Archives for category: wips

It’s very hot here, which makes me not want to do anything except take cold showers and eat frozen grapes. When I can actually bear to hold a big pile of yarn in my lap, I am slowly working on a Liesl in Golden Siam–opting for the low neckline, cap sleeves, and probably a ribbon tie at the neck to close it–although what I think I really need as for my wardrobe is a plain, reasonably fine-gauge white cardigan and one in plain black too. Ideas: Manu, Favorite Cardigan, Leitmotif Cardigan.

So, instead of showing you anything I’ve made, here are a bunch of other things you can look at instead. (I’ve been girlin’ it up like crazy lately for some reason. OMG CLOTHESHAIRMAKEUPLOLOLOL)

Yarn as drugs metaphor, expanded. Surprisingly, Cracksilk Haze is not even mentioned.

Giant flower pillow tutorial. I would like a gray leather handbag with an enormous flower like this on the front.

New Look 6000. Retro sheath dress with starburst gathering on one side and an option for a big foldover collar. There was a Vogue pattern with similar lines (can’t remember the pattern number) that I wanted to make about a year ago, but it got such terrible reviews for being poorly drafted, with the pieces not fitting together, that I thought it wouldn’t be worth the trouble. This, on the other hand, might be worth picking up and sewing for fall.

I love this no-heat vintage curls tutorial. My hair is hopeless at holding a curl, but I’ve been trying to get this to work anyway since I haven’t cut it in about a year and it’s actually long enough to do interesting things with again (and putting it up keeps it off my neck). I can’t get my elastic band updo nearly as neat and pretty as these examples, but the dental hygienist did compliment me on it when she was cleaning my teeth the other day.

Neon friendship bracelets.

Free Spotify invitations.

Adorable one-yard skirt patterns from Spoonflower designers. I wish they gave more details on the pages, like if the $18/yd 45-inch quilting cotton will do, or if you need to order it on one of the more expensive bases like cotton sateen or linen-cotton.

Clothkits skirt kits. So pretty, so expensive.

Alice in Wonderland-themed perfumes from Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab. It seems nuts to buy perfume online, but the scents sound amazing and the forums offer extensive, very descriptive reviews that tempted me into ordering a sampler. We’ll see if I like it once it arrives–I’m not much of a perfume wearer, but the ones I like are generally citrus, vanilla, or tea-based, all of which appear in spades (ha ha) in the Mad Tea Party collection.

Knot shorts. Can’t remember if I posted about this before but I really want to make a pair before summer’s out. Not sure how the ties should scale up. 6″ long on a 5-year-old = ?? on a 31-year-old?

We spent some time in Missouri with my boyfriend’s parents–just drove back up in one long go of it and here is how to benchmark that eight-hour drive:

  • 2 episodes of My Name is Earl + Shattered Glass + Shattered Glass DVD Commentary, or
  • Completion of 1 amigurumi jackalope ear, 2 amigurumi jackalope antlers, 5 1/2 amigurumi octopus tentacles, and a pair of Fleegle’s seamless take on Saartje’s baby booties (was I the only one who wound up with an extra isolated stitch resulting from the bound-off stitches in Round 25?)

While we were down there, I also finished knitting a baby vest (Lime by Jane Ellison) and the Side Slip Cloche from Boutique Knits. Both fun little knits, and if I can get my act together, I’ll actually post about them sometime soon, with pictures…

Other productive things I did this weekend include eating fried alligator and getting poison ivy, both for the first time, but not at the same time. (Verdict: tastes like chicken/feels like burning.) Ah, the delights of southern Missouri.

Kalani posted this on Facebook and it cracked me up. (And while we’re on the subject: tapestryshopp’d)

Also, since I mentioned them here recently, emailed me a coupon code to share with anyone who’s interested: blogfeather will give you $5 off a single purchase from, through May 14th, no minimum purchase required. Go forth and sew! Perhaps, staying with today’s theme, you would be interested in sewing some authentic cotehardies or houpelandes.

(Me, I think I’m going to go for this circle skirt soon… I have an embroidered linen tablecloth I got at a thrift store that will make an excellent skirt once I actually iron it.)

