Thursday, December 28, 2006
Wednesday, December 27, 2006
I found this book, Knit a Fantasy Story, which is just too cute for words. I had to have it. I think one of my friends in my knitting guild had the original edition, which was hard to find and rather expensive. Luckily, it's back in print. You can knit everything from a farm to a castle, to an enchanted forest, complete with trees with faces, gnomes and fairies. It uses itty bitty needles for the most part, and there's a lot of knitting that goes on, but it's too cute. Eventually I'm going to have to knit this all, especially if I spawn at some point. What child doesn't need a knitted play set? (Answer: any child that is not mine. Not from me, anyway.)
Also, I thought I'd browse Victorian Lace Today, since I had heard so much about it. Well, I was sold instantly. The photos alone make it all worthwhile. They are gorgeous, delicate lace shawls and scarves in beautiful Victorian homes and gardens all over England. The total number of patterns (when you think about all the combinations you can do with the lace and borders they give you) is astronomical. And most of the charts aren't obnoxiously large, a complaint I have with much lace. (It's not that I can't read charts, I'm just too lazy. Seriously, that's way too much to keep track of.)
With those books and a few skeins of Cascade 220 for future hat projects, I also managed to come in just under the day's budget, with enough left over for a cup of coffee.
As far as actual Christmas gifts go, I did get a nifty iPod dock, a dragon shaped water mister, the annual chocolate cherries, and a Best Buy gift card, among other things. Knitting wise, there was a cool circular needle holder (in pink) from my parents (although I did the actual buying part). It's really useful. How was I ever so disorganized? Also, I may switch entirely to circular needles. I know most knitters already have, but there's something sweet and rustic about the old classics. Sweet, rustic, and impractical.
And the owners of the LYS knew I wanted DomiKNITrix, so that, with a frying pan (I guess they think I should cook more), was my Christmas / thank you for filling in last minute gift from them. Even though I know my basics (and a little more), it was still entertaining to read through. I really should be less sloppy when it comes to my knitting and finishing. There are a couple of patterns I'm pretty sure I'll make (The Slink, a slinky(!) tank top, The City Coat, a bias knit coat), I'm desperately waiting for the last pattern in the book to come out. Somehow, the author managed to get the book published with a promise to post the pattern on her website. Of course that was the first thing I wanted to make, and it's not out yet. Need to knit this sweater! Need to!
In the meantime, just working on a kid's hat for the shop (of actual bear bear form), and a stash project - a garter stitch intarsia vest from the German book. And all those other UFO's that I should probably deal with at some point.
Monday, December 25, 2006
Finally, I can show you my mom's Christmas gift, an incredible lace scarf.
I found the pattern at the LYS, and it was too cute to pass up (I'll explain that in a second). Unfortunatley, it came as part of a kit and the wool it included was pretty but scratchy. My mom is insane about scratchiness (no seriously, she has applied the word to cashmere). So I talked them into selling me just the pattern and substituted some nice laceweight merino.
Now about the pattern. It's a Blackberry Ridge pattern, and they really do some amazing lace patterns. But this one has a little story to go with it. It's a week in the life of a knitter's cat.
From bottom to top, it goes like this:
First, there's a cat paw border at the bottom. Look! It's a little cat paw! (It has six toes though. I've always liked those six toed cats but I've never had one. I think it would be a selling point for me.)
Then on Monday, he looks out the windows through the blinds. On Tuesday, he plays in the garden.
On Wednesday, he looks at the birds in their birdhouses.
On Thursday, he falls in the pond. On Friday, he eats some thistles.
On Saturday, he tiptoes through the tulips. On Sunday (my favorite), he chases butterflies.
Both halves are identical, have some ribbing at the neck and are (in theory) grafted together. Grafting and I didn't get along so well, particularly with a ribbed pattern. But I was kind of finishing this last minute, and it is at the back of the neck, so I'm just pretending it didn't happen. There's a bit of a seam, but seriously. This thing is complicated enough.
