techniques.

Which is why I was a smidge disappointed to show up for class and realize it was only going to address machine stitching.

I don't own a sewing machine.

(And frankly, if you do already own a sewing machine, I'm not sure you need a whole class to learn how to use it to do steeks--sew 2 lines of stitches, cut between them, voila!)

Still, I tried to keep an open mind--it's not like I couldn't buy a sewing machine if it seemed like it would be useful. Although learning to use a sewing machine would probably be a prerequisite.

I had done my homework, knitting a small baby-sized pullover and sleeves, so I was ready to learn.

The class consisted of about 14 students (two of whom apparently signed up for no conceivable reason, because they spent the whole class yapping instead of listening to the instructor, and generally being a distraction. I guess that's your choice, but what a waste of $70. And also, rude.).

The instructor showed us various samples of her steeking work (lovely!), and then set up the machine so we could start stitching. The assumption seemed to be that we would already know how to use a sewing machine, which of course I didn't. So I opted to wait at the back of line while watching other people tackle the monster.

When my turn came, I managed to sew 2 very crooked lines onto my sweater, in the general vicinity of the areas I had marked, and then deftly sliced it open--exhilarating. And of course, as predicted, the machine stitches held the raw edges together, so no unraveling. I worked on picking up stitches for the placket and then--the class was over.

The instructor gave us a brief overview of how we might go about steeking the armholes and attaching the sleeves at home--presumably with my non-existent sewing machine--but when asked if she could provide some kind of written instructions for the 86 steps she had glossed over in 5 minutes, she directed us to her book.

Um, no thanks.

So to sum up, I could not recommend this particular class, because the time allotted was not sufficient to allow students to actually learn all the steps, which is presumably the point (the instructor said several times she would prefer a longer class, so I assume this was the festival organizers' decision and not hers). It's especially not worth your time if you don't own (or have access to) and know how to use a sewing machine. And if you do, my completely uninformed opinion is that you don't need this class.

But that said, I've never taken a knitting class before in my life, and I really enjoyed the opportunity to meet other knitters, look at their work, and interact with an instructor. The class itself didn't do much for me, but made the idea of taking classes in general much more appealing. Next Sunday, I'll be taking a "design with confidence" workshop with Cirilia Rose, and I can't wait!

And now . . . animals!







Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Home again, home again

Jiggity jig.

Yes, I've made it back from Jamaica. I'm not tan. At all. But I am rested, relaxed, and ready to KNIT ALL THE THINGS in November.

We'll see how that plan goes.

As you saw in my last post, I was a smidge busy in October, getting ready to marry a wonderful man. As I posted about before, my Ravelry ID and design pseudonym, MediaPeruana, means half Peruvian, a nod to my shameful adoption of a heritage not at all my own--hubby was born and raised in Lima. He moved to the U.S. about 11 years ago, and now we share a happy, culturally mixed up household. Sometimes this means I get to eat tasty Peruvian food, like ceviche and pisco sours. Sometimes it means hubby will wake up in the middle of the night and tell me he has acid and I'll have absolutely no idea what on earth he's talking about (heartburn, apparently). Sometimes it means acting as an interpreter during family events. It means all of my in-laws live in another country (which I'm sure many readers can appreciate), and we take amazing vacations in order to visit them.

So to sum up, it's pretty spectacular.


(Hubby shall henceforth be known on this blog as CompletamentePeruano--or CP, because let's face it, that's a lot of letters to type).

But, onto the knitting front: October wasn't a great month for new knitting, as I worked to finish 2 new designs--a pair of gloves and a pair of socks. Here's just a sneak peak:



(I'm aware that these aren't the world's greatest photos; learning to use my new camera is also on my Fall to-do list.)

With the actual knitting for these projects more-or-less done, in November I hope to have more time for knitting Christmas gifts and the Dahlia Cardigan, which I delusionally hope to have done in time to wear for Thanksgiving dinner--which I'm also hosting this year! How does a nearly-vegetarian cook a turkey? We're going to find out!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Rhinebeck, part the 2nd


That sums up my Rhinebeck experience.

