Archive for January, 2009

caricia

Friday, January 30th, 2009

what could be a better fix for the january chill than swathing oneself in something luxurious?

well, you could argue that curling up to knit something luxurious rivals that . . .
here’s a simple-to-knit triangle shawl to make up in any soft fingering yarn that strikes you as just right, in whatever size suits your body, yarn supply, or patience. you won’t believe how easily this one flows off the needles.

shown here: petite size shawl in hand maiden cashmere and silk, a cashmere/swiss mountain silk blend, colorway, bronze.
kit available here from one planet yarn and fiber in three luscious colorways, for three sizes

to purchase pattern or view complete pattern information, please click here to visit the product page in the knitspot pattern shop.

the delicious yarn for this project was generously provided by lis and jodi who carry a stunning collection of unique yarns in their web store, one planet yarn and fiber.
many thanks to rachel for making sure the pattern was in tip-top shape for release.
and to my friend jocelyn, who gave it her special “knitter’s read-though”; i so appreciate you!

the long home walk

Wednesday, January 28th, 2009

we are very lucky that our house was built on a double lot all those many years ago—it offers some really nice perks, such as a distance of more than 15 feet from our neighbors windows, an open area to have the garden each summer (which we now feel we couldn’t live without), and plenty of space left where tall trees can grow to shade the house in summer so we can forgo air conditioning.

there’s just one drawback to all this which comes to mind: double the shoveling in winter. and today, we’re in the midst of a real doozy of a storm.

our property is an oddly-shaped peninsula at the end of our street; because of the backstreet that runs behind, it’s not very deep but it is very long streetside, with a lot of sidewalk trimming the edge. since our mail carrier delivers on foot, i feel it’s only fair that i get the stoop and walks cleaned early.

i like shoveling actually; it’s a good chance to chat with the neighbors and get some fresh air. of course there are days when i wish a thousand shoveling faeries would descend on harvard avenue out of thin air to make the snow disappear—it isn’t always convenient to drop everything and shovel. but in general, i like getting the exercise (today it was a strength workout; this snow is dense, wet, and heavy).

i’ve been smiling that so many people think i’m going to be weaving now (you know—in my copious free time). while i admire weaving greatly and wish i enjoyed it more, i’ve never seriously gotten into it. i really can’t take on another thing that i can only pay a little attention to. but, maybe some day . . .

no, the big box that arrived the other day contained something completely un-fibery and very mundane in its own way

i’ve been wanting an exercise bike for years to use in bad weather. ever since we moved to ohio, where week-long bouts of bad weather keep us inside too often. david always poo-poo-ed these things, preferring to ride on his set of training rollers. with my balance, that option is so dangerous that even david had to agree we needed another option. i tried using my regular road bike mounted on a resistance training stand, but it was killing my back.

finally, i rebelled (haha, like that’s a new turn of events).
i don’t care anymore if my exercise bike takes me down a peg in david’s estimation. honestly, this winter has broken me. and it’s not like i’m training for the tour de france or anything (ha-HAH-haha!!).
it’s been almost impossible to get outdoors even to walk regularly since thanksgiving; i need my endorphins, dammit (david won’t argue with that).

today though, the shoveling may have sufficed for a workout.

on to knitting . . .

caricia it is.
thank you all for letting me know your thoughts on the name; i appreciate it. with the heat running pretty briskly this week (you know it’s been damn cold when you glance at the thermometer and say, wow, look, its 21!!), the shawl was well-dried by yesterday morning so i draped it on the dress form for a few photos. we’ll do real modeling shots in the next couple of days. rachel has the pattern for proofing now so we should be all set to release it pretty soon.

in the meantime, lis at one planet yarn and fiber has put up a listing for anyone interested in preordering a shawl kit, which includes the yarn used here and a copy of the pattern. there is a link in the listing to views of a few more photos as well.

