Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Busy Day

Still turning this:


into this:


So much fun.  Two-thirds done now.  I’m also eating Girl Scout cookies, and falling in love with Bradley Cooper (for bringing his mom to the Oscars) and Daniel Day-Lewis (who needs reasons?) and listening for birdsongs that mean spring is headed my way, and buying tickets to go see Michael Nesmith, and reading Mr. Bridge, and making Spaghetti Bolognese.  If you only have time for one of those things, I really must recommend you go with the pasta.  Seriously.  You will love it. 

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Interminable Gingham-Effect Scarf


Omigosh, I’ve been working on this scarf forEVer.  It was in progress so long that I sort of forgot about it, and when it did wander across my mind, I doubted whether I was going to like it well enough to keep working on it.  It hunkered there in the work basket almost a year.  A year! 


The problem is that the yarn is so utterly delicious that it hardly seemed worthy of any project at all, and the more I looked at it and cuddled it, the more I didn’t like the scarf, just for using it up.  This is two skeins of Madelinetosh DK in the color “Faded Chinos”, worked on US 5 needles.  Oh my goodness, the Madtosh.  So gorgeous. 


I saw the gingham-effect stitch pattern in this book, cast on with the Tosh, and was enchanted—for about ten minutes.  After which time I had to keep reminding myself it was there.   I took it with me to appointments; anywhere I knew I’d be a captive to it, just to make some progress.  (That’s how this happened, incidentally.) 


As it grew, it started to pull in like ribbing, and I worried, so I steam-blocked the first half, just to make sure.  I almost ripped it out, so many times.


When finally it was long enough, I bound it off, worked a crochet crab stitch around the edge, and then blocked it again, this time by soaking it in the sink and then spreading it out on the floor.  I glared at it as it dried, trying to make it stay flat with the force of my will.  It still pulls in a little.  Yargh.


Look at that stitch definition!  Swoon.  I am mad for the Madelinetosh.  It’s the best thing about this project.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Koolhaas Hat


Next time you get bronchitis, you should go and spend a week with your mom, who will pour you ginger ale (and calvados) and get you some cough syrup and offer you a dry tissue and never, ever look at you like you’re about to give her typhoid, not even when it sounds like your entire lungs are dissolving.  Moms are the very best, and I love mine a lot.

I was away over Valentine’s Day, which meant that when I got off the plane yesterday, there was my man, standing there holding flowers and a heart-shaped box of candy, and I can’t even tell you how happy I was to see him.  Everyone else getting off the plane was so jealous.  They all wanted to go home with him, too, I could tell.  The weather was gusty, and the airplane was jumping all over the place, so I was a little sideways, but I managed to knit him this hat anyway, and all those cables kept me entertained for hours. 


That’s the Koolhaas Hat by Jared Flood, knit in Paton’s Classic, in a color called Tree Bark.  Look at it snow, wow.  I made this one just in time, I guess. 

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Striped Cardigan with Colorwork


Years ago when I worked in an ice cream shop, we had a flavor called Superman.  Red, aqua, and bright yellow ice cream, it was a big favorite of the eight-year-old boys in the neighborhood.  I thought it was so gross.  Stir it together too much and you get gray.  Bleah. 


The whole time I was knitting this, I worried that it was looking like Superman ice cream.


I’m kind of a worrier. 


I guess I should give myself a break, though, because this turned out pretty good.  Actually, I love it. 


I began with Driftwood by Isabell Kraemer (that’s the perfect sweater pattern, by the way, and it is free.  Free!) and converted it to a cardigan by knitting back and forth rather than in rounds.  I added the colorwork sections, the charts for which I borrowed from the pattern for the Sunshine Bag, from this book.  Yarns used are Paton’s Classic Wool in Bright Red, Currant, and Highlighter Pen Lemongrass, Ella Rae Classic in Turquoise, and Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran in a pale grayish blue, the last being an unadvisable yarn choice when performing the death-defying steek, what with its microfibers and all.  That’s the one that scares me the most, vis-a-vis the steek, and hopefully I have secured the ends well enough.  Well, it was the right color, what can I say? 

Here’s what the steek looks like on the inside.  It’s a hot mess, I know.  


I clipped off any yarn ends that were going rogue and then whipstitched around the whole shebang, securing it to itself and to the layer beneath it.  The theory is that with wearing and washing, that tacked-down bit will snuggle up and felt together and become super-secure.  Fingers crossed! 


Button bands were knit, and the collar.  I tacked down the edges of the flap at the inside, and then wet-blocked the garment, which made the stranded colorwork section sit up and behave. 


This looks just the way I imagined it.  Success!  I love it when that happens. 


