March 2007 Archives

Bellocq KAL


Alyson and Eva have started a Knit Along for the Bellocq pattern.

Alyson is knitting hers for her wedding, which is probably about as wonderful a compliment as any designer could ask for. Even if you don't plan to knit these socks, you may enjoy following along just to see how her stockings turn out. For anyone who may be considering this pattern, I'll be checking in and answering questions as they arise.

What the daffodilly-o?


Ahh, is there anything more bad-ass than a 30-something suburbanite using antiquated slang in a punny fashion? I say not.

In keeping with my focus on deadline work and therefore, decided lack of crafty goodness, I bring Portland in spring. It's a beautiful thing that even my spangly new birthday camera cannot do justice to. It doesn't stop me from trying, though.

Lovely trees in bloom, in shades of white and pink

Daffodils and little fragrant white flowers that have appeared in our yard. The daffodils are everywhere in our yard, but these little white flowers stand alone in our vast backyard with no kindred neighbors. We have no idea from where it came.

Gorgeous red tulips grow like weeds in front of our house. Where are my wooden clogs when I need them? We can't wait to see what other flowers pop up in our yard.

Of course, I can't post about the joys of spring without a picture, or three, of Panda romping in the yard. Can you believe we (meaning, Leo) cut the lawn just over a week ago? Granted, it was cut long, but still, that's some good growth in a week.

Well, I made it home after a busy week of working and some serious knitting, all weekend long. It was a great weekend, though my travel karma is definitely out of whack. More about that near the end of the post.

The week started on a great note, when the manager in OC treated me to some Spongebob goodness. Here are my bath pals.

They squirt water when you squeeze them. Is this an appropriate bath accoutrement for a 32 year old? I suspect yes. Did I use them? You bet your sweet tush I did.

I didn't have much time during the week for knitting, so I only did a touch of swatching for a future design that I am envisioning.

I started by following Jody's instructions for the Latvian braid (at the top, I prefer this stitch pattern inverted). I should have reversed the foundation row to achieve the proper effect. I was working a technique that was meant to be worked in the round, flat and I flubbed that portion, but that's no fault of the tutorial. Otherwise, it's very easy and a great way to start a 2-color piece.

I don't actually plan to knit this particular stitch pattern, and probably not in these exact colors, but I do plan to use some of my Blue Sky Alpaca of which I have a few other colors. While I like how the orange really pops against the blue, I think, in this particular usage, it's too much. The yarn is leftover from a project that I did for Kat's upcoming Baby Boho book. I really can't wait for it to be published since I'm so happy with the finished project.

Once the work week was over, I got to spend a couple days with my always gracious and welcoming friend, Julia. She had a very busy week, so I got some good bonding time with her kitties; Townes and Tuna.

Townes just walked all over me for the first few hours. Nothing says "welcome back, my friend" like being treated like furniture.

He also made sure I didn't oversleep during nap time. Thanks Townes!

Tuna was just blissed out the whole weekend

I took this picture right after she walked over to me and started linking my cheek. She's so cute. She did a few of those hardcore head rubs on my forehead and then plopped herself down for some belly rubs. I'm pretty sure that in Tuna's past life, she was a loving little lap dog.

Don't believe me?

Here she is snuggling her doggy chew toy.

There ain't no catnip in this teddy bear, just a kitty feeling all kinds of bliss with the world.

Unfortunately, I didn't get any pictures of the beautiful Zosia, but she and I had some nice walkies and explored the hilly streets surrounding Julia's house.

I also, because I'm so great at this blogging thing, don't have any pictures of the subsequent S&B at Nicky D's. A few of my favorite people were there, and some were noticeably not and missed.

I did tons of knitting for a top secret project I'm working on for a McYarnpanted individual. You'll just have to take my word for it. No pictures for you.

The trip home lacked the joy of the weekend. I left for the airport very early, to allow time to fill up the tank of and return my rental car. That went unexpectedly smoothly which left me a couple hours to entertain myself in the Burbank airport. I got even more time when the first leg of my flight was delayed. Guess what that means? I missed my connection. The next flight didn't leave for another 2 hours and I was only granted standby for that. The good news; I got on that flight, narrowly, by the skin of my teeth. (Am I the only one who finds that image pretty horrifying?) The bad news; my luggage didn't get the memo. The OK news, United had it delivered to my home later that night.

All said and done, no harm, no foul and my greeting when I got home was as loving and enthusiastic as I'd hoped. Yay for visiting friends and yay for coming home.

This Sunday, I flew down to Los Angeles for work. Apparently, Sunday, at about the same time, another plane landed as well. Oh boy, 500 extra passengers, what could possibly go wrong?