bougainvillea socks are done—got those back on track monday night and did the toes last night to finish, yay.
to recap, these socks are a design for the first installment of the dye dreams four seasons sock club, and are knit from their new dream sox merino/nylon blend yarn (which is yummy).

after i finished that up i worked a little bit on my reincarnated bunny hop sock

it’s really time to get these done so i can take advantage of the angora content.
(omg, the amount of snow coming down is starting to freak me out a little, heh)

after this sock i think i really need to start a little scarf—i’m jonesing for that sort of project . . . maybe a little nothing is in order. too many socks make jane a dull girl.

now it’s no use having a all-day blizzard if you don’t spend at least part of it curled up with a good audiobook and some knitting. since i still feel sorta wet and chilly from shoveling, i think i’ll grab a shower, put something good in the oven for dinner, and spend the rest of the evening doing just that.

if you touch that, you’ll go blind

Monday, January 26th, 2009

(sunday, 10 am)
just look at those yummy cocoons of cashmere-y goodness. they look innocent, but they’re not. not quite.

(monday, 2 pm)
i mean, what could look sweeter or cozier than a cashmere shawl sprawled across the living room floor? trust me, it’s a pose—it’s really there to suck me in, like the sucka i am.

i meant to work on other things these last two evenings, but my complete addiction to this project got the best of me. it’s over now, though.

really. it is.
(ok—the truth: i just plain ran out of yarn)
but can i just take one moment point out to you the gorgeous sheen and soft halo on this hand maiden yarn, and the way the colors play across the fabric? i’m desperate to try it on and feel it against my skin

but that’s cashmere for you—it dries slo-o-wly, just when you’re panting for it to go faster.

ahem . . . excuse me while i fan myself.

ok, that’s better. now, how about a name for this baby?
thank you for all the wonderful suggestions—it’s been really tough to decide. i know a LOT of people liked the name tussie-mussie, and it’s appropriate, but somehow the words just don’t sit right for me.

then one suggestion jumped out at me simply because it described the feeling of the yarn so well (it’s got a dangerously rich, buttery, caress). it was maryann b. who suggested “embrace me” and that one hit me as the one.

so off i went to google and search on ravelry, but lo and behold, that name has been used quite a bit (but i also like “caress” as an alternative). so i went to my favorite language translator to look for variations and came up with two choices: caricia (caress) and embrassez-moi (embrace me).

still waffling over which one i like better . . . wanna vote?
here, lemme give you something to help you concentrate

i did get some charting for the new shawl squared away but want to wait to show pictures of it till i have something substantial for you to look at ( i am loving the orange, though).

in late night knitting news, i experienced a small, what-the-hell-was-i-doing/thinking/looking
at-while-this-happened
setback.

friday night i got my second bougainvillea sock all the way to the start of the toe shaping before i went to bed. on saturday morning i sat down to write the pattern and sat . . . and sat—it just wasn’t working out on paper. i had sock #1 right there and it looked fine (and i know it knit up ok), but what i stared at on-screen didn’t make sense any more, according to what i was doing on sock #2 (which i was knitting exactly the same way).

heh. i ran up to get my sock-in-progress, brought it downstairs, counted stitches and looked it over carefully several times before i finally saw it.

it wasn’t the same at all.

while working on it in the airport i somehow moved one stitch in the wrong direction before i started my heel flap. that resulted in the heel pattern being two stitches off-center, which in turn, caused the foot to be asymmetrical. that’s bad enough, but not the worst part, even—what’s really bad is that i proceeded to knit through the heel and down the whole foot without noticing, like i was high or something . . . oh wait—hehe, i was.

i’m blaming it on cashmere fumes. it’s just like your mama said—that’s dangerous territory and if you touch it, you’ll go blind.
another reason it was a very good idea to finish that schmata and lock it UP where it can’t harm anyone else.

i was so mad at myself that i started another sock saturday night just to calm my nerves and distract me from my own stupidity.

