Nantucket Island Tank! Tuesday, Apr 15 2008 

Nantucket Tank

Published and distributed by Classic Elite Yarns, available in their free webletter, Issue 36!

I can’t tell you how excited I was when a design I submitted was accepted for this newsletter. I love Classic Elite Yarns, I love that it’s based in Lowell (I earned my A.A. in Lowell and love New England mill towns). The designs have always been solid but I’m especially thrilled that Pam Allen was recently named the creative director. To know that my design passed muster at C.E. is just huge for me.

The Nantucket Tank is a simple design but it knit up very quickly and the yarn was an absolute joy to knit. I hope I have time to whip up one for myself before the summer is over! My track record on knitting summer knits I can actually use is not great. Here is a version of my “blurb” for the pattern and some additional pics, including a closeup of the cable used on the edge. I love how blue these pictures came out, it must have been the A.M. light. I do NOT love how grainy they are. Sorry =/

“Like most knitters, I enjoy a good, snowy winter. Being a native New Englander I get to enjoy many bitterly cold days and I do it without complaining–it justifies my love for wool. When it finally does warm up I’m faced with the question–what to knit? Knitting with cotton and bamboo presents unique challenges and limitations, but I’m learning that these are alchemical properties for an emerging designer! Knitting a swatch of Classic Elite Cotton Bamboo confirmed all my suspicions–this yarn was cool and SLINKY! It draped beautiful and seemed cool to the touch, exactly the sort of thing I want to slip on as the mercury rises.

I started to think of stitch patterns that would make sense and lace naturally came to mind. This year has been a real “cable moment” for me–almost everything I’ve made or been attracted to has had one. Bamboo and cotton aren’t the sort of fibers that call out for cables, in fact they can be difficult to work (I used a bamboo double pointed needle as a cable needle to cut down on it’s slippery tendency). I wanted to give it a go anyway and the result is something quite nautical–it reminds me of rope or the lines left behind in the sand after waves recede. It is flat and almost imperceptible but it makes an interesting edge and adds dimension to the smooth fabric.

I had to borrow from Nantucket Island to name this top. Both make it slightly easier to put away the wool for another New England summer.”

Nantucket Tank

Hope everyone is enjoying the slow New England thaw…

CR

P.S. Cecily Glowik at Classic Elite (love her Four Seasons Vine Vest) filled me in on the Skye Tweed Sweater mystery (at the bottom of the entry). It is one of her designs and it was taken off the Classic Elite website when Skye Tweed was discontinued. I say we petition her for a new version, I barely took mine off this winter!

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High in the sky apple pie hopes… Sunday, Jan 20 2008 

Spring yarns are trickling in at the store and they are super tempting! I have so much cotton, linen, hemp, etc. in my stash, I’m forcing myself to NOT gorge on anything from Berroco or Classic Elite, specifically the highly tempting Seduce and Soft Linen. Trying to ignore the totally adorable patterns from Norah Gaughan and Pam Allen. To quash these cravings and celebrate the fact that I think this is the year I’ve finally accepted that I’m a fledgling designer (long time readers will know that there has been much internal consternation surrounding that self-appointed title), I’m working up a little pattern that will take just a few skeins of these gorgeous new yarns and hopefully be a cute mid-season accessory. I wasn’t allowed to buy the yarn on Saturday because it is just that new (not in the Webs system) but hopefully by next weekend because it’ll be a quick knit, and I want to wear it!

Now, for some heart-stopping cuteness. In November (my month of knitting a million sweaters) I hinted at some unphotographed FOs, two tiny dog sweaters I made for a (very talented) friend’s adorable pomapoo. Shara snapped some pics and left them for me in the comments but I want everyone to meet the very dapper Diego!
Diego

And his new little sister Sadie, wearing the elfish green hoodie I originally made for Diego!

Sadie

That face!!

Sadie

I used the very adaptable Basic Hound Hoodie (Ravelry link but you can Google it for a free PDF). The first beige hoodie was knit with about half a skein of Tahki Soho Tweed which is a very nice yarn, soft and quick knitting. The green hoodie took half a skein of Berroco Ultra Alpaca. In the store the Cascade 220 is right next to the Ultra Al and…it makes the Ultra Al look really good. For about 1 dollar more you get a vastly more luxurious yarn in totally unique, complex colors. I’m not knocking Cascade 220 (or it’s awesome rival yarn Northampton) but if you haven’t used Ultra Al, I implore you, buy a skein, knit some little gloves or a hat (or both). You’ll fall for it.

