Thursday, December 18, 2014

A Very Merry Christmas to You

How are your Christmas preparations coming?  Are you madly dashing from store to store or are you the type to have all of their gifts wrapped before Thanksgiving?  While I can't claim to fall into the latter category, I can say that I am ALL DONE!!  Everything is bought, and wrapped, and labeled, and (in some cases) in the mail to Georgia.  What a relief!

It probably helped that I didn't do much knitting for gifts this year.  Or rather, I built a small stockpile of gifts over the year, making cute accessories out of leftovers from other projects, like this hat for Mary, my sister-in-law, for example:

You might recognize the pattern - it's from a test knit a did for Brooklyn Tweed a couple of years ago, the Seasons Hat.  I just used some of the pretty purple yarns I had lying around from My Favorite Sweater Ever.  If I'm going to be a mad, mad knitting machine, I might as well put the product to good use so that I don't scramble later in the year.  Seriously guys, this Christmas season has been such a breeze compared to earlier years.

Okay okay, I know what you're thinking: get off your soapbox crazy lady and show us the things you did actually knit for this year!  Just some of the prettiest little ornaments you ever did see!!

How cute is he???  I don't know why owls are such a thing this year, but you certainly won't hear me complaining.  (Boy have I got something to show you in my next post!)  This patter is Mini Cordell Xmas Decorations by Knit-a-Zoo.  Mine didn't come out quite as cute - I think it's because I embroidered the pupils on instead of using buttons.  Oh well, something to keep in mind for next time!

And some oldies, but goodies again this year:
Grumpy, the Lump of Coal

The yarn used for all of the above projects is Knit Picks Palette, my favorite workhorse yarn!

And finally, my very favorite project this year: a series of Andy Warhol inspired prints of my sister's dog, Brody.

All I did was take a photo of him, print it, and cut out his silhouette.  I then scanned it in black and white, upped the contrast and printed it out on brightly colored paper.  I easily finished this project in a couple of hours and look how pretty!  I showed the photo to my mother and now she wants one of her dogs - oh boy!

I hope you all have a very Merry and Snowy Christmas!


Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Diamonds & Lace

Spring has finally sprung in Maine!  The flowers are in bloom, the leaves are starting to grow, and there is a startling amount of green in my backyard!  We're still waiting for the temperature to rise a bit, but there are certainly some sunny days ahead!

So now is the time to put away the heavy worsted wool yarns and pull out the sock and lace-weight silks and cottons!  I can feel the shawls in my queue calling my name to turn the fine threads into frothy lace concoctions!  This impulse must have been growing for the last couple of months, too, because I've got quite a few lightweight finished projects to show you - ones that I've been quite naughty about sharing for a while now...

Firstly, the Arachne Cardigan:

This one is a sock-weight delight by Lien Ngo with diamond lace panels around the body and repeated on the cuffs.  It's mostly knit in once piece - the only seams are sewing the sleeve caps into the shoulders.  I do love a sweater with minimal finishing and the lace is simple enough to memorize easily, but just complicated enough to keep the sweater interesting.  An excellent knit!

For the yarn, I used KnitPicks's Capretta, their new(er) cashmere blend sock yarn.  While I wouldn't use it for socks, since it seems a bit on the delicate side, it is lovely for a light cardigan like this one and much warmer than I expected.  I would definitely use it again.

Next, the Mandy Cardigan:

Another sock-weight cardigan with a diamond lace panel, this time by Michellee Zaharis.

Here's the diamond panel:

This one I don't love as much, but I think that is simply due to the open front construction of the piece.  It simply flops open too much for my liking - great for weekend wear, but not so professional for the office.  I do love the little ruffle detail at the waist, though.  (You can kind of see it in my picture above).  Just enough emphasis drawn to the waist without overdoing it.

While I thoroughly enjoy a good top-down raglan sweater, this one was a bit of a slog with the wide front panels and the sock-weight gauge.  I probably wouldn't knit it again.  I will wear the heck out of it around the house though!

And lastly, the 100 Diamonds Shawl by Sachiko Uemura:

I loved knitting this.  It was so quick and so engaging!  I really need to knit lace more often!

Now the only bad thing about the weather getting warmer - fewer changes to show off my handiwork until fall! :(  Except here, of course, I just need to get better about taking photos in a timely fashion!

