Archives for posts with tag: wips

I’ve been doing lots of knitting! Most of today has been spent lounging around, knitting, watching TV, and reading. I finally finished up my Eastlake sweater and it’s all seamed and sewn, ends woven in, and blocking now. I also got around to blocking my Flicca–it’s so huge that I couldn’t block it in the bathroom sink, where I normally block my handknits, so I had to throw it in the washing machine with some Eucalan to soak and spin dry. (Grapefruit scented, my favorite.)

So Eastlake was the bulk of my knitting today, but I also knit up a pretty cream wool hat last night, I’m halfway through another hat intended as a present, and I cast on for a super secret present for Rahul. I’m not being very strategic about my gift crafting, but at least I’ve started, which is something, and proved to myself that I can at least make one hat per evening if I put my mind to it, even on work days.

I’ve been feeling kind of sore and under the weather all week, either due to fighting off infections or due to the 3 vaccines I got last week in preparation for my trip (tetanus/diphtheria/whooping cough, Hepatitis A, influenza) plus the course of oral typhoid vaccine I’m halfway through right now. So I think a day filled with wearing pajamas, drinking tea, and knitting cashmere was just what I needed. Especially since the snow season in Wisconsin is here now, with several inches of fluffy snow blanketing the streets and the smaller lakes freezing over already. Maybe tomorrow I’ll go take a look at the ice on Lake Wingra.

…because I got about halfway up the foot of my sock last night, decided tonight that I’d try it on, and realized it probably wasn’t a good idea to have lace on the SOLE of the sock as well as the instep. Frogging again. Bah.

A few new fun yarn things on the internet I looked at to cheer myself up:

The new Twist Collective is up! I’m especially fond of (read: absolutely crazy about) Sylvi, Heroine, and Broderie. And are Elli‘s Lotus Leaf mittens not an absolute work of art? I love the bright red against the semi-solid blue. I have to keep reminding myself that about 10 lbs of nearly-done sweater coat are waiting for me in the other room, whispering “buuuutton baaaaands…. buuuutton baaaaaands… kniiiiit meeeee…”

Knitpicks has a new website design!

And so does WEBS!

Planning for the winter holidays is kicking my butt. Rahul and I and my family are going to Asia around Christmas/New Year’s and have spent an ungodly amount of money and I don’t even have all my plane tickets yet. (We’re taking ELEVEN flights! It goes a little something like this: Madison-Chicago, Chicago-San Francisco, SF-Hong Kong, HK-Phnom Penh, PP-Siem Reap, SR-PP, PP-Hanoi, Hanoi-HK, HK-SF, SF-Denver, Denver-Madison.) I’ll get to see Angkor Wat, which is one of those places, like Petra, that I’ve always wanted to see, so it’s worth those extra 4 flights within Asia… but just barely. It’s just about a month and a half away, and I still need to get my visas and vaccinations and buy my plane tickets and book our hotels. Despite all the money and planning stress, I have faith that it will be an awesome vacation, and it will be a really nice getaway from the Wisconsin snow.

As if that weren’t enough stress, we’re also currently looking for housing for next fall. The search starts early around here. Some people randomly came up to my door today and said the property management company had said they could just “come by and took a look around.” I was pretty ungracious about this, but since I was actually showered and dressed, I let them in to take a quick look, and then called the property management company and gave them a piece of my mind about it.

I would be happy to stay where we are, but we’re pretty sure we can find someplace decent with cheaper rent, so we’re trying to find someplace new. The funny thing about this all is that we’re paying $200 a month less than what we paid for our crappo apartment in Berkeley 5+ years ago (the one with plywood doors and a Swamp Thing carpet and a nice view on Sunday mornings straight into the dump truck that would come take all the dog and cat corpses away from the vet hospital across the street). That was a bargain apartment, too, because it had been handed from tenant to tenant and so it had been rent-controlled for years.

