Sunday, December 30, 2007


Hello my dear readers, I'm going to Pittsburgh for the end of '07, so I'll see you next year! (Aka, on the second or third. =P)

Friday, December 28, 2007

Past Crafting

So, in the rush that was trying to get things done in time, I've neglected to post about a few finished objects. Here's my catchup post!

Anna's Fetchings[R]:
Pattern: Fetching[R] by
Materials: Debbie Bliss cashmerino aran [R]; 90m/50g; 55% Merino wool, 33% Microfibre, 12% Cashmere; color: 300008 (brown) dyelot: 44
Purchased at: Woolworks
Amount: 1 skein, just barely
Needles: size 6 clover DPNs
Gauge: what's that? (aka, never checked)
Cost: $8.28

Started: First glove started:12/19 -12/20; Secong glove: 12/20-12/21
Finished: 12/21
Total time: 3 days

Finished gloves:
Finished Fetching

Gloves with care sleeve:
Fetching with Care Sleeve

Gloves with Artsy Clutch:
Fetching with Artsy Clutch

These were enjoyable to knit. I wish I'd read all the reviews on Cashmerino Aran before choosing to knit with it. It's a very soft yarn, and the resulting fabric is extremely soft, but everyone who says it pills is right. I will probably use this yarn again, but maybe not for such a high use object as gloves.

The pattern was exactly what I hoped for. It was interesting enough to keep me going and fast enough I was able to finish it in a few days. If I'd knitted more on a given day, I could probably even finish this sooner. The one thing I didn't love about the pattern was the picot bind off, and if I do these again, I will probably change the bind off. To me, it makes the bound off edge looser than I'd want it, though it does look pretty. Also, as you can tell if you look closely, I forgot to reverse the cables on the second glove. I hadn't realized it until I was in the main body ribbing part, and I decided I didn't want to frog it back. Next time I knit this, I plan on reversing the cables. All in all, a satisfying knit. Hopefully, the recipient will like it too! As you can see in the bottom picture, this will also be given with an Artsy Clutch. That's my second FO of this post....

Anna's Artsy Clutch:
Pattern: Artsy Clutch from Bend the Rules Sewing
Materials: 3 fat quarters; could be made with two
Purchased at: Dragon fabric and lining butterfly fabric were purchased at an open market in Hilo, Hawaii years ago. The black fabric for the front and the black button are from JoAnn's Fabric.
Cost: $3 for black fat quarter (still have a lot left); $2 for button (still have one left) other fabric (both prints as well as lining flannel) from stash; 3$ for elastic (still have a lot left) total: $8

Started: 12/23
Finished: 12/23
Total time: 2 hours, maybe less
Artsy Clutch
A closer look:
Artsy Clutch
A look at the lining (with a glove inside):
A Better Look at the Lining

I loved this project. Loved it. I see why it's as popular as it is! When I finished sewing, I was amazed and incredibly pleased by how polished it looked. I made my pouch slightly smaller than the pattern in the book, partly because of the size of some of my scrapps. It's just big enough to be a pencil or pen case, or as a small purse. I decided to have a 'cuff' of the dragon fabric instead of having the entire bag in that fabric for a few reasons. First off, I thought the pattern would be overwhelming if it was the entire bag. The way it is now, you have the two dragons looking down on the 'front' (aka, folded over) piece, and the rest of the black sets them off. One thing I did do, thanks to the suggestion of someone on the blogosphere (though I forget who) is reverse the pattern of the dragon on the folded over flap so that it looks right side up when it's upside down. Other than that and the size adjustment, I followed the pattern. I will make many more of these, I'm sure.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Branching Out into Lace

Okay, so all you knitterly people know the title's a pun. But, it's true!
Yesterday I started my first 'real' lace project, Branching Out[R] from Knitty, Spring 05. I'm using my Fibre Company Organik which I'd bought for just this project.
Organik yarn cakes 2
The color of the yarn is hard to see fully in the picture - it's a duo tone with a base of green and an overlay of brown. The colorway is 'Jungle' and it reminds me of forsythia shoots in the spring. It's a single ply, and it's amazingly soft and pleasant to work with. I'm very glad I got this yarn for this project - it's perfect, to me. It's a thick enough yarn that I suspect it makes the pattern easier than if I Douceur et Soie. but it has just enough life and variation to make it more interesting than the Silky Wool versions I've seen and not loved. The stitch definition is is nice, but not overdone.