Here is the knitting project I’m working on right now.

A Jackalope from Amigurumi Knits! He has no face, ears, or front legs, so he kind of looks like a roasted turkey right now (big brown torso with drumstick-like hind legs sticking out), but I have faith that he will be much more stagbunny-like soon.
Here are some completed ones I found on Ravelry that I love. I hope mine turns out just as cute. I wish I could use safety eyes, but this is destined for a friend’s baby.

I think it is customary, after a long craft blog silence, to say something like “Life’s been crazy! I’ve been so busy!” or “Look at all the amazing things I’ve been making in the meantime!” but I really don’t have much of an excuse or anything super exciting to show off.

I have been sewing a bunch and have at least 3 new dresses to show off at some point, but only have photos of one of them and they all came out too ugly for me to show off here, so I will just tell you that two are from Weekend Sewing and one is a Vogue pattern. (And the photo below is not actually any of them–it’s a vintage shirt pattern that turned out HORRIBLE, giving the effect of a pregnant linebacker, so lucky the gingham was a dollar a yard and I could just scrap the project.)

I got a really exciting copy of Hansi Singh’s Amigurumi Knits–you may remember Michael Phelps from a while back, who was a Loch Ness Monster knit from a Hansigurumi pattern (included in this book, so now I own two copies of the pattern);

I’m excited about it–so many things are in my queue from this book; I want to make some crazy-ass toys for my best friend, who’s expecting a baby in June. The jackalope, octopus, hermit crab, and squid/kraken are all pretty high on the list, but I also really loved the Nessie and kind of want to make one for myself (I still have a lot of green and white yarn left). I think the book looks pretty good overall, definitely a good buy if you plan to knit up more than two of her patterns, but a few patterns in there felt like filler–the earthworm and cucumber spring to mind. I guess they’re meant to cater to beginners, so you can build your skills on a simple toy before embarking on a full-on cephalopod or preying mantis. I do still want the Horned Owl pattern, which has gotten good reviews on Ravelry but is not in the book.

I went to a Fiber Jubilee (what a hokey name, right?) in Richmond, WI, about an hour away from Madison– I went with Mary, Liz, and Liz, from my Wednesday night knitting group:

It was pretty great. We saw goats being sheared, I bought a sweater’s worth of locally grown white merino yarn (and she threw in a skein of natural gray laceweight as a bonus) for $16, and we sat on a picnic bench in the sun and ate Sloppy Joes made by the ladies of a local church.


The stall where I bought the merino:

Various scenes from around the farm:

I met Minou from Ambrosia and Bliss–she spotted me as I was going upstairs and we got to meet in person, so that was cool! We had corresponded on Ravelry/via blogland for a while but never actually met up.

I bought some natural-colored Corriedale there that I’ve already spun and plied into about 310 yards of worsted-weight two-ply. I only have pictures of the singles right now, but the other ply is a sort of creamy oatmeal color and it’s a really nice, squishy, bouncy marled yarn:

And I will be volunteering this Saturday from 10-12 at the Great Midwest Alpaca Festival, demoing spinning for a couple of hours, and I can’t even tell you how excited I am about going to a gigantic convention center full of alpacas. And I get to keep whatever I spin while I’m there (incentive to spin faster!)

Knitting-wise, I’m currently working on some Herringbone Mitts (warning, PDF link) for a swap. It took me weeks to get the pattern of the every-other rows so that I could do it without referring to the chart (k2 MC, k1 CC, k1 MC, k2 CC, k1 MC, k1 CC, repeat) and once I finally got it I felt really dumb and annoyed for not being able to figure out and memorize it sooner. But I am nearly at the top decreases now, and the end is in sight! I seriously don’t know how I can finish a sweater in a few days but take a month to knit a pair of mittens.

And I’m working on a shrug for my friend Casey’s wedding next month (whoa, time flies!) I hope it works out–the fabric is so delicious: one strand of Malabrigo in Stone Blue held with one strand of Kidsilk Haze in Hurricane… fluffy, smoky, tone-on-tone blue.