My parents (Dad and stepmom) came to visit me in Madison! Now they’re in Chicago (or possibly on their way back to CA by now). I miss them! It was kind of a whirlwind, last-minute, chaotic kind of trip, but we managed to fit in a good trip to the St. Vincent de Paul Dig ‘n’ Save, where you buy clothes for $1.00 a pound and junk for 35 cents a pound. Rahul and I had a great trip there before where I came away with a ton of good stuff–among other things, a really cute boiled wool rust-and-green colorwork jacket, a Brooks Brothers seersucker skirt, an adorable Vera Bradley zippered pouch with tiny owls on it.

This time around I found a trove of cute patterns from the 70s and 80s, including this one, Simplicity 4867–how awesome is the top right view? It reminds me very much of wikstenmade’s beautiful Tova top (right down to the similarity of the model’s hairstyle to Jenny’s!) Also Butterick 4631, a collection of yoked peasant tops with pockets. This one, Simplicity 5497, is very, very dated, but the asymmetrical ruffled button front seems like it might have potential. I couldn’t find the last one online (McCall’s 4866), but it includes a very cute dress and blouse with mandarin collar and round pintucked, button-up yoke.

I also got a brown leather Fossil/Relic purse in pretty good condition, and a blouse that turned out to be a little too small. The purse + shirt + 4 patterns cost me $1.35!

Anyway, although my parents have left, I have plenty of stuff coming up this next week to distract me. Mary and I are going to teach her Hindi teacher’s kid to spin Saturday morning (she’s 8 years old and wants to learn to spin cotton on a charkha! and weave! just like Grandma!) and then Rahul and I are seeing the Magnetic Fields on Saturday night. My uncle will be in town next week, as will an old friend from Berkeley, though both are here for conferences and I don’t know how much time they’ll have to spend on social events. Monday night is also the next meeting of the Madison Knitters’ Guild and Vivian Høxbro is coming to speak; I think I might go and see her.

Other crap: I’ve finished the back and one front of Flicca. Still no pictures, though.

This fake A-Ha video made my day: Band montage!

In response to my blog post mentioning that I’d heard Jelly Yarns make good drive bands for spinning wheels, I got a free sample to try out. Isn’t that nice of them? I’m looking forward to giving it a spin.

And my parents said they kept wondering when I was going to post something about the election. Well, there are other venues that do the ranting better (how could I even scratch the surface of this whole Sarah Palin debacle?) so for the most part I leave the political talk out of here, but I did want to share this story that I saw for the first time recently: McCain calls his captors “gooks” and refuses to apologize. (On the topic of Vietnam PTSD, did you know he also addressed a crowd recently as “my fellow prisoners” rather than “my fellow citizens,” and didn’t seem to notice the slip-up?)

Guy Aoki, the president of the Media Action Network for Asian-Americans, sums it up pretty well, I think: “If Sen. McCain had been captured by Nigerians, could he call those people ‘niggers’ and think he wasn’t going to offend everyone who is black?”

Thanks so much for all the nice comments and advice, everyone. As it turns out, the gout-esque toe pain condition culminated in a late-night ER visit last night/this morning, and a followup podiatrist visit today–we ended up at two different clinics and it took a couple of hours. But we think we might have a diagnosis (Morton’s neuroma) and some special orthopedic shoe inserts to help take the pressure off the affected nerve, and on the bright side, I now have about 11 inches of the back of a giant sweater coat knit over the course of two days spent waiting for doctors. I guess the problem might persist for a while but the podiatrist thinks it should correct itself eventually. I did finally get a nap after work today so I feel a little less crazy and exhausted.

