Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Other People's Knitting

Ah, the holiday season. So much gift-knitting. So much gift-knitting that you can't post pictures of for fear of ruining the surprise. "What do you mean you saw that scarf on the Internet? Santa knit that!" (If Santa is half as magical as people make him out to be, you can be sure he's a knitter. ) So what's a blogger to do? Steal from the blogless! (or blog-free as the eponymous Rachel H prefers)

I went through a good slew of posts blogging about my gal Cathy, and now I suppose I'm in a "Barbara" phase. I wrangle yarn with Barbara back at the Romni Ranch, and recently got roped in (Ow! My sides! They're splitting!) to modeling her latest creation, the Bellwood Cowl and Cap:

Pattern available on Ravelry and Patternfish.

You might recognize the Barbara touch if you have a copy of Amy Singer's No Sheep for You. She's credited in the book as a "colour genius" though as much as I admire her sense of colour, I think the genius lies more in her use of mosaic knitting. Mosaic knitting, people! Do it! It's totally easy!

One of the things I really like about mosaic knitting is it's tendency to look a lot like mod-sixties sort of prints.

(Remember my one and only (so far... wait, can you use parentheses inside parentheses? Or do they have to be those math kind of brackets like [this] or {this}? Where's Strunk and White when I need them?) attempt at mosaic knitting?)

(Totally stolen Flickr photos - I hope the rightful owners don't mind)

You can make pictures with the mosaic technique too, though it's a little limited. It's a bit like pixel art - everything turns out looking a little robotic:

Or as Amy Singer thinks in this pattern: Devo-esque

(More blatantly stolen photos, this time from Knitty and the Knitty blog respectively)

Wait, this was supposed to be a post about blogless Barbara and I ended up mentioning dual-blogger Amy. Oops! Well, there you go. Until I knit something available for release on my blog you will just have to be satiated with material regurgitated from other internet sources. Wait, does that mean I'm a real journalist now?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Make Do and Mend

The old war-time adage "Make do and mend" seems to be gaining popularity, what with the current economy and all. It's suddenly chic and ecologically friendly to save, fix and re-use things. Funny, as my first thought when something breaks has always been to fix it. Maybe that's because I always seem to be in a state of financial crisis regardless of the Dow Jones.

MAKING DO:


(Sorry, you will all just have to "make do" with early mornin post-work photos taken with the self-timer.
My head may be cut-off, but trust me, you don't want to see my expression pre-coffee)


I suppose this wasn't so much an exercise as making-do, as an exercise in patience. Sure the pattern was free and the fabric thrifted, but if it takes three days of pulling out your hair, is it really worth it?

Okay, I guess it is. I love this skirt. The details almost killed me, but it fits like a dream. High-waisted, stylish, that bizarre pinky-orange sherbet colour that only seemed to exist in the sixties... I couldn't tell you what the fabric is, but the pattern is Kasia from the Burda Style site. Sew at your own risk: this pattern is not for the faint of heart.

MENDING:

I have a pretty sweet deal when it comes to haircuts. I call my friend Laire, I go to his place or he comes to mine, he cuts my hair and I pay him in trade. In the past, repairing a shirt, hemming a pair of pants and sewing some pillows have provided me with some pretty stylish do's. After my last cut, I was presented with a pair of hand knit socks in dire need of repair. I'm not talking about a simple running stitch or hole in the toe, these socks looked as though someone had placed cherrybombs in the heels, lit a match and headed for the hills.

The socks had been knit by Laire's 'Nana" who has sinced passed away. (Strong sentimental value will drive people to wear their socks until they appear mangled by small explosives.) Apparently Nana was all but blind when she knit these socks, meaning I had my work cut out for me. I thought "No problem! I'll just rip back the old knitting, pick up the stitches and knit a new heel. Piece of cake!". After a night of fighting with worn out acrylic loops of yarn I was ready to start paying for haircuts with cold hard cash. Then I saw Laire and realized how much the socks meant to him. Dammit! I persevered:


I knit an "afterthough heel", for those playing along at home.


My next "haircut project" is all picked out (a slouchy toque) but the hairstyle itself is not. I'm thinking about doing something drastic. Maybe it's those Northern Exposure re-runs I keep catching, but I feel like doing something drastic.

I'm a little apprehensive about going short though. A bad head-shaving incident at 17 left me looking like a pudgy 12-year old boy. What if people think I'm a boy? What if I look less like Maggie O'Connel and more like A.J Soprano? I'll keep you posted on whether I take the plunge or get cold feet (Ha! Cold feet! Northern Exposure?! Sigh...)

