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Blakeslee pattern is up!

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I'm blowing the dust off the ol' blog to note quickly that the Blakeslee pattern is up and available for purchase!

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A big thanks to all my great test-knitters; I think the pattern turned out great due to their smart, timely feedback.

Obviously, I've been in a blogging lull lately, but I'm still alive! Just sort of hibernating; working on many projects that I'm not quite ready to expose to the light of day. Hopefully I'll be back in the blogging saddle soon.

Introducing Blakeslee

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Friday afternoon was beautiful day—sunny and crisp, lovely cirrus clouds with just a hint of fall in the air. David and I seized the opportunity to head out to Sauvie Island and take some finished shots of the Blakeslee top, which knit up so fast that I barely had time to snap some in-progress shots of it.

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This little top is dead simple, but it hit that sweet spot for me—I managed to come up with exactly the project I wanted to be knitting, and knit the whole thing while I was still in the mood for it. (It helped that the design is plain enough that I could do it even while watching foreign-language films.) I was actually still SO in the mood for this pattern when I finished it that I contemplated casting on for another right away, maybe in the robin's egg/cocoa combination I mentioned in my last Blakeslee post—an impulse I ended up resisting only because the yarn store where I "casually stopped in" didn't carry the robin's egg sock yarn of my dreams.

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I was beset by a sudden lust for stripes before I started knitting Blakeslee, and I love the way this stitch pattern, borrowed from Barbara Walker after a simple conversion to working in the round, combines tweediness and stripiness into some kind of ideal mashup of classic designs. It alternates rounds of plain knitting with rounds of slip one, knit one, and the resulting texture and pattern does so much with those very simple moves. I love the way the slipped stitches create a dashed line—it reminds me of a decorative running embroidery stitch, or the center line in that handwriting paper from elementary school.

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Other details on Blakeslee: worked from the top down, at a largish gauge for a light fingering-weight yarn, which means it's light and airy, with lots of give. The yoke has raglan increases, and there is a minimal amount of waist shaping. Mostly it relies splitting the difference between negative ease at the hips and positive ease at the waist to create a flattering yet relaxed look. The short sleeves consist of an inch of 2X1 twisted ribbing to match the boat neck and the bottom edge, finished off with a double row of the contrast color.

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We'll have to see if the test-knitters can replicate my results here, but I was surprised that one skein of each color in Malabrigo Sock was enough to finish this, with quite a bit of the Natural left over, and just a bit of the Boticelli Red. Hopefully that will make it a fun little project to use up some of those single skeins of light sock yarn we all have lying around.

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I hope everyone's having a lovely end-of-summer!

Comfort knitting

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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.

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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.

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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!

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