Friday, April 30, 2010

Queen Anne Cherries

I was looking at my WIP's yesterday and realized I have become a Knit Picks addict. Most of my projects currently on the needles are worked with Knit Picks yarn...but as far as I am concerned, they have outdone themselves with their new line of tonal hand-dyed yarns. I must confess, though it will probably make me a "bad handknitter," that I kind of hate multicolored varigated yarns. Actually, I shouldn't hedge that (something I am working on in general, actually--hedging). I HATE multicolored varigated yarns. I have used them, but only once have I been able to keep it from pooling. It might be the perfectionist in me...I don't like not being able to control the look of the finished object.

However, it is so fun to see the different colors slide through my fingers and work into stitches, combining different ways as I knit. Once I discovered semi-solid yarns, I could have most of the fun of a varigated, with a MUCH more subtle final result. Here is one of my older projects, made with a hand-dyed semi-solid:

Up to now, I have only had monochromatic semi-solids to choose from, but Knit Picks did something brilliant, I tell you. They used several shades from one little wedge of the color wheel, ie. from yellow-green to blue-green, to make a tonal yarn. I bought one called Queen Anne, inspired by the Queen Anne cherry, to make a pair of socks.

They took tones from golden through salmon pink to make the most beautiful yarn I have ever seen! I can not get a photo to do it justice. I will be making Froot Loop by Kristi Geraci--I think it will show the hand-dyed tonal yarn to perfection! (Pattern photo below).

And the colors in the yarn even remind me of Froot Loops. The whole thing just makes me happy! I imagine this will be a long term WIP...something I work on in little bits here and there when I need to be cheered up, but here is my starting-line photo. Isn't that yarn gorgeous??

Friday, April 23, 2010

A conundrum

I have started the Decimal Cardigan, a cotton cardi in Knitty, with an eyelet rib pattern and bell sleeves, with Knit Picks Simply Cotton Sport (a 100% organic cotton yarn that is really nice) in a ginger color. My problem is that I started it on February 26th and I have a swatch and about 4 rows of the ribbing done. When I have time to knit, other things beg to be worked on, but not this one. If I don't like it enough to work on it, will I actually wear it? I suppose I should have taken it as a bad sign that I didn't like the pattern at all until I saw one on Ravelry in the yarn I am using. Here's my swatch, so you can see the color.

I have been pondering another pattern that could be done with the same yarn--the Luminarie Skirt. It's lace entrelac, and I have been wanting to try entrelac--but I have never knitted a skirt or even worn a knitted skirt, for that matter. I love the warm honey color of the yarn, and I was thinking maybe to line the skirt in a blush colored fabric...I saw several women wearing pretty lace or embellished skirts at the museum last Sunday, but I am worried it's a fine line between "Oooh, awesome lacy skirt" and "Wow, you are wearing a doily." What do you think? Opinions?

(Photo from Interweave Knits, Summer 2009).

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Be still my heart.

The Creature Comfort Cardi by Madelinetosh is the latest pattern to take over my brain for a few weeks. The minute I saw it, I fell in love. It has three things going for it:

1. It's simple, but it has a WOW factor...the plain stockinette sides set off that gorgeous center panel so well! (Photo from madelinetosh)

2. It's a shrug. They are so great for jazzing up jeans and a t-shirt!

3. It has an oak leaf motif. It reminds me of living in the Central Valley of California, where the Valley Oak is an endangered species and can't be cut down. Otherwise completely straight roads will swerve right around the trees, and you will see large oak trees in the middle of the corn fields.

I've been enjoying the knitting. The cables are a little different than I have done before--they use short rows, a double decrease, and a huge 7 stitch increase. Always fun to learn something new!

Here's mine so far (well, actually I have twice this much done now, but I didn't feel like taking another picture):

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Finished and Felted: French Market Bag

Since I think of my projects by their Proper Names, a good pattern title can suck me in's kind of its chance to make a good first impression. I saw this cute little felted bag pattern in a back issue of Knitty, and was entranced by the idea of it. A bag for the French market! How quaintly chic. Had it been called the Schlepping Stuff to the Library Bag it wouldn't have had nearly the same effect on me.