Here is a project I finished about a month ago, but haven’t posted about yet…

Pattern: Two-color brioche scarf; the stitch pattern can be found for free at Run and Not Grow Weary or briochestitch.com
Size made: I forgot to write this down, so I have no idea how many stitches I cast on, but could probably reverse engineer it by counting the stripes. I can tell you that it’s quite a bit wider and a little bit shorter than most scarves I make for myself.
Yarn used: Brown Sheep Naturespun Worsted in 720 Ash, about 2 skeins or a little less, held double-stranded; and about 2/3 of a skein of handspun, hand-dyed bulky two-ply, one of the first yarns I made for myself. I think I dyed the singles separately in the microwave with various colors of Kool-Aid including generous amounts of Grape and Berry Blue. It took a bit of work to figure out a way to showcase the yarn, and I think the two-color brioche works well, separating the stitches out enough so they can be individually admired, like little handspun jewels.
Needles used: US Size 13/9.0 mm Boye circulars (this stitch is worked flat on circular needles because it involves sliding the stitches every other row rather than turning the work.)
Date started: Not sure. It must have been late 2006/early 2007, around the time I learned to spin; it sat around mostly done for ages before I decided enough was enough and it was long enough as is.
Date finished: August 18, 2008
Notes: I love two-color brioche. I also love the way this yarn looks, but it’s kind of a giant, wide, heavy scarf, so I’m not sure how much use it will get–possibly will be passed up in favor of lighter, woolier attire, as I tend to go for long skinny scarves more than wide short ones. Maybe I should seam it up into a vest or shrug or something. It probably weighs something like two pounds, though… I packed an awful lot of wool into that bulky two-ply handspun.

The unseasonable giant wool scarf + tank top photo was taken right when it was done, in August.



oh, and my current yarn crush is Malabrigo Sock. What’s yours? Malabrigo Sock is now available for preorder at Whitknits, and you can see lots of colors there–Abril, Archangel, and Indiecita look especially dreamy, though I wish I could see them all in person. I know the color of the skein I have is wonderful, though I’m not sure if it turned into a real colorway (Persia?) or if it stayed as just a test color.

Have you heard the recently discovered oldest recording in the world? It’s sort of a haunting idea, a French recording of the folksong “Au clair de la lune,” recorded in 1860 by a phonoautograph, a hand-cranked device that scratched sound waves onto paper blackened by smoke from an oil lamp.

But the reality of this ghostly voice from the past… well, doesn’t really live up to its promise. Listen to it and you’ll see what I mean. A BBC radio announcer dissolved into a giggling fit after playing the clip on the radio, because someone whispered to her while it was playing that it sounded “like a bee buzzing in a bottle.” Pretty apt. (You can listen to an audio clip of her meltdown through that link.)

This morning, Rahul woke me up by singing me his rendition of “Au clair de la lune,” the Bee Buzzing in a Bottle version. It was a great way to wake up, much better than listening to Morning Edition on the clock radio, if you ask me.

From there, the day improved in two ways, despite the rainy weather. Or maybe three. One, I discovered that Philip Pullman has a new His Dark Materials book coming out: Once Upon a Time in the North, now available for pre-order. I haven’t decided whether to buy it or not, but I did put it on hold at the library. It’s a prequel to The Golden Compass, and its protagonist is Lee Scoresby at the age of twenty-four.

Two, I finished both of my aforementioned interminable knitting projects, and turned in the moonlighting project I was doing for the business school. Various weights off my chest. Here’s a picture of one of the interminable projects, my The Water is Wide scarf, blocking in the sink.

At some point, the penny dropped that the second skein I’d bought was a drastically different color from the first. They looked very similar in the hanks, but once wound into balls they were obviously quite different. The first one was very pale and golden, the second one much more saturated and predominantly lavender and teal. Thankfully, I realized this before the end of the first skein, and striped the second one in for a gradual transition in colors. You can clearly see the difference in this picture, though, and the colors are only exaggerated by the water.

Three. I got a skein of Malabrigo in the mail–Jewel Blue merino worsted, a gorgeous baby blue. Someone on Ravelry was destashing it for $5. I’m going to at least swatch for one of my The Water is Wide variations with this, if not finish the entire variation scarf. Speaking of which, here’s another sale to add to that list of sales I posted the other day: Sandra Singh has Malabrigo worsted and lace and Kauni Effektgarn on sale right now.