Monday, November 10, 2008

Jenny Jenny WOOH Jenny Jenny!

You all know the Little Richard song, right?

After knitting five Jenny Cloche hats in a row, I couldn't get the song out of my mind. I kept picturing a movie montage with me knitting and knitting, wiping my brow, pausing to crack my knuckles and stretch my neck. Then the music would fade, I would lean back in my chair, put up my feet and admire the giant pile of hats I had created with all that hard work.

Okay, so five hats does not a giant pile make, but then again, I'm not living in a movie either. I did however, customize them all to be a little different from the last:


3 metal studs!

Braided gold trim!
(hard to see in the photo, but trust me, it's there)


Be-jewelled!

Classic black with satin ribbon!

And my personal favourite...

Emerald green with a peacock feather!


Now all the little Jennys have gone to live at Shopgirls . Hopefully, they will all be taken home by nice rich ladies with absolutely no clue how to knit.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Raspberry Boysenberry Beret

Boing!


PATTERN: Bounce from Yarn Ball Boogie
YARN: Farmhouse Yarns Andy's Merino
COLOUR: Boysenberry (sorry, I think it's discontinued)

I bought two skeins of this yarn at Purl two years ago with the intention of making a shrug, but never found the right pattern. The poor yarn languished. Once in a while I would visit the yarn, look at it, admire it's lovely saturated colour, it's fabulous squooshiness, and wonder what it might become. I thought the yarn had met it's match with Knitty's Mosey legwarmers but alas, the yardage was skimpy and the gauge was off. Then I tried knitting a Jenny with the yarn doubled - too stiff! Finally, one fateful day while blog-hopping... Bounce! A squishy beret pattern knit with the very same Andy's merino? Parfait!


Bounce became my NYC vacation knitting; appropriate, no? Knitting the yarn in the land from whence it came?


While the finished product is quite nice, I'm finding it far too large. I know it's supposed to be large, but I have my limits. If the hat falls off when you bend over? Too big. If the hat rests on the top of your shoulders? Too big. If the hat can be easily confused with something one would stuff their dreadlocks into? TOO BIG! (There's a fine line between over-sized beret, and rasta-hat).



I DID however like the pattern's method of knitting brioche stitch, but would love to figure out a way to work the same method in the round. Hats knit flat? Why?

Big thanks to Barbara for the pictures, and to Cathy for once again (unknowingly) providing the locale.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

New York: the Yarn

What does a yarn store employee do when let loose in Manhattan? Why visit other yarn stores, of course!

First stop, the ever-charming Purl in Soho.

This is where I encountered my first celebrity:

"Oh my god! It's the Lace Rib cowl!" I fondled many a yarn here, marveling at my new-found ability to recognize familiar yarns from twenty paces. In the end, I picked up a couple of lovely skeins of Farmhouse Yarns:

On the right is Andy's Merino in "Seabreeze" and on the left is Lumpy Bumpy yarn by Charlene. As if the colours weren't enough, how can you resist these labels?

Look at wee Charlene! How can you say no to a face like that? Of course, I've only just got around to knitting the yarn I got at Purl two years ago, but hey, at least I've got a pattern in mind for this stuff. Wouldn't the lumpy-bumpy make a great Urchin?

Next I headed to Habu and School Products, conveniently located a few blocks from my hotel (I swear I didn't plan it that way). I went to School Products intent on finding cashmere and was not disappointed.


I picked up two skeins of yummy tweed cashmere. It may look rough and tumble but trust me, it feels like buttah!

I'm now kicking myself for buying two skeins in two different colours. I thought I could get one hat per skein, but it may be a little tight. Oh well, there's always the stripe option... or I could just use it as a pillow. Mmm...cashmere pillow...

Last but not least, my first trip to Habu!


So much weird, wild stuff! I sorted through the skeins of yarn made from paper, pineapple and actual fishnets(!), to find something complimentary to knit along with the Habu bamboo I got at the Knitter's Frolic last spring. I ended up with what almost everyone seems to buy from Habu:

Stainless steel / wool knit together with bamboo? It should prove interesting.

So that's the haul, and none of it counts because it's vacation yarn, right? Now that I'm back at home, I'm trying to hunker down and knit a few more hats to sell at Shopgirls and then it's jingle all the way to x-mas knitting. Eeek!