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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Stepping it up a notch

I'm really lucky to have some great friends. I started getting to know one of them, Melissa of Neoknits, as many people are introduced to her, through one of her great patterns. In my case, it was the Grannie Smith Cardigan, a delicate, fine gauge cardigan in Kidsilk Haze. That first purchase somehow evolved into a friendship; and we try to get together on a semi-regular basis to chat about our mutual obsessions and life in general. Melissa and I came to handknit knitwear design through very different routes. I started designing as a way to escape the daily routine of postdoctoral research. Melissa was trained as a fashion designer (she has a great series about her experiences here) and she started freelancing as a handknit designer as a way to express herself creatively on her own terms. In one of our chats, she mentioned that her sewing experience has really helped her handknit designing. I tucked away that tidbit for a while. I've never touched a sewing machine in my life and my one attempt at hemming pants resulted in a horrendous Frankenstein hem that unraveled after two trips through the washing machine. But yesterday, I finally bit the bullet and with no plans (as of yet) to take up sewing, bought a sewing instructional book to learn more about how garments fit together.

I also bought a set of Prism colored pencils to practice my sketching skills. And inspired by Kat's new blog, I got in touch with her website designer (who happens to be the husband of a good blog buddy) to make my own home on the web.

In the meantime, here's a peek at my next independent design soaking in my sink, waiting to be blocked.

So, stayed tuned!

Edited to add: I just realized I've posted for 3 days in a row. That must be a first for me!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Sexy Knitting

Mosaic made by rchrispy.

The Sexy Knitters Club is voting on their designer KAL. And I'm a final contestant! The KAL will run from July 1 through September 30 and during that period, knitters can choose any of the chosen designer's designs to knit. I've never thought of my designs as sexy, but nonetheless I'm really flattered - especially given that I'm up against Wendy Bernard, Kat Coyle, the Stitch Diva group, and Kristen Griffin-Grimes. Vote here.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Day in NYC

On Saturday, I spent a day in NYC with Ysolda and we did typically geeky things that knitters and in particular, knit designers, tend to do when we get together.

Our first stop was Kinokuniya because Ysolda wanted to check out some Japanese pattern books. We ran into a bit of a hiccup in our first attempt to find the place because my iPhone claimed there was a location near Rockefeller center and apparently they've since moved a couple of blocks down near the vicinity of Bryant Park. On the way there, we passed by the Immigrant's Day Parade along Sixth Ave -- which at first, we thought was a Thai National Holiday parade because several Thai floats in succession passed us by.

We stayed in Kinikuniya for a long time - there were so many beautiful knitting, crochet, and sewing books that lingering was all too easy until my grumbling stomach reminded us that it was three in the afternoon and we hadn't had lunch yet.

I took Ysolda to Alice's Tea Cup on the Upper East side. It's a little cutesy, but I thought she'd like the place and their high tea is really good. Unfortunately, to share a serving of high tea, we had to add another teapot of tea and scone to the already large order. In the end, that meant we shared between the two of us - two sandwiches, 3 scones, a huge slice of cake, 5 assorted cookies, and two 3-cup (but really, 4-5 cup) teapots of tea. It was all very good, but by the end of our meal we only picked at the last platter and were very ready to walk to our next destination - Tender Buttons (which Melissa introduced us to the last time Ysolda was visiting)!

Going to Tender Buttons was my idea. I'm finished with the linen cardigan I was working on during my RV trip through Maine and Canada with my in-laws and wanted the perfect buttons to go with it. Of course, convincing Ysolda to come didn't take much arm twisting. This time, we got permission to take some pictures of the shop:

I love the rows of boxes upon boxes of buttons, each labeled meticulously by hand with the country of origin, material, and date (if relevant). Ysolda may have purchased some buttons:

And I found perfect abalone shell buttons tinted a delicate green for my cardi:

After Tender Buttons, we wandered to Central Park for some knitting which was interrupted by a sudden (but brief) downpour. We took refuge in the Central Park Dairy which a Tango class also used as shelter from the rain. It was a bit surreal with me finishing the collar of my cardi and Ysolda working on her secret shawl and pairs of tango-ing couples spinning in front of us.

edited to add: Ysolda was an extremely good sport about my constant complaining about the heat. Humidity and I don't play well together. Is summer over yet?

