Wednesday, May 28, 2008

texture

Textures

Generally speaking, I don't think I have much of an eye for color, but I am hooked on texture.

One of my favorite things to do is paging through Barbara Walkers Treasuries, ogling all the stitch patterns and thinking about things to make with them. Last night I spent about an hour doing just that. I was ostensibly looking for tree and leaf motifs for a baby blanket I'm working on, but I kept seeing stitch patterns I wanted to use, especially in the "Fancy Texture Patterns" chapters (my very favorite).

At a recent clothes swap, I got a copy of the page-a-day "365 Knitting Stitches a Year" perpetual calendar. A new stitch pattern every day! I am seriously thinking about trying each of these stitch patterns every day for a year. It seems like the best daily-ritual activity ever.

Today's stitch pattern is Slip-Stitch Stripes. I haven't tried it, but I'll share it with you anyway because it's delightful and looks easy:

Slip-Stitch Stripes
multiple of 5 stitches
Row 1 (wrong side): K2, *[P1, K4]. Repeat from * to last 3 st, P1, K2.
Row 2: K2, *[Slip 1, K4]. Repeat from * to last 3 st, Slip 1, K2.
Repeat these two rows.

I like this stitch pattern because it makes the strong vertical stripes you get from ribbing, but nice and flat, without the scrunchiness of ribbing. I'll definitely have to keep this pattern in mind!

It's hard to pick out motifs for a project and actually knit them when I keep getting distracted by other ideas and sketching out new designs. Luckily I have left myself plenty of time -- our friends' baby isn't coming until August. Maybe by then I'll have looked through the Treasuries enough times that there won't be any more new ideas left to distract me.

P.S. I am hoping to finish up the Cowgirl Butterfly Astronaut vest pattern to post this week for Free Pattern Friday.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

fini 3

mismatched
jaywalkers in zitron life style (100% merino)

I didn't notice until I put these socks on for the sexy backyard photoshoot that they don't match. This is funny because they are each made from exactly one ball of the same yarn, but apparently one of them was wound backwards. How did I not notice this sooner? Though I do think it's kind of neat that the pattern repeats take up an entire sock, so that they're mirror images - the left one's pattern from the top-down is identical to the right one's pattern from the toe-up. Cool.

I've been working on and off on these socks, mostly during conference calls at work, for a while now, but put in some good work on the second one during the trip to Maryland, then finally finished the toe over the weekend during my furious finishing fest. Here's something else I wrapped up:

cowgirl2

This is the Cowgirl Butterfly Astronaut Vest, which has been patiently waiting for weeks to have its buttons sewn on. It might be a bit too wacky (the design structure is definitely wacky), but I'm thinking I'm going to make this one a Free Pattern Friday offering in May. Which I think means next Friday, since that's the last one left this month... eep, I better get to work. This will be a prize for my friend's daughter who is turning two next month, and who is going to be a cowgirl butterfly astronaut veterinarian senator when she grows up.

I just finished another little girl's design, but I think it needs to be road-tested before I decide whether to share the pattern. It's the mushroom sweater that I mentioned earlier this spring, and which was shoved aside to make way for the outlandish parade of colors you see above. But now the muted palette is growing on me again. Here's a little peek:

chanterelle_band

Some button-band porn to get you hot and bothered. Does a button band get you itching to knit, or what? It does me boy, whoo! Finishing details really boil my potatoes. Maybe if I spent more time thinking about button bands and edgings and hems and such, I'd get through more projects quicker. Hm, something to ponder.

But it's been hard to find time to do things like finish projects, write blog posts and tool around on Ravelry since the summer semester started. Several people are still waiting on answers to their questions about some patterns, and I'm really sorry that I'm so slow! But I'm planning to use the long weekend to clear out the backlog, and also to get the prizes for the T-shirt contest wrapped and into the mail... my apologies to you sweet ones, too. Maybe the anticipation is part of the prize?

Anyhow, off to get some rest. Those of you in the US, enjoy the holiday!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

adventures in the backyard

backyard 4

It's Saturday, and we meant to go camping this weekend, we really did, but there was just so much happening in our own backyard, we got waylaid.

First of all, I had to mow. It was looking like a pasture out there, and I do like pastures, but in our tidy neighbhorhood I am ashamed, and so I mow it. Before mowing, I always grumble to myself about how much I hate to mow (who doesn't?), but really there are some things I like about it.

I like the immediate sense of accomplishment. As you go along, you can see exactly what you've completed (especially when the "before" lawn was 2 feet tall). When you're all done you can look around and see exactly what you did, and whether or not it was good. If it wasn't good, you can always go back and tidy it up with the mower or the string trimmer. And then there's the sort of English estate look that my yard gets and which lasts for about 3 days after I've mowed. It's a low-end English estate, and utterly meaningless, but it's mine and I'm proud of it.

backyard 6
estate-like, no?

This is exactly the opposite of my day-to-day work. I'm very happy to have a job that I feel is meaningful and important and accomplishing something useful in the world (unlike the lawn), but on the other hand, it's very hard to quantify. After two hours of very hard work, there is usually nothing that I can turn and point to and say "look what got done." In fact, after two weeks or two months or maybe even two years of hard work... the change is not very tangible, even if it is useful and meaningful and all that. So I think this explains my secret desire to mow the lawn once in a while.

Knitting is kind of like the lawn-mowing, when I can actually finish a project, which seems to happen less and less all the time. But even when you can't actually finish the project, you can always knit a few lovely rows and point to them and say "look, I'm not a screw-up after all, I can knit in lace rib," or whatever it is you happen to be doing. I like that very much about knitting. You don't even have to finish, and still it's kind of impressive. Unless you've totally screwed it up, but let's not talk about that.

