Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Do fries go with that shake...?

Drive-Thru in Jo Sharp Aran Silktweed
The Drive-Thru. Yes, me and my thighs are well acquainted with the modern day convenience of being able to buy french fries or doughnuts in New England without the shame and deterrent of having to be seen walking across the parking lot to do so. But did you know the Drive-Thru is also a sweater? It lives up to its name as it is a convenient, speedy knit. The recipient i.e. Peeper-Lou is ecstatic--why she even tore herself away from the most hideous dreck that that Disney Channel has ever polluted our airwaves with to try it on with enthusiasm. She was pleased because the photo shoot gave her the opportunity to show off her 'side bangs', a concept that didn't exist back in 70s. No, those in-between bangs were normally a sign that your were trying to
grow out your bangs, and were never a goal in themselves, but I digress...
Drive-Thru in Jo Sharp Aran Silktweed
Disclaimer: No yarn was purchased in the making of this sweater. I am pleased to report that this sweater was knit 100% from stash. I feel like I deserve some sort of medal for that. Sad.
Drive-Thru in Jo Sharp Aran Silktweed
The Jo Sharp Silkroad Aran Tweed is just about the most heavenly yarn out there, a luscious combo of merino, silk and cashmere, all wrapped together in a blanket of tweediness...the colors are also quite enticing. Who could resist a color way named 'vermouth'? Not this Whiskypalian...
Drive-Thru in Jo Sharp Aran Silktweed
The pattern is another Wendy Bernard classic. I seem to have knit quite a few of her patterns, and I must say that they are all easy to follow yet interesting enough to be appealing. The only modifications I made were to lengthen the sleeves about 1.5 ins and go a little free style with the yoke. I try to live by the James Brown credo 'give it up or turn it loose', so I turned it loose.
Drive-Thru in Jo Sharp Aran Silktweed
The Specs:
Pattern: Drive-Thru by Wendy Bernard
Yarn: Jo Sharp Silkroad Aran Tweed--posie (5 balls), licorice, wintergrass, vermouth & highland (bits and bobs)
Needles: Size 8
Started: January 6th
Finished: January 26th
Drive-Thru in Jo Sharp Aran Silktweed
Tween Thing emerged from her Fruits Basket-ipod-teen vogue-gingerbread latte drill long enough to make a knitting request as well. She was very close to wanting the Somewhat Cowl, which in her case we'd have to call the Somewhat (s)Cowl, but I dodged a major bullet and won't be knitting a sweater on size 5 needles after all. Instead Her Highness has deigned to ask for Juliet, and I, her humble stitching underling, am only too happy to oblige. Below you see the beginnings of it in Lamb's Pride Bulky. Shhh.....Don't tell her that the word 'bulky' is in the name of the yarn, she'll never wear it!
Juliet in progress

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Workplace Fashion Shoot; A Major Knitting Gaffe of Epic Proportions

Meredith in Dulles hat (Ella Rae Palermo)
The IAD (Dulles) hat you see pictured above was given as a Christmas present to my very good friend and colleague, and yesterday was the first day I ever saw the hat in action. She breezed in to my office with a big grin, knowing what a major charge I would get out of seeing the hat in use. And she was right! I feel bad for the student with whom I was speaking, because I had to have a photo session right then and there. Thanks iPhone!
Dulles Hat

Knitted Placenta?
The thing you see pictured above represents an example of what happens when you run out the door of the in-laws' house à la any good prison break movie without rechecking the pattern before buying expensive Lantern Moon dpns at Purl. Yeah, 10.5 needles....that's what I need. Oops. Make that size 9. Umm, yeah. End result? My first attempt at Thorpe basically resembled one of those giant squid-like kombucha micro-organism colonies, or a knitted placenta, or some such other gross thing. So I did the mature thing--I frogged that mofo, broke out the correct size needles, started over, and all is now right in the world.

That's much better, isn't it? You know that feeling when you keep on knitting even though you know something has gone terribly, terribly wrong? It's the knitting equivalent of whistling in the dark. "If I just keep doing what I'm doing....everything will be fine...". This lesson must be learned over and over, it would appear.
Thorpe hat in Rowan Cashsoft Chunky
You will note that there is no double-crocheted edge around it and no cute braids. I have successfully avoided crochet for 42 years, I'm not about to start now. Don't get me wrong, I love the results, but I really, really suck at it, so after several pathetic attempts I have decided that my low self-esteem requires me to create an ideological position against crocheting rather than actually learn how to do it properly.

Dulles Specs
Pattern: IAD (Dulles) hat by Sarah Gilbert
Yarn: Ella Rae 'Palermo', #4. A great, all-purpose single ply that would sub nicely for Malabrigo or Manos.
Needles: size 8

Thorpe Specs
Pattern: Thorpe by Kirsten Kapur
Yarn: RYC Cashsoft Chunky in #701 and #711. Pricey but soft!
Needles: size 9

Monday, January 21, 2008

Koolhaas number three

Isn't every picture of Purl the same?
Doesn't every picture of Purl look the same? They should just issue a standard shot available on the their web site for bloggers to download and use, that would just simplify the process and save you from the trouble of standing in the street. Purl is a great shop with fantastic yarn, but if you hit it at the wrong time, it can be a claustrophobic experience. Luckily I knew what I wanted and was in and out in a flash. The Curmudgeon was in tow, and even said the magic words "take as much time as you need". Can you believe this guy? He's just getting better and better with age...

