Monday, October 12, 2015

Stratford Halter Top

If you can't tell, I've been putting off taking proper photos of finished knits.  I have a sweater, four hats, a shawl, and a cowl finished and just waiting for a photo.  My phone is full of photos, my camera's full, and my computer and hard drive are full of back-ups.  I'm at that point where all photography is about to come to a grinding halt if I don't do a little tech clean-up.  But this photo looks good enough to suffice as a "Finished" photo, so here you go.

This is Tara-Lynn Morrison's Stratford Halter Crop Top.  It's similar to the Leeds Halter I knit a week ago, but only has one tie at the back of the neck.  It also has a bit more coverage.  I really like the look of this one and I think the Rowan All Seasons Cotton is a quality warm weather yarn for it.  I was testing this out for re-writes, so I knit it as written.  I have started a second one, however, with 20 less stitches in the cast-on so that it will fit me the way I like.  I will totally wear this for Galveston weekends next summer.

The All Seasons cotton yarn has a suede-like feel that is a bit nicer than dishcloth cotton.  Knit at a tight gauge, I find it gives enough coverage, too.  My gauge for this was about 4.5 sts and 7 rows per inch knit on size 3 needles.  I went searching, out of curiosity and since I do live in a warm climate, for information about good yarn for halters, bikini tops, etc that are appropriate for summer.  The consensus is that cotton, knit tightly, and a bit small so that it stretches and holds it's shape works best.  They also seem to unanimously agree that knit bikini bottoms never really look good.

So, though it looks like I'm in the middle of summer with these last two projects, I'm actually hard at work on three sweaters, a shawl, and a bulky wrap.  That's besides all of the finished knits awaiting photographs.  Get ready, because when the FO photos start coming, they will be in droves.

Speaking of serious Fall sweaters, have you guys seen the round up for the Summer Sweater Knit-along 2015?  They're all so beautiful.  I love that when I read the names of the giveaway winners, I could say, "Those are my friends!"

In other happy news,  I was pretty psyched that The Great Northern Kickstarter was more than a success and I will, indeed, be getting that book of patterns in the future.

So, are you guys doing Fall oriented things or are you still stuck on summer?

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Leeds Halter Top

I know.  I've got too many projects on the needles.  I know it, and yet here I am with another finished knit I really hadn't planned to knit just now.  Did you have any clue that I'd be knitting a Leeds Halter Top for Fall?  Neither did I, but it gives me a great sense of accomplishment anyway!

Leeds is a fun knit.  When I was less endowed I would have worn this to get some sun on a Sunday afternoon on the patio.  As it is, I'm still feeling the effects of a hormone treatment I started 6 months ago that puffed me up.  Some women would love that side effect, but me... not so much.  I was used to my boyish frame.  And 3 months wasn't a lot of time to adjust to this new, very hormonal, one.  Hopefully, I'll get back to normal soon but, just in case,  I've got some ideas for how to make the Stratford Halter Crop Top, also by Tara-Lynn Morrison,  in a more supportive warm weather yarn.  I'm wondering if holding a thin piece of elastic with the cotton to knit the ribbing and ties would make it a bit more like a wool version.  I have some Rowan All Season's cotton and elastic from a failed knit bikini (don't ask) and it might be fun to try.    

Anyway, this one does fit, but I'm too shy to do that kind of FO shot.   It's knit in Valley Yarns Goshen.  I made one modification:  I knit the tab for each back strap about 1.5 inches before decreasing, then made my i-cord ties long enough to wrap around and tie in front.  This allows for sun bathing in the lounger without knots poking me in the back.   Sunbathing means flopping the lawn chair in the middle of my weedy garden where the neighbors can't me reading or sleeping in my swimsuit.  It involves copious amounts of sweat and mosquito spray.  It's October, but that is still completely doable here.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Midwestern Knit-alongs

Ugh!  I'm sorry I'm so slow to respond to comments and messages.  I'm slowly getting into a new rhythm  around here.  My son is firmly entrenched in his sophomore year, my daughter in her new home, and my grandmother is getting into a new routine, living alone.  I have had more time on my hands and have tried to use it wisely.  Sleeping late a few times a week, going on long walks, and knitting up a storm.  I figure you guys can forgive me because I'm sure you've been there.   So, I don't mean to be slow, but sometimes you just got to make things.

And that was my progress on the body of my Blowing Snow Cardigan by Emily Ringelman.  It's not a difficult pattern to memorize at all, but still keeps it more interesting than stockinette.   This is what I want my final product to look like.  Oh, I hope I don't screw up in some stupid way, it's been going so smoothly.

 (image via Ravelry)

Blowing Snow is from Midwestern Knits, a book I supported back in the kickstarter phase.  Also from this book is my next sweater, Furrowed Pullover.   There's a KAL for it beginning in just a couple of days, so I thought I'd get some photos out there of my "Before."   I really like City Tweed, and Jacquard is a color I've wanted to try for a couple of years, so when they had a big sale in the withering heat of summer, I jumped on it.  This is the cheapest I think I could ever get an alpaca/ wool tweed like this.  Listen to me, I'm always so proud of a good deal.

Imagine that knit into this, below.   That cowl neck is so generous! And in an alpaca yarn, do you think I'll be warm enough?