Oh, and four. I guess this doesn’t quite count, since I made this yesterday, but I had some great ragu for dinner last night and for lunch today. I don’t usually cook meat at home, but we’ve been shifting away from our mostly-vegetarian diets lately–backsliding, which is bad for my karma, yet so delicious. I simmered it all afternoon while I worked yesterday, so it has that really nice slow-cooked flavor. I put a couple of unorthodox ingredients in it, but mostly followed a pretty traditional recipe.

(An aside: when I lived in Italy, my roommates thought it was hilarious that the two leading brands of spaghetti sauce were named Prego and Ragu, as this would be roughly the equivalent of having two leading brands named You’re Welcome and Meat Sauce. Meat Sauce brand Vegetarian Tomato Sauce, Meat Sauce brand Basil Pesto… You’re Welcome sauce beats out Meat Sauce sauce in blind taste tests two times out of three!)

To make the ragu, I browned a package of Fischer Farms grass-fed beef in a large Dutch oven, breaking up the meat into small pieces with a spatula. When browned, I removed it to a separate bowl, then cooked a soffritto of diced onions, carrots, and celery in the rendered fat (I hear tallow is not as bad for you if the cows are grass-fed), adding minced garlic a little bit later. When the soffritto was lightly browned, I added the beef back in, then poured in about a cup of milk, and cooked, stirring every so often, till this was nearly evaporated; added some glugs of leftover white wine and cooked it down again; then added a couple of cans of diced tomatoes and spices, and left it all to simmer, stirring every now and then. The spices: dried rosemary, oregano, fennel seed, bay leaf, nutmeg, and some rather unorthodox cinnamon (only a tiny sprinkle. I love the way it tastes with meat), brown sugar (to cut the acidity of the tomatoes) and soy sauce (more salt, more umami). I added some black pepper at the end and served it over egg noodles. Eat your heart out, You’re Welcome Sauce!

In the end, the Leaf Lace Pullover won out as my next project, because Loop-D-Loop came back in at the library and I decided to knit the project before I have to return the book. I’m making the largest size in a smaller gauge (3.25 sts/inch), in chocolate brown Cascade Bollicine Victor (a nice, soft cabled merino/acrylic blend that was exceptionally cheap during the big WEBS sale), and I’m already done with the body and halfway up the sleeves (knitting both at once, flat). I love quick knits!

I added waist shaping and knit the whole body in one piece from the top down rather than grafting (messed up the leaf chart a bit by turning it upside down, though) and used a proper tubular bind-off at the bottom edge and tubular cast-on for the sleeves. I am knitting both sleeves the same, i.e. with leaves at the wrists and no lace ladder going up the side. From a store-bought lacy cardigan, I have come to the conclusion that when I’m wearing a sweater, I really don’t like having cold air blowing onto my upper arms.

The speed of this knit might also inspire me to finish my long-suffering Hourglass Pullover. I’m dying to have the finished sweater, really, I just don’t want to knit it, for some reason.

As Leigh pointed out in the comments, I didn’t mention Kalani’s Half Circle Cardigan in the list last time, because when I wrote it up I had neither the yarn nor the pattern in hand. Now I have both! A bag of delicious Shibui sock yarn in Mulberry–so beautiful!–and a genius customizable pattern that looks to be a lot of fun to knit. It may be next to be cast on.

I was honored to receive this “You Make My Day” award from Green Apples:

you make my day

“Give the award to 10 people whose blogs bring you happiness and inspiration and make you feel happy about blogland. Let them know by posting a comment on their blog so they can pass it on. Beware you may get the award several times.”

