Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Someone I know from the Internet does something cool

Someone I know as another knitter from the internet also has a super cool career in her real life. Kayla Renee Dyches (nee Bodiford) makes hula hoops look cool.

I have absolutely no idea how she does it. I was never even able to get the hula hoop to go around me more than twice.

Did I mention she also spins around in the air like an acrobat?

Seriously cool stuff. If I lived anywhere near the Savannah, Georgia, I would so be signing up for lessons. Not that I would look anywhere as near as graceful doing it, but I could certainly break my neck trying.

Gratuitous linking.
Riot Hooping (warning: loud intro)
More videos (youtube)
Modelling info

Er, sorry about the videos going off the screen weird. I keep meaning to up date my template on this and never getting around to it. Links have better videos.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Not Knitting

This is not knitting. It's not even crochet.
But in a way, it is inspired by knitting.
It's also inspired by Project Runway. I am Project Runway junkie. The current season is not enough, I have even been watching the seasons I missed on DVD.
I keep watching Project Runway wishing I could do that, wanting to come up with fabulous dresses. And in my fantasy world, I even run off to fashion school. Or at least take a class at the sewing store.
But that's not how I learned to knit, and I'm awfully good at knitting these days. (Sadly, Project Runway: Knitting would be fairly boring to watch.) In fact, I'm self-taught (-1 point in the Project Runway fantasy game). Nope. I started with scarves. Horrible, acrylic scarves with lots of holes in them, that had approximately the same number of stitches on each row, give or take five.
And then I made slightly better scarves, and maybe a hat or two. I gave people weirdly shaped clothing for Christmas. I made mistakes, I took on projects way over my head, and I improved slowly. I kept trying something just a little bit harder, and I didn't start with minuscule lace. I started with really bad worsted weight acrylic. I wasn't scared of it, I didn't worry that I'd never be able to knit an Alice Starmore sweater.
I'm a little bit ahead on the sewing front. I sewed when I was a kid, I even made a whole dress at one point. I can sew a straight line. I have a nifty new sewing machine that does embroidery. It's time to sew.
When I have sewn before, I have run into some problems with fitting. If you just buy a pattern, and pick a size and follow it, it's going to fit about as well as an item off the rack, which in my case is generally not well. The whole point of sewing, as the whole point of knitting, is to find something that fits perfectly, and blindly following a pattern is not going to do that for me. I need to learn how to fit things properly. But first, I need to make ugly acrylic scarves. That is to say, I need to start with something simple where I can make a few mistakes when it comes to exact dimensions.
Luckily, Jo-Anne Fabrics has these really simple little kits. They whole pattern is printed onto about a yard of cotton. You cut it out, try to interpret the directions, and sew it together.
And you wind up with this.

Or this.

The first are called Stash Sacks. They're simple little drawstring cases. The smallest two have appliques on the front. The kit came with 5 or 6 appliques, I only liked these two. I've saved the others for future purposes (because I am a pack rat and save nearly everything), but I'm pretty happy with the big on as is. And the best part is that I'll actually use them. I think they're perfect for packing in luggage. The smallest one is about the right size for some jewelry, maybe. The biggest one might be big enough to hold some dirty clothes. The middle one is damn cute, and I'm sure I'll find a purpose for it. But it's great, I'll actually use them. And they're obnoxious colors and prints that I actually love. I would buy things like these.
The second is a "reversible" tote, that has obviously immediately become a knitting bag. I put reversible in quotes, because it's sewn inside out, and turned through a small opening, which is then slip-stitched shut. I am not so great at slip stitching, it would appear, so that side will probably remain as lining.

I'm really happy with these. Luckily the patterns are pretty straight forward, and I can see how the pieces is fit together. The directions sound like they were written in Italian, translated into Russian, translated again into Japanese, and then finally into English. Actually, I think they just assume a bit more sewing knowledge than I have, which seems like a bad move on what is clearly a beginner kit. But I have made useful things!
Expect more sewing from me in the future, but with far less details than the knitting. Really, it's just an excuse to show pretty pictures.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Jaywalkers, Take 2

These are the first socks I've knit twice*. Here are the first pair, some of the oldest socks I own.

These are the first Jaywalkers, which were the third pair of socks I ever knit. I mostly knit them in Japan, in fact, so I always have fond memories of them.

Me in Japan.

Those Jaywalkers are totally in progress in my bag in those pictures.
They're some of my favorites and I wear them all the time. I love the variegated yarn in the Jaywalker pattern, but I kept seeing ones online where people had used self-striping yarns and got a cute chevron affect. I decided I wanted some too.