As of right now, I have five pattern repeats done. The pattern is harder than I hoped it would be, but, easier than I feared it would be after reading some horror story forum posts on Ravelry. I had to frog my first row and a half and start over. After that, I put in a lifeline. In theory I wanted to move the lifeline every pattern repeat, but I haven't been doing that lately. I have been undoing all mistakes, which is somewhat new for me. I think that the final product will be much nicer this way, plus it's a useful talent to be able to unknit as well as knit! Other than the first time when I frogged everything, all of my mistakes have been fixable by unknitting a row or two. For some reason I keep having a problem leaving out one of the yarn overs in the first row, but I've lately been overly cautious, and that helps.

This scarf does not yet have a place in my imagination. Some projects, like La Vie de La Boheme, I have an image in my mind of either the kind of person wearing it could make me or an outfit I could wear it with or some other vision of the object in use. Branching out has no such associations - all I imagine is the finished scarf, hovering magically in mid air. I'm not too worried about the wearability; once it's done I'm sure I'll think of some excuse. Until then I just have to keep knitting! I think getting better at lace is going to be one of my knitterly resolutions for 2008. That, along with the standard of knitting from ones stash. (Don't worry, this isn't my resolutions post quite yet...that'll have a little more thought put into it. =] ) My stash hasn't grown out of control by any means, but there are enough planned projects that have yet to be actualized that I could afford to fix some of them before starting ALL that many more. Of course, I'll have to knit the hats for my step brothers, but, the story of that gift to to them will come later. For now, it's approaching past my bedtime. I just wanted to express my excitement over my new branching out. =]

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas Wishes with a recipe

Well, it's Christmas! Merry Christmas, and secular happiness to all! I have more making things excitement for you, but, in honor of the holiday season, that will wait a bit.

My big 'family' celebration was last night. My older stepbrother had returned home from a multi-month-long trip around South America early (as in, 1am), so our happily blended family was all present for, I believe, our first Christmas together. Since my stepfather is ethnically Jewish and my mother and I aren't really all that Christian, our Christmas celebration was much more about family than Jesus. Personally, that's just fine with me. We had a very large, wonderful meal, a wonderful desert, and opened presents. I made half of the desert, and as a holiday treat, I'm going to include my (mostly made up, partly adapted from a bajillian sources) recipe for you.

Our menu:
Wilted spinach salad with canadian bacon, shallots, and a reduced balsamic vinaigrette
Roast beef tenderloin
Tomato Maidera Coulis
Roasted fingerling potatoes
Broiled tomatoes stuffed with breadcrumbs and herbs

And, for desert:
Chocolate soufflé and chai poached pairs with cream sauce

Now, for the recipe!

Chai Poached Pears with Cream Sauce
serves 6 (or as many as you please)
For the pears:
  • 6 pears, preferably Bosc
  • either 1 teabag or 1.5 tsp looseleaf Chai per pear (so, in this case, 6 teabags, or 3Tbsps chai)
  • 1/4 cup sugar or less per pear (so, in this case, 1 1/2 cups sugar)
  • 1 cup water per pear (so, in this case, 6 cups water)
The pears are very easy to make.
  1. Peel the pears. You may core them if you really want, but the desert is most attractive when you do not core them and when you leave the stem in.
  2. Bring water to a boil.
  3. Once water is boiling, steep teabags for 5 minutes. If using looseleaf tea, use a paper tea filter or some other contraption to allow you to remove the leaves once done steeping. After 5 minutes, remove tea.
  4. Add sugar and bring to a low boil.
  5. Once mixture is boiling, add pears. Reduce temperature to 'low' or such that pears can simmer.
  6. Let pears cook at least 20 minutes. Check occasionally to make sure liquid does not completely boil down, and when checking, roll pears over on their sides.
  7. Remove 2 cups of poaching liquid, and, in a separate saucepan, reduce. You may use this, reduced, as a sauce if you do not want to make the cream sauce. It will still be delicious.

For the cream sauce:
  • 1/2 cup heavy (whipping) cream
  • 1 or 2 oranges worth of zest, reserve some
  • 5 slices of candied ginger
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 cups reserved poaching liquid
  1. Mince candied ginger.
  2. Combine ginger, honey, first portion of zest, and cream. Heat on the stove until honey is melted. Do not let cream boil.
  3. Simultaneously, cook poaching liquid to a boil and let it reduce.
  4. Once poaching liquid is reduced enough for your taste, lower the heat, and pour the poaching liquid into the cream mixture, stirring constantly.
To plate: In a bowl, place 1 pear per person. Pour cream sauce into dish. Finish with a pinch of the reserved orange zest, and, if you'd like, a drizzle of honey and a sprig of mint.