It’s horribly hard to decide on 10 people to pass this on to–I read a ton of blogs through my Ravelry friends list, and every one of them is interesting and inspiring in its own way. So, in no particular order, a few of the knitting blogs that make my day on a regular basis:

1. the chemgrrl chronicles
2. All Buttoned Up
3. Elliphantom Knits
4. Knitting Kninja
5. Quelle Erqsome
6. Needle Exchange
7. Desi Knitter
8. A Mingled Yarn
9. Team Knit
10. Domesticat

Thanks for the good reads!

In other news, it’s snowy and cold but sunny around here. There are some trees in front of my apartment covered in little brown berries, and in the last few days, a big flock of dozens of fat, energetic blackbirds has decided to gorge themselves on these. I spent a lot of yesterday looking out the front window at blackbirds bickering and swooping back and forth from our roof to the trees, eating berries and crapping brown, seedy berry poop all over our front walk and the cars in the parking lot.

Even though it’s all cold and wintry out, I bought Rahul a Black and Decker soft serve machine at the thrift store as a surprise because he loves soft serve, and it was only $5, so even if it didn’t work, no big loss. It actually worked, but it turned out, rather predictably, to be large, sticky, complicated, and totally unnecessary. We made a small bowl of fancy mocha java soft serve (no mix-ins) and then spent about 15 minutes trying to scrape and lick ice cream off the disassembled parts of the soft serve machine, because about half of what we put into the top ended up sticking to the plunger and evil serrated screw mechanism instead of coming out of the dispenser. I think it would be a nice thing to have at a kid’s birthday party where you have tons of people eating ice cream, but it’s kind of ridiculous and wasteful if you just want a couple of scoops, and you get roughly the same effect by stirring the ice cream with a spoon for a minute or two.

I also helped him with a product survey for some marketing class he’s taking. I was supposed to write down all the words/phrases I associated with Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, and then draw lines to each one, with the number of lines representing how strongly I associated each phrase with the product.

“You only associate macaroni and cheese weakly with ‘CHEESY’?” Rahul said incredulously, looking at my finished diagram.

“Well, I drew three lines to ‘ORANGE,’” I explained. “It’s very orange. And goopy. But that’s not really the same thing as being cheesy.”

Anyway, I came away from it with a plan to make some real mac and cheese this week, with a real bechamel-based sauce, and the principal cheese flavor coming from a block of morel-and-leek Jack cheese. And I will add some of the veggie broth I made over the weekend from a big bag of saved-up vegetable peelings. I’ve been cooking a lot–made pretzels from scratch the other day, and a pot of onion soup with onions properly caramelized, slow-cooked for more than an hour in my prized Le Creuset Dutch oven. Yum.

While I’m on the subject of food, I saw Sweeney Todd recently and didn’t see what all the fuss was about. There was too much blood in that movie, the makeup was overdone, and the whole thing just seemed like one long, flat, depressing, gory note played over and over again. The exception, for me, was the seaside scene–wish there had been more tongue-in-cheek humor in that vein. And there should have been more close-ups of juicy, savory meat pies. (Perhaps the next thing I’ll make, after mac and cheese.)

I am totally paralyzed with indecision about what sweater to work on next.  Some of the candidates:

- Hourglass Pullover in Fleece Artist BFL DK in Periwinkle. Pros: one sleeve already knit. Would be useful in wardrobe. Would be very virtuous of me to finish a WIP instead of casting on for a new project. Cons: very boring to knit. Need to do math to figure out proper gauge. Ginormous skeins of BFL are annoying to carry around and knit from. Here is a picture of the cuff from the one sleeve I’ve knit.

- Tangled Yoke Cardigan in Rowan Felted Tweed.  Pros: Beautiful sweater, useful in wardrobe. Cons: Seems like it would take ages, and be very boring aside from the yoke. Need to locate small enough needles to get gauge. Yarn seems to bloom quite a bit on washing, increasing the risk of a gauge disaster.

