Monday, January 29, 2007

They Might Be Pirates

Here is the completed hat, We Call Them Pirates, from HelloYarn.

This was a study in yarn dominance. Often I don't really understand a knitting concept until I've tried it, and learning knitting is a very tactile experience for me. I have a hard time conceptualizing the process outside of my actual hands. I'd read about yarn dominance, but until I saw my little pirate heads fading into the background on the first few rounds of the pattern on this hat I didn't really GET it.

Some after-the-fact embroidery around the base of this hat obscures the issue somewhat, but close examination might reveal a change from first pirates to subsequent pirates after I switched the cc to my left hand. That's counterintuitive for me because my right hand is elsewise quite dominant.

All said, the pirates turned out swimmingly. Many thanks to Hello Yarn for the clever (and free!) pattern.

PATTERN: see link above
YARN: Classic Elite Princess (I love this yarn!) in black, and a white merino of similar weight I had lying around the stash
NEEDLES: U.S. #3 Addi Turbo circular
MODIFICATIONS: Nothing significant. I did not decrease any stitches for the hem and instead just knitted, after the turning row of purls, an inch and a half or so of stockinette rounds in my super soft Princess and tacked down the live stitches two at a time.
IN HINDSIGHT: I noticed that even after correcting for yarn submissiveness in the first few rounds, the white still fades into the black in the middle of the border separations between the four pattern sections of the hat. In Hello Yarn's photo of her finished hat there are two white stitches followed by one black, whereas the pattern has two black followed by one white. I think in the future I'd try the former instead for a cleaner line

Fabric Therapy

A trip to my favorite fabric store cures many ills. I left NYC for a while in the early 2000's and the thing I missed the most -- I mean the very most, more than the Met, or the other Met, more than hot Greek platter in Astoria, more than getting drunk on cheap beer at the International, was my favorite fabric store, Paron Fabrics. I love Paron Fabrics. They have gorgeous dressmaker fabrics that range from tastefully understated quality wools and silks to more artful arrangements of glimmer and texture that I admire from afar but don't really have the lifestyle to wear. And they have a discount section where everything is 50% off. I always start out on that side, but about half the time I wander over and fall in love on the full price side nevertheless.

This time I got some lovely purple/rayon/silk boucle for a simple, sleeveless dress. A lofty pink-beige boxy plaid for a little shawl-collar jacket, and one yard of silk-linen blend in a luminous burgundy color that I've admired the past few times I've been in the store. I don't have the time right now to make the kind of structured blouse or feminine dress that I think this piece of stiff sheer really calls for, but I decided that a scarf would suffice and allow me to possess her.

I hope that everyone in the world will visit Paron when they visit NYC. Sadly, we never know how long our favorite fabric stores are going to last now even in New York. Rest in Peace P&S on Broadway below Canal, one of my near-work haunts the past couple of years, and the most recent of my acquaintance to fall.

This is something that makes me worry about the future. What will I do when there are no more good fabric stores left? I used to think as they closed in Boston or Maine or Pennsylvania, that at the least there would always be good fabric stores in New York, but now the ranks seem to be thinning out even here and it makes me very sad. Whence goes Home Ec...

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Brioche No. 2 Complete

I finished the brioche watchcap for myself. Just in time now that the weather's turned chilly. It's bulky, but I like it. Unlike many hats I've knitted before, it covers my ears...

Pattern: brioche stitch watchcap from Knitting without Tears
Yarn: Paton's UpCountry in olive drab and charcoal grey along the cast-on edge
Needles: U.S. #13 bamboo straight needles
Modifications: none

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Saddle Up

Work on the Zimmerman seamless saddle shoulder sweater continues. I've joined the body and sleeves and am working the saddles up to the neck. The sweater is almost done, and it is very exciting! I am so in love with this fuzzy green alpaca blend yarn. I can't wait to finish this so I can start wearing it.

Here is the sweater so far:

Here's a close-up of the left saddle:

Fun, fun, fun!

Thursday, January 4, 2007

another hat

I made this hat for my aunt for Christmas, and I love it so much...

that I decided to make one for *me*

This is the brioche stitch watchcap from Zimmerman's book KNITTING WITHOUT TEARS. I got this book early on when I was a very new knitter. The title was appealing -- I hoped it would explain everything I didn't understand and make the maddening mess of knots and holes I was painstakingly creating make sense. I should know better as a former marketing/publishing person, but hope is a powerful emotion I guess.

I fell in love with the warmth and intelligence in Elizabeth Zimmerman's writing even though I couldn't figure out what she was talking about half the time. I would take this book out about once every 6 months and try to figure out the brioche stitch of which she is so emphatically fond. A couple of months ago I did it again and it made sense! Whether this was a breakthrough for me as a knitter or not, I'm not sure, because when I did finally do it right I thought it was absurdly easy to have caused me so much stress...

The first cap is made from Malabrigo and the new one is a bit less plush, though still nicely fuzzy, in Paton's Up-Country.

