Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Plans

Hey you guys, I am going to Rhinebeck this year.  It is happening!  I feel like an eight-year old getting ready for her first trip to Disneyland.  The wall-to-wall woolly-ness.  The leaves and the cider and the like-minded people all around.  Oh, sigh!  Lovely.  The first thing to figure out is:  what on earth to wear?  Rhinebeck is where yarn lovers let their mad skills out and let their freak flags fly, and I thought this would make all my current mostly-stockinette projects fall by the wayside so I could plan some kind of epic garment--there has been a LOT (more than usual, even) of trawling through patterns, but I am as yet undecided.  Anything I make specifically for that occasion still has to fit into the regular wardrobe when I get home, and that makes a delicate balancing act.  I love the idea of starting something special.  I think I will enjoy the lengthy search through pattern options, and if the search turns up nothing that really wants to be my Rhinebeck Sweater, I'll just wear something from the shelf in the closet and be happy.  I do have these to show you, little mitts I made while the weather was too warm to be worrying about cold hands, but they will be just right in October.  These were designed by me, using up some scraps--the two main colors are Dream in Color Classy, in a discontinued colorway, some kind of antique gold [here are their current colorways, lock up your credit card before you click that link, whoo] and the ubiquitous Patons Classic Worsted in Lemongrass.  The contrast colors are all from the leftovers basket--I think the pink is from my experiments in dyeing with avocado pits.  I thought about going on ahead and making them into mittens, and once October is over and winter sets in hard and there is no place in my life for naked fingertips, I might do that, just pull out the bind off at the top of the hand and thumb, and do some decreases until the fingers are covered.  Meanwhile, though, I like them this way.  By the way, the main stitch pattern is from this book, and the contrast color band is something I just improvised.  
Maybe instead of a whole sweater just for Rhinebeck, I'll wear a ton of accessories, like these?  A hat, a cowl, interesting socks.  Less commitment.  Especially since, what with Doc as always coming along for the ride, and as always planning to be kilted up and looking fine, he will be needing a new sweater.  
A Rhinebeck Sweater for Doc.  Coming up soon. 

Monday, August 7, 2017

Stormy Weather

Catdog reclines in an elusive patch of sunlight.  She'd rather be outdoors, but it is already raining again.  I have a finished cardigan to show you--Mazzy, by Elizabeth Smith--which I've worn all day today and I love it, but it has turned gray and gloomy and there is not a ray of light to be found.  This cardigan is pretty great though, in spite of a huge chunk of mistakes (made by me when things on Orphan Black got really compelling--no spoilers, I'm only on Season Three) in the cables at the back of the collar:
Keeping it real.  There are at least twelve individual mistakes in that photo, but Donnie was in the car with Dr. Leekie, and my attention was not on the cabling.  Orphan Black!  I am in the grips of that show.  If you're current on happenings in recent episodes, please don't tell me.  
Anyway, Mazzy is going to be a great layering piece for fall and winter.  And apparently for right now, too.  I used KnitPicks Wool of the Andes Tweed in Wellies Heather, and there are just enough flecks in it to disguise the incredible quantities of dog hair that cling to me everywhere I go.  Dogs are great.  Dogs are the best.  
 

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Re-folded

My friend Al and I were talking about linen the other day.  I want to make shirts, pants, dresses--okay, everything--out of linen right now.  Curtains.  Sheets.  Lacy petticoats.  What else is there?  Linen is so great.  Soft, always getting softer, and covered in wrinkles, but the very best kind of wrinkles, the kind that make you look like you've spent the day yachting with the Kennedys.  After the Esme dress I made last summer clung like crazy to everything and I finally ditched it in sad desperation, you all advised me about linen, and you were right.  Anyway, Al had this piece of nubbly, natural, untreated and homespun-looking linen in his stash, leftover from some kind of breadmaking endeavor, and he gave it to me.  I made a Kiomi top (from Lotta Jansdotter's book "Everyday Style") and I'm hoping there is enough summer left to wear it.  
As many of you will already know, the master pattern sheets in that (gorgeous and inspiring) book are a special hell to decipher, but once you have identified and located, traced and cut the pattern pieces out, whew, you are through the worst of it and the sewing is easy peasy.  I think this simple little shirt is going to be a really useful wardrobe piece for me, especially in a regular, real summer year, where it is hot for many days.  You know, summer, instead of whatever this is.  
I was about to fall asleep last night when suddenly, the specter of my sorta-finished Folded drifted malevolently into my mind, making me feel guilty and unsettled, and I realized that if I expect to wear this anytime at all, and certainly before approximately a year from now, I'd better get in there and fix it.  This thing was done, blocked, and sitting on the shelf in the closet, awaiting a public outing, and it sat there for a long time, unworn, before I finally admitted to myself that it was too short, and also a little too narrow at the bottom hem for my personal taste.  Which was a little bit of a pain, because Folded is worked from the bottom up, which means that too-narrow hem was the cast on edge, and one of the only non-magical things about knitting is that you can't just unravel from where you started--you can only unravel from where you ended.  Well, I didn't want to rip out the whole sweater and start over, making the cast on edge bigger (for a wider hem) and I didn't want to just abandon the sweater altogether (this is Madelinetosh Merino Light!  Yummy!) so the only thing left was to cut off the hem and knit it down from there, which after lying awake in anticipation of the endless tedium of doing that, I finally did this morning, and it was an hour of work.  Note to self:  See?  Get in there and get it done, you'll feel better.  To remove the hem, I snipped one stitch right above the ribbing, unpicked each stitch one at a time, and put each loop back on the needle, one at a time, until I had all the stitches live again, and ready to knit--top down, this time--where I will work an extra set or two of increases and add more length to the whole thing, finally ending with the ribbing.  It's a little bit painful to do this, cutting into a completely finished object with scissors and then picking at it for an hour, but honestly, it is waaaayy less painful than knitting an entire sweater in fingering weight yarn and then never wearing it because I'm too lazy to spend half a day fixing a small problem.  That's not how I want to roll.  So, tonight I will knit a few inches of stockinette and then the ribbing, and then I will want to wear this. Luckily, the weather is perfect for it.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Pants Edition