There are words, some more family friendly than others, to describe the baggage claim area at LAX. Most carousels were collecting baggage from 4 or more flights at any time. This is a pic of carousel 1 which was at one end of the this terminal. My fellow passengers and I got our cardio workout walking between this and carousel 4, at the other end of the terminal. Every few minutes, someone would announce, over the intercom, the new expected location of our luggage. I found myself surprisingly unfazed by the whole thing. I flew in a full 14 hours before I needed to be at work and there simply wasn't anything to be done about the situation. Plus, who among us couldn't do with a bit more exercise? Others, though, did not seem to be so zen about it.

All of this is just to say that blogging shall be sparse this week, while I work, which is just as well since I will have very little knitting time until Friday. I did manage to bring my Portland weather to LA, though. Sorry to all my So Cal neighbors, though I have to say, I kind of like it.

Bellocq now available


Stitch Diva is now selling the Belocq pattern.

I have also create a page in my pattern section that includes a photo that allows you to see the lace in more detail.

I have to dig through my old photos and see if I have any more pictures of the samples I knit before sending them off. I know I have some of the cuban heel detail, though most also include my various life lines.

Anyway, I'm hoping that people enjoy knitting these as much as I enjoyed creating them.

Revenge of the sleeve.


This entry has also been posted at the Create Along.

While I have done a fair bit of design, there are still aspects of the processes that I can only perfect through trial and error. All the excel sheets and schematics in the world cannot reproduce the look and feel of knit fabric adhering to all the laws of physics. Julia has a really nice post in which she discusses the process of designing without knitting the piece herself. In her case, her sample knitter helped ease that processes by providing continual feedback, as she was a fine designer in her own right. However, I think this is a valuable lesson to take away. While I consider Julia to be a hugely skilled and technically adept designer, who has years of experience knitting and designing knitwear, even she cannot completely predict the way the finish piece will need to be constructed in order to execute her vision.

As a side note, this is one of the beauties of the web and why I absolutely love being a part of this CAL. I cannot imagine how critical I might be of my own work, if I didn't have the blogs of other designers to show me that all of us face the same challenges and missteps.

Back to the topic at hand, Lily has gone surprisingly easily throughout the body portion of the piece. While I debated on length, a bit, and I may still close the side vents up a little bit, the bulk of the design process went pretty smoothly, once I had my original vision.

From here, I knew I wanted to knit the sleeves up to, but not including, the sleeve cap, so that I could join all the pieces and work them together, to avoid any possible offset of the motifs.

There were no problems with the body, the sleeve, however, has dogged me. This humble elbow length sleeve is the product of, not one, not two, but 4 trips to the frog pond.

It's a testament to the quality of Calmer that I see absolutely no change in the yarn, despite all that ripping and re-knitting.

My first thought was that I'd migrate the motifs from the front of the sleeve, around to the back seam in preparation to run the motifs up the sleeve cap. I felt that just running the motif up the seam would look peculiar and unbalanced. Something really needed to pickup the theme, on the outside of the sleeve.

If you are astute, you've already caught my big mistake here, however, I knit about a quarter of the sleeve and realized I just had too much ease worked in and ripped the sleeve to start again. It was only when version two had hit about the halfway point, that I realized my fatal flaw. If the motifs were correct at the outside of the sleeve, they would be flipped at the back seam as shown in the illustration below.

As the great philosopher, Homer, said, "DOH!" That was a real head slapper moment.

I realized that my new calculations worked out perfectly to fit 2 full motifs across the entire hem of the sleeve (a centered full motif on the outside of the sleeve, with two half motifs inside by the seam). I knew I didn't want to carry the outside motif up the entire length of the sleeve, firstly, because it would be too busy and secondly, because when it came time to decrease for the sleeve cap, I'd be left with a lot of lace to wrangle into submission. I decided to just work the outside motif once. I tried maintaining the purl ribs up the length of the sleeve but found it added a sort of sporty feel that was inconsistent with the vast stockinette of the body.

So I took out the purl ribs, after the first repeat.

I was getting much closer but there were two things that bothered me. First, the outside repeats just seemed to look uncontained. There were still strong lines delineating the edges of the motifs on all sides except the top. Something just seemed off. I also didn't care for the fact that I had begun the sleeve shaping, while working the first repeat. It meant I had to increase in the purl ribs between motifs. Since I was eliminating the extra purl ribs and motif, it just didn't look cohesive.

After all that, 5 times was the charm.

I added a purl ridge to the top of the outside motif, which added the visual container I felt the motifs needed. Additionally, I held off on any sleeve shaping until I had completed the border of repeats, allowing me to increase in the stockinette area, as I had on the body.

I think the final product is consistent with the style of the body and deals with the design concerns I had, in a logical way.

For now, Lily needs to go on temporary hold while I complete a project for a friend. Lucky for me, it's in Calmer too!

I hope to complete that in the next week or two, while I'm traveling and then I'll get back to Lily and all that she entails. I'll try to get a couple tutorials up in the interim, if time permits.


A company called Seventh Generation, who manufactures safe and environmentally responsible household products, has a program called TamPontification.

