Friday, November 27, 2009

Vestvember: OWNED

Back-to-School U-Neck Vest in Ella Rae Classic
How could I not participate in an event so appealing as Vestvember? It has all the hallmarks of a perfect knitting scenario for me: a proscribed time-period (the entire month of November), a specific type of project (vest) a nutty name (Vestvember?), and finally the communal daisy chain aspect (hey we're all in this together). The time frame makes the whole endeavor seem time-sensitive which does tend to light a fire under me, and the fact that a vest had to be made makes it a knitting with constraints project, similar to the writing with constraints concept, which I find completely freeing, and I just love me a group project. So it had been written even before the Flickr & Ravelry groups came to be: Vestvember was ON.

Back-to-School U-Neck Vest in Ella Rae Classic
I had set out to initially do the Honeycomb, but the finer gauge and the stitch pattern sank my battleship in no time flat. And the increasing/decreasing non-directions didn't help much either. Come on! We're paying you to be explicit in your directions, pattern writer. Oh wait it's Kntty, nevermind:) You know that feeling of futility that washes over you and lets you know that something is not to be? Welcome to the Honeycomb experience. NEXT! [I will add that given that I had to make an xl, I was dissuaded from this pattern, but I know all you size 0s in the crowd would make mincemeat out this lovely pattern.]

Back-to-School U-Neck Vest in Ella Rae Classic
Luckily I had a back-up project in the offing and set about making it happen. Last year I bought some Ella Rae Classic to make Leslie's Libby sweater (wizard pattern from a love of a person) but Peeper-Lou's initial enthusiasm ("oh yes, please make it for me!") quickly turned to lukewarm wavering ("I might wear it to church") to downright refusal ("take me to Abercrombie so I can spend my gift card"). Yes, consumer death culture has our children in their grips and doesn't seem to be letting go any time soon. I am now left with the sad realization that the knitting for my own kids window has closed. Leslie: I love you , and my child is not worthy of your greatness. This meant that I had 4 skeins of yarn, i.e., the perfect vest amount.

Back-to-School U-Neck Vest in Ella Rae Classic
The Specs:
Pattern: The Back-to-School U-Neck Vest by Stefanie Japel in Fitted Knits
Yarn: Ella Rae Classic, color #117, 3.25 skeins. The yarn is a perfect sub for Cascade 220, which is to say that it's nothing you are going to ohh and ahh about, but it will do you right.
Needles: Size 7
Mods: None! Not a one.

Back-to-School U-Neck Vest in Ella Rae Classic

The pattern is a lot of fun and it has it all: ribbing, waffle stitch, hubba-hubba bust darts and a funky garter/stockinette edging. The u-neck is a fun, unexpected touch. The directions are among the clearest and easiest I've ever read. The book also has several other super enticing projects as well, so I highly recommend it.

My Dad and I: Back to School U-Neck & Dr. G's
This past week my parents have been visiting for the holiday, which has afforded me the opportunity to do a father/daughter vest photo shoot. Last Christmas I made him the Dr. G's Memory Vest, a pattern for which I have nothing but laudatory praise and high esteem. The money goes to the Alzheimer's Foundation. If you are looking for a special vest project, this deserves your attention. Madame Kapur is a raving made genius, as evidenced by her newest vest, which has me gasping for breath...

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

NOT a Twilight Post

Bella's Mittens in Ella Rae Kamelsoft
For the record, I do not endorse the vision of masochistic love promulgated by the Twilight franchise, however these mittens are totes cute!
Bella's Mittens in Ella Rae Kamelsoft
Pattern: Bella's Mittens by Marielle Henault
Yarn: Ella Rae Kamelsoft in maroon, two skeins exactly.
Needles: size 8
Mods: none
Bella's Mittens in Ella Rae Kamelsoft
This is a fun, fast project that results in a pair of giant gauntlet-esque mittens. If you weren't working on say 12 projects at once you could most definitely finish these in a day or two. In my recent sweater knitting extravaganza I seem to have forgotten the secret to a balanced knitting life: equilibrium can only be maintained when there are a proportionate number of small accessories vs. large projects on the needles--these smaller projects seem to provide the light at the end of the tunnel when you need it most.
Bella's Mittens in Ella Rae Kamelsoft
Next up for me: my Vestvember project and a family funtimes photo shoot! Stay tuned...

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Purple Passage

On the heels of all the super-sweet comments you guys made here and on Flickr about the Ingenue and how the color suited me, I got to thinking about my relationship to purple. If you were to ask me to name my favorite colors, I would most certainly say 'green', 'brown' and of course 'orange'. 'Purple' would never come to mind--in fact, I distinctly remember looking down at girls in elementary school that were in to purple--it seemed too easy. Yes, my judgmental nature and me go waaay back. In any case, it is therefore somewhat surprising to me that basically every project I have on the needles right now is purple. Huh? Let's take a stroll through crazy town the WIP/zzzz basket and examine the evidence, shall we?

Diminishing Rib Cardigan
Diminishing Rib Cardigan: Silky Malabrigo in Wisteria. I know I will come to regret making a sweater out of this pill-tastic yarn, but it's pretty, right?