- Flicca in RYC Soft Tweed in some kind of nondescript beige color. Pros: Should be pretty fast because of the big needles. Have been lusting after this sweater for ages. Would be warm and cozy, perfect to wear while working inside and looking out at the snow. Would use up large volume of yarn. Cons: Possibly very boring to knit. So much ribbing–ack! Brown color not very exciting. Also, I already have lots of cardigans.

Son of Samus in Cascade Eco Wool, gray background, burgundy cables. This cardigan started out as Samus, and I changed nearly everything about it–changed the gauge, made a two-color cable that bends at the corner and proceeds up one of the fronts of the cardigan. I got to the armpits (assuming this is going to be a hip-length jacket) and it has been sitting in a drawer for about a year because I can’t decide where to proceed from here with the design. Pros: Pretty. Would give opportunity to do something interesting and exciting with the rest of the design. See above re: virtuousness of finishing an unfinished work in progress. Cons: Lots of ease knit into the body already–may not be flattering. I feel like poking my eyes out with a cable needle every time I think about doing yet more two-color Saxon braid cables. See above re: cardigans.

Rogue in gray Cascade Eco Wool. Pros: Probably useful in the wardrobe, beautiful sweater and one I’ve been wanting to make for ages.  Probably a good balance of interesting cables and fast stockinette. Cons: Need to wind up mega-skeins of Eco Wool.

- Leaf Lace Pullover in brown Bollicine Victor. Pros: Should be very fast, cozy. Cons: may be too chunky to either be flattering or fit under my coat. Someone else has Loop-D-Loop checked out from the library right now.

The Bird in Hand mittens, as I mentioned in my last post, have been hurting my hands. I bent one or two of my steel DPNs into gentle arcs trying to force the decreases. Still, soldiering on with them in search of the perfect mittens–the Selbuvotter mittens, as it turns out, are about an inch too long for my hands, and rather loose, so they’re not as warm or comfortable as they should be. I’m considering making liners, but the thumbs are already pretty stiff and snug, so that might not work well.

Here’s the palm of the mitten in progress, no flash…

And here’s the back of the hand in progress, with flash.

Because my fingers were hurting from wrestling with the DPNs, I just had to take a break when my package from WEBS arrived.

On the left, one of the size 0 DPNs I’m using for the mittens; on the right, one of the size 19 Denise needles I used for this latest FO.

The sweater in question? The Shopping Tunic, from Twinkle’s Big City Knits–and I knit the entire sweater in two evenings. At this rate, I could knit 182 sweaters a year!

Unfortunately, you kind of get out of it what you put into it. All my photos came out hideous and I have a sinking feeling this is because the sweater itself is hideous.

Here’s the least hideous of the snapshots. Gah! I mean, I love it in theory, but the gauge looks so loose and sloppy. I blocked it and everything. And it’s certainly not very flattering. Perhaps if I wore sleeker clothes underneath, in similar and darker colors, it would work better. I don’t like that big lump where you can see the waistband of my jeans.

Rahul was not a big fan of this. I tried it on to show him, and he looked dubious.

“Um. Are you giving this to someone else?”

“No.”

“Is it meant for wearing around the house?”

“No, you’re supposed to wear it out.”

He considered this for a moment and said, diplomatically, “I think the stitch size is too big.”

“But that’s the designer’s signature style!”

“Sorry. I guess I’m just a plebeian.”

“Well… it’s stylish! It was in Anthropologie!”

“No WAY!!” he exclaimed, unable to restrain his disbelief–then added, “Actually, I don’t know what Anthropologie is, but whoever they are, they did not have this sweater.”

I had to try and find the Butter Hill funnelneck online to show him. Then, because it was striped and this is not, he wouldn’t believe it was the same sweater.

“It looks like chain mail!”

“Nooo!”

“It looks like you’re about to ride into battle! You look like Barbarossa!”

Anyway–I’ll have to see if I can do anything with the styling to make it more wearable. Till then, the jury is still out on this one.