That's it! The pears are a very delicious and simple desert by themselves, but the cream sauce makes them a little more fancy for special occasions. As a big chai drinker I tend to have many different kinds lying around, and if you are able to choose, I'd recommend a chai with a hearty dose of cardamom and pepper. (If your family is adventurous, or loves heat the way mine does, the pears also are delicious with a grinding of black pepper.) Enjoy!

Sunday, December 23, 2007


Unlike many other bloggers out there, I have no fear in blogging my holiday gifts. It's much easier when the intended recipients don't know about the blog. =]

I'm glad I've learned to sew, because there are some projects that are much easier to complete, time wise, sewing than knitting. Purses, for example. I wish I knew good gifts for guys! It's so much easier for me to figure out good personalized (hand made) gifts for the females in my life.

Here's a list of gifts, by friend name, with photos attached when the item is complete. Family gifts are different and will come later:

Anna J:
icecream pint cozy
beer bottle cozy
Cozy family

Anna B:
1 set fetching; artsy clutch
Fetching with Artsy Clutch

pink polka no cash wallet

pleated beauty in green fabric & sparkly tweed
Pleated Beauty II

InStitches clutch.
Hannah's Clutch

Hannah's Clutch: The Inside

actually reads this blog, but knows one of her gifts is going to be a mini sweater ornament. If only I had size 5 dpns!

teacozy with removable flower pin
Teacozy with Flower

Friday, December 21, 2007

Knitting Needle Case Inspirations

As I'd said before, there are so many great knitting needle cases all around the blogosphere.

It was only after looking at all of these awesome tutorials and examples that I promptly forgot them and made my own case. =] I wanted to make sure to give credit where credit was due!

Knitting is a Gateway craft

Okay, so, between last post and this one...

I made a pleated beauty bag!
My Beautiful pleated beaty!

I am very proud of this. When I look at it, it looks more polished than anything else I've sewn, and I love the colors. I was originally planning on making this with the same brown and paisley as my needle case, but I was worried about messing it up, so I figured I'd do a 'test bag' in this blue (which lined my dpn case) and the brown, which was a fat quarter I got at JoAnn's. Well, technically, if I include the inner pocket I made, it was two fat quarters, but out of one I was able to make the pleats and the straps.

If I were making this again, which I plan on, I'd add a magnetic snap closure. I'd actually purchased some for this very bag, but by the end of the bag I was so tired of sewing and so anxious to have a finished project I forgot all about it. I think I'd like to make another one of these in the brown/paisley, but maybe do some embroidery on that one. I've been wanting an excuse to get Sublime Stitching patterns for a while, and the Craftopia set has some nice knitting images that could look good on the front of what would be my knitting bag.

One more picture...
Pleated Beauty

I know the images aren't great. Sometime after I've *actually* finished it (I still have to sew the lining hole closed) I'll take better pictures. My photo set up is really only the right size for yarn. =]

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

More about that sewing...

So, here is a picture of the outside of my DPN case:
DPN case!

I love the combination of brown and blue, and I like the blue paisley with both the other lgither blue and the brown. I *love* the blue stitching on brown fabric. True, it's much easier to see my mistakes that way, but I like to think it adds to the handmade quality. =]

Here is a view of the inside:
DPN case inside shots

You can see four of my five sets of DPNs in there. (My 7s are currently stuck in the still-in-progress not-touched-for-a-month second garter mug cozy.) I know I don't really have enough DPNs to warrant a case, but I somehow still manage to lose whichever one I need.

The case is almost but not quite done. I have two more seams to sew to connect the back paisley bit to the blue and brown pocket bit, and I have some iron ons to iron on. I hate wasting something as expensive as iron on material, so when I made my iron ons for my circular case, I made a bunch to use for these. For a while I debated not putting them on this case so I wouldn't feel bad if I end up with, say, two size seven needles, or the like, but I think I'd like the case better with them. I'll probably iron them on horizontally on the blue fabric.

Speaking of my circular are two pictures of that!
Circular needle case
And a close up...
Circular Needle Case
I am so proud of myself for both of them.

Though the circular case was almost exactly based off of the one in the back of Stitch n Bitch, the DNP case is my own design.

I couldn't find any measurements for pocket width of dpn cases, so I'll share what I did for mine!