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

New PhysicsKnits pattern - the Kowloon Cardigan

I'm thrilled to release my third PhysicsKnits: Designs by Connie Chang Chinchio design, the Kowloon Cardigan. For this garment, One Planet Yarn and Fiber provided me with Handmaiden's Flaxen, a luxurious blend of silk and linen; which makes for a light and summery cardigan. Linen and silk take up the dye differently, leading to a delightful tweedy look while feeling cool next to the skin. Mirrored panels of lace impart a pleasing symmetry which is set off by a wide, shallow shawl neck collar and bands closed by buttons and button loops. I chose natural, wooden buttons (from my trip to M&J Trimmings with Melissa and Ysolda) to complement the richness of the ivory colorway; but a more polished and dressy look can be had with mother of pearl buttons. Kowloon, an area of Hong Kong, is the birthplace of my mother and literally translated, means nine dragons. Eight of the dragons correspond to the eight mountains in the area; with the ninth representing the emperor.

When the weather turns hot, I find myself wanting to knit with cooler, smoother fabrics like cotton, linen, or silk. A feminine lace cardigan seems particularly well suited for these drapey fibers and so with this design, I was aiming to create a cover up for those spring or summer nights when the weather turns unexpectedly cool. To balance the airiness of the lace, I used moss stitch textured wide bands and a slight shawl collar. My friend, Jess, graciously agreed to model for me again and her husband, Vitaly Fomin, did the photography. For more photos, please see its Ravelry page.

Finished Size: 31¾ (34½, 37¼, 40, 42¾, 45½, 48¼, 51¼)”/80½ (87½, 94½, 101½, 108½, 115½, 122½, 130) cm bust circumference. Sample measures 34½”/87½ cm. Suggested ease: 0”/0 cm to 3”/7½cm positive ease.
Yarn: Handmaiden Flaxen (65% silk, 35% linen) 100 grams/274 yards (251 meters) in Ivory – 4 (4, 5, 5, 5, 6, 6) skeins
Needles: Body – Size 4 circular needles. Moss Stitch Bands – Size 3 circular needles. Adjust needle size if necessary to obtain the correct gauge.
Notions: Tapestry needle; stitch holders; stitch markers; C crochet hook.
Gauge: 23 sts and 32 rows = 4”/10 cm in lace st using larger needles.

Purchase the kit (with the pattern included) for all sizes at One Planet Yarn and Fiber. Choose among the great colors in stock at One Planet; kit price reflects a great discount on the pattern and yarn!

You can also purchase the pattern here on my blog by clicking on the buttons below:


Purchase by clicking the button below. After payment via Paypal, a link to the pattern pdf will be emailed to you.
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Or purchase through my Ravelry cart with the button below. You don't need a Ravelry account to purchase the pattern. Ravelry will re-direct you to paypal and will email you a link to download the pattern.


Saturday, June 20, 2009

I guess I've joined the 21st century

Yup, after talking about it with Colleen and Cathy; as well as Jess, Erin, and Pam; I've decided to start twittering (or is it tweeting) -- God, how old do I sound? ;)

For now, it's more of a way for me to stay in touch with friends. I don't anticipate logging in many tweets (mine would be pretty uninteresting, believe me); but some friends I'd like to follow protect their updates.

So...let's see how this goes!

P.S., for the record, my account is at http://twitter.com/changcon.

RV Fun

From Travels with Martin, Frasier Season 1, episode 21.
Niles: I'm sorry Frasier, I am not a Winnebago person. Whenever I see one on the highway I look into the driver's eyes, hoping to see something that would explain why in God's name he would ever want to do something like this! All I see is a death stare under the brim of a hat made out of Miller Lite cans.

The photo above was my view for the past 2 weeks - landscape speeding by (often times quite pretty landscape) - while knitting on a personal project.

Landscape: Maine (Portland and Acadia National Park), Canada (Quebec, Saguenay Fjord, Montreal), Niagara Falls, and Ithaca.

Personal Project: Linen cardigan in euroflax sportweight linen.

I haven't decided what to do about the personal project yet...whether I want to self publish it or submit it to a publication. This was one of the rare times that I really felt compelled to knit something for myself as quickly as possible. Summer heat makes for good linen knitting!