So after the lawn got mowed, there was a bed I really needed to finish digging, and compost to be turned in, and some little plants that needed planting here and there, and a lot of that sort of thing. And then it all looked so beautiful, it seemed a shame not to enjoy it, so there followed several hours of sitting in the shade while knitting and regularly surveying my low-end yet tidy estate.

Several hours of knitting, even when punctuated with regular garden-gazing, can get you pretty far. So far, in fact, that I have an almost-finished project on hand. Just a little button-sewing and blocking and I'll have a fancy new F.O. to show you. In fact, there are a couple like that, and I think the rest of the weekend's craft time will be spent in finishing so that next week I can post some lovely pictures of finished things, which always feels so good (just like a freshly-mowed lawn, only better). In fact, there may even be a Free Pattern Friday or two coming out of all this finishing. It's been a while, I know.

Anyhow, this has been a great Saturday so far. It's time to go pick something from the garden and fix it for dinner. I hope you all are having wonderful weekends!

backyard 1

Monday, May 12, 2008

never enough

IMG_1828

I can't seem to get enough time with the yarn and needles lately. Going to Maryland last weekend with Bugheart, Sung-Ji and Katie made me realize how much I've been missing dedicated knitting time. Maybe it was the smell of fiber in the air, or the rush of fondling dozens of skeins of hand-painted, hand-spun yarns, or maybe it was just a day of fun with some knitter friends, but my knitter's heart is aching for more time with the craft.

Maryland Sheep & Wool was too overwhelming for me to tell you all about it, but it was both far more wonderful than I could have imagined, and kind of disappointing at the same time. The disappointment was my own fault though, for being underprepared for its hugeness. So many people everywhere, so many vendors with incredible fibers and tools, so many crying children begging to be taken home (MSW is no place for children!). After a couple of hours, I felt like one of those tired, overstimulated little kids, too.

One of the main things I had gone there to buy were some closures from Moving Mud. I've always drooled over them on the internet, but I really wanted to see them in person to figure out which to buy. But it was so sad... by the time I got to their booth, I was so overwhelmed that all I could do was stare stupidly at all the pretty things. So I walked away without any. Later I kicked myself for my weakness, but really, I was just in a daze. Maybe I should have just handed my money to someone else and asked them to pick one or two buckles out for me.

But later we went back to Bugheart's to fondle all our beautiful purchases, work on our projects and sip cocktails on the patio all afternoon. I wish I could spend every Saturday that way, relaxing and knitting with friends.

I got to do a decent amount of that this past weekend as well, especially since Sunday was a rainy, rainy day perfect for sitting on the couch with the yarn. But today is Monday, there is so much work to be done, and never enough time for knitting or relaxing with friends. The summer semester has begun as well, and I'm trying to gear up for my final semester (YES!) of being a full-time worker and part-time student.

Next year, I don't know whether I'll want to go back to MSW. Maybe by then I'll be ready for it again, but something tells me I might want to go smaller... and then today I got an email from the fine folks at the Southeastern Animal Fiber Fair, here in North Carolina. Hm... I think I might be free that weekend...

IMG_1827
yarn is calling

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

and the winners are...

We may not have a Democratic presidential nominee yet, but we sure do have some T-shirt rally winners! Many thanks to our celebrity guest craftista judges, the Handmaidens, for discerning the creme de la creme among some dazzling DIY Obama T-shirts.

Judging was based on creativity, skill, wearability and recycling/reusing. Once the results were tabulated, our winners emerged:

Grand Champion: Angela, of Purls Before Wine
Components
Angela used a stencil she designed, and finished the project with hand-stitching. Check out a detail here.

Junior Grand Champion: Tracey, of Itching 2B Stitching
Crafters4Obama: Rally Entry
Tracey's entry was high on recycling, with a repurposed shirt, re-used letters and the states Obama has won cut out of USA fabric and appliqu├ęd on the back. Here's a shot of the front as well.

Runner-up: Nicole, a.k.a. PeaceNic
nicole-1b
Nicole rocks the recycling (as always), with a totally repurposed and reconstructed shirt. Gotta love the re-use of an old GOTV shirt. Another view here.

Runner-up: Les, a.k.a. Beersipper
nicole-2a
Les's beautiful dove design on a photo emulsion screen. You can also see a sleeved version here.

Unlike the presidential race, in this contest we have several winners and they all get a prize. Many thanks to those who donated prizes, including Lomester, Les, and Ileana (who was also a celebrity Handmaiden judge). Thanks to all you crafters who made shirts, entered, didn't enter, cheerleaded, posted pics of your other amazing Obama crafts, and generally made this T-shirt Making Rally a blast! The Crafters for Obama group will stay open throughout election season, so please join in and share some pics of your hope-fueled crafting.

obamabrew
cheers!

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

go vote!

Hey fellow NC'ers, don't miss the primary today. I just voted in my neighborhood precinct, and it felt great.

Don't forget that we have a whole mess of other races to vote for besides President. If you haven't done your homework yet, check out the Progressive Democrats of NC, and don't forget about your judicial races. You can see your sample balllot and find your polling place info here.

Get out and do it!

Friday, May 02, 2008

off to maryland!

Yes! This is my fist time going to the Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival and I can't wait! I hope I get to pet some lambs... cross your fingers for me. I hope I don't spend all my savings on yarn... again, crossing fingers please.

My main conundrum is last-minute packing (as always). Which projects to take?


the sockmonster that needs embroidery


the mate for this orphaned jaywalker


the current incarnation of the mushroom sweater


a lonely old UFO from the back of the stash


or something completely new??

I think I may be about to shove them all into a big bag and run out the door, since I'm blogging instead of packing, and we're supposed to be leaving in... uh, 5 minutes ago.

Hope to see some of you there!