I'm assuming that I'm going to store needles sizes 0-10, and then there are three larger pockets, either for more large needles or for other accessories. The largest pocket holds my metal gauge ruler.

To make the DPN case:
  1. I cut two pieces of the light blue fabric 22" long (as long as half the width) and 9" wide (because the tallest dpns I saw were 8.") I did the whole sew right sides together / turn inside out / iron thing.
  2. For the pockets, I cut four diagonal pieces of brown fabric. The diagonal goes from 2.5" on the short side to 4" on the taller side. I did the whole sew right sides together / turn inside out / iron thing for both of those, and I added a decorative zigzag stitch on the edge. Because I can.
  3. I sewed the brown pocket on the light blue fabric with the following pocket divisions:
    1. 1 small edge pocket, <1">
    2. 5 pockets 1" wide (for needle sizes 1-5)
    3. 4 pockets 1.5" wide (for needle sizes 6-9)
    4. 3 pockets 2" wide (for needle sizes 10+)
    5. 1 pocket ~2.5" wide (for accessories)
  4. After sewing the brown pocket to the blue fabric, I sewed the brown top flap to the blue fabric. Since I was going to attatch all the brown/blue stuff to the blue paisley, I didn't worry about the 'back' of the blue looking neat. The flap was cut on the same diagonal as the pocket, and it was sewn in with the longer part of the flap covering the needles with the shortest pockets.
  5. I cut out two pieces of blue paisley fabric and did the whole rs tog/stitch/flip/iron thing again. If I trusted my hemming abilities, I could've just cut this piece large and hemmed the sides. (Is that the right word?)
  6. I cut out 1 piece of brown fabric 4" wide and 44" long (aka, 4" wide on the 22" bolt, not cutting at the fold). I pressed this piece so that both sides of the long part were folded under, and I sewed (with a decorative zig zag stitch) the sides of the brown fabric down. This means I now had one piece of 44" long ~2" wide 'belt'.
  7. I sewed the belt to the back of the blue paisley. If I was a better sewer, I could've combined steps 6 & 7 to make the stitching nicer. As it is, I've decided it adds 'charm'.
  8. Last but not least, sew the blue paisley bit to the blue/brown pocket bit. Poof, you're done!
I know that wasn't much of a tutorial, what with no pictures or technical information, but since this is the second thing I've ever sewn, I'm pretty okay with the fact. Next up is sewing a tote (or two or three...) from the back of S 'n B.

As an early christmas present to myself (or, more accurately, an 'I have a 25% off B&N coupon to use up today' purchase) I bought Bend the Rules Sewing. Though most people tend to gravitate toward the bag on the cover, I have a MAJOR crush on the 'pleated beauty bag', and I happen to think I might have just enough brown and paisley to make one. I hope so! I know it's kind of silly to be all matchy matchy about my fabrics, but I love this fabric and color combination so much I see no reason not to...for now at least. Besides, this way if the bag turns out not-fit-for-pursedom, it can be a knitting bag, and it can match my other knitting accessories!

Allright, that's enough for now. If you're still bored, I updated my Ravelry projects page, so if you're on Ravelry, you can poke around there. Tata!

Monday, December 17, 2007

New craft excitement!

Now, I'm sure you're all wondering why I haven't posted anything about my knitting lately. Although I've added new untouched yarn to my stash and a new set of DPNS, and even some point protectors (since my rubber bands kept breaking) I haven't been knitting. I don't know if I knit a stitch this weekend. This is because I've been.....sewing!

I've never really sewn (with a sewing machine) before. I think this is for two reasons: I've never owned one, and I've never had things I wanted to sew. Being at home for a while solves problem one; I can use my mom's sewing machine. Problem two was solved the other day when I tripped over the circular needles that were living on my floor for the fifth time in one day. I needed a way to hold them, and soon. I was looking around the blogosphere and I found some beautiful cases for sale and some very nice hand made ones. Ultimately, I decided to follow the pattern in the back of Stitch 'n Bitch and make myself a nice hanging holder. I headed out to JoAnn's and got three different kinds of fabric: one that was a dark brown, one that was a periwinkle blue, and one that was a blue and white paisley. I only needed two (the brown and the paisley) for my circular case, but the back of SnB also had patterns for a totebag and a straight needle case, so I thought extra fabric would be a good idea.