No, I want to imagine myself in my ballet flats, tiny Audrey Hepburn bangs, and striped t-shirt, wandering among the flower stalls in Paris with a baguette peeking out of my French Market Bag.

But since nothing about that scenario is actually going to happen--especially the very short bangs part, eek! Not a good look for me--I decided to enlarge the bag and give it the ability to close. Which makes it eminently more practical for schlepping stuff to the library, n'est ce pas?

But sigh, it was not to be. As I gleefully modified the pattern on the fly as I knit, I had more confidence in the felting process' ability to cover a multitude of sins than was, perhaps, warranted. When I finished felting I had a floppy, disproportionate bag unworthy of its name. I was about to say as much when my darling daughter caught sight of it and gasped, "Mommy! It's beautiful!!" So of course, I said, "I'm glad you think so! I made it for you!"

She will use it as a Moses basket for her dollies, but her little brother discovered its true function:

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Look at me, I'm Cameron D!

You've seen the movie The Holiday, starring Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet? A sweet movie, especially the half with Kate Winslet and Jack Black (though the fact that I am a sucker for Hollywood Golden Age stories probably biases me just a bit)...

I saw it in the theater with a group of college friends and friends-of-friends. It was one of those outings where we pretended we were still 19 years old, not married-with-children/grownups-with-jobs/old-enough-to-know-better. (I may or may not have giggled wildly at the pivotal and emotional scene where Jude Law describes his "package"--watch it again, you'll see what I mean!) We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, so much so that when the credits rolled we were scolded by a woman sitting three rows behind us--who was, as a result of our behavior (she claims!) "ashamed to be a woman."

Though I was not even a knitter at the time, this sweater stole its scene:

I went home and did a little googling, and amazingly enough, I found it! It could be mine, for a mere $995. (Go to and click Shop, then Women, then Classics. It's "The Holiday Sweater.")

Fast forward a couple of years, and I was trawling Ravelry for patterns...and I found it. THE SWEATER. Someone (Amber Allison) had watched the movie frame by frame and written the pattern. Never mind that I had only been knitting for five months. Never mind that I didn't own a cable needle and wouldn't know what to do with one if I did. I. Must. Have. That. Sweater. (Rav link:

So, intrepid knitter that I am, I bought the pattern. Brown Cascade Ecological Wool in #8087 Coffee was swatched. But no, my dream sweater must be white. I ordered the yarn called for in the pattern--first time ever!--and off I went.

I practiced the cables on a swatch (cables weren't so hard after all!) and started the right front. The yarn (Valley Yarns Berkshire, a wool/alpaca blend singles yarn) is incredibly soft.

I didn't feel much like knitting over the summer, so my Lovely got put aside. Then there was Christmas knitting. Then I fell in love with other patterns. All told, it's been more than a year now, and I am still not finished.

This, my first pattern obsession, will always hold a special place in my heart. Sometimes I pull out the finished pieces, stare at the cables for a while, and pet them. You see, I am in no rush to finish. When it's done, I won't be able to work on it anymore!

Let me count the ways...

Why do I love knitting?

Because it's slow. Like my breathing in yoga, it's soothing to the nervous system. I have to think about the process. I have to decide if I want the finished product badly enough to make it, stitch by stitch, or if I would enjoy the process enough that the end result doesn't matter so much.

Because it's tactile. Each kind of yarn feels different as it slips through my fingers. One of my first verbs as a child was "softit." As in, "Mommy, softit!" [translation: "Mommy, please let me touch that deliciously soft thing!"] I shop for clothing by walking through a store, discreetly dragging my fingertips along the racks of skirts, sweaters, blouses; I buy when the feel of a fabric stops me in my tracks. Knitting gives me that pleasure from the first time I pick up a skein of yarn, all the way through each wearing of the finished garment. I haven't knit with some angora/merino yarn aptly named Sublime yet, simply because I am not finished softingit.

Because I can watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer while I knit.

Because I can turn this...

into this!

Because, as Stephanie Pearl McPhee put it: knitting is like life. You do the same small things over and over, and end up with something beautiful.