I got this yarn at Stitches....2008? Not last year, but some time ago. Maybe even the year before, who knows? But it sat in my stash wanting to become Jaywalkers.
Like the last pair, I subbed in an eye of partridge heel, because I think the peaks really go well with the peaks in the Jaywalker pattern.

For some reason, when you have a yarn and a project already picked out for each other, it almost seems like it's a real project. And when it's a real project and you're not working on it, it seems like a UFO.
So anyway. Cute chevron Jaywalkers. It's not like I like this colorway or anything.

* By that I mean the first actual pattern. Sure, I've made basic 2x2 rib socks or plain stockinette socks plenty of times, but this is the first time I've actually played by someone else's rules twice.

In Summary:
Pattern: Jaywalkers by Grumperina
Yarn: I'm pretty sure it's a German yarn like Schoeller and Stahl, but I lost the ball band. It's definitely 75% superwash with 25% nylon
Needles: US Size 1 (2.25mm) dpn
Time: A few weeks of intermittent work
Cost: Around $10

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Exchange Bag

I'm a big fan of Debbie Stoller. When I first got the Happy Hooker book, I went on a major crochet spree. I think this was before I started blogging. This was back in Indiana, in fact, so a rather long time ago. Anyway, I made like 6 patterns from that book in a row. And then, for some reason, I got stuck on this one.

So, I just decided to go with it. I don't know if I followed the pattern exactly, I don't really care. I've got a cute little bag out of it.

I'm a big fan of this yarn, which I never would have found out about without the book. It's Hilos la Espiga, which is basically polyester twine. It's pretty water-resistant, so great for a bag, and it's really not annoying on your hands when you knit, as I feared it would be. I think it would make a great market bag. It comes in a lot of really brilliant colors.

In summary:
Pattern: Exchange Bag from the Happy Hooker (Stitch and Bitch Crochet)
Yarn: Hilos la Espiga in bright green
Needles: A crochet hook appropriate for worsted weight yarn
Time: Several years, in fact, but most of that was in jail. I think you could do it easily in a week or two, if you can read a crochet pattern better than I can.
Cost: Under $20, I'm sure

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Icarus Shawl

So a little over a year ago, I knit this on commission, and it was beautiful.

I enjoyed it so much, I wanted to start knitting something similar for myself. Not this particular shape or pattern, but a pretty white lace mohair shawl.
I had this yarn.

You can't really tell from this photo, but it was a giant cake. It's the biggest single cake I've ever seen, and that's because it was about 1500 yards of mohair. In one cake.
I don't remember the brand of the yarn, I bought it at a neat little shop in East Lansing, MI. The lady there custom dyed things, but I wanted plain white, so she sold it to me off the cone like this. I have to say, I'm a fan of the giant cake. It means no awkward ends to weave in throughout your delicate lace shawl.
It was destined to become the Icarus Shawl (ravelry link). I thought it would look like angel wings. So, it was lovely, and I was really enjoying working on it, up until about 2/3 of the way through the body.

It pretty much looked like this, which was easy enough.
And then the second half of the original shawl story came into play, and I had to knit the second one, because the first one was stolen.
And after two and half white mohair shawls, well, this one was put in time out for a while.
In my post-Christmas UFO busting spree, this one was a good candidate, because I was now in love with the yarn and pattern again. It only took a year. And this is the result.

Pretty good, huh? It's gigantic, but I'm totally fine with that. This is a shawl with some heft to it, not one of those wimpy shawls that's pretty much a yarn necklace. Oh no, this is a shawl built for warmth. Just in time for summer. Oh well, it's out of the way, it's a gorgeous finished object that I'm actually going to keep, and it will be tres chic come fall.

In a crazy-cat-lady-in-training sort of way.
I finished the actual knitting of it some time ago. Okay, possibly a month or two ago. But, it's not finished till it's blocked, especially with lace.
Various closeups:

The peak

The edge
The really hard part was when I got to the end and there were 500+ stitches a row. It got to the point where if I managed a row a day, I was thrilled.
I'm not making a giant lace shawl again for a while though. The only lace I make next will be tiny.

In summary:
Yarn: 1300ish yards of white mohair (there's a tiny little cake left).
Pattern: Icarus, Interweave Knits, Summer 2006
Needles: Size US 4 (3.5mm) Addi Lace
Time: A little over a year, but much of that was in time out
Cost: Around $15, if I recall.

