July 2010 Archives

Charles Victor is up!


It's amazingly embarrassing that this has taken so long, but the Charles Victor Morine Tunic pattern and essay are finally up and available for purchase and reading, respectively!

Charles Victor is an unusual pattern, and I don't anticipate it being a huge seller, but I have received the occasional poke from an interested party and I'd like to apologize for the long wait. It's amazing what changing jobs and planning a commitment ceremony will do to a person's schedule!

I also hope that even those not interested in buying the pattern will check out the essay, because it was one of the most interesting thus far to research and write, and I hope that shows in the final product. My great-grandfather lived such an interesting life, over such a long stretch of time, that it really sparked my imagination to think about it. Imagine registering for the draft in 1917 and living to see Hawaiian statehood and the era of super-computers—or learning about Model T engines as a kid in 1910s California, and living to see men walking on the moon and giant satellites taking photos of nebulae. It's pretty amazing.


Because Del Monte employee Robert Kehlor took it upon himself to write/compile a history of the company in the Hawaiian islands, there is almost a whole book-chapter devoted to Charles Victor's inventions, which is pretty cool. Not that the book is a literary masterpiece or anything, but it was still interesting to get acquainted with a time and place of which I would otherwise have NO knowledge. What was it like farming pineapples in turn-of-the-century Hawaii? The answer was more intense than I realized. I had no idea, for example, that the industry was so young when Charles Victor entered it in 1924, and that the newly-transplanted farmers faced so many obstacles. Piqued your interest? There's lots more over here. For those interested in buying the pattern, it's available on the same page, or through Ravelry, for $6.50 or three pages of your own family story.

Aloha, friends!

Comfort knitting


Oof, how time does fly, doesn't it? We've been hard at work over here, getting the Monami test-knitting well underway, and prepping the Charles Victor pages for release at last! (It should go up August 1, and I think the essay is one of the better ones I've written, as well it SHOULD be after so much time). This may be the dorkiest thing I've ever written in a blog, but I just bought a new task management software, and whether it's actually helping me be more organized and motivated, or whether it's just a shiny new toy that's provided a much-needed kick in the bum, I've been more productive over the past few weeks than I have been since the Partnership Celebration. I always scoffed at those people who go crazy over Getting Things Done (and let's admit it: most of that system is just plain common sense) but maybe they're on to something after all. Well, well.


A week ago, though, we hit a snag when Mr. Bingley the dachshund came down with a nasty intestinal issue and had to be hospitalized overnight with IV fluids. The little guy is now fully recovered, but these ordeals are always stressful and expensive, as I'm sure all the pet owners and parents out there can attest. I'm working on another project, a fairly complex black lace shawl, but I needed something simpler, some therapy knitting to worry away at between the hourly trips outside with the dog and the subsequent anxiety over his condition. Combine that desire with a sudden craving for stripes, and you have the beginnings of Blakeslee, my new design-in-progress.


Fairly shapeless-looking laid out flat (my dress form is currently covered in pattern pieces for a sewing project I'm working on), but pretty darn cute when worn, I think. I wanted something simple and stripey, but with a slightly different take on stripes, and this tweedy two-color slip-stitch pattern was just the right combination of visual interest and mindlessness. Add on a top-down, in-the-round raglan shape, and you have some excellent dog-recovery knitting which is also, I hope, a bit sporty? A bit boat-y? I'm going for clean, simple lines and classic preppy patterning. I was aiming for collegiate with the color combination, so hopefully it doesn't look too much like Christmas; I'd love to see it in a more hipster-ish combo as well, like brown and robin's egg. It's growing pretty quickly; I'm envisioning just a bit of matching ribbing at the armholes for a fresh cap-sleeves-at-the-seaside feel, so it shouldn't be too long before I can wear the thing!

The yarn is Malabrigo Sock (in Boticelli Red and Natural), a present from David's parents on the occasion of my trunk show at the Windsor Button, in Boston. Blakeslee is David's middle name and the maiden name of his maternal grandmother, who was a Smith-educated Boston-area preppy of the old school: monogrammed towels, post-college trips to Europe on steamliners, boating in the summer, skiing vacations at epic old-fashioned resorts in the winter. I think the design has a bit of that feel, albeit with a somewhat updated silhouette, and I love that the yarn is from the correct geographical area, and a gift from the family. Thanks, Anne & Steve!


Influence: Part 5 (Meet Monami!)

Large-amplitude, synchronous waving of terrestrial grasses has been termed 'honami,' (Japanese: HO = cereal; NAMI = wave) and has been shown to dramatically alter aerodynamical conditions within and above the grass canopy. We suggest that 'monami' (mo = aquatic plant) is important in coastal hydrodynamics and has major implications for larval settlement and recruitment.
R. Grizzle et al., Taylor University

A huge, heartfelt thanks to everyone who chipped in suggestions for the new cardigan design—there were so many awesome possibilities, and they were ALL better than the ideas I'd come up with myself. At the last moment I was blown away by Natalie's contribution: "Monami" adapts the idea of a current (like my inspiration, Kim Hargreaves's "Breeze") but transfers it into a different medium, water rather than air. As she points out, this plays nicely with things I've been thinking about throughout the Influence Series: it's not just about the current itself, but about that current's effects on objects around it (which may, according to the excerpt above, be to attract and further other growth). The water element goes nicely with the nautical feel of the cardigan's cables, and I also get a dorky little thrill out of the way "monami," though derived from the Japanese, is so similar to the French phrase "mon ami": my friend, my love. AWWWWW!


As for the cardigan itself, I'm quite pleased with the final result. The fit, while not exactly the same as my Breeze, is just the kind of relaxed, easy-to-throw-on yet flattering style that I know will get a ton of wear. (In fact, our June and July here in Portland have been so chilly up until yesterday, that I was quite glad for the sweater during our photo shoot down at the Eastside Esplanade wharf.) Photos by David, as always.


I think the textures here are my favorite thing about wearing the finished product. As much as the combination of garter stitch, chunky cables, and a ribbed, turnover collar gobbles up yarn at an indecent rate, it really is worth it when I get to wear the cushy, smooshy end product. I'm wondering how I never managed to fall in love with garter stitch before now. Maybe it was too obvious; I'm forever going in search of a complicated solution to a simple problem.


As usual, Jodi of Green Ray Productions was a great help in finding the perfect buttons. I can't explain the story behind these Viking-looking chips being navigated by what appear to be cherubs (?) holding a paddle with a giant goat's head (??), and if any of YOU can I will be very impressed. But I do love the way they extend the textural and nautical themes while contrasting enough with the rest of the sweater to hold their own visually.


I posted last time that I was disappointed at having to make my sleeves skinner than I would have liked. I was actually pretty bummed about it for a little while there, but with a little bit of wear they've relaxed substantially, and I like them better now—especially the way the transition from ribbing to cables becomes more pronounced when there's actually an arm inside the sleeve. This photo is a good shot of both the main cable and my simplified, smaller sleeve-friendly version; you can see some of the shared motifs pretty well.


Overall, a happy, practical end to an interesting thought experiment. I liked spending some time digging into how the process of influence works (at least for me), and what kinds of considerations come into play during that process. I never stressed about modifying elements of Hargreaves's pattern so that it would be "different enough," but the combination of a different yarn, different dyeing method, and different cable motif led of their own accord to some pretty significant differences. To recap, I started on the left...


...and ended up on the right. Pretty cool! I think the influence is visible, but not overtly apparent if you didn't know the story behind the sweater.

Multi-sized pattern almost ready for test-knitters; I'm hoping to release this sometime in September, for some satisfying autumn or winter knitting.