Last night I finished my circular needle case. It's far from perfect, but it does the job well, and I like it. When I was debating what my next project should be, I decided on a DPN case. I only have five sets of DPNs but I somehow always manage to have lost whichever set I need. I modified the SnB pattern for straight needles to accommodate my needs. I'm almost done - all I need to do now is sew the patterned bit to the pocket bit. I suspect hand sewing is the way to go here, for various reasons. I also need to hand sew over the velcro for my circular case. Once both are done, expect to see pictures.

I'll get back to my regularly scheduled knitting soon. I'll have to if I want to finish all my holiday gifts!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Socks, p.1

In my search for the perfect sock pattern, I came across this wonderful article. It's a list of patterns that either don't pool or pool less than traditional patterns. Given my uncanny love for Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock Multi, I think this list will be good to keep around. =]

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Two changes

Hello all. I say all, but I don't know if I actually have many readers out there. =]

I changed my blog title. When I'd originally chosen 'liberally educated' I was still in college, and back then my course of study defined me much more than it does now.

When I signed up for Ravelry I was able to get the username "lamb." The name Lamb has special meaning to me because - it's actually my initials! I thought that it was particularly appropriate to have the word 'lamb' as part of the name for a knitting site, for obvious reasons. I'll do a longer post about the blog name later, but now I get to the main point of the post....

I have Ravelry progress bars up! WHEEE! These bars will update themselves as I update things on ravelry, meaning they're much more likely to actually be up to date than the other bars I'd had. I'm still keeping those non-automated bars for now so I can keep track of my 2007 FOs. It's nice to see all those 100%s. =]

So, I was only able to get my ravelry progress bars working thanks to help in the forums. In my desperate plea for assistance, I promised a super cool graphic to whomever helped me. The winner was...jhankie! Jhankie is the proud owner of a new blog, so I thought I'd give her a thank you graphic she could put on her blog, should she so desire. (And if she doesn't desire? I won't be at all offended. It's kinda a dorky graphic, and I stole the sheep pic from the internets.)


That's all for now. I've spent far too long on Ravelry today...I'm now the proud 'parent' (aka, volunteer editor) for three books!

Winding Time! (and a bonus yarn review)

So, after all my difficulties the other day trying to decide whether or not to wait until my winder came to wind the second skein for socks I wanted to make...the winder and swift came!

The swift is gorgeous. It's much larger than I expected somehow, but I think that's just because I hadn't been thinking properly. It's only as large as it needs to be to do its job, after all. Well, I put the swift together without even looking at the directions, it's that intuitive and beautiful. (Once it was together I did look at the directions just to make sure I got it right. =] ) The yarn winder was somewhat less intuitive, and I was panicking it was broken until I read the bit about how the yarn feeder (or whatever the metal doohickey is called) needs to be snapped into place. Ohhhhh...suddenly it all made sense.

To test my swift and winder combo, the first skien I wound was a red skein of Cascade 220 I've been using for the flower pins I've been making. I'd been knitting 'delicately' from the skein and re looping after I was done each you can imagine, it was a bit of a mess. But, with swift and winder to the rescue, I now have a lovely beautiful yarn cake! After winding that skein, I promptly wound all the windable yarn in the house....except for that second skien of sock yarn I'd been really really really wanting to knit. Why? Because I can't find it! Argh! It's not that my stash is that big, it's just horribly unorganized. I remember this had been in *a* bag, but I couldn't for the life of me remember what kind of bag or where. Not a good thing. On the upside, this gives me motivation to work on cleaning up a little more!

One interesting discovery in winding was the nature of my Organik yarn from The Fibre Company I bought at Purl earlier this fall. I had chosen three skeins all in the same colorway and they all looked the same. Unfortunately, each has a very different character when it comes to how it was spun. The first skein had a lot of little things that at first I thought were knots, but that were really just over twisted bits. Once I untwisted those, this was a very even skein. The second skein had some bits that seemed not to have been spun at all followed by places where the yarn was almost threadlike. The third skein was much like the second skein, but the unspun bits were even fatter and the thread bits were even thinner. I'm a little dissapointed. This yarn I bought for the lovely dye job. I've looked at the yarn on the company's website and I can't find the colorway I have; all the colorways Purl has of this yarn that drew me to it seem to be Purl exclusives. It also seems like (and I could be mistaken here) these Purl exclusive color ways are different sized skeins. Ravelry tells me this is a bulky yarn that gets 85 yards to the skein, where as my yarn says it's worsted and gets 100 yards...odd. Either way, 100 yards for almost $13 is a bit much to have these large variations in ply. I'd bought the yarn originally planning on knitting a Branching Out, and I'll probably still do that, but this probably isn't the best yarn for lace. If only it wasn't so beautiful!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Bear with me

I'm going to be changing the templates around again, because I still haven't found something I like. Bear with me, please, if the blog looks bad. =]

Sunday, December 9, 2007


So, let me preface my post by pointing out I'm aware this is a really lame thing to complain about. Lameness noted.

