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Friday, February 22, 2008

Lace Obsessions and the dangers of Knitting friends

Last week I cast on for the Lily of the Valley Shawl by Nancy Bush from Interweave Press' Lace Style.

I had seen a friend's lovely version the day before and it just wormed its way into my brain. I already had the appropriate yarn in my stash (Jaggerspun's Zephyr) and the book on my shelf. There was nothing standing in the way of my starting it (other than 2 deadline projects that is!).

I am using size 3 needles because I intend for this to serve more as a scarf than a stole and I thought a less lacey version would be more practical for everyday use. I didn't quite think through the implications of going down so many needle sizes though (the pattern calls for a size 6 needle). I've already gone through the ten repeats called for in the instructions, but will have to keep trucking for another couple of repeats to make sure the scarf is long enough.

Here is a more detailed shot of the stitch. It's the lily of the valley stitch with nupps! Unfortunately, I can't see the nupps very well (some finagling is required to purl together 5 stitches at a time!), but I hope they'll be more visible once the scarf is blocked. Although I usually shy away from bobbles and nupps, I find them strangely fascinating in this limited context. I do hope they'll be visible.

Okay, now I need to get back to work.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Physics Phun with Conan O'Brien

These are a bit long, but they're fun! I thought the professor handled the shenanigans pretty well (we're not known for our social agility generally).

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Spring Interweave

The spring issue of Interweave Knits is out now and I have two patterns in it: the Drawstring Chemise and the Printed Silk Cardigan.

I love delicate little camisoles made out of fine cottons or silks. To increase their wearability, I prefer knit camisoles done in an ultra fine gauge - otherwise, you get a hot, sticky, tank that doesn't fit into any season (too hot for summer, not warm enough for winter). With the Drawstring Chemise, I went back to the Diamond Mesh Lace which I had used before in my side paneled camisole for Sensual Knits. I love Mesh patterns in general, but I simply adore the Diamond Mesh - it's a beautiful, open, geometric stitch. I'm sure I'll use it again.

The Drawstring Chemise is knitted with Rowan Cotton Glace - a DK weight cotton. It's a very nice cotton with a firm, crisp hand, but as with all cottons, it can be a little hard on the wrists - especially when knitting lace (I tend to really tug on my k2tog's and ssk's). The sample Chemise is a little loose on me - I think it was 2" bigger than my bust measurement and I had to clip the back a little so it would fit properly. (I'll post soon a Chemise that I made for myself out of Artfibers Hana, a smooth, supple silk yarn in a slightly finer gauge (7 sts/in). The pieces are all blocked. It just requires a good session of seaming and finishing, but I find it really hard these days to do any personal knitting. It's like if I don't have a deadline flogging me to finish, it just doesn't get done. Sigh.)

For the Printed Silk Cardigan, I actually did my submission swatch in Blue Sky Alpaca and Silk. Eunny asked if it would be okay to change it to Fiesta La Luz, a 100% single ply silk with incredible sheen and drape. At first, I was a little hesitant because I thought it would be too drapey, but I really like how the twisted stitches in the nestled diamond motif look in the La Luz - much more subdued than they would have appeared with a bouncier, elastic yarn - "printed" was the perfect way to describe it (I didn't come up with the name). I think lots of substitutes would work for this design. Any cotton, silk, linen, or alpaca blend would have the requisite drape. For shine, I would make sure that the substitute contained a bit of silk or mercerized cotton.

Just for fun, I'll post a scan of the sketch I submitted. Please forgive the horrible drawing skills, my brother I ain't.

I wasn't sure if I preferred the sleeves to be done in the twisted stitch motif (main sketch) or if I wanted them in 1x1 rib (upper right), so I sketched out both possibilities. Eunny chose the latter and I'm glad she did. I think the 1x1 rib ties together the ribbing in the empire band and on the neckbands. The only other thing I changed was to ditch the narrow 1x1 ribbing at the hems. I preferred the smooth edge finish and the La Luz was drapey enough to make even a crocheted edge unnecessary. However, if you find that the body hems curl too much, it's a simple matter to add a single chain crochet finish.

I'm also very grateful for the great reception I've been receiving for the Henley Perfected. The last time I checked, 72 projects have been entered in Ravelry. I really appreciate the support and it's fun for me to see the different henleys people have made!

Sunday, February 03, 2008

You Make My Day

Krissy of FreeRangeKnitter and Mel of PurlingPlans both gave me some "You Make My Day" recognition and it's time for me to spread some blog love around.

Krissy and I communicated while she furiously worked to have the first completed Henley Perfected (my pattern from the winter Interweave Knits issue) on Ravelry. Check out her lovely version here. Mel is a budding designer who's already turned out some very lovely work. Her shrug was my favorite pattern in August's Magknits and since then, she's paired her creative ideas with Sanguine Gryphon's exquisite yarns. It's an exciting collaboration that's sure to yield more fruit.

The blogs who make my day are:

Following Veronique's example, I'll cheat a little and reference the entire Spiders list. They're really a bunch of inspiring women - knitting, sewing, cooking, photography, jewelry design - these categories barely scratch the surface of what they accomplish.

Angela is an in-demand designer with work appearing in Knitty, Magknits, Interweave Knits, and Vogue Knitting, as well as under her own imprint. Her blog offers insight into her design process (giving tantalizing glimpses of swatches, sketches, and in progress projects) *and* gives me an opportunity to practice my flagging Italian, what can be better than that?

Julia of Mind of Winter always writes thoughtful posts whether they're about her projects, her dogs, her designs, or her meditations on life.

Kat has a quirky, fiercely independent style that shines through in her blog, her designs, and her art. I can almost always pinpoint a Kat Coyle design by sight - and that's a good thing.

Chrissy's blog really inspired me when I first started thinking about designing. In it, she generously shares her experiences navigating the sometimes tricky world of independent knitwear design.

Jody is wonderfully geeky in the best possible way. Her site has tutorials galore with just the right balance of exposition and photos.

Parikha always has the most gorgeous photos. Whether they're of food, knitwear, or places, they instantly make me want to cook/eat, make, or go to where ever she points her lens.

Vanessa is also a very gifted shutterbug. Armed with her camera, she helped whip up a Habu feeding frenzy and convinced hordes of knitters to knit Juno.

Stef is wickedly funny and irreverent. No topic is safe. Witness her list of general gripes from September '07: funny, funny stuff. Plus she knits and designs. I heart her Judith pullover.

And last, but not least, Lauren (who's probably receiving these tags by the truckloads), who has the uncanny ability to instantly transport you to different places via a perfect marriage of sharp writing and luscious photos. Her posts run the gamut from travelogue to instructional to inspirational. I can't wait to see what she does next.