More handspun…I need to start knitting it before I have yet another stash to manage. This is what I’m calling Wheat Sheaves, spun from 4 ounces of Spunky Eclectic BFL in Monkey Farts, most hilarious color name ever. I’m actually kind of happy with the pictures I got of this one, so lots more at Flickr.

Wheat Sheaves

I’ve also been practicing my photo skills on the Sundara Season’s Club shipment (this is Tickled Pink, the spring selection):

Tickled Pink

It’s been interesting, I chose Autumn and Spring, my favorite seasons in real life but I’m thinking I should have stuck with my CMB season, Winter. Those skeins have been deep reds or weird combos of green and charcoal or magenta and black. I live for weird colors! I sold and traded my silk lace weight because I’m just not that masochistic. If I ever really get into hardcore lace knitting it’ll be with something sticky.

What else? Oh yes, I had some exciting scores at Target the other day, got a creme brulee set for 5 dollars!! Steve, owner of Webs and wisecracker overheard me telling a coworker and shouted, “you know why it was 5 bucks, because no one makes creme brulee at home!!” I beg to differ, I made it immediately and had a very delicious breakfast the next morning!

Creme Brulee

Won’t be making a habit of it though. They include a “low-cal” version but it’s probably not worth the dairy. Besides a momentary freak-out about the butane torch (visions of explosions, probably the REAL reason no one makes them at home) I had success. I also made paneer (Fresh Cheese in Bittman) the other day, which was very fun. I’m having a streak of food luck, what should I make next??

CR

Gallery Jacket! Sunday, Sep 9 2007 

Phew, I can post a finished object! The new Valley Yarns catalog is in the store which means it’s also making its way to everyone on the mailing list. In it you’ll find the sweater I mentioned in my (woefully pictureless) last post. This is something I designed and knit for Valley Yarns Sheffield, a gorgeous new yarn with amazing colors that feel new for Valley Yarns–deep teal, espresso brown, etc. This is the Gallery Jacket, named for Arts Night Out, a Northampton institution that I have sadly never participated in (Mexifest ladies, maybe on the 14th?)

Tell me, what is wrong with this picture? Why should you never trust the “I’m just fixing my hair pose”?


Because the great Maggie Righetti says you shouldn’t, in Chapter 1 of “Knitting In Plain English” titled: You Can Always Tell What’s Wrong With a Garment By The Way a Model is Posed, or Slender Five-Foot-Ten Inch Models Look Good in Anything. See for yourself!

The “problem” in this case is the sleeve. I intended this to be a long sleeved sweater (full-disclosure, I was trying to recreate this sweater, purchased at a Marshall’s, no discernible designer) with a modified drop shoulder. I couldn’t knit the twisted ribbing fast enough and was on a somewhat scary deadline for a relatively slow knitter. The twisted ribbing takes FOREVER, but I really think it was worth it in the end.


Back to the point, I decided to pick up stitches and knit down in the round, so that no matter where I was when I ran out of time, I’d a least have a sleeve! I got about 2.5 inches done on both and tried the thing on. Somehow I forgot that the beauty of a drop shoulder is that it forms the top of your sleeve! It looked just fine with the stubby sleeves, in fact, many people thought it would’ve lost cuteness had I continued knitting.


The Sheffield is quite warm so it was actually nice to have a mostly bare arm. I’ve tweaked the pattern and incorporated some decreases to take care of the pooching (technical term?) that occurs under the arm in these pictures. I think that would’ve been weighted down with a longer sleeve, but here it’s a bit obvious. A short row cap sleeve would’ve been nice, but I still have my training wheels on when it comes to designing!

One last note–this was modeled WET–I blocked it about 10 hours after I finished it and in a humid July, the water barely budged. When the sweater dried it looked a lot less saggy under the arm area, I promise. It’ll be in the store and again, the pattern was revised after knitting. I’ll have to test knit a second version when more Sheffield arrives because I really want one of these in my wardrobe.