These gloomy days are really trying me.  It has been raining buckets for what seems like weeks, and the lake is already sandbagged and overflowing. The furniture feels clammy.  Life has become damp.  I know it is like this everywhere (except where it is hotter than Mordor) and I feel like we should all just hold hands and dance in the puddles together, but all I really want to do is nap.  I love a good rainstorm now and then, but it's just been too much this year.  Too much water, too much cold.  As the rain hammered down on the roof the other day, I put on a sweater, tuned in to Tom Petty Radio on Pandora and sat down at my sewing machine to turn the frown upside down and accomplish something.  This Pants No. 1 pattern by Sonya Philip has been in the back of my mind, and sometimes in the front of it, ever since she released it.  I love the idea of these simple pants so much--two pattern pieces + a few yards of linen fabric + a little elastic = instant gratification wardrobe staple.  These are the pants I want/need.  This is what you wear with those long-ish dresses and tunics I keep seeing everywhere, but that cling to my cotton leggings like a hungry bear.  It feels like these will fill a little bit of a gap in the wardrobe.  This test pair, made in about an hour (sewing, I love you!) out of a piece of thrifted linen, are the perfect lounge-y, pajama-y pants.  I am wearing them right now.  I want to wear them all the time.  
Brown linen, or maybe charcoal?  Black silk, hoo!  That would be so good.  Anybody know a good source for medium-weight silk?  You sewers in the vicinity of the 6th Avenue garment district, I am keenly envious.  In my little neck of the woods, unless you want to make a quilt or a prom dress, there is no fabric to be found.  Maybe a road trip to NYC is in my future, because this first pair is not going to be my last.  [What if I used a drop cloth from the hardware store?  Would that work?  I am being serious...]
Next up:  a whole bunch of Kiomi shirts, also in thrifted/gifted linen, from Lotta's book Everyday Style, also totally easy and wearable--the hardest part of that project will be tracing the pattern from the master sheet, which looks like a road map of the whole world, all at once.  That'll be a workout for my bifocals, but the sewing is smooth sailing, all the way.  

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

7.18.17

 
I have not been able to resist making this sweater.  It is Granito by Joji Locatelli.  Such beautiful simplicity, that thing.  Those pefectly placed pockets.  The skinny sleeve/baggy body combo that I'm so into right now.  Even though I suspect this otherwise very good yarn (Holst Supersoft) is not a good match for the pattern--Supersoft is quite rustic and a little bit scruffy and light as a feather, which is ordinarily one of it's big advantages, but it isn't going to drape at all, and Granito seems to need drape--I had some Supersoft in the stash and this pattern was crying out to me.  It may work out just fine, but somehow that isn't the point right now.  I have reservations, indeed I had reservations when I set out, but I am enjoying it anyway, and I might surprise myself--it could be perfect.  It might!  We knit on the porch, Catdog and I.  She offers advice and suggestions, and raises an eyebrow slightly at me now and then, when I make an ill-considered yarn substitution, but for the most part she is intent on the arrival of the garbage truck or the mail carrier or somebody going by on a bike, and can't really be bothered with my yarn problems.
In non-sweater news, I am clearing out my closets and foisting all the granny blankets on my kids, who unwittingly walked into my trap this week and are now doomed to be sent home overloaded with Mom's Crochet.  Honestly, I love all these blankets (you may remember some of them) but there are only so many beds around here, and only so many blankets two people can use.  Go forth into the world, yarny blankets, and keep warm the assorted college students and bohemians.  (And take a few quilts with you!)
A couple of my beautiful girls brought their own projects in progress with them, too.  I may have taken seventy-three photos and a couple videos of them knitting and crocheting, and teaching each other to knit, oh my goodness.  It never gets old.  

