September 2008 Archives

Contest!

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David and I are both sick in bed with the Worst Cold Ever (seriously, I haven't coughed like this since pneumonia in eighth grade), and we're desperately in need of being entertained. As such, I decided to see if y'all are interested in a little yarn giveaway:

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That is, from left to right, a skein of Schaefer Anne sock yarn in an oceanic blue/green colorway, split into two balls but otherwise untouched; a skein of Louet MerLin (a luscious merino/linen blend) in sky blue, and two skeins of Misti Alpaca laceweight in a lovely feminine pink. This is all stuff that I bought or traded for specific projects which then went in another direction, so I figure somebody else should enjoy it. Leave the winning comment and I'll gladly ship it anywhere in the world. And how to win my fabulous prize?

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This is our dachshund, Mr. Bingley. (As you can see, he hates the rain. We are not normally the kind of people to put clothes on our pets.) We adopted him from a rescue four months ago, and he has a number of strange habits left over from his previous life as a Dog of Mystery. Specifically, he totally freaks out - it's unclear whether in a happy or a disturbed way - when we mention certain words and phrases. He starts jumping around, running about the house, climbing on us, wagging his entire body and sometimes frantically barking and licking. There are probably more words that have this effect on him, but there are the ones we've discovered so far, in the process of saying them quite calmly in normal conversation:

  • German(s)
  • gross
  • Andre the Giant
  • concentrate
  • wizard(s)

So here is the contest: who can come up with the best story about what happened to Mr. Bingley that makes him react so outrageously to this set of words? Were his previous owners lovers of Dungeons and Dragons, who objected to Teutonic peoples and mixed up apple juice from a can? Did his habit of peeing in the house inspire them to tell him that "wizzing" was "gross"? You be the judge! The best story that brings together our dog's five neurosis triggers will get the lot of yarn. And even if you think your story is silly, please comment. I hardly ever admit to getting bored, but being this sick is just plain dull. I'll decide on a winner when I'm well again.

Geometry

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Historically, I have not loved super-geometric patterns. Having come of age in the 90's, anything too sharp-edged or boxy is tainted, to me, with the aura of the Hated Eighties. I think, though, that I am beginning to soften my absolutist stance on this controversial issue. Over the past week I've been poring over photos of textile and interior design from the 1950's (spending a lot of quality time over at this blog), and getting progressively more excited about them. There is at least one upcoming Family Trunk pattern which I think would benefit from a dose of mid-century modernity, and I'm now eyeing mosaic stitch patterns in a whole new light. Done in a mixture of easter-y and organic colors, they radiate minimalist, cocktail-hour charm without any overwhelming glitziness or or plasticky quality. Case in point:

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This is the very beginning of my adaptation of Kate Gagnon's Ode to Eames socks, and they're providing me with a nice little laboratory in which to think about pleasing applications of mosaic stitch patterns. Vic Morine, my grandfather and the husband of Marjorie Atwell, was definitely a businessman in the 1950's cocktail mode (I still remember his mirrored bar and impressive array of glassware), and I'm thinking that something in the realm of a light-weight mosaic-stitch shirt or sweater would be very in keeping with his milieu.

Even when the 50's were not at direct issue, this weekend was all about geometry for me. We got some scrumptious herbs at the local nursery, and set up a delightfully mod little window-garden with these square, matte-black pots:

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We have now made dishes with the chives and sage, and as today and tomorrow are supposed to be over 90 degrees, cocktails with the mint can't be far behind. For people living as citified an existence as David and I, this is pretty exciting. I can't wait to see the little plants start growing, and having a bit of living green around the place during the cold winter months is a certain pick-me-up.

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Garden Gate Socks published in Knitty!

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This will be a quick and dirty entry, as I'm back for a few minutes' lunch between classes at the Knit and Crochet Show, but the new issue of Knitty went out yesterday, and I have a pattern in it:

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I'm really happy with how these socks turned out, and excited to finally get to share them with the wide Internet world. Thanks to everyone who has already commented on Ravelry and by email; it means a lot to me that you like them! I'm especially proud of the customizable calf sizing I worked into the pattern, and I hope to see them appearing on lots of different-sized calves in good time.