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

The Endless Sweater Makes a Debut

My husband's sweater is finished at last! It actually looks so terrific that I'm feeling inspired to knit another one... Here it is on the wearer

Here's a closeup of the sleeve, which I had started with a crocheted provisional cast-on. Taking the waste yarn out and knitting down to the perfect length was super easy and relieved all anxiety about sleeve length. I will definitely be doing this in future projects for both body and sleeves.

Here's a closeup of the body fabric. I love how this yarn looks after a wet blocking. The texture is a little rough, very cottony, and the colors are gorgeous. There are light icy blue, dark indigo, medium beige, and cameo colors twisted together, and the effect is a subtle sort of pebbly blue/grey that's just lovely. I ordered from and they were able to send me some samples of different colors in the mail so I could see the colors before ordering. That made ordering on the internet much more appealing to me. I'd ordered fabric online before when I lived in rural PA and it was a disappointing experience. Like most people I know, I have to touch everything in the LYS or fabric store. Seeing the colors and feeling the drape are what sell me. Too bad the camera can't capture the complexity --

Pattern: hoodie from from Fall '05 Family Circle Easy Knitting
Yarn: Knit One Crochet Too, 2nd Time Cotton, purchased from
Needles: #9 for the body, #8 for the trims, knit back and forth on straight needles
Modifications: none!
In Hindsight: this sweater was totally mindless to knit. I don't think I could bear it again, but it turned out to be a really nice garment, fits the wearer well, and I love the yarn.

My husband's endless sweater

Being a superstitious person, I waited until I was safely married to knit a sweater for my man. In addition, I'm a relatively selfish crafter, usually preferring (with holiday exceptions) to make stuff for myself -- small of me, but true... Every once in a while, though, I get caught up in a surge of love and generosity, and feel Joni Mitchell's lyrics running through my head, "I want to knit you a sweater, I want to write you a love letter, I want to make you feel better, la, la la la...want to make you fee-eel fre--ee.." And out comes my heart -- affection is declared, promises are made. There was a particularly messy affair last year involving dress pants, matching plaids, two welt pockets... It didn't end well.

Sometime last summer I decided it was high time I knit a sweater for my husband. I knew it would take a while, but it was a season of long lazy days, sunshine, and beach weekends...anything seemed possible. Mr. P. is a large person at 6 and a half feet, and he doesn't like bulky knits. He chose this sweatshirt style pullover --

-- which, of course, includes some extras: a hood, and a patch pocket.

Miles of stocking stitch, and many, many episodes of Buffy, later, I am sewing up the finished pieces. This is a big occasion. I started this sweater *five months ago* and am positively thrilled to finally be putting it together.

I tried a provisional cast on for the sleeves, which I'd never done before. Hopefully it will be easy to extract the waste yarn and knit down to the perfect sleeve length after he tries it on.

Final finished photos and specs t/k.

Monday, January 1, 2007

Happy New Year

We returned from Ontario on New Year's Eve, and, tired out from traveling, happily slept through the official start of 2007.

My mother in law taught me to knit two years ago at Christmastime, and it is always fun to talk knitting with her when we visit. I continued to work on my seamless sweater, and finished a sleeve. One more sleeve and I'll be ready to attach them to the body and start the fun part. Up to now, I must admit this sweater has been a little slow going with it's seemingly endless rounds of stockinette.

Mum in law had just finished piecing blocks for a quilt, and we laid those out on the floor to arrange the colors nicely before she sews it all up. Here is a photo of her with the quilt.

This is an interesting quilt, because the patchwork colors don't match up into shapes, they are intentionally mismatched, and... it's reversable(!)

It was a little tricky making sure that the arrangement of the blocks looked as good on both sides (not too many darks with darks or lights with lights -- no matching colors next to each other, etc), but we managed quite well with both of us working together on the flipping and pinning.

Mrs. P. is also working on an extremely pretty cardigan. It's all knitted (very small yarn -- very small needles!), including the lace going up the sides of the front. Then, she's added a crochet border all around the bottom and up the fronts, as well as on the bottom of the sleeves. This sweater is tres elegant, and I can't wait to see it when it's blocked and finished. For some reason this photo is sideways. I've righted it on my computer, but it insists on loading into blogger *sideways.* Very annoying, but we can still see the crochet border here...

She's working on the second sleeve now. I think she likes cranberry -- I see the sleeve coordinates with both her manicure and the afgahn on her lap (!)

I benefited greatly from mum-in-law's generosity on this trip. She gave me lots and lots of old duplicate needles and do-dads such as stitch counters, holders, bobbins, etc, she had hanging around. She also gave me some yarn from her stash, and the greatest treasure of all -- a collection of old patterns and craft magazines from the 60's, 70's and 80's. I swear, looking through these old books I thought nothing could be better than to be a feminine-mystique-era housewife and devote oneself full-time to craft projects ;-)

Many of the patterns are classic and lovely. There are some boxy little sweater-jackets I am just mad for. Check out the tiger stripe dress on the middle left. Rrrouw! Some of the others, like a purple hot pants roller skating ensemble, are brilliantly silly.

I can't wait to start knitting some of these vintage patterns. My mother in law is the best -- I feel lucky to have married into such a crafty family.