The original pattern calls for one scarf of each day of the week. That would have been an awesome idea, and I even considered it, boxing each one with its little explanation. Then I realized that was so never going to happen. The sampler wound up being a lot more fun because of the changing lace patterns. I didn't get bored (except at the ribbing). I'm not sure that would have been the case if I'd tried a whole scarf out of each one anyhow. Well, maybe in the future.
I do really like the idea of lace having a story though. Maybe next time I'll try to write my own.
Pattern: A Week in the Life of Knitter's Cat (Blackberry Ridge)
Yarn: Skacel Laceweight (100% merino) in white. It barely made a dent in the 1350 yard skein.
Needles: Size 2. Yeah, size 2.
Time: A few weeks, but required complete attention
Cost: The major cost here was time, but I'm still not putting exact amounts in case my mom reads this.
Thursday, December 21, 2006
Thursday, December 14, 2006
Other things are just knit with honest goodwill, like a simple cotton hat for a new baby. Sure, I wish everyone the best, but it's not exactly love. The child will wear it for a maybe a few months, maybe, and grow out of it. Hopefully, the parents will save it away, but I don't know. It filled up the time one evening when I was watching TV, and it made them happy for a little while.
Still others, upon thorough self-examination, are knit simply to try a beautiful new yarn or to make more room in the stash. The only love knit into them is the love of knitting itself. This could be anything, the angora sweater I made selfishly, the acrylic I desperately wanted out of my stash. Kept or given away, it didn't really matter. I just needed to knit and enable more knitting.
No, if I'm really honest, very few things are knit with true love, the kind of unswaying devotion that a move across the country or a bitter fight or even death cannot affect. What then, does this mean for the items knit with the piercing, aching memories of a former love? And how can so many thoughts and emotions be caught up in 150 meters of yarn?
I bought it here, I was with someone there. I could probably only afford one skein, was it enough? It didn't matter, it was on sale, and it had to be mine. Now every detail of the little lump of fiber haunts me. The soft grey conjures up memories of half-timbered houses and cobblestone streets. The fiber content, 100% cashmere, evokes different moments, different touches. It sat in my stash for so long, first because it was too precious, and then because it was too dear. It looked wrong, even next to the other cashmere I was hoarding, and I began to realize I could truly never do anything with it for myself, but I couldn't give it to just anyone.
There are many kinds of love. One may flare up quickly, and then burn out. Another, though created by the first, may be more subtle but much more enduring. This little grey cashmere scarf may be my last chance to express it. It is knit with love.
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Screw Wisconsin, I love Chicago, and yes, as a matter of fact, it is pop.
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
Saturday, December 09, 2006
I went to a fancy ball!
The boy's family has been going to this fancy ball at the Drake in Chicago for many a year. This year, he invited me (with two weeks notice). I panicked for a dress. I've
never even been to a real black tie event before. And this is at the Drake, and celebrities are rumored to attend (though I didn't see any). I couldn't really go to this thing in a random dress from the mall. (Or so I thought. Judging by the other dresses there, I probably could have, but still.)
I scoured the internet for a vintage dress, because I figured at least that would be cool. If someone asked me where it was from, I could casually say, "Oh, it's vintage," because then I would be smooth like that. Unfortunately, nothing in my size and price range appeared. I found every possible site, I sent out scores of emails (okay, maybe half a score), and still no luck. Finally, on etsy , I found a guy that made corsets to order. Since my dream dress was a red corset top and flowy skirt, I thought that sounded like a plan.
It was an insane plan, it turned out. It was difficult to take my own measurements, for one thing. There was a lot of stress about the shipping. First, he got my measurements. Then, he had to ship me the sample. Then, I had to ship it back so he could use it in the final measurements. All these were rushed. But the very rushed part was where he mailed it out on Thursday, and I was to get it Friday by noon. The ball was Friday evening. Not even night, it started at 6.
The packaged arrived before noon, but I was out. The packages are supposed to go to the office, but for some reason, it didn't. The slip said I'd be able to pick it up from the post office at 4:30. I screamed. Literally, I screamed. I think it scared the neighbors. I flew to the post office. There was a humongous line. I begged to ask to talk to the manager. I begged the manager to talk to the delivery person. She was still out delivering other packages, but at least I could hunt her down. I drove around a random neighborhood for a good half hour before I found her. Luckily, I got the package.
