Friday, September 30, 2005

May 12th, 2006

Last night, there was a package waiting for me when I got home.
This is what was inside.

And for any of you playing from home, take a little look-see at May 12th. Guess what you'll find...

Lil ol' me in Leo's Pismo Hat. He definitely looks better in it.

I'm hitting the home stretch in knitting the step outs for KG. I'm working on the fingers for the completed glove. It's probably not entirely clear but I'm knitting the fingers inside out and double knit. It's a modification of the suggested technique in the original pattern. Instead of double knitting in knit stitch, whereby you knit a stitch, bring the yarn forward, slip a stitch. In this case, you purl a stitch, leave the yarn where it is, slip the next stitch, then purl the next. Keep going in that manner. It saves you the extra step of moving the yarn each time.

Does anyone out there think it'd be useful to see a tutorial for that? I put something together pretty quickly. It make the process much less tedious.

Well, gotta hit the LYS for an untarnished skein of this yarn. They need one in its original condition for the shoot.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Recycling Money

I recently got a bit of money for a design and I made a conscious decision that I wanted to put it back towards something that would help me be a better designer. Yarn and needles are great tools, but over and over again I find myself leafing through my collection of stitch libraries and feeling like there should be more.

My first shipment of books arrived yesterday. I have another order coming soon.
I got three of Barbara Walkers stitch libraries, with the fourth scheduled to arrive in the next month. I also got Sweater Design in Plain English which appeared to have great reviews overall. I'm not sure how much or little I'll get out of the last book, but it certainly can't hurt.

Click the books to see them on Amazon, but do feel free to support your local privately owned book stores, if possible

I'm driving into work most of this week because I have to stay late for some meetings, so I haven't gotten much knitting done. Riding the bus affords me lots of knitting and podcasting time, and I'm missing it more than I thought I would.

I've just started my fourth partial HFM Glove. I've been sneaking in little bits of other knitting every once in a while, but I'm trying to stay on course. I'm definitely someone who craves a bit of variety and it's taking a lot of discipline to stay on course.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Second Sock-itis?

So some of us have second sock-itis, which is really not limited to socks, it can include mittens, gloves and sleeves as well. But generally, being the 2 armed, 2 legged type of creatures that we are, we max out at two for most garments.
But when it's time to get ready for certain events, one doesn't get to stop at two. No-sir-i-Bob!

I've only just begun and I'm on number three, here. One of these will eventually have all its fingers, one will have just a couple fingers, one will have just a thumb, and then I'll need to have other "in progress" versions. On the up-side, I should be able to turn them all into completed gloves after the shoot. So, um, brother Matt, do you want some ugly fingerless gloves for Christmas? They'll look just like these, only different.

Regarding the as yet unnamed corset-like top from the last post, thank you all for the really sweet feedback. It looks like there will be a few people interested in purchasing the pattern. I'm also planning on giving some of the proceeds to Habitat For Humanity. I hope to have the pattern available once I finish up my knitting for KG and finish writing a pattern I've knit for SWTC. For those of you who asked about modification, I'll definitely cover ways in which to add length or make the back more bra-friendly. I'm thinking that having a very shallow V in back might be even nicer than a straight back.

Finally, I want to show you some good old Panda cuteness. I got her a new toy recently and she's been enjoying it.

Here she is, plotting it's demise.

A little bite or two to find the squeaker in the middle

Yup, that's the spot.

Go get it, girl, shake it up.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Premiering soon at a blog near you

Coming soon
As yet unnamed, this little number has been awaiting release. I had considered submitting it to a real publication, but I think I'm ready to sell the pattern here instead.
Click any of the images for a larger view.
I hope to have a pattern available soon. Most of the work was done long ago, but a few details still need to be sorted out.

The piece is actually knit straight, there is no shaping. All the body hugging happens with the various ribs and cables. My original thought is that I wanted to do something that used cable techniques but which was a bit more organic. I see deciduous trees in winter. But that's just me.

Here she is from a distance.

