30 April 2007

Wedding shawl help -- again!

Ok, not that I've even picked up a pair of needles in like months. Seriously, it's getting really bad! But I really need to begin to knit my wedding shawl. I'm so intrigued by Print o' the Wave, but I think it's way too complicated for me. It's so gorgeous, but when I see the words "grafting" and "perpendicular border"--I just know that it'll make me crazy. In addition to actually being able to wear this shawl, I need it to not break my brain too.

So, of course, the problem is that a search of all knitted shawls really brings up a lot of overly fussy, lacy very Stevie Nicks-looking items (though, I could to worse than looking like Ms. Nicks, but still...). I'm thinking I like the Daphne stole from French Girl. It looks lovely and really simple, which is good. Though, I wouldn't be able to use my originally intended yarn: Kid Silk Haze. But I'm wondering if I could use Kid Classic. On this page though I can view the color swatches and it seem like they don't make it in a sort of fuschia-y/magenta-y color. I'm really trying to get to shown here.
Let's say I go with French Girl. . . and NEED this color in some yarn that will work with the pattern. Any suggestions for yarn? Anyone wanna knit on Wednesday?

29 April 2007

Crazy Crochet

Funny. It looks not unlike my first few forays into crocheting!

Now that Scott's gotten the shoppe open, I actually have some free time. Maybe knitting this week? I have to get started on my shawl/wrap for my wedding. Seriously, that thing's not going to knit itself.

23 April 2007

Adventures in Texture

I have begun my first cable-knitted sweater. Ha!

Stacie, under no circumstances must you guffaw. I have always been most intimidated by twisty stitches and it has taken me much practice to become comfortable with just pinching them in front or back. I have no patience for those titchy little cable needles, always sliding about.

Having been a good little obsessive, before I began I researched, and found some cool things which some of you may find interestin'.

1. Elizabeth Dimbleby's cable pattern collection. Some of them I had not seen before and plus it is a very sweet site.

2. The true story of the Irish Aran family pattern - apparently it all started with a dropped stitch.

3. BrooklynTweed's very beautiful, recently completed, very tweedy cable cardigan. Most impressive.

And so, I have begun:

It is red Cascade 220, and so it is a cable-knit sweater, and not an Aran. I have included stitches for steeking, because it is time I did that on a real project and not just swatches, so I think it will eventually be a cardigan.

I have included a several 8-stitch cables, 4 fishtail cables, and 3 braided cables, with provisions for some shaping 'round the waist.

I have not decided what to do with the sleeves or the yoke. I was thinking perhaps a raglan with a cable up the join could be cool, but I do love a top-down set in sleeve as well, and that could give some more flexibility in patterns. I am considering cabling along the shoulder join, but concerned that could look a little Sargent Pepper.

Any ideas? Thoughts? Suggestions?

18 April 2007

[Tidy] corners of my home

Walking down the street last night, Joe remarked on my compulsive peering into our neighbors' windows. He's right—I find other people's interiors absolutely magnetic, and I never tire of seeing them in real life or in blogs. I am particularly fond of SouleMama's Corners of my Home posts. (You can see more from other people on this Flickr group.)

I love the little corner above because it's one of the few spots in my house that seems to attract no clutter. Only seven objects there.

Decluttering is my never–ending mission. It's hard—the left hand acquires as the right hand throws away. But here's a brief shining moment in the life of my worktable. You can see the tabletop!

I have been happily tossing old knitting magazines and (re–re–) organizing UFOs. When I work up the nerve, I'll tell you how many that comes to. The tin basket holds yet–to–be–knitted patterns, probably 6–8 dozen. They're next on the decluttering agenda!

For the next three days or so, I shall proudly revel in the tidiness. Can't control the world, but by gum, I can contain my yarn.

PS I would love to see pictures of your knitting corners...

17 April 2007

Feltable Baby

A finished object! Yes indeedy. And on the child it was intended for - look at that little munchkin, is he not adorable?
This crown was inspired by SouleMama, but instead of using ready made felt, I knit up a little crown shape and felted it. Unfortunately, I had originally chosen royal blue and bright gold in Blue Sky Alpaca sport weight, to match the sequinned patches on a fabulous bright red thrifted evening sweater, but as you can see I had to revise my color scheme after the felting. I crocheted a little granny square in some leftover chenille and ribboon, and then sewed on gold buttons from the sweater instead.
Then I went again to my little leftover bits pile and found some pistachio-colored Jamieson's and attempted to embroider the bubela's name. Hmm. I think I could use some embroidery lessons, eh?
But overall I am pleased.
Happy First Birthday Buddy!