I’m getting on a plane tomorrow, to go and spend a week with my mama.  That’s her painting up there, of Central Park in New York.  Isn’t it lovely? 

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Eeeek, it’s a steek!



It snowed again yesterday (hence the dim lighting), and it was one of those apocalyptic storm events during which the TV weatherman takes off his jacket and rolls up his sleeves because he figures he’s going to be there all night in the Action WeatherCenter, reporting on the blizzard and keeping us informed, but then it ends up snowing about a foot or so, which is typical for my neighborhood this time of year, and this storm ended up being not that big a deal.  Anyway, it looked pretty, and while the snow was pouring down, I baked cookies, did the laundry, and finished the knitting on this sweater while watching a confusing but also interesting movie about the Shakespeare authorship debate.  These things always leave me with a lot of questions, and I always have trouble figuring out which Earl is which, so I just ate cookies and knitted and tried to pay attention. 

Then it was time to deal with the steek.  It was too early in the day for alcoholic courage, so I had to do this cold, and it is seriously intimidating.  For those just tuning in, a steek is a bunch of extra stitches the middle of which I am going to take my scissors and cut so as to open up the front and make this a cardigan.  The steek is that pixellated bit in the middle of the stranded colorwork section, which folds to the inside and doesn’t show in the finished garment.  The pink and red stripes were knit back and forth, so this time I only have to cut open the colorwork. 


First, you reinforce.  There are a number of ways to do this, and I decided to use the crochet method.  I located the exact center of the steek and then worked a row of single crochet stitches underneath the column of knitted stitches directly beside the center. 



Then I flipped the sweater around and did the same on the opposite side of the center.



Those crochet stitches [are supposed to] hold everything together while you cut the knitting and then work the button bands.  They fold to the inside where you don’t see them. 

Deep breath.  Pick up scissors.  Double and triple check.  Deep breath.  Remind self it’s only yarn. Deep breath.  Cut.


I’m not gonna lie to you; it’s a little unnerving.  I’m cutting my what?  With whaaat??




In my (limited) experience, a cutting a steek has never resulted in disaster.  Let us hope that is the case here.  Those fringy ends unsettle me. 

Thursday, February 7, 2013



Between wallowing in the extreme gorgeousness of Kaffe, messing with knitting stranded colorwork on a sleeve with double-pointed needles (oh the humanity!  The ends!  The giant entire sweater flopping in the way of everything!  Serenity now!) and spending four hours watching Tess of the D’Urbervilles in an attempt to stay in touch with what my son is working on in school (if watching sumptuous BBC adaptations of classic literature is what it takes to be a good parent these days, well, I guess that’s the price I’ll have to pay) I decided to take up needlepoint. 

There was this first:


This is my (still-unblocked) version of Anna Maria Horner’s free pattern.  It measures about 4” x 6”, and I did it all in a morning, which made me then start looking around the room for more things I could needlepoint.  Being who I am, there were actually a couple things to choose from, and so I picked up this piece of canvas, sorted out some colors from my improbably large tapestry yarn stash, and just started.


Within two episodes of Here’s the Thing with Alec Baldwin (Lena Dunham and Billy Joel) I had this much done.  I love this so far, love it!  I love it just the way it is; the graphic modern-ish squares pattern against the burlap-y-ness of the plain canvas.  Oh man, I adore it.  To think I’ve been hanging on to all this stuff in hopes of somehow coming up with a gorgeous fancy flower design, with blown roses and patterned pottery.  As if I could do that.  Sometimes you’ve just gotta know yourself, and then dive in. 

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Goings On


So cold here.  I walk a lot these days, and I love that thing that happens to the inside of my face after a walk in the bitter cold; you know what I mean?  After you’ve been out in it, and you come indoors where it’s warm and you just feel your nose shrinking, like your face is very gently shriveling up?  I love that.  That’s how you know you’ve earned a hot chocolate. 

I made the best soup the other day, from no recipe; just throwing things into the pot, with yellow peas and onions and carrots and a good homemade broth from the freezer and a big slab of gorgeous ham, smothered in fat.  Salt, pepper, olive oil.  Garlic.  Curry powder.  Vinegar.  I don’t remember what else.  Soup is always sort of a one-of-a-kind experience with me.  It’s always pretty good though.  I have soup mostly figured out. 

I have so many projects in progress right now, including three (!) new pairs of socks all started on the same day, but all I feel like working on today is the big striped thing.  Stripes.  They’re the best.  The big striped thing is halfway done now. 

I’ve been reading Kaffe Fassett’s book Dreaming in Color, and ohmygoodness, I am so inspired.  I’ve been loving Kaffe since the ‘90s, when I came upon him in this book, and then went fully mad for fabric.  He’s one of those people I just wish I could know.