Sunday, July 9, 2017

These Days

Hi there!  It is summer.  It kind of comes and goes this year, which, thinking back, is kind of how it always goes.  I don't know why I keep being surprised by that.  Last night was freeeeezing, and I doubled up on quilts and wool socks again, and had to shut all the windows, and now, today, well.  You can see how the catdog feels about it.  Warm, sunny, summertime.  The sky is the color of the couch.  Oh, right!  The couch!  I kept forgetting to tell you about it.  Okay, this is the Ecktorp sofa from Ikea, which we bought I think back in 2012, and I had two plain white slip covers for it.  (Guys, don't get a white couch without getting a spare slipcover.  Serious. What are you going to sit on while the only slipcover you have is soaking in OxiClean?) Anyway, after awhile, one slipcover had gotten pretty grubby--and also, I get bored and like to change everything around about every five minutes-- so Michelle and I cooked up another vat of indigo and without any hesitation, I dunked it.  Oh goodness, I love it.  Its the color of blue jeans [obviously] and I think it will fade in kind of a gorgeous blue jeans way [also obviously] and I can hardly wait to watch that happen.  I love that old-blue-jeans-grayish color.  I await that, and also all the other fading iterations of indigo blue this slipcover will undergo.  They are all good.  Indigo dyeing is so much fun.  Everything white that isn't nailed down suddenly looks like a good candidate to be indigo.  I still have the other slipcover, which is still white (for now, for now...) and so will probably alternate them, which should keep me entertained for awhile.  
 
With summertime comes another of my favorite things.  An Open Window, aaahhhh. There's almost nothing better than an open window.  It's really true.  I sit all day beside one open window or another, knitting and drinking coffee, reading and knitting and drinking coffee.  The warm wind blows across the orchards and ruffles the pages of my book, and I can smell dirt and rain and lilies.  The cardinals in the yard say, "Burrito, burrito, burrito!"  I am a summer flower, no doubt about it.  I am also a pragmatic Northerner, though, and I always remember that our summers here are fleeting and that soon (sob), sooner than you would believe, it will be cold again.  So I knit things like this:
This is Basic No. 2, my own top-down, worsted-weight, 5 sts/inch turtleneck pattern, knit this time with a Camaro-inspired rainbow palette across the body and sleeves.  Those stripes!  Bliss.  I feel like this is something I would have worn in 1978, while watching Starsky and Hutch [speaking of which, hoo!  That show was so full of handknits.] I feel like my first boyfriend Bobby from next door had this shirt.  It makes me think of the Brady Bunch and my Huffy ten-speed bike and spending entire fall Saturdays reading comic books.  Next time I'm gonna lower the stripes about two inches, which will make it totally perfect, but this one is nearly there.  The collar is huge.  Ultra.  Mega.  It's 11 1/2" tall, meant to be folded over for a double-thick, no kidding, all-the-way-warm turtleneck.  My neck is pretty long and I am always wishing for more collar on a sweater like this.  It looks a little bit like a neck brace, but I'm telling you, when the wind is howling (just a few months, friends) I will be enjoying that super tall, ultra mega collar very, very much.  Developing these sweater template patterns that are just right for me has been the most rewarding project I can remember.  

Friday, June 30, 2017

Summer sweaters, in action

It is raining again.  Or still.  I can't remember a time when it wasn't raining.  I know this is happening everywhere, but come on.  I wore this wool (WOOL!) turtleneck (TURTLENECK!) on Sunday.  We went to Syracuse to see Bob Dylan [the Great Man, in person, hoo!  He could not have been less interested in the audience, or whether we could see him, or whether we were having fun, but I was thrilled anyway.  There's a perfect review of the show here.] Not too warm for a turtleneck, out there beside Onondaga Lake on a summer evening.  Nope, nice and chilly.  This is Stormtracker by Alicia Plummer (I might as well throw out my Ravelry queue and just start knitting her designs.  I love every single one of them) knit in Patons Classic Worsted, colorway "Mercury", which a slightly grayed navy.  I modified the sleeves by working them even for six inches and then starting the decreases, and they fit much better.  Anyway, I love it, and I hate that I can wear it right now.  
 
Also, this is in daily rotation, too.  This is the sweatshirt I have always wanted and needed.  I made this one up myself, and this time I wrote down everything I did so I can refer to it again next time.  This is Basic No. 1, in Cascade 220, color 4010 (heathery gold) and 4192 (shell pink).  Those two colors keep cropping up in my stash, over and over again.  That golden heathery mustard color is so close to perfect it aches.  Anyway, the next time I want to make a top-down crew-neck sweater in worsted weight yarn at a gauge of 4.5 st/inch I won't have to do all the math and figure it out from scratch.  It's taken me how long to do this?  I've made probably fifty DIY sweaters over the years, and I am just now getting around to keeping track of these things.  I know.  I'm working on Basic No. 2now (a worsted weight turtleneck at a gauge of 5 sts/inch) and I'm writing all that down, too.  I'm so happy this is finally getting done.  Knitting life will be so much easier.