(don’t think i’m completely unaware that i’m trading one dangerous fiber for another here—i do, but like any good addict i can justify it. somehow)

anyway. this is the sock for this yarn i think, finally. you might remember this yarn in its previous incarnation as a poppy sock which i waffled over for a good long time before finally deciding to rip out. yes it was ok, but i thought i could do a better job showing off the yarn to its best potential.

i like the new one a lot better—the color transitions are more muted and the little wave in the motif enhances them. it’s another variation on a feather and fan pattern which works up quickly and easily, making the sock another good traveler.

ok . . . i’ve put myself on a bit of a schedule and i’m trying to stick with it in order to catch up and to fit in another activity that’s been on hold for way too long.

here’s a clue: it involves whatever is inside the box that arrived the other day.
(don’t forget to vote on one of the two names!)

getting reorganized

Friday, January 23rd, 2009

finally, this baby is done.
i don’t know what took me so long (maybe the cables) because i actually worked on this fairly consistently. and i love the yarn—new hue handspuns bunny patch. AND it goes with my new winter jacket, so i need it.
anyway, i’m glad it’s done now—i wore it last night and it felt lovely. i’ll write the pattern up in the next few days.

it’s good to be home, but i have to admit i’ve been having trouble settling in and getting down to work. there were of course, lots of little details to square away the first couple of days, like bills to pay and mail to open (and i still have to unpack my suitcase. i’m terrible—unless i do it right away, it languishes. i did take out the dirty clothes, at least).

also, i think i just miss san diego and kim’s family. sigh, i really did not want to leave that last day.

anyway, i promised i’d show you the books i acquired at TNNA and i want to start off with my very favorite one—custom knits by the extremely talented wendy bernard

i pretty much stopped buying sweater books a couple of years ago because i realized i don’t use them once i have them—i like to invent my own sweaters. also, so many books have only one or two pieces that i truly love, which i usually have to resize in order to get a good fit.

but this one is really great—i’m so glad i got one. first of all it has a LOT of pretty, wearable, all-season sweaters included. kim and i were earmarking an awful lot of pages, heh.

that’s saying a lot considering that we have completely different body shapes and find very different styles are flattering for each of us. versatility is really important to me when i consider knitting a sweater—i want to get lots of use out of each garment i make. i need to be able to wear some of them in warmer weather and i’m sure many of you do as well.

this book has plenty of options that way—in addition to lots of stylish choices, wendy tells us how to customize each sweater according to taste and need without wrecking the design concept. so you can end up with a sweater that is true to the original but has the neckline, sleeve length, and fit that flatters you best. love.

she also took pains to discuss non-knitting aspects of sweater-making that can make or break your final result. discussions about gauge, yarn substitution, choosing a size and deciding about ease, and measuring your body correctly are covered in detailed, step-by step sections. these are discussions i’ve had over and over in teaching my sweater classes, because they impact the final result so radically. i love that the author included in a way that sorted out the confusing material nicely.

i also love the presentation of the book—it has a fresh look that is a nice departure from the “martha” format, with sweaters shown in action, in a variety of settings, which contributes to the sense that these pieces are fashion forward AND wearable. many of them are sexy and desirable without being age-specific or overly fussy.

(an aside for doubters . . . i can totally vouch for the need of a sweater at the pool or beach; both times i’ve been to the west coast this year it’s been hot, but i took a jacket everywhere and used it when the wind kicked up—which it does, a lot. however, a sweater would’ve been nicer.)

full disclosure: i took a lot of time with this book to notice what was included and to look at the sweaters and consider its fashion value. one thing i did not do (because of time) was to read the pattern instructions thoroughly. so i can’t tell you all that much about how they are written. however, the widespread popularity of wendy’s other published patterns leads me to believe that you can expect the same quality in the book’s patterns.

