Thursday, January 30, 2014

2014: Year of Making Indeed

Remember last month, when I said I was feeling under the weather? That was, I'm . . . excited? to say, a clever euphemism for "I'm all knocked up again and whatnot."



This could go down in the books as one of the least planned pregnancies in the history of time (I won't go into the details, but suffice to say, proper precautions were taken--and apparently ignored). We planned to have our kids about 3 years apart. But here we are--Gizmo, as we're calling him/her, will be arriving on or about August 7, and I'll be the proud but exhausted mother of 2 kids under the age of 2.

And scared? Did I mention scared?

As with my last pregnancy, my 1st trimester was plagued by an exhaustion so all-encompassing I could barely pick up my needles. (AND Gizmo found both coffee and diet Pepsi repellant!) Fortunately, I am officially done with the 1st tri, and my energy is returning. Which is good, because I've got a few deadlines looming and a number of designs debuting in the coming months.

Still, I'm feeling as though 2014 is already in a bit of an upheaval. Remember when I declared it the Year of the Pullover? I don't know about that now--what on earth size should I knit? Will I ever be my pre-pregnancy size again? Who knows. 

I'll probably make it to MD Sheep and Wool, but Rhinebeck is definitely out. Anything involving travel after June is out. (I also had some vague plans to take myself to Stitches West this year, and that's out too, though for different reasons.)

And what do I knit for an August baby?? Surely s/he won't need a coming home outfit made of wool.

What I do know is that 2014 is going to be another crazy, amazing year.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Penny Vest: 3 Ways

 When a new knitting pattern catches my eye, one of the first things I do is try to imagine how I would wear it. What would it go with? Dress up? Casual? Professional? How will this piece fit into my life--and my wardrobe? If I don't have any good answers, then I probably won't knit it, even if it's gorgeous.

It's little wonder that the new trend of designers "styling" their handknits has caught my attention. Seeing a knit worn in several different styles can be quite eye-opening. The right skirt can really dress up a sweater, or jeans and boots can make a lacy shawl more casual. But sometimes you need a little help to imagine the possibilities.

So without further ado, I present Penny Vest: 3 Ways.

Penny Vest - Spring Casual

Spring is in the air! No, it's really not. Tomorrow's high is 17. But I have it on good authority that spring IS coming. Eventually.

Wear Penny as a camisole, with a girlie pink skirt, denim jacket to give it a rough edge, and simple flats. A chunky bracelet finishes the look.

Penny Vest - Office

Penny can work in a professional setting (assuming your office isn't too stuffy). Try a dark gray pencil skirt, strappy heels in a matching shade, and rose gold accessories for a dressy finish.

And then before you know it, it's fall again. Before you have to really bundle up, try layering Penny over a button down. Jeans and riding boots keep it casual, and a light infinite scarf fends off any early chill.

(Click through any of the photos for more details on the featured clothes and accessories.)

So what do you think? Do you like the "styling" trend? Would you like to see more of it here?

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Delayed Bind Off: Pembroke Vest

Sifting through my posts, I realized I never told you guy about this little gem.

Since I didn't finish our matching sweaters in time for our family photos, I decided to have JJ wear another handknit, which was primarily intended for Christmas Eve mass.

Of course, now it's been so long since I knit it, I'm not sure what I have to say.

Pattern: Pembroke Vest by Kirsten Kapur
Yarn: Knit Picks Swish Tonal in Pearlescent, about 250 yards 
Size: 12 months
Mods: none, but I have a "shoulda, coulda, woulda."

This is a free pattern (yay!) and was fairly straightforward--knit flat in 2 pieces, lots of cabling, buttons at the shoulder to get it over giant baby heads. My "shoulda coulda woulda" is that both front and back are cabled--and who looks at the back? No one, that's who. If I knit this again, I would make the back plain. It would make this a much faster project.

Otherwise, smooth sailing, and a great baby project.