And here's the back. I think I like the back better than the front.

Julia and I did the photo shoot this weekend. I don't think I've laughed that hysterically for a while.

Julia is sporting Clementine, her soon to be released, absolutely divine Marino sweater. Please make sure you swing by her blog to get the details.

This is our "Fat bottom girls you make the rockin' world go 'round" shot (named, aptly, by Miss Julia). This could also, perhaps, be a commercial for some sort of feminine hygiene product. I prefer to think not, though.

There appears to be some sort of strange square dance.

And here's the "ta da" shot. I'm pretty sure I'm making a ridiculous face in this picture.

And finally...

Here's my sexy shot.

Yah baby. Try to contain your lust for me.

Monday, September 19, 2005

I love living in LA

I don't love everything about LA, but I do love that around noon on a Sunday, a friend and I can begin to get ready to work our way leisurely to the beach and spend an afternoon having a grand old time. Most places I've been, you need to plan these things, get up early, and, in general, make a big production of the whole thing. Here, not so much. Especially after Labor Day when the weather reaches a chilly 70 degrees F, and the locals start wearing their ski parkas.

For us, of course, there was lounging with yarn

And with Julia, there had to be lounging IN yarn

We were actually women on a mission and if you've been reading Julia's blog, you may already have inferred what that mission is. The next image is the only hint I'll give you.

More to come on Wednesday.

In knitting, I've been working on a lot of self patterning sock yarn

I'm not obsessed with the yarn, or anything, I'm just getting ready for my upcoming Knitty Gritty shoot. I've actually bought a few different brands of self patterning sock yarn and I'm intrigued with how different they are from each other. I'll admit, I think Regia does it best. Their solid stripes are actually solid, not tweedy, and their faux jacquard areas work up nicest on the recommended needle size. Almost everything here is Regia with a little bit of Opal there on the bottom.

Before I sign off here, I want to leave you with a great card my friend gave me.

She said she saw it and immediately thought of me. She knows me so well.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

If you like Panda

I think you'll love this...

Oh, and thanks to everyone for your sweet comments regarding Hopeful. I'm really happy with the end result and even wore it to work this week.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Hopeful Notes

Hopeful is done, though all I have is this crappy image because it's still dark out and I can't get a decent picture. I hope to have something better soon.

Pattern Specs:
Name: Hopeful
Designer: Jenna Adorno
Size: 36" chest
Yarn: Karabella Aurora 8
Color: 21
Quantity: Just under 8 balls including swatches

General info on pattern:
For every $5 purchase, $6 goes to Susan Love's breast cancer research foundation. For that reason alone, I think this pattern is well worth its price.

As for the piece, it's nearly entirely seamless and employs short row sleeves that are great fun to knit. If you have never knit a piece in the round or are scared of short rows, this may be a nice foray into both.

The general aesthetic of the piece is clean and flattering without being overly fussy. Designed for a very petite woman, there are details that may need to be reconsidered to best flatter the wearer.

To start with, I decided to work a provisional cast on and not work the horizontal garter ribbing at the base. This freed me up to consider other treatments at the bottom.

After that, I assessed the general shaping of the piece, which is suitable for someone with a very short waist and compact frame.
Please see schematic below.

Worked from the bottom, up, the pattern indicates that you work straight for several inches before working your waist decreases, then your chest increases, at which point, you work straight again for several inches.

This makes a largely square piece with a quick tuck in the middle.
If your torso is fairly compact, this will look wonderful on you.

I modified this design for a more standard shape. I have a fairly long torso (and, alas, relatively short legs), so I spaced the decreases over a longer stretch of rows and added a few more decreases to bring the waist in a bit more. I reversed the process for the increases.

This is what my schematic would look like.

Speaking of shaping, I also made a modification to the way in which the full fashioned shaping was worked. Increases and decreases have a very distinct look. I wanted the increases to look as much as possible like the decreases. The pattern indicates that you work a single knit stitch in between the two decreases or increases as needed on a row. The visual effect made the increases appear closer together than the decreases. Your results may vary, depending on which increase you work.