CR

P.S. The shawl pin in the catalog pictures and the design inspiration picture is the same, made by Moving Mud. I think I might purposely design sweaters that require these, they’re beautiful!

P.P.S. More credits, the most important: these pictures are the product of Penny and David Michalak, a local couple who between them have too many design related talents to list!

Ahhh… Wednesday, May 23 2007 

I recently decided to start going to therapy again as I’m smack in the middle of a quarter-life crisis. One of the screening questions was “Do you have trouble getting rid of things?” and I actually laughed when the analyst asked it. I LOVE getting rid of things! In fact, there is nothing more cathartic for me than emptying old Tupperware, recycling old magazines, shredding old schoolwork and making piles of clothing to drop off to the Salvation Army. Whenever I go on any sizable shopping trip I feel like I have to get rid of some older stuff to maintain equilibrium. A lot of old shoes have had to go to make room for the summer beauties! The Remix shoes have yet another fan, this time an actual fashion editor. Blueprint magazine is my new favorite, full of DIY projects and witty advice.

I’m moving into a new place for the summer (really close to work!) and I’ve been chucking stuff left and right. Some of you might be horrified to know that I’m not above donating or just plain tossing handknit items. Moving means facing the stash (no, this isn’t all of it!) and I’ve mentally ‘let go’ of a lot of projects.


I usually follow Jean Railla’s advice in Get Crafty for cleaning out my closet. It’s very common sense advice (toss it if it’s damaged or worn out, not flattering, unused, illogical for your life, or if it causes low self-esteem/discomfort) but it helps to have the pep talk. While I seem pretty spendy, I’m dead cheap when it comes to clothes so I usually have a fair bit of thrift store/clearance rack flotsam to toss and I force myself to do it often.

As for knitting, I have to accept the fact that grey stockinette will probably see more use than crazy Noro (I can always knit blankets out of it…). I really agree with Stefanie’s post about not really loving the outcome when knitting from published patterns. I’d like to start designing from the ground up a lot more. That said, I think there is still great inspiration out there. These were some of the things that caught my eye in the summer Interweave:

Little Smocked Top:

Josephine, especially the sleeve detail:


Bella Blouse, free online:

Another bit of Gaughn greatness:

Lacy Yoga Bags:


Spiral Boot socks:
And just like last time, some pretty tempting ads! I love Tulip from the summer Rowan:

And the latest offering from Blue Moon Fiber Arts:

Over and out,

CR

Puesta del Sol Friday, May 18 2007 

I ordered the yellow shoes! Eep! Since my first yellow shoe lust was sold out, I specified a back-up choice at Remix. Thing is, I’m going to be walking a lot this summer. To and from work (back at Webs!) and around that…not small…store. We once wore pedometers and were blown away at how many miles we all logged in a single day. I’ve actually got a bunch of sturdy looking sandals coming (along with a new incarnation of my favorite Hepburn-y go-to, the black ballet flat (currently Crocs Primas). The Primas are pretty great, but they can be embarrassingly squeaky and a little sad. I mean, even if it’s fancy rubber, I’m still wearing rubber shoes. I can hear people think to themselves, “Jellies are okay for 8 year olds, but geez…” Still, they’re bouncy and fun to wear. And, a friend of mine spilled soup on my foot the other day and I just rinsed it off! Anyhow, I’ll be trying on and send back as needed. I hate shoe shopping any other way, Zappos rules.

Anyhow, shoes–I momentarily feel guilty for how much I spend on them BUT, here is my reasoning–I have BAD feet, painful shoes can ruin your day, since I don’t own a car I can consider shoes to be a transportation cost (tires for my feet!), I spend woefully little on my wardrobe…uh…they cheer me up when I look down…

Okay, that’s enough of that. One of my main reasons I’m so excited about the Remix Shoes is that I have a new dressing goal. After seeing Pan’s Labyrinth I decided that I really needed to wear more: leather satchels, tweed, utilitarian aprons, shawls, Mary Janes with socks and dresses. Oh, and a little knife hidden in my skirt’s waistband! The best accessory. (Mom, if you haven’t seen this yet, we’re watching it together in June!!)


