Saturday, August 30, 2014

Sock Achievements

Prologue: My knitting time has been limited lately because a) we moved, and b) the sellers left this house filthy and in a considerable state of disarray. So another sock post it is, and hopefully soon I will have more knitting time and more interesting things to blog about. For now, I hope you love socks.

I finished my sixth pair of socks for 2014, which means I met my goal that I set at New Year's. I mean, I figured I would. Six pairs seems totally doable, yes? But still, I'm pretty pleased with myself. Definitely gonna bang out at least another couple of pairs yet this year, so maybe next year my goal will be 8 pairs. To be honest, though, since we moved to the tropical rainforest, I'm just not sure that my sock needs will require 8 more pairs. Or really any more pairs at all. I finished this pair last night, put them on, and immediately took them off, because at 10 o'clock at night it was still over 90 degrees outside. I keep reading about how fall has come early to other parts of the country, and how Starbucks has the pumpkin spice latte out already, and I saw Halloween candy in the supermarket, and I just think about how I had to change my outfit twice yesterday because I was too sweaty to reasonably keep wearing that shirt. I digress. It's hot here! You know that already.

I kept thinking about alligators when I was knitting these, because that's something one has to think about here in Louisiana, and also because that stitch pattern. Sort of reminds me of alligator skin, especially all bunched up on the needles. These are Petunia Dursley's Double Eyelet socks, in Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock. I love this yarn. I will definitely order more, and by that, I mean wait until I get my once-a-quarter free shipping coupon from Jimmy Beans Wool, then get another skein and hoard it for awhile.

A lesson I learned this morning: camera lenses fog up if you take them outside when the humidity is 100%. Probably should have thought of that, but I also probably should have thought about how if I put the new socks on a bush to take their picture, I may be disturbing the bush's lizard resident, and that might be sort of startling. Lizards, humidity, no sign of fall, alligators. What are we doing? I don't know.

Plymouth Yarns Happy Feet, and it's not really that purple. More blue. Boyish, probably. 

Next pair of socks! I think I'm going to do a little Christmas knitting, because like we discussed, I have literally no need for socks in the near (and probably also the distant!) future. My family, though, they've probably already had to break out the wool sweaters and scarves and stuff, because South Dakota. Or maybe not yet. I guess it is still August.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Midwestern Knits, and a plea for help.

I've mentioned a few times on this here blog that I hail from the great state of South Dakota. Growing up in the Midwest really shaped who I am as a person, and if nothing else, instilled a deep appreciation of thick, warm, wool sweaters. When I saw that Holla Knits editor Allyson Dykhuizen was putting together a book of Midwest-inspired designs, I was like, YES. That is for me. I submitted a proposal, it got accepted, and now: the money. This project is going to be funded by Kickstarter, which is not something I've ever done before, but I like it! There are a ton of great incentives- special skeins of yarn by Midwestern dyers, signed copies of books by the other designers, and for one lucky person, a pair of socks, hand-knit by moi. 

Want to hear about the sweater I'm going to design? Of course you do. It's tentatively called "Blowing Snow," and is inspired by- wait for it- the way snow blows across the highways. Cleverly named patterns is not something I am good at. It will be an oversize, cozy cardigan with a shawl collar and close-fitting stockinette sleeves. The body of the cardigan will be this garter-stitch wave pattern. 

Pretty, right? I can just imagine snuggling up in this cardigan at my parents' house in South Dakota at Christmas time. You know I won't be able to wear this baby in Baton Rouge. Ugh.

If you grew up in the Midwest, love knitting and knitting books, or just feel inspired, would you consider donating? In addition to getting what is sure to be an awesome knitting pattern book, you will have my undying love. Love!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Pom Pom Quarterly

It makes me happier than you know to tell you that the sweater on the cover of the Fall 2014 Pom Pom Quarterly is mine.

If the magazine looks wee that's because it is! I had never seen a Pom Pom in real life, so I was a little surprised to see that it's an adorably little magazine. 

This is Coronis, a cropped, top-down and seamless, striped sweater with a circular yoke. The stripes are worked with slipped stitches, so you only use one color at a time, making it super easy! I went with no waist shaping, because the deep twisted rib at the waist really draws in, creating a vintage, nipped-waist silhouette. If cropped sweaters aren't your thing, the no-shaping makes it so easy to just keep knitting in the stripe pattern until you like the length - ribbing, then do some ribbing. Cake.

I knitted the sample in a new-to-me yarn called John Arbon Knit by Numbers. What a lovely yarn, seriously. It is a super soft DK weight merino, and I love the way they offer six-shade gradients of each color. I wish I lived in the UK so that I could get this yarn all the time.

To chat a little about the process: I submitted to the Fall call for submissions way back in late February. I was thrilled beyond belief when they accepted my proposal! Here is my original sketch and swatch that I emailed to the editors:

As you can see, the finished design turned out a little differently! The idea is there, though, and that's what counts. It's easy to see how just changing the colors makes for a dramatically different finished sweater. The editors picked the colors to go with the other designs in the magazine. Color coordination: it's important. I also ended up with a higher neckline than the original sketch, just for the sake of simplicity. The lower neckline would have required working back-and-forth for a few inches in the beginning of the sweater, and that just wasn't working out. Sometimes the yarn tells you what it wants to be, and you just have to go with it! 