13 April 2007

Looks almost finished, don't it?

Would you look at that beautiful baby Lizard Ridge blankie? Doesn't it deserve to sewn up and given to baby Astrid? That poor little bean is probably shivering in the cold New England air right now. What kind of knitter can't put together a little nine-square blanket? I ask you!

These questions and more are the kinds of thoughts that have led me to sign up for Ann and Kay's Slogalong. Here's a description:

Joyous, meditative knitting? Or soul-sucking death march? Yes!

I hope to be shamed, erm, supported into finishing this blankie while it can still cover Astrid.

11 April 2007

Lonesome monkey

This is my first real sock, Cookie's Monkey from this past winter's Knitty. You will note some differences: Cookie's is a lot taller than mine, and Cookie's model has much skinnier calves than mine. To compensate for difference in calf size, I used 3s for the top of the sock, 2s for the lower ankle, and 1s starting with the heel. (This brilliant and simple idea comes from Ann Budd, via Brenda Dayne.) Unfortunately, graduating needle size failed to compensate for my ungovernably loose knitting, so even at the calf, 3s were really too big. And I don't think I have the heart to start over with smaller needles. I would have to go out and buy 00s, anyway.

I do love the color, though. It's Koigu KPPPM P119 50, if that means anything to you! I started knitting these—er, this—in Mexico, and the colors totally remind me of the jungle and the birds there. It may live forever in my knitting basket. A lonely monkey.

It may be a while before I return to sock knitting.

05 April 2007

Le Pain par Poilâne

Last night Joe, Christine and I stumped through the wretched April snow to see Apollonia Poilâne, a baker and Harvard senior. She was speaking to the Culinary Historians of Boston about the book Le Pain par Poilâne. Her father began the book and she finished it after his death in a helicopter accident, which also left her in charge, at age eighteen, of the family’s bakeries—and her younger sister.

There are four bakeries: three shops, each with their own ovens, totally self-supplying, and a ‘manufactory’ (their word) that supplies restaurants, grocery stores, and Poilâne addicts overseas. Apparently you can get at least one kind of Poilâne bread at Formaggio in Huron, but only on Thursdays. (I hear it costs about £10 in London, so heaven knows what Formaggio gets for it.) There is no assembly–line production; each baker has his or her own oven, and is responsible for his own bread, and starter, and everything. It’s all sourdough starter there—it sounded like Apollonia thinks yeast is a little bit suspect, a little bit inferior. She doesn’t have anything nice to say about low–carb diets, either—she was somewhat energetic about that. (She’s very slim, by the way, extremely cute, and totally sincere and charming.)

She told some great stories about her dad, who was a friend of Salvador Dalí. Dalí once commissioned him to bake a bedroom set, which he did. It was recreated, four–poster, chandelier, and all, for the Dalí Centennial recently.

Joe asked if the sourdough starter was part of an unbroken lineage from the bakery’s start in 1932, and she exclaimed “Americans always ask that! Nobody else! Europeans are so blasé about tradition...” Turns out the sourdough starter does come from 1932. Graciously none of the assembled Americans told her the age of some famous sourdough starters from San Francisco—that would be boasting.

Also unchanged since 1932 is the design of the ovens. They’re wood–fired, and very simple. I asked her how temperature is controlled, and she said they have what’s called a “roaring mouth,” a vent that controls how high the fire burns and how it’s directed into the oven shelves. To test the temperature, they push a piece of paper to the back of the oven, and judge by the color—or size of the remainder, as the case may be.

Then the moment we were all waiting for: the actual bread! It was nice. Part rye. Very healthy–tasting, rye. Sourdough, though. Not my favorite. They don’t do baguettes at Poilâne. (Apparently baguettes are not authentically French. They’re Austrian. Same with croissants. Good thing I don't need my food to be authentically French, or I’d be done.)

The book is not out in English yet. They are having trouble finding a publisher. It looks wonderful, though, and Christine says she is able to translate any of the recipes. I may buy it.