I picked the boy up, and gave his mom a lift as well. Turns out, I also happened to save their lives. They would have taken the train otherwise, and while we were driving a crazed gunman started taking hostages at the station they would have been at. I'm not just a pretty face after all.
I rushed to get ready, and we made it to the ball. His family was staying in the executive suite at the Drake, so we went there for cocktails first. He has a huge family, and they're all loud, charming, and completely insane. I felt right at home. His grandfather went around proud to be kissing all the pretty girls. He called me gorgeous, so I like him the best. He reminds me of my own grandfather a little.
The ballroom at the Drake was huge. There must have been 500 people there. There was a fantastic dinner, and his family even remembered to ask for a vegetarian meal for me. I'm not entirely sure what it was, but it was good, and I ate too much of it. Then there was a live band and dancing. Jim broke his ankle several weeks ago (Don't believe him when he says I hit him with a crowbar. I only tripped him and pushed him down.), so he had a cane all night. It was funny, but far more stylish than crutches, and people kept stealing it to dance with it.
We danced as much as we could, but the ankle slowed him down, and the corset and highly uncomfortable shoes slowed me down. But even his family kept pulling me out to dance too. It's a fun and crazy bunch. He says they liked me. But how could they resist? We were by far the best dressed couple there. Jim said we'll have to attend more gala events, and I heartily agree. I also intend to get my money's worth out of this corset.
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
I certainly wouldn't want to violate any licensing laws, but I just happend to make some blue and orange hats with little ears on them, perhaps resembling the ears of a certain animal. And these hats are badass.
I made them last weekend while bumming around. The blue one is for me, and served as a prototype. It's a little on the small side, but fits more or less. It can certainly be added to the Sunday gear. It has a medium sized ribbed band with the knit stitches knit through the back loop. Someone recommended this to me once and it really makes the stiches pop. The orange one is for my best friend as part of her Christmas gift. It's got a wider band with normal ribbing. I knew she'd be jealous of mine, so I had to make her one. She has expressed enthusiasm in hats with ears before.
Also, did you notice I've now learned to use the self-timer function on my camera? Pretty clever.
Yarn: Cascade 220 (100% wool) One skein of each color made both hats and there's easily enough left over for another. - $8.95 a skein.
Needles: Size 7, 12" circular and dpn, in the collection
Pattern: Flying by the seat of my pants (ears based on the Russian Winter hat with ears from Stitch and Bitch Nation)
Time: About 4 hours a hat
Cost: $17.90 makes at least two hats for adult women
Now, I admit it. There were times in my life where I bought acrylic yarn. Maybe it was called for by a pattern, maybe it was on sale. But these things happen. And then these yarny bits hang around my apartment. They're not exactly begging to be knit, but they're also taking up valuable yarn space.
So, yes, these are garter stitch scarves on humongous needles made of acrylic yarn. I'm re-living my "just learned to knit" days. They're also fairly soft, machine washable, and fuzzy pastels, making them perfect for part of my sister's late-birthday/Christmas gift extravaganza.
The pink is an unidentified fuzzy acrylic mixed with Bernat Softee Bulky, leftover from a crochet project I did a while ago. The purple is two strands of another unidentified fuzzy acrylic mixed with two strands of Sinforia, which is a nice (but cheap yarn) that is 100% mercerized cotton, leftover from another crochet project. (It appears I have never blogged this project. It's a really cute little crochet shell from the Happy Hooker. I'll devote a post to things I've never blogged about later.) They were quick, fun, and saved my sanity when I was alternating between gigantic sweater and complicated lace. I make no apologies.
Yarn: Unidentified acrylics, Bernat Softee Bulky (pink), Sinforia mercerized cotton (lavender, doubled)
Needles: Size 15. Yep.
Pattern: Big Ol' Garter Stitch
Time: Probably about 2 - 3 hours each. They are fairly long.
Cost: Since these are stash rescues/leftovers - nothing!