Thanks for all the awesome comments about my dress idea! I don’t really intend to over dye it unless I look truly appalling in that much yellow but I will certainly be dunking these swatches into a dye bath out of pure curiosity! Swatching normally doesn’t happen this swiftly but now that I’ve ‘leaked’ my idea I felt compelled to get going! First up, some simple eyelets, which I imagine would form an empire waist:


Could thread a ribbon through it, but that might be too twee for me:


This is the wrong side (flash is on, heightened orangeness!), which is the right side for the Eiffel Tower eyelets right above ribbon eyelets. I don’t know, they remind me of getting a run in one’s tights…not exactly a look I want to emulate. Blocking didn’t straighten them out at all. Blocking didn’t help my drunken attempt at Dayflower, either! Why did I save the hardest for last again? I was a goner after the last minute of The Office and the lace suffered. I blame John Krasinski completely!


In case you haven’t had enough yellow for today, here is an update of my travel project, my April/May Project Spectrum sock:


If you can call that an update…it’s on zeros and I’m actually leaving it at home when I head to the library. Simultaneous read-knit days are pretty much over for this semester. I love how perfectly variegated it’s knitting up, it’s veddy pretty. I should be working on my Sock Pal socks, but my order from Little Knits is lost in the ether, apparently…

I’ll leave you with a tease, a project that has come out of hibernation and will actually come in handy during some of the chilly thunderstorms we’ve been having lately.


More soon,

CR

Sketchy… Wednesday, May 16 2007 

*EDITED UPDATE: As naturalbodycare notes in the comments, the called for yarn from Fitted Knits is indeed a Knit Picks yarn. I am all for saving money and I do appreciate the effort that goes into knitting new garments. I still don’t understand why they wouldn’t focus on designing, or feature the photography and model from the book (which is totally allowed). It’s a beautiful shot and I know firsthand that a lot of work goes into those photo shoots! I am a Knit Picks customer and am really pleased with some of their products (needles, in particular). This wasn’t meant as a disparagement, I just wanted to see what other bloggers thought.*

First things first…I’m feeling snarky about something. I got the Knit Picks catalog in the mail the other day, I’m thumbing through and something starts to bother me. It’s been bothering me awhile but I can’t quite figure out the ‘rules’ of the situation. To promote books and their own yarn line Knit Picks, will knit a garment in their brand of yarn (versus the one called for in the original pattern). Many of us do this to save money without any prompting and there are definitely guidelines surrounding the use of free patterns published on the Internet (Hello Yarn‘s in nice and clear, as is Knitty‘s)…but what about this?

I suppose it’s okay and I’m sure they’ve researched the legality of it but it’s a little out of hand.

This was the most egregious offense in the recent catalog–not only have they replaced the yarn, it looks like they’ve replicated the photoshoot!! Is anyone else a little perturbed by this?


Could’ve been accidental…I’ve unintentionally produced a Japelish design myself, my Trinket tank has a twin in Fitted Knits. Stefanie and I do share a birthday, so it could be Virgonean kismet.


As I mentioned, I’ve got a big project planned for my summer (and knowing me, far, far, beyond) that involves a fuzzy bag of gold. The inspiration was a dress from Urban Outfitters:


I like the puffed sleeves but since the color I picked isn’t as sweet as the lilac I might try to do something more like a petal sleeve. Still dainty but simpler. Another option is a slight puffed sleeved with a button closure:


I’ve trolled my B. Walkers and this is the stitch pattern I’ve been most drawn to, Sunspots:


This particular pattern seems to be popping up everywhere I look. Right after I fell for this one and sketched out my ideas I came across this on Facehunter and I cringed. NOT exactly what I am going for, but eerily similar to my notes!



Some other stitch patterns I’m considering. I’ll have to swatch to see how they show up in the Kidsilk Haze…






I was thinking about the yellow…I thought long and hard before settling on that color. In a way I was being a contrarian, there are so many amazingly beautiful colors! I think it could be fantastic in the late summer and fall, especially with a contrasting dress or slip underneath. And if I hate it, yellow can become a delicious green. I couldn’t find any blog entries about people over-dying Kidsilk Haze…is it risky, sacreligious, unnecessary, what?

CR