Tea Leaves
Tea Leaves: Brooks Farm Mas Acero in some cryptic color. Genius call on the yarn if I do say so myself. Ok--my Twitterpeeps picked this out, aren' t they smart?

Seamless Hybrid
Seamless Hybrid: EZ Seamless Hybrid in Berrocco Inca Gold--have you seen this yarn? Such sheen-y beauty, almost seems like a shame to give this one away! But it's not going far, just one closet down from mine.

Central Park Hoodie
Central Park Hoodie: Rowan Scottish Tweed Aran--need I say more?

Back to School U-Neck
Back-To-School U-Neck vest: My Vestvember project in Ella Rae Classic 'Purple Heather'--how ridiculous can this get?

Test Kniitting Yarn
Sekret Test Knitting: Some Valley Colrain in Grape Jelly. This is top secret: I'd tell you, but then I'd have to kill you.

Bella's Mittens
Bella's Mittens: One down, one to go. This is Ella Rae Kamelsoft. Great pattern. Super soft yarn. Squee.

I guess the evidence is incontrovertible. I am a purple fiend. Perhaps growing up in the land of Darling Nikki and having my strongest sports affiliation be to the Minnesota Vikings might have something to do with it.

I think I might be taking a page of out of my Grandma Dot's playbook here: once on a visit to Florida in the late 70s I made the (foolish?) comment that I really like her Deviled Eggs. From then on out it was Deviled Eggs 24/7. They popped up at every holiday and social occasion imaginable. This of course caused me to despise them. Please don't let this happen to purple.

Friday, November 13, 2009


Ingenue in Karabella Marble
My Ravelry project notes tell me that I started this project back in August 08, worked on it in my usual undisciplined, distracted way and put it down sometime last January with the prescient comment that "...maybe I'll pick this up sometime next November". And wouldn't you know that naturally being a woman of my word and all I actually did just that, without even realizing it? Cue Twilight Zone music...

The Specs
Pattern: Ingenue from Custom Knits by Wendy Bernard
Yarn: Karabella Marble #35353, 9.75 skeins
Needles: Size 8
Mods: No waste shaping because well HELLO do I really need to go into all that AGAIN with you people? The neckline is a thing of beauty--love it to death. Blocking worked some serious miracles in this sweater & just kicked the whole thing into the zone of pure satisfaction.

Ingenue in Karabella Marble

In case you're wondering, yes I am aware that I look like a John Waters character in the above picture. I'm blaming the photographer and his unwillingness to take direction.

and I are all about doing the pattern out of the yarn it's written for--I know that this might be some sort of puerile impulse, but occasionally it works out for us. And this is one of those times. Weirdly I happened to have 12 balls of Karabella Marble (a yarn that I could swear was discontinued briefly) in my stash and so cast on with great enthusiasm. Ah yes, that initial enthusiasm...if only we could bottle that and sell it. That I still had the yarn was very fortuitous as I had even tried to destash the yarn at one point, but luckily none of the ill-mannered cheapskates other detash folks wanted it.

Ingenue in Karabella Marble
Well, I'm about 23 years late to the whole ingenue/gamine party, but I suppose that since the sweater is the opposite of 'matronly', I'm still in the acceptable age range for wearing this--but only just barely. Can you tell that the photographer and I were having some marital issues during the photo shoot? He might have called me 'picky and demanding', and I might have called him a 'negative douche bag'...
Ingenue in Karabella Marble
I must say it feels good to dip into that 'zzzzz' pile and finish some projects that have been darkening my door and making me feel mentally ill. It's a good thing, too, because I seem to have stepped up my whole maniacally casting on for everything in sight routine--to the point that my 'only work on three projects at a time' policy is being put dangerously into question.
Hi we r losers
As you can see, we reached a tentative cease-fire by the end of our shoot, but I'm not expecting this to last...

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Vestvember castings on

Bench at Canoe Creek
The above-pictured bench is one that we see every Sunday on our ramble in a local state park & is brought to you courtesy of yesterday's lovely weather. Sometimes November can be glorious. Speaking of November Vestvember...have you cast on yet?

Considering that I am basically stockpiling Felted Tweed like it were some sort of nuclear weapon and I were the potentate of a rogue state, casting on with it for a Vestvember project seemed like a foregone conclusion. On my recently concluded overly-short 36 hour trip to Chicago I brought it and the Honeycomb pattern along as I was sure that it was meant to be. Somewhere over Toledo I realized that I had sent myself on a fool's errand: size xl on size 4 needles with two cable rows as well as lazy, nebulous increase directions and my all time most hated knitting directive ever ("...and at the same time"--yo I'm not alone with my dislike of this phrase here) were going to spell trouble. I flashed forward to many hours of bitter, knitting non-enjoyment and had the good sense to rip that mother out. Although it was for the best, I was disappointed as I had been SO looking forward to knitting with this yarn...and then I remembered the most exciting pattern to beat the band had just been released: Pickadilly, people. Pickadilly.
Pickadilly in Rowan Felted Tweed "Rage"

Once in my hotel room with my robobar cocktail and macadamia nuts (what, you don't automatically do that?) I made haste to cast on for Pam's frolicky cardigan. Resolved and pleased to once again feel that glorious yarn felt itself in my hands as I knit, I spent an evening of hotel knitting bliss. And I am here to tell you that I LOVE THIS PATTERN. I haven't been this excited to start something in a long time--I'm even planning on doing the crochet edging, and I am a suck ass crocheter!