Someone is fascinated by his own tail

It's Duncan MacLeod!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Christmas Round Part 4: Sexy Welshman Edition

I'm a planner, I like to plan things. I make lists, and have rough sketches of what I'm going to be doing months in advance. I planned my Christmas knitting in September. What I hadn't planned on was a certain Welshman, who happened in October.
Exhibit 1: Welshman

Oh yeah, also I'm a redhead now.
By the time it was clear that he had joined the top ranks of my to-knit-for list, I was already behind on the rest of my Christmas knitting. It was clear to all involved that he was not going to get a knit before Christmas, except maybe a hat,
Exhibit 2: Hat

I promised him socks when he got back. This meant that I started knitting Christmas Eve (the official deadline for family gifts), and had two lonely weeks to turn something out for him.
Now, I know what you're thinking. October. How can someone possibly deserve handknits from October to December, but I don't control these things. Sometimes you just have to knit for people.

He has impeccably good taste, and generally buy whatever he wants, and a good quality version at that. The only thing I could afford that was of incredibly high quality was handknits, and that meant I had to do the knitting. He loves texture in his clothes
Exhibit 3: Texture

so he needed texture in his socks; I couldn't just give him plain socks or ribbing. I picked some socks with a neat texture, the Yarn Harlot's Earl Grey socks. Luscious Luka made them for her dad, and they were a man-approved success. I even made them in grey. Again, I generally don't follow a pattern so closely as to use the same color, but grey is just such a practical color, and it doesn't harm your vision as much as black. (Other acceptable options include navy blue or brown, and those may appear in the future.)

They are a bit tight on his feet; I didn't really take into consideration how a big man might just not have big feet lengthwise, but big feet around. This is absurd, because I had, in fact, made exactly those considerations for my dad in the last pair of socks I made before these.
I blame the yarn. It's thinner than most sock yarns, and even some lace yarns. (I still love it, I'm just going to have to massively increase my stitch count if I use it again.) I thought I would need two skeins, but these came out of one with a tiny bit left over. If I had increased the stitch count like I should have, I may have had to break into the second ones. He wears his socks tight anyway, so hopefully it's okay. I suspect he'll be getting more socks in his future.
This is us on Valentine's Day, in which he cooked for me.

In summary:
Pattern: Earl Grey by the Yarn Harlot
Yarn: Cascade Heritage, 1 skein.
Needles: US 0, two circs
Time: Two weeks of frenzied, focused knitting
Cost: $12.95 for these, but I did buy the other skein and am probably too lazy to return it.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Block Party

Remember when I said I needed to block things? I wasn't kidding. This is what my front bedroom looks like now, due to two of the major offenders. My house smells like wet wool.

There are a lot of points on that shawl, and the sweater turned into an amorphous blob as soon as it hit water.
More on each of these coming soon, that is to say, once they dry and I can get reasonable pictures of them.

Christmas Roundup Part 3

Yeah, I know it's nowhere near Christmas anymore. I'm catching up, I promise.

Of course you knew I would knit something for my mom. My mom gets a hilarious percentage of things I knit. This is due to a combination of factors including, but not limited to, she is my mom, she's not too big, her tastes are easy to predict, and she's very appreciative.
So I knew when I saw this yarn, a long, long time ago, it was going to have to be a sweater from her. Remember Fringe, the yarn shop I used to work at a long time ago? Well, they moved on and went into the yarn dying business full time (you'll know them as Dream in Color). As the store was going out of business, they had massive sales, including this at about half price. I didn't know exactly what I was making yet, but I knew it would be for my mom, and there was more than a sweater's worth.

The original plan for this year's Christmas gift was a grey silk sweater, but I never found the right sweater pattern for it, and wasn't having too much designing something I liked on my own. During the search, I came across Buckland, which looks like it was made for this yarn. That's probably because it was. It rarely happens that I use a manufacturer-recommend yarn in a manufacturer-recommended pattern, but both sort of fell into my lap, and I knew it would be perfect for her.

The picture on the cover is actually the exact same yarn I used for one Mother's Day, and I include that sweater among my unmitigated knitting successes. That sweater I knit fairly quickly, and then spent ages getting the finishing just right. Not so much with this one. This one, I was in fact sewing the final seams on Christmas Eve morning, and my family exchanges gifts on Christmas Eve. It didn't even have buttons, it wasn't blocked, so maybe it wasn't even entirely done when I gave it to her. But she knew she was getting it for Christmas, as I had fit it on her (perfectly, btw) so I couldn't just hide it, buy a picture frame, and save it for Mother's Day. It was no problem, though. We blocked at her house (I taught her how to properly block a sweater) and picked out buttons at the fabric store. Here is the final version.