My birthday was back in November. For my birthday, I asked my mom for a yarn winder and a swift. I picked one out, and she said 'sure, I'll get them for you!'

It is no longer November. It is in fact, December, and almost a month after my birthday. In all fairness, I know it took me a while to pick out a winder, and I know it took my mom a while to get it, and we're getting it from a place that hand makes all the swifts, so I understand that the care that's going into it means it takes longer than two days (or two weeks, in this case) to get to me. That said, I want my swift! =P

I've finished up my La Vie de La Boheme, and I'm currently un-enamored of my Stag Bag, though that's only because now I have to sew stuff and I don't sew. This means that, other than my boring Holiday Presents (which are lots of little flower pins) I don't have all that much knitting going on. I really want to start a new pair of socks since I frogged my Columbine socks, but there's a problem...

I got this very exciting new book yesterday, Knitting Circles Around Socks, that has some not-s0-great patterns, but has an EXCELENT tutorial on how to knit socks on circular needles. Not just how to knit ONE sock on two circulars, no, how to knit TWO socks on two circulars! Only exactly what would solve my forgetfulness problem of not bothering to count rows as I know! The only problem with this is that it requires two balls of yarn. This isn't really a problem, since I have two skeins in each of two colorways in Lorna's Laces, a lovely yarn that comes one skein per sock. One of these skeins is already in something resembling a center pull lump, this is the skein that was once part of a columbine sock. The other skein is in its pristine skein-like glory, not-wound (i was about to say 'unwound' but that means something else entirely =P) and undefiled. I don't really want to spend the hours it would take for me to wind it into a center pull lump if my yarn winder and swift will be arriving soon.

Were they my own purchase, I'd have a way of contacting the company and asking nicely for an estimate. It's not that I'm rushing them, I'd just like to be able to plan my knitting around when it will arrive. Since it's a gift, I can't really do that, and I don't want to look a gift-swift in the spokes (heh heh) and ask my mom to check for me.

Alas alack what a terrible problem.

I think the solution will be either to finish my adaptation of the Interweave Holiday Knits mug cozy I was working on or start the Icecream Pint Cozy I've been admiring in the book Not Your Mama's Knitting. Let me say of this book: the name and color scheme dissapoints me. In many ways, this book is a much much better book than it seems. It doesn't just have the same basic 'how to knit' that lots of knitting books do, it has mini stitch pattern collections! Many of the patterns have variations that can get a whole new look out of the pattern - for example, the icecream cozy can be a beer cozy if you follow steps X, Y, and Z. The book's main problems are its name (which screams 'hip knitting book,' which makes me want to run in fear of fuzzy yarn) and the poor quality of the layout and the photos inside. The photographs, which are all in the center of this otherwise on normal paper book, all have odd color balance and look like they were taken by a beginning photographer. This wouldn't be a problem except for the fact that it's a KNITTING BOOK. I want to be able to look at the pictures and see this wonderful glorious knit object that I could imagine myself replicating and using. If the pictures aren't great, the object isn't going to look great, so I won't want to knit it. This isn't to say that I'd knit all the patterns in the book - there are a few of them, like the O'Gloves (arm length black gloves with garish silver 'accents) and the V neck sweater (a cute v neck that somehow was brutally mauled so it doesn't cover the model's belly button) I wouldn't wear if someone forced me. That said though, there are a lot of very nice patterns, and, though I haven't knit anything from it, the patterns look like they're well formated.

I don't own this book. It was one of my library books today. If it wasn't for the problems I'd mentioned above, I'd buy it in a heart beat, but right now I'd be a little ashamed to own something so seemingly garish. Silly and superficial of me, I know, but it's true.

Now, to go drool over the patterns in that silly book. =]

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Knitters Wishlist

The following is a list of patterns I want because I eventually hope to knit them but don't yet own the patterns. Have you noticed I like lists?