Back-to-School U-Neck Vest in Ella Rae Classic
Luckily Vestvember is still a go for me because I had the good sense to bring another project with me, one that had auto-pilot written all over it: the Back to School U-Neck vest. This is another exciting project--it's permitting me to use some Ella Rae Classic that I've had for ages. This yarn is Cascade 220's doppleganger as far as I'm concerned, and I'm loving it. One of the reasons that I'm enjoying this vest so much is that I am knitting it with the knowledge that I won't have to do sleeves for it, because sleeves are a knitting buzz kill. A sleeve is all that is standing between me and my little gamine Ingenue, and let's just say that things aren't looking good for either of us. Phooey.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Chevron, etc.

Chevron in STR Lightweight Monsoon/Footzey Foo
This past week I decided to take a pause from the Rowan merry-go-round & pick up a few projects that had been laying fallow for a while. And boy am I glad I did, because I now have a finished chevron scarf and am one plane ride away (tomorrow--conference, only 36 hours but still) from a completed Ingenue. As I am sure you are aware, it's not every day that one can lay claim to finishing a chevron because everyone's favorite not-last-minute-gift takes a shitload of time. I gestated my kids longer than each one of these has taken me.
Chevron in STR Lightweight Monsoon/Footzey Foo
Pattern: Chevron scarf from Last-Minute Knitted Gifts by Joelle Hoverson
Yarn: STR Lightweight in Monsoon and Footzey-Foo
Needles: size 6
Mods: None
Chevron in STR Lightweight Monsoon/Footzey Foo
I am glad to have persevered because now I have a killer present to give one of my favorite friends. I only basically see her once a year, which might be a good thing because I already told my husband that there would no doubt be problems in our marriage if we both lived in the same city as I would likely ditch my family & want to spend all my time with her, maniacally laughing.
Chevron in STR Lightweight Monsoon/Footzey Foo
As a non-knitter she was a total champ last year and accompanied me to Loop, so it only seems right that I should make her something. I love how the colors on this chevron are basically understated and not crazy. If you are looking for your next time-suck, by all means spend some time perusing the Ravelry project gallery for this project. After several hours you'll emerge, probably realizing that you've soiled yourself, but you sure will have a lot of color combo ideas!

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Miller's Hat Test Knitting

Miller's Hat in Shepherd's Shades "Rain"
When the opportunity to test knit the newest Through the Loops pattern presented itself a few weeks ago I absolutely jumped at the chance. My fantasy of what test knitting would be like involved knitters in Underwater Laboratories type settings, knitting away while wearing Clinque-counter lab coats checking off boxes on papers attached to clipboards.
Betty Crocker Forever
This vision quickly then gave way to another one, no doubt shaped by my childhood in the Twin Cities, where every Brownie troop visited the Betty Crocker Test Kitchens. It was one of my first visions of domesticity, and I was fascinated by the women in aprons testing cake batter in different themed kitchens: the Polynesian one was a personal favorite and in my mind it is where Pineapple Upside-Down cake was invented. At the end of the home ec type tour, we each received small Easy-Bake Oven® cake mixes (sadly I didn't have an actual Easy Bake Oven because, you know, OH MY GOD that light bulb was dangerous) and a giant plastic red spoon--I'm sure gay men everywhere have made that thing a major Ebay collectible, despite the unfortunate plastic aspect...
Miller's Hat in Shepherd's Shades "Rain"
You can see that the bar for test knitting was very, very high. And I was not disappointed! But not because the above-mentioned fantasies were fulfilled, but rather because the Miller's Hat is one kick ass mutha of a pattern. It has everything: totally rad herringbone stitch, cushy purls sts & best of all serpentine cables that rock so, so very hard.
Miller's Hat in Shepherd's Shades "Rain"
The Specs:
Pattern: Miller's Hat by Kirsten Kapur
Yarn: Brown Sheep Shepherd's Shades in #784 'Rain'
Needles: size 5 and size 7 addi turbos
Mods: I only did one cable repeat as I was making this for my daughter. I also somewhat foolishly used a yarn that just edges toward being a bulky, on size 7 needles, so the hat a. is not as slouchy as I would have wanted and b. hurt like hell to knit. My mistake! My next one will be in Malabrigo on a size 8 which I’m sure will be slouchy perfection.
Miller's Hat in Shepherd's Shades "Rain"
The herringbone stitch was a first for me and I must say that I am really pleased with how it turned out, although it did require that I put down the Twitter and the iPhone for 5 minutes and actually pay attention. And I'm so glad I did!
Miller's Hat in Shepherd's Shades "Rain"
Now that this hat interlude is over, I am free to devote my attention to Vestvember. Are you ready?