In my version, I worked the decreases with 2 stitches between them, and the increases with 4 stitches between them.

The left shows the visual effect on the finished piece. The right shows where the actual increases and decreases are worked.

The next modification I made was to the way the neck and armsceyes were worked. The neckline splits before the armsceyes. The pattern indicates that the two front pieces and the back split when the neckline is started, leaving short seams on both sides of the piece. Since this is really supposed to be a seamless sweater, I cut the yarn and started anew at mid front. I worked back and forth from one side of the neckline to the other for the distance from where the neck started to where the armsceye started. Then I split the piece into the 3 sections as indicated in the pattern.

I decided on a hem after completing the remainder of the body and the sleeves as indicated in the pattern. To see my tutorial on the hem, please click here.

Next, I modified the way the neckline was worked. Please see my tutorial here.

The last minor change I made was to the front tie. Instead of doing the i-cord, I decided to mimic the look of an actual knot by knitting a short length of 2x2 ribbing and wrapping it around the ties. This is slightly more bulky than the indicated treatment and may not be a good option for everyone.

That pretty much sums up my approach to the piece. If anyone needs clarification on anything I did, don't hesitate to ask.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Turn the corner

Leo and I went on a day trip yesterday. I would post all the pictures here, but then I'd have a huge unwieldy post with no room for knitting, so go ahead and check out the gallery here, if you like. If you are wondering, there are plenty of Panda pics to make it worth your while.

In knitting news, I've been finishing up my Hopeful. I had to rip a few times to get things right, but it appears I'm on the right track.

As written, the neckband is worked by picking up a relatively small number of stitches along the neckline and knitting in 2x2 ribbing, back and forth, picking up one stitch from the neckline, every other row.

This works fine and for anyone knitting the piece, don't feel you can't do this.

The challenge with neckline details is getting them to lie properly. If you look at the way they are shaped, the edge against the garment itself is longer than the free edge because it follows along a curve. It's like a donut, the inside hole of a donut is smaller than the outside edge.


The way the pattern is design, you knit the tie to be the length you wish the inside to be (the donut hole) and stretch along the outside edge.

Below, you can see a picture of how I'm approaching the neckline. I'm using short rows to turn the corner at the shoulder seam.

Here is a view of the neckband laid flat. You can see the shoulder seam on the left and the ribbing turns around the corner. The effect is achieved very easily if you are comfortable with basic short rows. Since the pattern requires short rows for the sleeves, it's well within the abilities of anyone knitting the piece.

Referring to the two images below

Note the blue and green lines in the second picture. Blue lines indicate normally knit rows, while the green indicate how the short rows work.
I knit straight to the shoulder seam, finishing on a right side row so that I'm ready to start a wrong side row.
From there, I worked only 2 stitches, wrapped, turned work and worked those 2 stitches as though completing a normal row (knitting last stitch with one neckline stitch)
The next row, I went two stitches farther than the previous row.

I repeat this process, going two stitches further each time, until I've done a wrap around the second to last stitch and worked back.

Now, I just continue working straight until I am 6 stitches shy of the next shoulder seam. I'll have to reverse the shaping at that point. I hope to have pictures of that soon.

One note on this, I had to rip my first attempt because I did not change the number of stitches picked up along the back edge. The instructions indicate that you should pick up every other stitch along the back of the neck. For this technique, you should pick up 3 stitches for every 4 stitches along the back.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Hem and Haw

Well, I knit a bit of the border I'd been working on and it looked beautiful, but it just wasn't going to match the neck detail. I had briefly toyed with the idea of doing both the border and the neck detail in matching lace, but that started to create a look like my Bella Pequita, which just didn't seem right. So rip away I went and on to option 2, knitted fold over hem with picot detail.

I've taken a couple steps to avoid flipping and rolling in unattractive ways.

Firstly, I placed a lifeline into the piece where I began the hem. This will ensure I match up the grafting to the correct row on the body.