Per their site:

Women’s shelters in the U.S. go through thousands of tampons and pads monthly, and, while agencies generally assist with everyday necessities such as toilet paper, diapers, and clothing, this most basic need is often overlooked. You and I may take our monthly trips down the feminine care aisle for granted, but, for women in shelters, a box of tampons is five dollars they can’t spare. Here’s some good news: you can help us contribute to rectifying this situation by making a virtual donation below!
For each virtual donation, Seventh Generation will send a pack of organic cotton tampons or chlorine-free pads to a shelter in your state.

So swing by their site, if this is a cause you think is worth supporting, and make your donation.

Link via LAist

9 months in the making


Wow, I was going through my old emails, to see when I started my project with Stitch Diva Studios, and it was nearly 9 months ago. The owner, Jennifer, contacted me while I was at BlogHer, to see if I'd be interested in designing some stockings inspired by the photography of E. J. Bellocq (WARNING: Probably not safe for work).

Normally, I think that most people design their patterns, send them off to whomever, and await questions from the tech editor. That's usually about as much interaction as you'll ever have. With Stitch Diva Studios, the entire process, from conception, to test knitting to tech editing, is interactive with all parties involved, and I had a pretty large party to attend. It was great. I couldn't list everyone involved without making this sound like a bad academy awards speech so I'll just say that I was really glad to have such great people working on my pattern.

The Pattern is called Bellocq, and is being previewed right now at Stitch Diva Studios. You can see the pattern by clicking here or click the image below.

Image Copyright Stitch Diva Studios. All rights reserved.

It's not for sale yet, but will be soon, so if you are interested, please check back at the link above, or join their mailing list.

Home sweet home


In my last post I mentioned that Panda needed to go in for surgery today for a cleaning and maybe some extractions. Well, we're back and Panda did great. I brought her in first thing, for her dental surgery. She was done in an hour, no extractions required.
Once Panda was awake, they let me see her and said she'd need another hour or so before she could go home.
A friend of mine was kind enough to take me out to breakfast while Panda woke up and now we're home.

She's one groggy girl.

But I can tell she's glad to be back.

I'm still a bag of nerves, but I'm so glad that everything went smoothly and she still has all her teeth. Yay!

00001atthevetAt the vet

Panda recently had her first visit to her new vet. As you can see, she is not so big a fan of places like the vet, where there is this "indoor" thing that is not home and there are no waves or trees or squirrels to chase. For the most part, as we expected, she is healthy and happy and well. However, she's an aggressive bone chewer and had cracked a few teeth. The vet needs to clear away some plaque to see how bad they are cracked, and possible may need to extract the back teeth. All this requires Panda be put under. Eeesh! While the Vet feels comfortable that this is pretty standard surgery and should not be a big problem, Leo and I are, of course, nervous about her being anesthetized.

What are we to do? Why, spoil her rotten before the surgery, of course! There is no better way to do this than with lots of walks and a trip to cannon beach.

It's a picture heavy post, so I've placed all the images after the jump.




This entry also posted at the Create Along.

Because I don't have a definite plan mapped out for Lily, the time I've spent knitting the body, so far, has been a nice time to contemplate how I'll handle the arms and upper body of the piece.

Progress has been largely smooth, though I've had to tink and rip out some mistakes in the lace a few times. It's not a hard lace pattern but I've found I've repeated the same mistake with the nupps a few times.

I took a class on Estonian Lace, with Nancy Bush, about a year ago. In it, she demoed nupps as a detail worked over 2 rows. On row one, at the point that the nupp is to be performed, one works a series of alternating knits and YOs into the same stitch, always starting and ending with a knit. On the following row, all the nupp stitches are purled together. Shown by an expert, they seem deceptively easy. In the hands of a novice, they can be the instrument of torture. An even and exceedingly loose tension is required.

Barbara Walker prescribes a slightly different method. At the point of the nupp, 5 stitches are worked into one by alternating knit and purl stitches into a single stitch. The stitch count is reduced back to the original number, immediately, by passing the 4th, 3rd, 2nd then 1st stitch over the 5th one worked. I speed this up, ever so slightly, by grabbing all 4 stitches at once and passing them over the 5th stitch, in one step. However, I've been known to grab one too many or too few stitches, in the process, and throwing my stitch count off, unbeknownst until two rows later. The only fix is to rip back, though I usually do so over only the 11 stitches of that half of the stitch repeat.

Regardless, progress continues, as you can well see.

This shows the start of the 6th repeat of the 7.5 that I'll need before the armsceye begins.

You may be able to tell that there is a fairly long vent up each side of the piece.

I may seam up a little of it if I decide to put an additional hem on the piece. However, if I end up working just a crochet edge, the vent will stay, as is.

I've added the vents to improve the drape of the piece. I have a 10" difference between my waist and hips and when I shape at the side seams only, it tends to cause the fabric to buckle in odd ways, even when the measurements are perfect for my size. The fit is far better when I use waist darts, but they would have distracted from the lines of the piece, so the vents seemed the best alternative.

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