Anyway, that’s what’s been going on in craft land here. It’s finally starting to feel like spring around here! It makes me want to sew cotton dresses more than knit woolen mittens/mohair shrugs, but knitting is so much more fun and portable.

I found this seaming technique via the Daily Chum: the Bickford Seam. I’d never seen this method before. Supposedly it looks flat and nearly invisible, like mattress stitch, but from both sides. I really want to try it out!

The new Knitty came out today! I love the Aeolian shawl to pieces. I think I have a lace crush on Elizabeth Freeman (she also designed Laminaria). And speaking of lace crushes, did you know Lacis is coming out with a whole book of reissued Herbert Niebling designs? It makes the heart go pitter-patter. It’s a translation of Gestrickte Spitzendecken, corrected and re-charted.

The knitting I’m doing is mostly of the secret or swatchy variety right now, so I don’t have a lot to share, unfortunately. I am working on reknitting this Arrows cowl to make it smaller, with the intention of putting it up as a free pattern:

(see? cowl too big for my taste, and it was too sunny outside. but hey, o w l s !)
It uses 2 skeins Mirasol Miski, a super-soft baby llama blend with all sorts of feel-good social justice benefits. The old one is Bluebell, the new one is Coral.

I got Heather Ross’s Weekend Sewing in the mail and I love it! Can’t wait to start on the Summer Blouse, (I even traced and cut out the pattern pieces last night. I’m not looking forward to making the bias tape, though) and I really really want to make the Obi Dress and Trapeze Dress, but don’t have suitable fabric in suitable yardage for either.

I am thinking of using my Amy Butler Lotus yellow polka dot fabric for the blouse, with facings in something else from the collection, maybe this peony fabric or blue damasky stuff. I only have a fat quarter of each, though, so I don’t know if that will work, it’s probably not enough.

And Yarnmonster is modeling in the book! Not that I know her aside from reading her blog, but I thought it was cool to recognize her.

The big knitting news in town is that the Yarn Harlot is coming to town for the Madison Knit-In. Rahul thinks this is kind of hilarious and keeps saying “ooh, the Yarn! Harlot!” in this little squeaky voice. He has no idea. I think he would be shocked at how many people will be there. I’m excited to see the Harlot, of course, but also excited to take a look at the marketplace. Among the vendors: the Plucky Knitter, Creatively Dyed, Briar Rose Fibers, Black Water Abbey,  and Kimmet Croft, makers of the angora-blend yarn for US-variety Bohus sweaters.

My o w l s sweater is finished and the bajillion owl eyes sewn on–it’s blocking now and I hope to have some photos soon so I can join the parliament.

Aside from that–wow, this weekend has gone by quickly, between watching entirely too much Kitchen Nightmares and catching up on errands.

Here are some interesting links I came across recently:

Did you hear that various areas of Italy have banned all foreign food? (Lucca, Lombardia, and Milano as far as I can tell.) Completely insane.

Here on Flickr is a free version of the Spinner’s Control Card. Cool! It would take a bit of work to make it as sturdy as the fancy plastic card, but it’s certainly more economical.

I really want to make this Monk’s Bag with the Full Moon Forest bunny toile fabric I’ve been hoarding.

The Berroco Spring/Summer 2009 previews are up. My favorites are Flower Child and Pucker, although it’s unlikely I’ll knit either one anytime soon.

The Knit Kit looks like a pretty awesome little gadget.

Currently riding high on my personal list of things that are marvelous and amazing: The Tim Tam Slam.

(Erqsome beat me to the punch on documenting this awesomeness, as I found out when I searched Ravelry for forum posts about Tim Tams, but they are too good to go unmentioned here as well.)

A couple of months ago, Rahul and I saw a video of Natalie Imbruglia talking about the Tim Tam Slam on a talk show. We didn’t think much of it, but when we were in a grocery store in Hong Kong, he said, “hey, there are those cookies from that Youtube video–do you want to try them?”

So we bought a package of the dark chocolate-covered variety for the equivalent of $1 and change and went back to our hotel, where I brewed a cup of instant coffee with the Nescafe powder, non-dairy creamer, and electric kettle in our room. (The Cityview is a nice hotel, by the way, if you’re planning to visit Hong Kong–very convenient location.)