After knitting the length of the desired hem in the needle size I used for the rest of the piece, I worked a row of *p2tog, yo* around the piece.

The purls will fold nicely and the YO will give the picot effect.

Then I switched to a smaller needle size and knit one row fewer than the number of rows from the lifeline to the purl picots.

This is what it looks like.

Knitting with a smaller needle size will pull the hem just slightly towards the inside of the piece, making it less likely to flip up.

One could, at this point, bind off the stitches. The end result would be a bit of bulk at the point where the hem is grafted into place. Since this is worsted weight yarn on a form fitting piece, I don't want any extra bulk.

Instead, I leave the stitches on the needle and use a much smaller needle to pick up the stitches from the start of the hem, using the lifeline to keep me on track.

The top needle is the smaller one, the bottom needle is the main one.

Folding them together, I can start grafting the two together with Kitchner Stitch. The reason I worked one fewer rows on the bottom half of the hem is because the grafting row will count as the last row. If I hadn't done that, I'd have a bulgy hem.

I'm only a few stitches in, but this is what it looks like. While it's time consuming, it's the best way I know to have a relatively bulk free hem, if I haven't planned ahead of time to work the hem in the No-Sew manner.

Hopefully, I'll be happy with the results and will have a nearly finished piece to show you soon.

In unrelated news, I got myself a model to use for my design proposal drawings.

She seems pleased with the arrangement.

And, Leo and I went out to lunch yesterday. I just thought I'd post a picture because he looks oh-so-handsome in his new sweatshirt.

Friday, September 09, 2005

The book said it was right here -- Part 2

When last we left our brave heroines, they were off to go hiking in the Angeles National Forest.

With backpacks re-packed, and mysterious "gate" found, our protagonists' sense of adventure was renewed.

The guidebook told us to walk along the "dirt road that curves under the precipitous south face of the San Gabriel Peak."
Then we should "approach a short tunnel."

Dirt Road?


"Precipitous south face"?

I love the use of the word "precipitous" as much as the next person, but being surrounded by mountains makes determining such features a bit challenging.

We proceed ahead

Short tunnel?


Short tunnel?

Hmm, let's re-read those instructions again? Do you remember seeing anything that looked decidedly precipitous? How about this fork in the road? Is there supposed to be a fork in the road?

At this point, I think we began to resign ourselves to the fact that we may not be on the right trail. No worries, though, it's cooling off, the trail is clear and easy and there is much talk of knitting to be done.

And the trail was beautiful. We hiked until the gnats became unbearably thick, and then headed back to the truck. Hey, we're all for nature and exercise, but you can only talk so much when little buggies are bombarding you. Anyway, heading back to the truck means heading into the city for dinner.

Back up on the road, we grab Herman, drop him off at the truck and get one last picture, before heading into town.

The magnificence of nature is all fine and dandy, but there isn't much in this world that can put me in a better mood than a good dinner.

Julia and her husband introduced me to the Mayflower a while ago and it was a feast to remember. If ambiance is high on your list of criteria...

this may not be your stop. But if you want great food for a bargain, you might well be in heaven.

We had a bit of a scare when we saw the crowd out front.

All of those people were awaiting a seat in a restaurant about the size of most people's living room. But, Julia was assured by the staff that we'd be elbow deep in crab in 10 minutes.

We waited outside with other hungry patrons to be.

Admired the offerings out front.

And were seated shortly.
After what seemed like an eternity of waiting....

We had crab. Ohhhhh yah!
After eating myself stupid, and packing up some crab for Leo, it was back home for both of us.

This is my kind of hiking.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Interlude of a Knitting Persuasion

The rest of the hiking story will be back soon, but first, a brief check in on Hopeful.

Let me tell you, I like the color of this piece, but it is hard to photograph without proper lighting. Anyway, as you can see, all the major parts of the piece are knit and I've taken out the provisional cast on to start a border at the bottom.

