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!