I did a lot of fussing around with the nearly-finished sample. For a brief time, I really hated it! Finally, I realized that the sleeves needed to be just a little longer, and the bottom ribbing needed to be quite a bit longer. I think that the first time I finished the ribbing, it was about 2 inches, but that just didn't look right. So I undid the bound-off edge, put the stitches back on the needle, and did some more twisted rib. Finally, the sample looked right. Well-proportioned, stylish, fun. Of course, all this futzing and thinking meant that I had to rush-ship the sample to England, which was, ahem, not cheap. But it was my own fault, so.

Working with the Pom Pom editors and tech editor was so easy, which is something I really appreciate, because that's not always the case. And I can't believe they picked my design for the cover! I admit that I was hoping, because why not, but I didn't really think it would happen. I bought an extra copy so that I can frame a cover for my new sewing room. Is that kind of vain? Maybe. But I'm gonna do it anyway. :)

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Welcome to the Deep South

Man oh man. We made it. I think to myself at least 85 times a day: "I am a Southerner now." And then I panic a little bit. A few notables:

1. When the cable installation guy was here, we were chatting about what channels were included in the package and decided to upgrade, because my beloved HGTV was not part of the basic package. The cable guy was over the moon because the SEC channel comes with the upgrade, and "now you won't ever miss a college football game!!" People bleed college football down here.

2. Related to thing #1. At the farmers' market today we found purple and gold fleur-de-lis shaped pasta, for the true LSU fan. A few days ago at the grocery store, it was LSU-shaped jello molds, which you just know are getting made into jello shots. Duh.

3. There was a neon green puffy-throated lizard on my deck yesterday. That was neat.

4. It took us two hours to open a checking account at the bank, because in the South, we stop to chat. A lot.

5. I put a wet sponge outside to dry two days ago and it's not dry yet. This makes me worry for blocking wool things.

6. I found this chandelier in a corner of the backyard. Equal parts perplexing, maddening, and kind of awesome.

I never thought that my life would lead me to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, but here we are. Life is nothing if not a grand adventure, right?

Knitting! That's why you're here, after all. I started these socks a week or two before we left Delaware. (This is pair #6 of my 2014 goal of 6 pairs, so: winning.) It's Petunia Dursley's Double Eyelet Socks in Lorna's Lace Shepherd Sock (colorway Campbell), a pattern that I will admit I chose mostly for the name. I do love me some Harry Potter references. Aside from the name, this pattern fits my sock bill in all ways: easy enough that I can drink wine and watch a movie whilst knitting, a repeat of 4 (or 2) so that I can go down to 60 stitches, and free. Even though I am a designer by trade, and people buying my knitting patterns is what keeps me going, I admit that I can't bring myself to pay for a simple sock pattern. There are so SO many free sock patterns out there, so.... I knit them. As an act of good karma I should write a free sock pattern, probably.

One sock done, the ribbing finished on the second. This pattern uses the Eye of Partridge heel, which I hadn't ever heard of before, but I like it. Cool texture.

The black granite in this photo is the bar from our bomb-ass outdoor kitchen. Best part about this new house. I have grand plans to sew myself a 1960s tiki dress, then throw the best tiki party you've ever seen, complete with plastic tiki-man mugs and cups made from coconuts. Like you do.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014


Dear fellow knitting and sewing enthusiasts:
If I've been a little sparse on the blog lately, it's because we're moving this Friday down to Baton Rouge, and well- moving takes a ton. of. work. So! I will be away for awhile, but hopefully not TOO long (a week? Two weeks? Three? Let's aim for less than three.) Happy knitting!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Thoughts about knitted shawls.

The knitted shawl. Shawls are such an odd thing to me; there are thousands and thousands of patterns for shawls on Ravelry- several of the most popular patterns are for lace shawls. Have you ever seen a non-knitter wearing a lace shawl? Probably not, even if said non-knitter is an old lady. Even old ladies don't really wear lace shawls, but here in the knitting world every lady out there has at least one. Why is this such a thing? Why do we spend so, SO much time knitting these lacey triangles?

I admit that I have a lace shawl. I even made it willingly. This was way back in 2011 (so, ahem, don't judge any imperfections), and I wanted to get better at knitting lace. So, I picked out a pattern on Ravelry (Damask), hand-dyed a skein of sock yarn, and went to town. I enjoyed knitting it, and I really love the color, but. After I finished it, I thought to myself, this isn't my style. I have no idea how to wear this. But since I had already made it, I felt guilty not wearing it, so I wore it precisely once, draped around my neck, fastened with a brooch. I endured a lot of geriatric, you-must-be-a-cat lady, when-is-afternoon-tea jokes at work. Plus, I just felt goofy wearing it. So I put the shawl away, and mostly forgot about it until I was packing the other day.

I thought about trying again. Maybe if I wore it with a dress? A high-waisted skirt? No. It's just not my thing. I cannot, and honestly don't even want to, make it work. I'm sure that many of you out there totally disagree with me, but I am declaring my position. I am anti-lace-shawl. There, I said it. I have no desire to design shawls, don't want to wear them, don't really get it. I think they are pretty, don't get me wrong. They just aren't me. Also, ugh, nupps. One of the more annoying things to knit, amirite?

All that being said- it is pretty, isn't it? I sure love that color.