I have never had such a hard time deciding on a design element. The piece, as it was originally intended, has very clean and simple lines. While the look is feminine, it is so without being overly girly. I want to keep some of that feel, without having the design features that do not suit me. As both Miriam and Mary-Heather have confirmed, some design elements just aren't great for big bootied girls.

After several days of fits and starts, I am one pattern repeat into a border I hope will work.

She doesn't look like much yet, but I'm hoping it'll work out. You can see I'm employing the provisional cast on, once again. The hope is that I'll be able to graft the last row of the border to the first and keep the seamless nature of the sweater. If this attempt doesn't go well, I have two other options I may consider.
  1. A simple turned hem with, perhaps, a picot detail. This would be clean and simple, but probably a bit bulky for this yarn. I also don't want the bottom of the sweater to tend towards flipping up riding up unattractively. I think a hem risks this more so than a border.
  2. A very simple cabled border. I'm reluctant to do this for the same reason I'm reluctant to use the original border suggested. It will still be a bulky, largely horizontal design element in a location where streamline details are best. Additionally, it might be a bit fussy for the piece. But the lines will be more forgiving then those of a straight horizontal garter rib so it would be a viable option. The one in particular that I am considering is this one.

From Knitting on the Edge. Of course, no fringe for me.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

The book said it was right here -- Part 1

Julia gave me a call on Saturday to invite me to go hiking with her Monday after she finished work. She had been looking at trails in the lovely Angeles National Forest, a mere 35 minutes from downtown LA. I jumped at the chance. She found some appealing trails that were dog friendly and, in my honor, out of shape friendly, and I was excited. While Panda didn't join for this trip, I have a feeling she'll be joining us in the future.

Leo, ever worried for my wellbeing, had visions of our ending up miles down a trail as the sun set, at which point these two helpless waifs would, inevitable, be eaten by bears. Or perhaps, he suggested, we'd end up lost and would simply starve before help could arrive. Or rattlesnakes, yes, perhaps those would be our demise. Well, our fate wasn't determined, but he felt whatever it was would not end well. I reassured him that I'd wrassle any bear to the ground, use my stellar sense of time and direction to lead us shirpa like from any trail, back home, and that I'd use my piccolo to charm the snakes back to their lairs, but he was not convinced, so he reluctantly gathered his plethora of boy scout like equipment for me to take.

Many pounds of equipment later, I was on the road to Julia's place. Can we take a minute to marvel at Julia? Not only did she nurse her foster cat back to health in the morning (long story, but she's fine now) but she worked until 3 and was still game for wilderness adventure. How cool is that?

Anyway, book in hand, we headed for the mountains.

Following the directions, we found a spot that appeared to fit the description. Now, we needed to find a gate that lead to a path.

A you see a gate? I don't see a gate.

We looked up

Not there

We went left

Nope, no trail there.

Maybe it's the other directions, I think I see a path....

Not so much.

But hey, what's that?

Aww deer. There were a few bouncing through the brush.

We packed back into Julia's truck and repeated the searching, with no successful results a few more times. To break the monotony a bit we decided to compare hiking supplies. I assumed that my Leo approved kit would trump Julia's but, I think it was a pretty even wash.

Between the two of us, we had two backpacks (duh), Julia's had a built in water bladder thingy with straw camelback. A sweatshirt, mittens, the ugliest hat ever, 2 cell phones, headlamp, antibiotic ointment, water purification tablets, a GPS, swiss army knife, lighter, sun block, pepper spray, flashlight, extra socks, another aesthetically lacking hat, and a guidebook. Between the two of us, we really were prepared to fend off bears, a loss of direction and rattlesnakes. Ok, maybe not, but we were prepared for something.

At 308 degrees Kelvin, or thereabouts, much of what we brought along had no hope of seeing the light of day. But Julia took pity. She took pity on my ugly ugly hat and my giant mittens. Julia, exhausted from a long day at work and a futile search for a path that appeared to exist only in the dreams of some demonic guidebook writer, did this....

And then this....