Enjoy the beautiful weather everyone and have a wonderful Memorial Day 


Thursday, March 27, 2014

Perfect Storm

It's rare that a knitting pattern can stop my in my cyber-tracks and drop my jaw.  Maybe I'm just jaded, maybe I'm anesthetized by the wealth of beauty that is available on Ravelry.  (I clearly need to work on this, but that is a story for another day).  But the stunning force that is Kimberly Voisin's Perfect Storm Mittens absolutely blew me away.  I had to have them now.

Of course "now" in knitting terms can mean "six months from now" or "when I finally finish that sweater I'm working on."  It's all relative.  At least I couldn't resist casting them on almost immediately after the pattern was released.  Christmas projects and a few demanding sample work projects forced me to put these aside for a few months, but now they're back...and finished!!!
I've been too afraid to wear them and sully the swirling waves with the nasty dirt and sand all over my car...I've just been carrying them everywhere so that I can proudly proclaim to my friends, "look what I did!!"

That sense of accomplishment is compounded by the fact that this pattern was not easy.  Of course, it doesn't include any outrageously difficult techniques, unless you count stranding with three colors at the top of the right mitten.  It's just that chart...and all the irregular swirls.  It took a considerable amount of focus just to keep pace with the unpredictable chart.  Definitely not TV knitting, but worth every minute.
I mean, look at the back of the thumbs!  She thought to continue the wave pattern through the back of the thumbs.  Now that takes dedication.  I am so in love with these mittens and in awe of the creativity and work that must have gone into creating the pattern.  Bravo, indeed.

I'm almost ashamed to admit that I didn't go out and buy any extravagant yarns for this masterpiece of a pattern, just some Knit Picks Palette that I happened to have lying around in the right colors - Whirlpool, Oyster Heather, and Pimento.  While it probably gave me a tighter gauge (I had to block the hell out of these puppies) and it's not the softest fiber, the vibrant colors really bring out the colors of the crashing waves.

On another note, you may be interested to hear that once I finish my current sample project, I plan to take a little time to work on my own pattern designs again.  I'm cooking up some good ones this time, I think...

Here's wishing you a warm and snow-free start to spring!


Monday, February 3, 2014

I'm Back!

That's right!  After a two-year hiatus from blogging, I am back.  And with a vengeance!

There's absolutely no way I'll be able to fill you in on all of my knitting adventures in the last couple of years.  I'm still irresistibly drawn to sweater patterns, I'm still working as a sample knitter, and if you're dying to see the beauties I've been creating since I've been gone (there are just so many!), you can link directly to my Ravelry page with the fancy schmancy button in the right sidebar.

However, the piece of news I'm most excited to share with you is that I am now designing my own patterns!!! That's right, I now have two of my very own patterns up on Ravelry. (I've also added a section to the right with direct links to anything I have already designed and will add more as I continue to publish).

My first was a pair of mittens, called Crystalline Mittens:

I knit them in Quince & Co.'s sumptuous Tern, which is a sprightly blend of wool and silk.  Just the sort of fiber you want warming your delicate fingers.

The inspiration for this one, oddly enough, from the color.  It's called "Back Bay" by Quince & Co.  The title, I'm sure, honors the prominent bay in their hometown of Portland, Maine, but it made me think of cool temperatures and elegant ice crystals.  So here they are, complete with sharp, sophisticated cables, my Crystalline Mittens:

My second pattern was also a handwarmer, Carolina Gloves:

I knit them in SuriPaco's Springvale Collection, a blend of alpaca, wool, and silk.  SO soft!  The name, as many of you know, is for my sister Caroline, whose Christmas request was gloves.  And overly-ambitious crazy person that I am, I thought, "Sure, Caroline, I'll just go ahead and design you a new pair!"  I must have problems with saying "no."

The design itself was loosely inspired by the warm colors and geometric patterns of the American Southwest.  I would say I was lucky enough to spend a little time there recently, but the real reason for the trip was to mourn my recently deceased grandfather, who was based in Santa Fe, NM.  I wanted to honor his memory with this small tribute to his chosen hometown, one more token of affection from his granddaughter.

And they sure came out pretty, didn't they?  I couldn't be more pleased.

So please, check out my new patterns!  Tell all your friends!  There's a new designer in town, baby!

Until next time...