But I suppose it doesn't really convey that experience adequately to the reader, so I'll expound a bit.

Rhinebeck. was. awesome.

And I hate to say it, but better than MD Sheep and Wool.

First, the weather. It's hard to get excited about wool and knitwear when it's 80 degrees, which is the standard temperature for MDSW (and 2 years ago it was 90!). But we had perfect fall weather for Rhinebeck, cool and crisp, with some blustery winds tossing fallen leaves about. It was like a postcard from autumn. It made me want to move to Poughkeepsie, and forget that it's probably nothing like that 10 months of the year.

And the crowds. Maybe it's just that there seems to be more open space at Rhinebeck, but I thought it much less crowded than MDSW. The vendor stalls were still a bit crazy (especially Sanguine Gryphon), but in general, there was room to walk. I did not fear being trampled. I could look at some yarns in relative peace. There was room outside to wander, benches and tables for meals, and very few children to trip over.

I have few comments on the food--it looked like there was more variety--not everything screamed LAMB!--but I didn't eat much. I wanted an apple cider doughnut and heard rumors of their existence, but didn't find any. (I did spy Connie Chang Chinchio--or her identical twin--in line for fried artichoke hearts!)

"Yeah yeah yeah, but where's the yarn?"

Here it is!


My rule of thumb at these festivals is to buy things I CAN'T buy online or at my LYS. Which is exactly why I didn't waste hours of my life standing in line for Sanguine Gryphon (though I would've loved to get some Zaftig Bugga!, which debuted at Rhinebeck. But even so, I could've ordered it when it went live this morning in their online shop--but at $32/195yds, I decided to wait.). So some of this stuff is a bit obscure and since it's not sitting next to me, I don't know exactly what it is. But I'll do my best to guess!

Let's see, that first lighter blue one is a fingering weight from Miss Babs, and the orange-y brown one is also Miss Babs (which they do sell a bit of at Fibre Space, but limited quantities / varieties). (Oddly enough, the Miss Babs booth was completely reasonable when I spotted it, and I could browse at leisure!) The blue/brown Ravenclaw-ish skein is a sock yarn, and the blue-y purple mix is a big hank of worsted weight. The red one is from Dirty Water Dye Works, I've been wanting to give their yarns a whirl. And the yellow and black skeins are DK weight that The Boy bought me all on his own, for a Hufflepuff scarf (or two!).

But wait, there's more!

Apparently I was one of the first some-odd number of people to sign up for a workshop, so I got this swag bag:


It mostly had catalogs and flyers, but came with a few useful coupons, and a free skein of Knit Picks Simply Cotton!

And aside from the yarn, there were awesome people! Most importantly, I got to meet this fantastic group of Ravelers from the HPKCHC group:


(I've shamelessly stolen this photo from one of them. Oops! Thanks CathyCake!)

Other famous knitters spotted include Deborah and Melanie from the Savvy Girls podcast, Casey, Jess, and Mary Heather from Ravelry, and Ysolda! In fact, I actually spoke with Deborah and Melanie, and they recorded some brilliant commentary from El Peruano. If you hear that in the next podcast, rest assured that I do not subscribe to his beliefs on guinea pigs as pets!

The only bummer was that I didn't get to meet up with Leann from Forbidden Woolery--we just didn't get our schedules worked out. :( She'll be at Stitches East this weekend, so if you're going, be sure to visit her for me!

Next time, I'll fill you guys in on the details of my workshop on Norwegian Cutting Techniques!

(I never spell Norwegian right.)

Friday, October 14, 2011


It's true, it's true, I'm finally going to Rhinebeck! I can hardly wait. I'm taking a steeking class Saturday morning, and then wandering about during the afternoon--hope to see some familiar faces there! And some familiar knits.

Have a great weekend all!

(p.s. Saturday's my birthday! If anyone wants to bring birthday cupcakes to Rhinebeck in my honor, I won't be opposed.)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Pattern: Son of a Sailor

I am reclaiming this day.

Rage and hopelessness are trying to snatch it from me, but I refuse to let that happen.