And, Knitting/Crafting books/magazines I would love someday:

  • Interweave Knits Fall 2007: for Tangled Yoke pattern (R) and the sock patterns purchased at LYS 12/13/07
  • Knitscene Fall 2006: for Central Park Hoodie pattern (R)
  • Knitting Nature by Norah Gaughn: all of it?
Knitting/Crafting books to get from the library:
  • Knit Wit: Okay, I only want one pattern (R), so I should just get this out of the library.
  • Last Minute Knitted Gifts: I only want the chevron scarf (R) and maybe hourglass (R)
I'll add more later, but, this is it so far.

Monday, December 3, 2007

December WIP Updates Continued: La Vie de La Boheme Shawl

Other than my Stag Bag, the knit that's been taking up most of my time (though little of my energy) is the shawl I've named my "la vie de la boheme" shawl. Yes, the name is a bit of a RENT reference...just a little one!

Technically, this is my first shawl. It's a very simple pattern and not terribly exciting to knit, but it's a very good fit for the yarn. As always, there's a bit of a story behind it.

Last winter I went up to Massachusets to visit my family up there, and for part of the time I stayed with one of my aunts who knits. She told me she'd take me to her local yarn store (where she'd worked for a while, and where she was friends with the owner) because I wanted a project to work on while I was there. I said I was looking for a one skein project that wasn't too difficult. They had a number of one skein shawls on display, and I saw one I loved, but it was on the ball band of a yarn I didn't. (I wish I remember what yarn it was... oh well.) Then I came across the La Boheme in a lovely poppy color. This yarn is a vibrant red with some streaks of rich purple. Though the red was gorgeous it's the sort of color that wasn't usually my thing, but I had to have it. Yeah, there's a story behind that too.

Most of my fancy dress up clothes are all black. While I have no problem with this, it's true it doesn't make for the most interesting wardrobe. I'd recently directed a production of Midsummer Night's Dream, and I'd worn a black dress to opening. My assistant costume designer (who was also an assistant assistant stage manager and everything else) decided I'd look good with a red shawl she had, so she brought it and draped it on me and it made me feel glamorous. I decided I needed a red shawl of my own, and when I was in the yarn store looking at the la boheme, it was as if fate plopped my shawl in my hands.

I bought the yarn as well as a pattern the shop owner had made and the saleswoman assured me would make a lovely one skein shawl from the la boheme and headed back to my aunts house. During that visit I knitted and knitted and knitted and didn't seem to be getting much of anywhere. My aunt was suspicious about the pattern and asked me if I wanted to start over (at that time I'd never frogged anything I'd knit) but, when I said I didn't want to, she said she did trust the people at the yarn store.

Well, I finished knitting the skein, and my 'one skein shawl' was barely large enough to fit around my neck, let alone drape on my shoulders! I was pretty frustrated - La Boheme is a pricy yarn at around $30 a skein. It was a planned extravagance, but I didn't want to invest that much more money into it, especially since the yarn, though beautiful, was such a pain in the ass to work with.

Long story short, I bought two more skeins of yarn, had a terrible run one night that ended with me undoing all my work and restarting knitting it, and spent hours and hours on the shawl. No matter how much more I knit, the shawl still didn't seem to grow. I gave up on it and left it sitting in my yarn pile for a while.

Thanks to lovely wonderful Ravelry, this October I decided to remedy my shawl situation. I decided ultimately I wanted a triangular shawl, not a rectangular one like I'd been knitting. I wanted something that was made for one skein, though I'd use at least part of my second skein, and I wanted something that'd show off the yarn. La Boheme is a two strand yarn with one strand of rayon boucle and one strand of mohair. I liked the eyelet portion of the Evil Shawl, but I didn't want to get much fancier than that for the pattern, since I knew the yarn itself was going to attract a lot of attention. I came across this wonderful one skein shawl pattern and, after reading that La Boheme was another recommended yarn, knew it was fate! I frogged the Evil Shawl, and got ready to bring new life to my la boheme.

The pattern is amazing, and just the kind of pattern I'm ready for. It's a simple and mindless knit, but it has room for variation for future knittings with different yarn. I've been dreaming of all the lace shawls I've seen, but never having done lace didn't feel ready. This will look lacy where I want it to, and it's given me an appreciation for how many triangular shawls are knit.

I've been working on this when I don't have the attention span or the patience for my stag bag. It's been a quick knit, and I've already used up one skein. My seconds skein broke into two chunks when I'd frogged the Evil Shawl, so I've decided to use at least half of this skein. It's going to be very large, but that's what I was hoping for. Pleasantly, it looks like it's going to be a warm shawl too, so I should be able to wear it for practical as well as aesthetic purposes.