Did I mention it was hot. Did I mention the hat has lightening bolts of ugliness streaking through it and is too short and is ugly? Julia rocks.

After repacking all our thing in our backpacks, we hopped back in her truck to try to find another path.

Not a mile down the road, we saw it, the gate. The flippin' flappin' gate that didn't exist except in the minds of demonic guidebook writers.

Oh, and a giant pinecone. I named him Herman. Julia thought it silly to put the ugly hat on it so I didn't.

Part 2 to come soon...

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Whole lotta pictures

Well, this long weekend is off to a lovely start. I've been knitting away on Hopeful and I'm finally feeling good about the results.

I tried it on and it fits like a dream. I still haven't committed to a treatment for the hem of the piece. I'm just not wild about horizontal ribbing. Part of me feels like I should try it and see if I like it when it's done and part of me says that extra bulk and horizontal design motifs at the lower belly are just not a good idea for anyone but the most petite of women (as the designer obviously is). I have to go trekking through a few more stitch libraries before I come to a final conclusion.

Moving on to other things, Leo took me for a lovely meal in Long Beach last night. We went to a place called the Sky Room which was amazing. It's atop a hotel built in the 20s so the feel is pure Art Deco. The view is just stunning and the food is nothing short of heavenly. We got there early so we sat in their lounge area.

Here is our table and view.

And here we are enjoying a cocktail.

There was a live band playing standards, swing and jazz. People were dancing away.

I didn't get any pictures during the meal, mostly because I was too busy stuffing my face, but we did a bit of dancing, lots of eating and then we wandered up to the balcony which was open air and afforded a 360 degree view of the area. We were told that on a clear day, you can actually see the Hollywood sign from there.

These are a few of the shots we got from our vantage point.

Having gotten a wonderful piece of steak from the restaurant, we had to bring home a little something for the girl. She deserves every bite, but I still make her work for it.

Actually, if either Leo or I are busy at the computer, and Panda wants some love, she will quietly position herself thusly until you notice.

Here she is from a slightly different angle.

It was hard working both the camera and posing Miss Bear, so I had Leo take the next shot.

You can see how long her torso is and how much she has to balance for that little bit of beef.

Oh, come on, like you wouldn't bring something yummy home to that face.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Have you seen it?

The new MagKnits is up, and I've got a little pattern there.

Yes, I seriously knit a scarf meant to look like police tape. It had to be nearly 100 degrees the day Leo and I took the pictures for the pattern so I'm sure passersby were perplexed, but I think some great shots came out of it.

There are some other wonderful patterns this edition as well, so please check out the whole thing.

For any of you folks in the market for some inexpensive yarn, Webs is giving 10 percent of each purchase made to relief for victims of Hurricane Katrina. Here's what their email says.
Dear Customers, over the past couple of days, all of here at WEBS have been moved by the devastation that Hurricane Katrina has brought the Gulf Coast. The magnitude of this tragedy is overwhelming. We met with our team here and we all agree that we need to do something. So, starting today, for the next 10 days, we will donate 10% of all purchases to the American Red Cross. If you order on-line, over the phone or shop in our Northampton store, 10% of your purchase, through September 10th, will be given to the hurricane relief efforts of the Red Cross. There is nothing special you have to do, just shop.

We hope you will join with us in supporting this very worthwhile cause for the people who have lost so much across the Gulf Coast States.


The Elkins Family and the Webs Team

I hope you'll consider supporting their efforts.

Well, I'm still plugging away on my Hopeful pattern.

And I've machine knit a few swatches to make my mom a sweater like the orange one you may have seen a few posts back.

The first is a very drapy, fine weight cotton with little slubs in royal blue.

The second is two strands of a similar weight cotton "plated" to produce a pseudo double sided fabric. The front is predominantly blue, but the back variegated tones peak through. The back is the opposite and in reverse stockinette. What's nice about this option is that the sleeves will show this double sidedness because of the way they fall. The downside is that the fabric is less drapy than the previous.

Mom, feel free to chime in on your preferred fabric choice.


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