It all started this morning, when I rolled out of bed and thought I would block my Whippoorwill shawl before heading into the office.

I've been working on this one since August, using a cream for the main body and wine for the trim. It's not a complicated shawl--actually quite the opposite. It's a lot of stockinette, so it was a slow slog. But I finished it up last night and was eager to see it pinned out.

I bet you figured out where this was going, right after you read "cream" and "wine."

And if you thought, "That wine colored yarn is totally going to bleed all over the cream and ruin the whole thing, and boy is Kristen going to be pissed," you'd be right.

Pink splotches. Dancing all over the cream section.

They're not dark, but they're there.



Ok, maybe you don't see, because apparently the splotches are paparazzi-shy and didn't want to be photographed.

But they're there.

And I have no idea what to do about it.

If I soak it again, the wine will bleed more. But how can I only wash the white part? Impossible. I already tried blotting, it didn't do much good.

I tried crying, and not only did it have no effect on the splotches, it didn't really make me feel any better, and it made my face puffy to boot.

But as I said, I'm reclaiming this day.

I'm releasing a pattern!

October 11, 2011 will NOT go down in history as the day I ruined a shawl, but as the day I released my 3rd pattern.


Pattern: Son of a Sailor socks
Sizes: 9-12 months (5" foot circ) and 12-15 months (6" foot circ)--size are (very) approximate; measure your baby! More notes on sizing available in the pattern download.
Yarn: Fingering weight in contrast colors, 75yds of each (I used The Loopy Ewe Solid Series in cerulean and navy)
Needles: 2 US sz 2 24" circulars (or size needed to obtain gauge--and I'm a tight knitter, so be prepared to go down to 1.5 or 1!)
Gauge: 8st/inch

When my friend Catherine (hi Catherine!!) gave me a tour of her darling baby Tyler's nursery, all decked out in sailing motifs, I immediately started planning sailing-themed socks for the little man.

And then about a year later, I actually got around to knitting them.


This pattern is a great way to use up leftover fingering weight yarn from adult socks, since you need just 75 yds of each color (although I actually did not do that myself, because I wanted marine colors).

They are knit toe-up, and feature a short row heel and small colorwork motif--so they're also a great way to practice all of those possibly-new-to-you techniques without committing to a pair of full-sized adult socks.
(This project boasts the 2nd most colorwork I've ever completed in my life, if that gives you any idea of my colorwork skills.)

(As you can see, Tyler's socks are a wee big on him, but he's sure to grow into them...I hope!)

And even if you don't have an adorable baby of your own, you could always knit one and toss it on the Christmas tree!

(Sock, that is, not baby.)

Pattern available for free here, and soon to be up on Ravelry as well.

Take that, lousy day!

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Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Next Level

Remember how excited I was when Jordana Paige commented on my Delysia Camisole?

I have reached a whole new level of excitement--there's now a whole post about my Camisole on Jordana's blog!!

I can't find words to express how special this makes me feel, so I'm not even going to bother. I'm sure you guys get it.

Many, many thanks to Jordana and her assistant, Rebecca, for showcasing my project, I am truly honored.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

October is here!

I'm happy to announce that my favorite month of the year is here!

There's nothing I don't like about October: cooler weather, pumpkin everything, the playoffs (which of course I would enjoy much more if the Orioles ever made an appearance), my birthday (I suppose that might not last for too much longer), Halloween, and the reappearance of my handknits as I snuggle into warm socks and cozy cowls for the first time since April.

I have a busy month ahead of me this October, but I can't wait.

I expect my knitting productivity will drop this month (I really want to make the Dahlia Cardigan, but I haven't even managed to wind the yarn yet), so I'm happy to show off a big project I finished in September:

Pattern: Backward Cable Pullover, from Wendy Bernard's Custom Knits
Sz: Small, 36.5"
Yarn: Louisa Harding Grace Silk & Wool, 6.67 skeins
Needles: sz 5 and 7

I love the look of this sweater, with the high neck in the front, and deep scoop neck in the back.


(Which I guess you wouldn't be able to see as much if the hairdresser hadn't cut my hair too short, so I guess it was actually a good thing.) A lot of Ravelers moved the scoop neck to the front, but I just love that this looks so different this way.