Thankfully, I do like this Flared Lace Smoke Ring I finished last week. (Isn’t that a great sweater I’m wearing? Sadly, I didn’t make it–I bought it at an Old Navy after-Christmas sale)

And this is how we wear the cowl in the old country:

Pattern: Heartstrings Flared Lace Smoke Ring

Size: As specified by the pattern: 28″ around at the base, 22″ around at the top, 18″ long.

Yarn used: Elann Silken Kydd in Baked Apple, 1 skein

Needles used: US size 6/4.0 mm Denises

Started: 12/26/07

Finished: 1/3/08

Mods: Used less than the specified yardage of yarn. Bound off with a *k1, k2tog, slip st back to left needle* BO to create a stretchy, ruffled BO edge. Other than that, nothing.

Notes: Fluffy, soft, easy, and pretty–a nice use for one skein of laceweight. Notes on the yarn are here. The stitch pattern looks complicated, but is repetitive enough that this became my TV knitting once I got through the decrease charts. (You knit from the bottom up, decreasing for a few lace repeats, and then work the last chart, keeping the stitch count constant, until the cowl is the length you want it.)

I might send this to my grandma. I’m not sure if she would wear it or if she would prefer the traditionally shaped scarves/shawls she already has.

I’m buying Barbara Abbey’s Knitting Lace with my latest Amazon gift certificate. Has anyone seen/used this book? I love the edgings section in Barbara Walker vol. 2, and I’m hoping this book will be a worthwhile supplement. Plus, it sounds like the patterns are charted–bonus!

Cold days call for warm colors.

I took a break from knitting for a couple of days to turn out some sewing FOs in cheery colors.

First up, a shirt in very ORANGE!! cotton. I’m kind of torn about this one. At first I felt like it was a cheery, citrussy, summery piece, but then I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror and had thoughts of those orange vests people wear to pick up litter on the freeway. (Orange is not really in my comfort zone as far as clothes go, but I’m trying to expand my horizons.) Furthermore, Rahul was very critical of the A-line shape and said it was “smocky” and made me look “tubby.” I didn’t like this, and he said, in a very logical way, “But you aren’t tubby! My point is that it makes you look tubby but you’re not. I just thought you’d want to know if it looks bad.”

“But I like it!”

“Well, then don’t listen to me! If you like it, you should wear it!”

This exchange was completely infuriating because it was making me really mad, but at the same time, I knew I was being illogical and unreasonable. I showed him about five tops from Lucky with a similar shape and he said he believed me, but that still didn’t mean the top was flattering. I realized that my desired outcome was basically for him to change his mind about the top, which wasn’t going to happen. It doesn’t feel good to realize you’re being a pitch-perfect negative female stereotype in the “Do these jeans make my butt look big?” genre.

Here’s the shirt.

Pattern: The Titus Summer Blouse pattern from Renegade Sewing, from Stonemountain and Daughter Fabrics in Berkeley. I think the pattern was made up by one of the store employees–I haven’t seen any references to it online aside from other people who bought it in the store. When I was back at home for Thanksgiving, my bestest childhood friend Sarah showed me two or three of these blouses she had made from this pattern and I loved it so much I ran out and bought it right away.

Fabric used: Some kind of orange Indian cotton with a red warp and yellow weft, or vice versa–is this considered a chambray? The pattern calls for 1 7/8 yards and I was a little bit short of this–1 3/4 yards or 1 1/2 yards. If you’re short of the main color, you could easily use a small amount of a contrasting color for the yoke, either the lining or both sides.

Started: 12/29/07 (cutting out the pattern and fabric)

Finished: 12/30/07 (sewing everything together)

Size: Small (I might want to add a tiny bit of width in the yoke next time–the shoulders seem slightly too narrow on me.)