In summary:
Pattern: Buckland, free from Rowan
Yarn: Rowan Cotton Jeans
Needles: US 7 and 8 (this was a size up from the pattern. Go swatching!)
Time: I started this in fall, so several months.
Cost: If you wanted to make it now, it would probably cost *. I'm going to assume I paid about half price for that.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Christmas Roundup Part 2

My dad is a big man. For some reason, I decided to knit him socks. You will see this is not the last somewhat foolish decision re: large men, socks, that I made this Christmas season, but more on that later. No, I decided to make my dad socks.
At first I started out with this yarn.

I thought it would knit up like camouflage, which would be perfect for him. He even actually admired it in the skein when he was over one time. I was pleased to knit from my stash, and proceeded recklessly. Very recklessly, because even though I could see that it was clearly knitting up like Christmas socks, I got this far along. There is none so blind as she who will not see how clearly inappropriately this yarn was turning out.
Well meaning people told me it was okay, but I felt it niggling at the back of my mind. So finally, I asked my friend Michelle (seen in this post, modeling socks of her own), who is very much of the same no-nonsense country mindset of my dad. She declared them Christmas socks, and that no Real Man TM would wear them, confirming what I knew all along.

So, since most of my sock yarn in my stash was bought on impulse, meaning that it has obnoxious colors that would appeal to a 5 year old or me, I had to make an expedition for more sock yarn. Consultation with Michelle revealed that Military Olive Green is in fact, the best color to make socks for an ex-military man. I was worried about running out, so I decided to do the heels and toes in a contrasting color, Very Practical Brown.

Okay, these pictures do not do them justice, they simply do not. I do not own giant-man-foot sized sock blockers. Given my knitting recklessness of late, I may have to invest in some. But here they are, looking a bit silly and deflated. I assure you, they look much better on.
Luckily, he was incredibly pleased with them. He put them on right away, and nearly wore them the next day as well, but my mom vetoed that idea as they had started to smell. He commented, "You know how when you buy socks from the store, you have to wear them out a while until they stretch and fit you right? Well, these just fit perfectly right away." Yep. That about sums up the beauty of hand-knit socks.

I may have proved my point too well. He later asked if I would make him more, like 4 or 5 pairs more, and he would pay me for the yarn. I guess family gets labor for free. Speaking of, I really should get on that. Gulp. I'm so far behind in my mental knitting queue. I'm a little burnt out after churning through the Christmas list. The first pair will probably be the negative of these - Very Practical Brown with Military Olive Green toes and heels. At least that will keep the cost down.

In summary:
Pattern: 2x2 rib cuff and instep, afterthought heel, regular toe
Yarn: I....don't actually remember and am too lazy to go look it up.
Needle: Size US 1, magic loop method
Time: Several weeks of fairly mindless knitting
Cost: Well....he'll get two pairs for about $40, let's put it that way.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

It's not finished till it's blocked

I keep telling myself this. It's not finished till it's blocked. Because otherwise I would have a sweater and a lace shawl to show you.
But I will soon. And also the Christmas roundup will continue. Especially if my mom sends me pictures of her sweater.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Christmas Roundup Part 1

Um, yes. I got out of the habit of blogging. Mostly because I was making things that I couldn't show you, because they were all Christmas gifts. I'm really, really bad at holding on to gifts and not giving them the minute I have them in my little hands, so it took a lot of willpower not to show you those before. Well, now you're going to see a lot of them.
Exhibit 1. Socks for Sarah.

My friend Sarah has cooked me lots of wonderful things, especially since I have had to go gluten-free. I hate cooking, so I figured I could return the favor by making her something nice out of yarn. So I did.

These are the Queen of Cups socks, a free pattern from the lovely . These were super fun to make. The pattern was complex enough that it wasn't movie theater knitting, but it was still within in the range of prime time TV. The lace is gorgeous, but surprisingly intuitive.
I got the yarn at Stitches, especially picked out for Sarah. She loves yellow, and I think it's perfect to have a splash of color in an accessory. Personally, I would not wear a full yellow shirt for example, but I would totally wear these socks. It's from Sheepy Time Knits, and I highly recommend it. I bought several things from her at Stitches, and even joined her sock club. I was so thrilled with this yarn that I bought some cheap dpn she had on hand to expressly tempt me, and cast on right away. It didn't wind up being this sock, so let's just call it swatching.

In summary:
Pattern: Queen of Cups from
Needles: Size US 1 (2.25 mm) dpn
Yarn: I think it's All Your Base sock yarn from Sheepy Time Knits, and the color was Rumplestiltskin
Time: A few weeks
Cost: The regular cost of socks