This is the second pattern I've knit from the book, and while my Tuxedo Vest turned out enormous, this fits to a T. Or is it 'tee'? Whatever. Fits perfectly. My gauge was slightly off, so I knit the 36", figuring it would come out closer to 35", and for once, I was right!


My only concern was that the instructions for the short rows on the neck don't seem to work. Maybe I was just misreading them, but I had to rip out and re-knit three times before I finally just cobbled something together myself. The way the directions are written, at least in my interpretation, you end up wrapping more stitches on one side than the other, and that can't be right. I mean, I guess it could be right if you wanted one side of the neck lower than the other, but I'm pretty sure the goal is to make the center of the neck rise higher than both sides.

The yarn is delightfully soft--which is a good thing, as this was intended to be a close-fitting sweater--but it's a bit pilly . . . I have serious doubts about weather it will hold up over the long term, but I don't see any obvious solution for that, so I'll just have to be extra careful with this one.


(Occasionally I should at least consider brushing my hair before taking these knitwear photos. Sigh.)

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Pattern: Deep Creek cowl

Last time I gave you a sneak peak of what I said was my new design--and it is!--but what I didn't tell you is that I have another new design as well! And I'm going to release this one first while the other finishes making the rounds through pattern testing.

Pattern details:

Yarn: approx 150 yds aran or bulky weight
Needles: US size 10, 24" circular or DPNs
Gauge: Irrelevant!

This is a quick-to-knit cowl perfect for a skein of extra-squooshy, chunky yarn--I used madelinetosh tosh chunky (colorway: Olivia). The stitch pattern is simple and easy to memorize, and creates a snuggly, unisex cowl. Check out my handsome model:


The ribbing in the design pulls the fabric in toward your neck (be sure not to block the cowl aggressively, just a light spritz with some water to even out stitches should suffice), and it's got plenty of stretch to accommodate various noggin sizes. 

This one isn't lightweight, it's designed to keep you warm through fall and winter. Use an extra-soft yarn and you'll never want to take it off!

Download this cowl pattern here.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

When autumn leaves start to fall

I'm thrilled to report that it's FINALLY starting to feel like fall around here. The air is cooler, the leaves are starting to turn, I made my first butternut squash lasagna this weekend, and put out all of my fall decorations (which consist of 2 pumpkin candle holders, a pumpkin-shaped candle, and a mini scarecrow . . . I think I need to do some shopping). True, highs this week will be stuck in the 70s, which is a smidge too warm for fall, but since I'm stuck in the over-air conditioned office 8.5 hours each day, I'll hardly notice.

Fall weather makes it seem a lot less silly to be parked on the couch with a lap full of wool. I'm determined to get two sweaters done before the cold weather really kicks in, so I've been knitting away as I watch the Orioles' miserable last stand.

In the midst of sweater knitting, I have managed to fit in a few smaller projects, like this:


Pattern: Bramble Beret, from Vintage Modern Knits
Yarn: Malabrigo Rios, in Azul Profundo, 2/3 skein
Needles: szs 5 and 7
Rav link

I love the classic-with-a-modern-twist vibe of Vintage Modern Knits (check out all the patterns here). This hat has a modern fit and styling, but the bobbles and moss stitch give it a rustic look as well. Sadly, I'm not keeping it, but I'm going to model it for you anyway:

You absolutely have to have a good handle on chart reading for this pattern--no written directions. Add to that one of those tricky traveling start-of-round markers, and this one is a bit of a challenge. The moving marker is explained fairly well for the main body of the hat, moving 1 stitch right or left, but for the top, it moves 2 stitches, and that wasn't as clear. Still, it was fairly quick to puzzle out. And I love how the cables intersect and entangle at the crown.


The Rios is not as soft as Malabrigo Worsted, of course, but is a bit sturdier, giving you better stitch definition. The very subtle color variation in this colorway is perfect for this hat, too.

As usual, I'm very happy with this project, and sad to be giving it away. But here's something that cheers me up--a little sneak peak of my new design!