Although they're not technically a Family Trunk pattern, I think these are in line with the general old-fashioned feel of the place - a little dusty, a little sweet, with a faux seam down the back, reminiscent of a bygone era.

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During the photo shoot, which took place in my parents' back yard, their dog Lacy kept being very "helpful" by situating herself in the center of the shot whenever possible. I liked the idea of submitting some of the Lacy photos to Knitty, but I ended up deciding against it. Here, though, is my favorite, in which yours truly tries to reason with a big, shaggy dog:

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And here's another favorite outtake, during which David was holding Lacy by the collar so that she couldn't come see what I was up to:

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And now I'm back off to class, on which more later! Happy knitting!

Turning Japanese

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This weekend was very domestic for David and I, and I finally got around to some nesting projects I've been putting off forever. Primary among them:

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Way back when we were originally shopping for bedding, we had a hard time finding any duvet covers we liked. Since we had an old, cream-colored cover for a double-sized bed, which we could cannibalize for remnants, and a gift certificate to a quilting store (which, speaking of letting things go, I received as a gift for my college graduation back in 2004), we got the novel idea of whipping up our own and saving money. Indeed, this little wonder only cost us about $20 out of pocket...and a year of waiting, because I have taken this long to get around to it.

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The design is inspired by Lotta Jansdottir's gorgeous, simple pattern for a duvet cover in Simple Sewing - a book I don't possess, but covet just for the lovely Scandinavian-minimalist project photography. Not owning the pattern, though, and having certain yardage-based restrictions, I just improvised my own take on her basic idea. I'm quite pleased with how it (eventually) turned out, and it was interesting doing such a large-scale sewing project, when I'd only ever made garments before. Those are some loooong, straight seams, I tell ya. And one HEAVY project. I thanked my lucky stars for my table arm, and for the fact that I wasn't trying to pull off all the measuring and cutting in my old 300-square-foot apartment. Mr. Bingley thought the whole thing was a ball (David took this hilarious photo):

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He's upset now, of course, that his nest has been taken away and he still doesn't get to come up on the bed. Curses!

I really like the clean lines and Japanese-inspired sandal print of the contrast fabric. The cream compliments it nicely, and even though this design was born of frugality and the resources at hand, I wouldn't change a bit of it. A solid block of the red would be much too much, and this is just enough visual interest to be engaging. Even though it's still pretty warm for a down comforter enhanced by two layers of heavy cotton, it felt wonderful to fall asleep last night under an aura of finished project and clean, new bedding.

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Snicketry

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The silver lining to working intensively on a pattern (thanks for all the nice words about the Warren Johnson Jacket, by the way! I'm going back and revisiting them whenever I hit a snag with sizing) is that I give myself "permission" to work on some little projects designed by other people.

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I've had my eye on this pattern ever since I first saw it: Sabine Riefler's Snicket pattern. These are worked in Sundara Sock, colorway Arabian Nights, with some modifications. I changed the short-row heel to a regular flap-and-gusset construction, and massaged the twisted stitch columns so that they would flow out of the leg and into the heel.

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I also cast on more stitches and knit at a smaller gauge than most folks I've seen work this pattern, with the result that my cable motifs are slightly smaller and closer together. But you know, it's the same general idea.

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I adore the look of twisted ropes sitting atop a sea of purl stitches. Riefler writes that this pattern was inspired by a dress in the steampunky A Series of Unfortunate Events, but it also makes me think of sailing tackle. The combination of Victorian-inspired costuming and marine imagery is tried and true, and I think it's a great one. I'm almost tempted to make these socks again in a deep, ocean green or blue, to more properly evoke scenes like this:

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They're the ideal kind of thing to be wearing when you alone have survived to tell the tale, and you return to be feted at the fancier type of down-at-heel swillhole.

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Oh, and anyone thinking of making these would definitely do well to learn to cable without a needle, if you don't already know how. It wouldn't have occurred to me to make them any other way until I looked around Ravelry and noticed that people have been making them with a third needle - and then, inevitably, complaining at their fiddly nature. Yes, unbearably fiddly with a cable needle - yet quick and enjoyable without one! Trust me: it's worth the learning curve.

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