I bit off the corners of the Tim Tam, stuck it in the mediocre coffee, sipped it up, and crammed the disintegrating chocolate cookie into my mouth. The whole concept seemed a little gross, so I was completely unprepared for the mind-blowing deliciousness that ensued.

I’m ashamed to tell you just how many Tim Tams we then proceeded to eat. Suffice it to say that it was Too Many, and I speak from hard-earned experience when I say that no matter how tempting it seems at the time, you should eat no more than two Tim Tams in a single sitting. Two and a half, max.

We brought another package back with us, and made the fortuitous discovery that Pepperidge Farm is currently selling Tim Tams at Target for a limited time only. You can even get a coupon here, although we couldn’t get it to work. (Even with the coupon they cost a few times more than they do in Asia, unfortunately.) We bought a few boxes of them on our last Target run, and have been enjoying them with good coffee, and in moderation this time.

Although this may seem like heresy, I recommend the following technique to make your Tim Tam enjoyment last longer:

  • Break each Tim Tam in half.
  • Bite one corner off each half-Tim Tam.
  • Put the bitten corner in your mouth and the broken half into the liquid.
  • Consume as you would for a whole Tim Tam.

This way you get two Tim Tam explosions out of a single cookie and it takes slightly longer than the usual ~10 seconds to consume 180 calories and 22% of your daily saturated fat allowance.

Other great stuff:

These Dacca boots made from recycled plastic bags.

Day of the Triffids. (I have a glut of post-apocalyptic fiction out from the library at the moment and need to update Goodreads when I have a chance. The Road by Cormac McCarthy was fantastic, too.)

The sweater I am currently working on: o w l s, from needled! I’m making this in Beaverslide McTaggart Tweed in Big Sky Blue, bought from someone’s destash on Ravelry, and I have already finished both sleeves (two at a time, Magic Loop–when there are less than 30 sts per sleeve, the knitting goes fast!) I’m strongly attracted not only to the finished sweater but also the notes people have left on Ravelry saying how they finished the sweater in mere days. The only thing I’m not looking forward to is the part where I have to sew on dozens of buttons. But it will be worth it in the end, and I expect it will be fun to sift around in my button box to find suitable eye-buttons.

Beaverslide has a good reputation (cf. KR, BT, and Friender, a fellow Madisonian) and I can confirm it is a lovely yarn to work with–light, matte, woolly, spongy. It’s quite fragile, a bit uneven, but really pleasant to work with, and it’s next-to-skin soft, belying its rustic appearance. I hope it blooms when I wash it, as it looks a little too stretched-thin when I try on the sleeves, due to the negative ease.

I wear a lot of pullovers when it gets cold, and most of my nice warm rugged ones are store-bought, so I’m really excited to get this one done.

Oh and one more great thing. One of my local yarn shops, Lakeside Fibers, which was already pretty fantastic overall, is now serving wine in the cafe–as if delicious locally sourced food, a panoramic lake view, and locally roasted coffee weren’t enough. My neighborhood Stitch ‘n’ Bitch is in a wine bar, but sadly, it lacks any yarn aside from what we have personally brought in. Now I have a place where I can get Dream in Color merino and a nice glass of California Chardonnay in the same room.

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.

Sorry about the silence for a while there–I really needed that Thanksgiving break! I was drowning in work, and a week or two spent working into the wee hours of the morning paid off in allowing me to spend the long Thanksgiving weekend relatively work-free and relaxed.

On Thanksgiving day, we drove about 5 hours south to Rahul’s aunt and uncle’s house in rural central Illinois, and his parents drove up from Missouri to meet us there.  It’s deep in America’s flat, corn-filled heartland, the type of area where they show GM seed corn ads on prime time TV and you can listen to radio call-in shows dedicated to farm equipment classifieds (RFD Trading Post)–fascinating for an urban Californian! “Uh, hello, I’m interested in buying some billy goats, but I only want billy goats without horns. No horns. So if you have a billy goat with no horns, please call me at XXX-XXX-XXXX.” “I got some farm fresh eggs for sale. XXX-XXX-XXXX. Thanks.”