These photos, meanwhile, were taken by Ashley Dougherty, a local photographer who did an amazing job. And by happy coincidence (no, really!), we're featured in her latest blog post, so you can stop by and see a few different photos, should you be so inclined.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Sweater Surgery: A Success Story

The last time you saw my Warm Breeze Cardigan (that would be Tanis Lavallee's Coolbreeze Cardigan), it looked something like this:

Major sweater fail. Monumental fail. So much fail.

I set the sweater aside for a bit while I pondered how to best remedy this situation.

I really couldn't stomach the idea of ripping out the ribbed cuff (ugh), the colorwork (double ugh), adding 4" to the sleeve, and then reknitting said colorwork and hem.

I knew if that was my plan going forward, this sweater would languish in WIP purgatory forever.

So I came up with a daring new plan.

I would cut the cuff and colorwork portion off, knit the sleeve to the right length, and then graft them back on.

Sounds pretty simple, right?

Actually, it probably sounds terrifying, but it actually was pretty simple.

 A quick snip just above the colorwork . .. 

 Slowly unraveled, placing the cuff stitches on waste yarn as I went . . .

And tada! Sleeve stitches back on the needles, ready to work.

I knit the necessary 4", and then set about kitchenering the two pieces back together.

  Looking a little rough at first . . . .

 A few stitches seem to have been put on the needle backward, but oh well . . .

 Just needs a little blocking, I think . . .

 And voila! Sure, it's not perfect, but I doubt anyone's going to come up to stare at my sweater sleeves.

A wearable sweater!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Saturday Sampler: January Blahs

Go away snow, we're ready for spring!

Some people say February is the worst month, but I have to go with January. For starters, it's longer than February. It's also the holiday letdown period--Christmas is over, and there's nothing to look forward to. February has Valentine's Day, which some people enjoy celebrating--and even if you don't, I'm sure you enjoy eating chocolate. Plus, February brings us that much closer to March, and the start of spring. And of course, on a personal note, February is when my little booger was born, so now we have something very special to celebrate every year.

But January. Ugh. Worst month. So here are a few ideas to cheer you up.

1. Selfish knitting.

It's still sweater weather, so cast on a cozy sweater project for yourself, now that holiday knitting is done. Maybe something in worsted weight, that will knit up quickly. Like Tanis Lavallee's I Heart Aran:

I Heart Aran
Photo courtesy of Tanis Lavallee

2. Warm weather knitting.

Start a project now, have it done by the time the warm weather arrives. Maybe the Penny Vest, from yours truly?

3. Mend and Repair

If you're feeling too blah for new projects, why not fix up some old ones. Patch up those socks using this tutorial from Jackie Erickson-Schweitzer.

Photo courtesy of Jackie Erickson-Schweitzer
Jackie Erickson-Schweitzer

Or if your socks are beyond repair, like most of mine are, join the Knitmore Girls' Operation Sock Drawer and get working on some new ones--socks are great projects for every season! (It all starts in Episode 247.)

4. Baking!

Before you know it, it's going to be TOO DARN HOT to have the oven on. Ever. So get your baking in now. And whatever you make, do a double batch and freeze half. Try wrapping tightly in foil first, then place in a ziplock (squeeze ALL the air out) to prevent freezer burn. Voila--homemade baked goods in June.

Photo courtesy of Berger Cookies

Ever tried a Berger cookie? If you're not near Baltimore and can't get the real thing (too bad!), give this copycat recipe a go.

5. Organize!

A fresh start can lift your spirits and brighten your mood. Check out some of my New Year's organizing ideas from last January. 

And if all else fails, snuggle up on the couch under your favorite blanket for a movie marathon--you can't do that in July!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

And the winner is . . .

Three lucky knitters will be adding Nevado to their knitting libraries today! And they are . . .

Dana, Stashdaemon and Knittingdancer!

Congrats all! And many thanks to everyone who entered!