I'll post some pictures as soon as I find my camera, but, for now, back to knitting!

Saturday, December 1, 2007

December WIP updates

It takes me far too long to get around to actually posting all the things I've been thinking about, knitting, and doing.

So, here is a WIP update:
  • Stag Bag
My stag bag is coming along quite nicely, and I'm proud to say I'm even adjusting the knit to be more what I'd like! The original pattern makes a flat tote like bag with a distinct front and back. The front has a picture of a stag in the woods surrounded by a chevron design, and the back has some pattern on it. Were I a more experienced knitter, I could describe the back to you just from reading the pattern....nope, not me. It being the back of a bag, people don't have many pictures of it, so I'm not sure what it looks like.

The most common complaint I've read about this project is that the bag ends up really really large. It seems almost carpet bag-esque in proportions, something I know I didn't guess from the pictures of the bag-with-girl with the pattern. As I was knitting the side chevrons, I realized (like many other people) that the size of just the stag portion was closer to what I'd want the finished purse to be like. I did, however, love the look of the side chevrons. So! I came up with an ingenious plan....the bag, rather than being shaped like a common tote bag (as a big tube) is going to have a front, a back, and sides - like a grocery bag! I tend to stuff my purses pretty full, so this should also make it easier for the bag to hold things without getting too lumpy.

So, I finished the front and two sides and I realized that maybe this bag, as designed, wasn't the best idea for see, I am a clumsy person. I will regularly put my current purse (which, like most purses, does have a 'back' and a 'front') on backwards. If I did that with this bag, it would be much less impressive. How could I solve this problem? Simple! Don't have a front and a back! I decided that, despite the extra work it'd take, it would be worth knitting up another stag pattern for the back. Since the pattern, particularly in my color choices, reminds me almost of a stained glass, I decided to reverse the pattern for the 'back'. This means that, while both sides have a deer, you could also see the designs as the 'front' and 'back' of the same deer - on the front it's looking to the right, on the back it's looking to the left. (If this doesn't make sense, imagine that you could put a 3D stag between the front and back of the bag, and it wouldn't have to flip around.)

I'm now in the position where I have my front and back stag portions, one of them attached to my two chevron sides. Still to go are attaching all the pieces, knitting the bottom, figuring out the straps, and choosing/sewing a lining. I've been delaying seeming the sides because I realized my chevron sides will be unbalanced - there are already two rows of knitted CC before the MC chevron design and after the MC chevron design. This means that, to use any yarn to attach the side to the back will add a third row of CC on one side, making the entire side asymmetrical. Since both sides will be asymmetrical in the same place it won't negatively effect the shape of the bag, just the look.

I'll admit I'm also nervous about the seaming because the seam is going to be in such a prominent place, and I don't have much (if any) experience in attaching the BO edge to a side edge. the handy little KnitSpeak book I got out from the library has some directions that should help, but I'll admit I'm still a little nervous, partly because this is my most impressive project yet, and one that will (hopefully) be getting a lot of wear. I figure if I mess up terribly, I can always knit a whole bunch of icord and go over all the seems in the end, like piping.

The other thing I'm trying to figure out is how I want to deal with the straps. I have never used bags with small straps - if the bag isn't easily accessible while still on my arm, I'm not interested. I've rarely used bags that don't have adjustable straps. This poses a problem, as most bag handles you can buy for knitted goods are neither long nor adjustable. What I'm thinking of doing is knitting a strap - because the chevron pattern is now the 'side' of my bag, I think I should be able to continue it up the length of the strap and down the other side to continue the look. I know there's no way a knitted strap would be strong enough on its own, but I was thinking I could knit a 'tube' (with the chevron on the 'right' side and solid MC on the 'wrong' side) and I was thinking I could then fill the tube with a strip of pleather or some other sturdy material. That way the bag could still have aesthetic continuity, but the structural integrity wouldn't be sacrificed.

Along those lines, (hah! joke!) I still need to figure out what I want to line the bag with. I think if I found a nicely patterned fabric, that'd probably be my first choice, but I haven't seen anything in the right colors. I don't like the main color enough on its own (it's a light brown) to want to line the bag in that, but I worry the contrasting color (a dark blue) would make the contents of the bag too difficult to see. I'm also a little concerned about the teeny tiny detail that I've never successfully used a sewing machine in my life....well we've all got to learn someday, right?