We had a traditional Thanksgiving dinner–turkey with all the fixings–but some yummy Indian food the other days, too: tandoori chicken, shrimp curry, biryani, a coconut-rice vermicelli dish called shevia (the last half of the word should be pronounced in a sort of slurry of vowels and approximants, sort of like Ozzy Osborne in that Samsung commercial).

We went shopping in Springfield on Black Friday and the day after. I feel sort of ashamed to admit that I had any part of this celebration of gluttonous American consumerism, but we were fairly practical, buying useful, cold-weather things on sale like chapstick and flannel sheets and a fake-down comforter, instead of silly things like Bacon-Waves and talking football-shaped candy dishes. We did buy a semi-frivolous Roomba at a doorbuster sale but found upon opening it that it didn’t have all the features we wanted: you have to manually start it–it can’t be set up to run automatically, and it doesn’t “go home” to charge afterwards, you just have to stumble over it wherever it happened to stop vacuuming and take it back to recharge. So we returned it, and my dreams of an amazing robot maid will have to be deferred. (An aside: I think iRobot is a terrible name for a robot company, don’t you?)

We did see some good old-fashioned Black Friday douchebaggery: a woman asked Rahul to hold her place in line for a sec when we first lined up, then she came back 45 minutes later, when we were about 5 people from the front of the line, and said “Oh, there you are! Thanks for holding my place” and shamelessly ducked back into line, completely ignoring her mortified husband telling her they had to go to the end of the line. Amazingly, aside from some complaining from us, a manager, and the people directly behind her, there were essentially no consequences for her jerkface behavior: she got to check out pretty much right away. But that was the biggest drama we saw, no fistfights over Wiis or anything like that.

Aside from that, we spent lots of time vegetating and hanging out with Rahul’s family. We watched lots and lots and lots of news about Mumbai, and I saw The Godfather for the first time, and the The Last King of Scotland. Both fantastic, of course.

Plus, at the same time, I did lots and lots of knitting! I cast on for Eastlake just before we left, and knit for a total of 20+ hours over the course of 4 days during car rides and while we watched movies or TV. I was trying desperately to meet my NaKniSweMo goal of finishing Flicca plus making one more sweater during the month of November, but fell short last night, only getting a few inches into the sleeves before calling it quits for the night. Still, I made good progress, and the sweater is going to be cushy and delicious once I’m done–I’m making it in a velvety taupe worsted-weight cashmere from School Products (via Klosekraft’s destash sale), and knitting as much of it as possible in the round. The leaf motif is so addictive I think I might even make an Eastscarf.

Last but not least, I finished the Malabrigo socks that were giving me such fits before, and wrote up the pattern! It’s available as a free download, with the caveat that this is a sock pattern by a sock moron and thus is not at all guaranteed to be any good. Here they are, the Tyro Socks, knit in the lovely Indiecita colorway:

Toe-up socks written for beginners, using the yarn-over short-row toe and heel described by Priscilla Gibson-Roberts in Simple Socks: Plain and Fancy (photo tutorial included in the pattern, for sock morons like me), and a simple, softly curving lace pattern mirrored on the left and right feet. The lace pattern is easy to read and to memorize, and it’s mostly stockinette (every other row is plain knit stitches).

You may notice some visual similarities to other patterns: the Pomatomus socks and Spirogyra mitts in particular. (There may be others, too, but those are the only ones I know of.) However, despite the similarities, which only occurred to me after I’d started, I can assure you that these socks were designed the old-fashioned way, from scratch, futzing around with a stitch dictionary and doing some swatching and math to mirror the stitch pattern and make it work with the stitch count. Namely, the parent stitch pattern is the Overlapping Waves pattern in The Big Book of Knitting Stitch Patterns.

This is a pattern of many knitting milestones for me. First pair of socks, first sock pattern, first short-row toe, and last but not least, first semi-creepy Flickr group request for photos of my feet. Ha! I’d read all kinds of tempest-in-a-teapot discussions on Ravelry about foot fetishists lurking on knitting websites to ogle sock FO photos, but this was the first direct encounter I’d had with them.

…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.