Mods: Changed the cutting layout to allow for the amount of fabric I had–slightly less than what was called for in the pattern. The pieces seemed to be laid out in a very simplistic way–the U-shaped yoke pieces are facing the same direction on the layout, so you waste big squares of fabric in the middle of each U. I rotated one of them 180 degrees and moved it up and closer to the other yoke piece so that the “U” shapes interlocked. I guess if the fabric had a nap, that might cause a problem? Two of the four yoke pieces just serve as lining for the other two, though, so as long as the two pieces on the outside were pointing the right way, I don’t think you would have any problems even if they were cut upside down.

Notes: This is a very simple and easy pattern, a great confidence-builder for a sewing klutz like me. It only has three pattern pieces–yoke, sleeve, and body–and basically everything is gathered, so it’s easy to ease pieces into other pieces when you’re putting it all together. Despite its simplicity, I managed to sew quite a few pieces together inside out or backwards and spent a lot of quality time with my seam ripper. Maybe I should have used pins.

I used some of the leftovers from the ORANGE!! blouse to make some adorable coasters. I love them!

Pattern: Pulled Thread Coasters from Simple Gifts to Stitch, by Jocelyn Worrall

Fabric used: ORANGE!! cotton, 10 x 15″ piece; blue botanical Anna Griffin Blythe cotton from Purl Patchwork, 30″ x 5″ piece

Started: 12/30/07

Finished: 12/30/07

Notes: I love the book this pattern came from! It has so many utterly simple but really cute ideas–a sophisticated pleated vinyl purse, a clamshell change purse that you squeeze at the sides so it opens like a snapdragon, a wide-wale corduroy leaf pillow cut on the bias so the corduroy wales mimic leaf veins. And of course this simple but lovely coaster pattern. I got it from the library but I might have to buy it for myself at some point.

These coasters are made by pulling threads out of the warp and weft of the fabric with a seam ripper at marked intervals, revealing stripes of the contrasting warp and weft colors, then cutting the resulting fabric into squares and backing them with a contrasting fabric. It’s a very fast and easy pattern; it probably took me less than an hour to make these six coasters, including time spent carefully picking out threads.

The complementary-color combination of blue and orange cheers me up every time I look at it.

Here’s a glimpse of a little knitting WIP. It’s sort of kind of orange. Close enough, anyway. It’s the Heartstrings Flared Lace Smoke Ring (I first saw this pattern on Eunny’s blog) and I’m knitting it in Elann’s new Kidsilk Haze clone, Silken Kydd, same silk/mohair fiber content at half the price, on size 6 needles.

This colorway, Baked Apple, is already sold out. I bought it to see if it would make a good substitute for KSH in Liqueur, but it’s not that close. Baked Apple is more of a russet red, on the orange side of the spectrum, rather than a burgundy or wine color.

I’ve never knit with Kidsilk Haze, but I think the mohair in this yarn is probably not as high quality. It feels perceptibly rougher in the skein than KSH or Artfibers Tsuki (comparison of KSH and Tsuki here), although I don’t find it itchy. I think the hairs are probably longer, thicker, and crimpier than KSH. The silk is very lustrous and strong, and the color of the yarn is nicely saturated.

This yarn seems to be neverending. I guess that’s a good thing, but I feel like I’ve been knitting and knitting and my knitting gets larger but my skein never gets any smaller. I cast on for this project while we were staying with Rahul’s parents in Missouri, on the day after Christmas, and the pattern is actually easy enough that it’s my new TV knit–it’s a very repetitive ribbed lace stitch pattern, in the Pomatomus family, so I just need to glance at the chart at the beginning of each row.

Aside from making things in bright colors, I’ve been listening to this song about the “Paul is Dead” urban legend to keep myself cheerful.  It’s the happiest song about a conspiracy theory I’ve ever heard.

Happy New Year!

A quick post before I go downstairs for some dinner with the in-laws. I have finished 3.75 more Fibertrends clogs in the past two days–a pair for the boy, and a pair (with narrower sole, fingers crossed…) for me. One sole and a bunch of felting left to go!

Merry Christmas, everyone. Thanks for reading! I hope you are all having a wonderful holiday season.

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