So, a very nice evening, though there was an embarrassing moment when I gave Christine a pair of tortoise/Bakelite-handled items that Joe told me were pet combs. I wasn’t really convinced, but Christine has a really shaggy Bouvier, so I delivered them last night as we were waiting for Apollonia to set up. She took one look and said, “Max! These are cake slicers.” Wow. Way to collect kitchenalia, Max!

Speaking of people who are orphaned and left to raise their younger sister, is anyone reading the comic Buffy: Season 8? It’s written by Joss and it’s good. It’s very good. All of life is good again. Buffy! Yes.

04 April 2007

Might as well jump. . . rope!

Did you guys see the new fabrics from Denyse Schmidt? Check them out here---they're so cute! There are also some new patterns in the popular Lightning Bug series. . . ridiculously sweet!

A puzzle for you

Does anyone recognize this pattern? It's a machine-knit sample, obviously, but I'm thinking: anything a machine can knit, a human can knit, right? (Perhaps not for as long a period...) But even if it were just a swatch and never anything more, I'd love to know this pattern. It sort of owned the world during the 70s and hasn't really been seen that much since, until the recent revival (of the 70s, I mean), and except at Missoni (swoon).

I have checked the Barbara Walker Treasury Project, which is a little hard to search if you don't already know the pattern name. Wouldn't it be awesome if you could upload a swatch image and have the Project match it for you? I bet that's possible in our world now, although perhaps not so cheap we could include it with free cooperative pattern repositories.

Speaking of Missoni, I stumbled across this camisole while innocently perusing eBay for pattern samples. (You should totally check it out; it's got boning inside the bra cups.) Doesn't it look for all the world like a Mason-Dixon warshrag? I am very inspired by this idea; you should not be surprised to see me in a warshrag cami this summer, complete with frothy bra-part made from some vintage furbelow.

02 April 2007

Knitting with Recycled Plastic Bags

This dress in Craft 'zine is so cute! My friend Susan has also experimented a lot with crocheting with bags...This is a giant mandala she made (partially obscured by a shrine for New Orleans). Fun and ecologically sound! Only thing is I hear this is hell on your wrists. I'm still recovering from computer-induced RSI but think I will start knitting (with yarn, not bags) again this Spring.

01 April 2007

Handbag confessional

I have been sitting on Amy Butler's Cafe Apron pattern for a couple years, gathering thrifted fabric, contemplating colorways, biding my time, winnowing my thrifted aprons, learning to make croissants, maybe trying to lose a couple pounds, waiting for the opportune moment, um... letting it get completely buried in the long list of projects for 'someday'. But I think I have settled on a colorway: pink, red, and green.

For a non-quilter, though, the pattern sounds like being a challenge. It's mentioned twice on Sewing Pattern Review, and both reviewers called it difficult. I think each of their aprons came out a little skewed, too - or maybe their hips are asymmetrical? Not sure. Anyway, if people have suggestions for patchwork (Stacie, I'm looking at you), please don't be coy: boss me around. Thank you!

She also has some new patterns this spring. The Barcelona Skirt is purest Amy: all wholesome running-through-the-cornfields, smelling-of-the-bread-I-just-pulled-from-the-oven, yet also very I-can-operate-a-corn-detassler-like-nobody's-business to say nothing of let's-have-sex-on-the-back-of-the-tractor. Marketing people, and midwesterners, probably have a really pithy word for this look. Too bad the pattern doesn't seem to be for sale yet anywhere.

The Frenchy Bag pattern is available, and has totally seduced me. I don't think I'll be making it in AB fabrics, much as I love them. This bag cries out for pre-loved vintage fabric, possibly the Grandma Moses barkcloth I've been hoarding:

However, I do not really need a Frenchy Bag. This is because I went to An Event Apart last week, a very inspiring and useful conference and probably what I should really be blogging about. It was held at Copley Plaza, which is to say: far too close to Barneys, a place I have no business in. Unless I want to totally lose my mind and buy a handbag.

As you can see, it's built a lot like the Frenchy Bag. It is not French, but, like many of the world's most admirable creations, Italian. Do you see that hand-woven fabric? This bag may be the most wonderful thing I have ever owned.

This brings me to a question I have for you: how many handbags do you own? Of those, how many do you use?

For the record, I own an even dozen. But people seem to think I have 4,283. Maybe because I rotate them a lot. Anyway, you? Tell me - I really want to know.