Schrodinger Cube as Gift Bag
While in NY I was able to finally present in person a handknit gift to a special friend. I delivered the gift in a Schrodinger original cube. Doesn't it make a perfect little gift bag? Such a precious item indeed that will no doubt be used for mini toiletries.

Sorry for the blurriness--night time + restaurant + wine = not optimum photo shoot:
Bald Tenor in Koolhaas

No, your eyes are not deceiving you, that's another Koolhaas, number three in fact. But this was my first one in Malabrigo (Water Green). I needed to see what all the fuss was about and if it really was worthy of the hype. Well, I am here to tell you that the Malabrigo-Koolhaas combination is a winning one. I was not disappointed, and the recipient confirmed that it was truly a soft experience.

Koolhaas side shot

This will be my last Koolhaas for a while. Don't get me wrong, the pattern is a winner, and I am glad that I got to give it a whirl in Malabrigo. But knitting it any more than three times would be a little much, wouldn't it?

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Garter Stitch Lovefest

Silk Garden Garter Stitch Love
There was a stage in this knitter's life when I disliked nothing more than the wavy gravy look of garter stitch. (Incidentally, Wavy Gravy is Ben & Jerry's grossest flavor. Ever). Garter stitch seemed so unsophisticated and screamed 'amateur hour' to me. My disdain and revulsion were unequivocal.
Silk Garden Garter Stitch Love
But I must say that within the past several months I have done an about-face and am absolutely smitten with the old world stylings of this simple stitch. I can't get enough of it. Upon receiving the Opinionated Knitter several days ago, the frontispiece alone stopped me in my tracks and put me into a mini-trance. I stared and stared and couldn't stop staring.
Silk Garden Garter Stitch Love
The garter stitch. It's so right. And when done in Noro? Well that my friends just sends me into paroxysms, gasping for air because of the rustic charm of the two together. What took me so long?

It's Love American Style, starring me and garter stitch in Noro. Right now I'm working on a plain jane scarf in Silk Garden (2 skeins of #242, alternating every-other-row for maximum mini-striping) and the simple beauty of it all is killing me. All other knitting has ceased for the moment. We're talking about a grinding, screeching halt, here.
Silk Garden Garter Stich Love

Such changes of heart can't be specific to me alone. I am very curious: what in the world of knitting did you used to despise, but now love? Or vice versa, what do you currently loathe that you once adored?

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Copycat Knitter

Bainbridge Scarf
When I was growing up, the refrain heard from me most often by our patient, beleaguered mother was no doubt "Mom, he's copying me!". Granted, on the whole he was mostly a good boy and I was a naughty, bully of a sister, and 80% of the time I was the evil aggressor, but he knew how to get to me with sneaky, behind-the scenes mimicry and mockery that left me flailing and wailing and him smelling like a rose. I was the dope who fell for his tricks and traps every time. My mother would also try to get me to understand that "...imitation is the sincerest form of flattery", which usually caused me to have another major hissy fit, punch him, and get in huge trouble. Those were some seriously good times...

Well now I am the copycat. You know that person at the table that changes her order after seeing what everyone else has ordered? That's me, except with knitting. See, my best pal Babs a.k.a Purlfriend has just about the best judgment ever in most situations, and her knitting taste is beyond compare. So whenever she's doing a project, well I just have to follow suit. And since it is keeping with the whole scarf theme happening around these parts, copying was the right thing to do.
Bainbridge Scarf
The Specs
Pattern: Bainbridge Scarf, a little darling of a project by Miss Minty
Yarn: Socks That Rock Heavyweight in Oregon Red Clover Honey
Needles: Size 6
Time: One day...seriously. Except for the ties, which don't count.
Bainbridge Scarf
The construction of this little neck-warmer is brilliant, and the broken rib gives the garment excellent elasticity and makes it all around springy and sproingy. I just love this little thing, it's like a fetish object that someone could develop a dirty little attachment to, but don't worry, we're keeping it PG-13 for the kids...
Bainbridge Scarf
I am always on the lookout for ways to be using sock yarn for non-sock projects. I don't know what my problem is, but I am not feeling socks right now at all. I mean, I feel like I might start welding or glassblowing before I ever knit another sock again, that's how not in to socks I am. But out of a sense of duty (?), I feel I must finish my most recent pair, so I entered a little contest over at on Ali's blog in order to motivate myself. I am hoping to finish those blasted RPM socks from back in August by the end of January, we'll see what happens.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

My So Called Nervous Breakdown--Averted!