aside from the information contained within, the book as a whole made an impression on me that is harder to describe—but i’ll try. i was not very familiar with wendy’s work—i read her blog sometimes and notice the new patterns she publishes individually (many which i like!). a few students have knit pieces from them. i know that she is a stylish person with a wry voice, which i like, who can also be very thoughtful. i don’t know her well, though.

but with the book, i really got a sense of a whole body of good, cohesive work, one that was created with a determined sense of what the finished product should be, and how it reflected on its author. i don’t get that feeling from very many fashion-oriented books (or even lots of non-fashion books); it’s an ethic that seems to have passed its heyday. but i admire that quality a lot and if i ever produce a book, it would be the one thing thing i’d want to achieve as an underlying foundation.

i left my copy of the book with kim in san diego and i already miss it—i’m gonna have to order another one. but i think it’s destined to be a classic, so totally worth it.

ok, now what’s on my needles?

i’m almost done with the bougainvillea socks—again, i need to write the pattern (discipline, discipline; it’s looking more and more like i should sequester myself for a few days to write patterns and catch up).

anyway, i love these socks. they’ve been surprisingly easy to knit and that has allowed me to take them everywhere. i got lots done on them while flying, talking, and waiting this week. the motif looks complex but it was pretty easy to memorize after the first repeat. love that.

they’re a little like the woodsmoke socks that way—you think they’re going to be a big PITA, but they turn out to be the easy, smiley baby that you can take anywhere. they even let you pinch their cheeks ad nauseam.

and i love this yarn—the more i use it, the more i like it. and now it can be yours—stephanie from dye dreams wrote me today that they now have this beautiful dream sox yarn listed in their webstore (oh heck—i just went over to grab that link and saw like, four colors i want).
one note: the colorway i’m using is a sock club selection so you won’t see it on that page. but check out their other selections—there are some really good guy colors there.

i’ve been adding a repeat or two to my shawl every evening; it’s getting bigger now and harder to photograph. the plus side of that is that it’s now a good-sized bundle of pure luxurious softness in my lap when i work on it, yum.

now here’s where i need some help—i have to decide on a name and i’ve given it very little thought. the motif reminds me of a bouquet of flowers in a paper cone, among other things (like fans, leaves, etc.). i’m not married to any idea except maybe it should be romantic (i think it may be ready for release by valentine’s day). here’s a closeup

any ideas? i wouldn’t worry about it yet, but lis over at one planet yarn and fiber wants to create a shop listing for a kit that will include the hand maiden swiss mountain yarn and pattern (the kit will be a preorder until the pattern is finished and photographed). and we need a name for that.

tonight i’m getting started on a long-anticipated project that’s been waiting for me to catch up

the faroese mate for the autumn arbor stole. now that the rush of the holidays is a dim memory and i’ve been to TNNA and back, i feel ready to begin a bigger, more complicated piece. so it goes on the needles tonight. i can’t tell you how much i’ve been looking forward to getting my hands into this yarnnew england red—a new color from kim at the woolen rabbit—i mean, it’s orange. and red; the perfect antidote to gray skies (which are headed our way once again, i think). i think it’s going to be amazing in that large leaf motif.

speaking of antidotes to grim winter skies, i got a package in the mail while i was away, from kristi at shalimar yarns, who sent a couple of skeins of her lovely zoe sock yarn.

zoe is 100% australian superwash merino—i love the feel of this yarn in the skein. it’s very soft, but it has a nice twist and plumpness (but not too much and not too little). so i’m expecting that the stitch definition will be good, but the fabric will will remain touchable and more lightweight than other tight-twist yarns. they have a nice mix of stonewashed and variegated colorways to choose from.
i picked newsprint (left) and catalina (right). i’m not sure yet what they will become but i’m having a wonderful time looking at them and squeezing the skeins for now.

so i was saying something about needing to be disciplined and getting to work on a few patterns. but all i want to do is knit. i better crack down now and get to work before i lose out to my desires.