My So Called Scarf--Dream in Color Classy, Ruby River
Being that I am basically a lemming at heart, I figured I would try my hand at the scarf that is taking the nation by storm. I am of course referring to My So Called Scarf, a winning project that has been undertaken by no less that 1,779 knitters on Ravelry. I told myself that if 1,779 people can do it, why can't I? And since I would place my knitting i.q. squarely within the respectable B+ range, I figured that I would be safe in assuming that I could tackle this pattern without too much fuss.
My So Called Scarf--Dream in Color Classy, Ruby River
Well, I futzed around with the directions for an hour or so trying to comprehend the first row, but to no avail. I even sent the Darling of the room because he was trying to talk to me about how much he loves Jack Lemmon (a subject for which I would normally be very, very game) and I simply couldn't focus on the task at hand. The directions are simple and clear yet I just wasn't grasping their meaning. Scratching my head I went back over to Ravelry and looked at the icons of the people who had successfully completed the pattern. They ranged in gender, age, and geographical location and didn't seem like they looked THAT much smarter than me. Ever more frustrated and peeved, I snooped around some more and found links to what would turn out to be my salvation: Youtube. Several knitters had actually posted video tutorials to the pattern, and after no less than 10 minutes I was well on my way. Hip Hip Hooray!
Youtube: it's not just for Kelly videos anymore but a bona fide knitting resource. Who knew? Maybe you did--do you have any particularly helpful Youtube tutorials to share ?

I did the scarf in Dream in Color Classy (Ruby River), a recently acquired yarn that I am just absolutely loving the living daylights out of despite its ridiculous, and I mean RIDICULOUS name. Classy? Tacky. Right? Anyway, the variation in the color is subtle and produced a rich, textured garment. The yarn is also soft and not even slightly splitty. If you haven't tried it, I urge you to do so asap, despite the unfortunate name.
My So Called Scarf--Dream in Color Classy, Ruby River
The Specs
Pattern: My So-Called Scarf
Yarn: Dream in Color Classy, Ruby River, .65 of a skein
Needles: size 9
Mods: I only cast on 22 sts as I was in the mood for a skinny scarf.

My So Called Scarf--Dream in Color Classy, Ruby River
Should I be concerned that during our fashion shoot Tween Thing noted that "...all I need are some pumps and a Marc Jacobs skirt and I'm ready for the business world!"? At her age I dare say I was still in Levis husky cords and (very unflattering) rugby shirts and had no clue about designers and fashion. The next couple of years might indeed bring on that nervous breakdown I have just so deftly avoided...
My So Called Scarf--Dream in Color Classy, Ruby River
Please stay tuned for the last gasp of I'm-on-break-from-school knitting, which will include a Jo Sharp Silk Road Aran Tweed Drive-Thru extravaganza, copycat knitting (meaning that whatever Babs does I have to do, too--she has that effect on people), and an upcoming series of top-secret knitted gifts for a very special Bald Soprano Tenor...

Friday, January 04, 2008

Do what you love...

It's funny how time off from work tends to bring out familiar indolent patterns of behavior in (these two) academics. Raiding my parents fridge for chocolate-covered apricots? Yes. Playing Scrabble til the wee hours of the morning? You better believe it. Spending a little extra time on making stupendous dinners? But of course. Watching films in a bulimic kind of way? Bring it. My mother nagging me for not cleaning my room knitting all the time? WTF? Luckily she's not the boss of me anymore...

The Darling Resident Husband (Notice the change in nomenclature. He's been renamed due to the incredibly generous Christmas present of an iPhone which signals his capitulation to the surrounding culture. Principles be damned! I love this man!) became very teary watching a Truffaut film (a change as he's normally a Godard kinda guy) and noted that the director "just loved what he did". We contemplated this concept and decided that doing what you love is of no small importance.

And now, on to the knitting content!
Child's Rainbow Scarf in Kureyon
Recently I've been on a scarf kick, which is odd because normally this garment is way down on my knitting list as a. they are frequently tedious and b. always take longer than you think they're going to take. If you can identify with these sentiments, might I suggest the Child's Rainbow Scarf from LMKG? I have seen plenty of these on Ravelry and elsewhere that encouraged me to give it a whirl. This project is ultra-fast (about a day and a half, off and on) and affords one the ability to be ever surprised by the changing colors of the Kureyon. Sometimes the colors go together in the most pleasing way imaginable (blue + green, blue + orange, both combos are so right on...) and sometimes the colors just completely clash and make you ill (purple + brown, anyone?), but the overall result has strong visual appeal due to the mistake rib and vibrant colors.
Child's Rainbow Scarf in Kureyon
Child's Rainbow Scarf in Kureyon
The Specs
Pattern: Child's Rainbow Scarf from Last Minute Knitted Gifts
Yarn: Noro Kureyon, colors 40 & 54
Needles: Size 9
Time: About a day and a half
Child's Rainbow Scarf in Kureyon
Next up: Wendy Bernard's Drive-Thru for Peeper-Lou. Knit completely out of stash yarn!