 (image via Ravelry)

Also on my needles, are some test knits for Tara-Lynn Morrison.  I'll post some photos of those lovelies after I've had a gigantic blocking party.  I don't think I've ever before put off blocking so many things at once.  My cat has been finding all sorts of unblocked woolens to curl up on around the house.  

So, what's on your needles this Fall?

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Great Northern Blog Tour

Last week, I mentioned the Great Northern kickstarter and instagram challenge.  Could you tell I was excited about this collection?   I'm so driven by nostalgia.  Today, I want to share some design sketches from Teresa and Leah, along with some Twin Peaks inspiration I dug up.

Twin Peaks was a big deal when I was a teenager.  A big deal.  Just hearing the theme song again, when I started re-watching the series, gave me eery deja-vu.  The thing I remember most about it, besides Bob, was the strong visual element in the show.  It just wasn't filmed like anything else at the time.  It was image-heavy, and these images were as integral to the story as the odd characters and the dialog.  Re-watching the series, I see how much of the plot is similar to The Killing: how it begins with a murdered girl and follows the investigators as they sift through the lives of the entire community, revealing more about themselves and the victim with each episode.  The long story arc is something we take for granted in tv today,  but it was novel to me then.

And then there's the wardrobe.  At the time,  I wanted Donna's hair and her sweaters.  I remember getting a Sassy magazine for it's Twin Peaks fashion layout.  Yeah, I did that.  And I found it today, below.   I totally had that first look down in tenth grade.

But, I'm seeing Twin Peaks through different eyes now.  It's such a hoot.  One minute it feels almost sappy, like a soap opera, then the next minute there are these incredibly beautiful location shots or there's a weird, greasy haired guy hiding behind the furniture.

You never know what to expect.  You remember the scene where Leeland Palmer "dances" around his living room with his daughter's photo, to his wife's dismay.  My son heard this scene from the next room, and actually got angry with me for how weird and long it was.  I told him next time I want to punish him I'll make him watch one of Agent Cooper's dream sequences.

So, where was I?  Oh, yes, sweaters.  There are so many gems in this show I could take cell phone screen shots through the whole series.  I didn't, but here are a few, along with some of Leah and Teresa's sneak peeks.  I can tell this collection will reflect the visual appeal and quirkiness of it's inspiration.

Lucy.  I knew there would have to be a Lucy-inpsired sweater.  She is the sweater queen of Twin Peaks.  Her closet would make Bill Cosby weep.  Oversized, dolman sleeves, cables, fair isle....

and, in Great Northern, there will be cables and toggles.  Sigh.  I love toggles.

Then there's Donna's oversized color work sweaters.  This one has bobbles, no less.  

Maddie, Laura's twin cousin(?), whose glasses rival my husband's, in the eighties, for being the biggest ever.  But she seemed like the only normal teen in Twin Peaks, when she wasn't having scary visions.

The most feminine wardrobe belonged to Audrey.  Super retro.

Last, but not least, is the Log Lady and those Cowichan color work cardigans.  They are glorious and I want one.  If ever you're bored, google Log Lady Halloween costumes.  

We have to see these patterns into print, friends.  There are still lots of great incentives (patterns from much-loved designers, ebooks, hand knits, yarn, project bags, and more) on the Great Northern Kickstarter page.  I love the idea of knitters supporting print knitting books!

There's more about the collection, here.  You can also keep up with the design process, incentives, and cool Twin Peaks-related subjects on Teresa and Leah's blogs.

So, I am left with only a few thoughts:

When I say I like Twin Peaks, I mean the tv series, not the movie.  (That one's a stinker.)
once I finished Twin Peaks on Netflix, I wanted to listen to Chris Isaak's Wicked Game?, Mazzy Star, or Lana Del Rey.
Can Ray Wise look any creepier?
Apparently, Twin Peaks is the new buzz word for selling just about anything on Etsy and Ebay- think "90's Leo work shirt."
After seeing Bob, will you ever look at denim on denim the same way again?

Monday, September 28, 2015

It'll Make You Feel Good

Remember those drug awareness ads that used to be on tv in the eighties?  There would be some impressionable kid trying to walk to school or something while being assailed by older kids saying, "Come on!  Everybody's doing it." or ""It'll make you feel good."  He runs away from them with the last phrase echoing on in his mind- "... feel good... feel good...feel good..."

Well, I'm that kid, Ravelry is the older kid hanging out on the landing, and shawl knitting is my new drug.  I'm not running away, friends.  It only took me like a decade to get in on the shawl bandwagon, but I'm here now and finding it difficult to concentrate on other projects.  Here's my progress on Campside, my second shawl for the Big Cozy KAL, which I only planned to knit one shawl for.

So why all the shawls?  Mainly, it's because I crave the color in the hand dyed yarns I use for them, but I also think it's that I don't know how long I'll be wearing the sweater size I am currently at.  I don't want to spend all that time on something that might not fit in a month.  My body has sort of freaked out the last couple of years and slowed it's production of hormones way down.  The consensus of my doctor and pharmacist is stress, stress, and more stress.  But there are times when it just can't be helped.  Times like war and death.  And once you do all the things you know how to do, to no longer feel stress, there's really nothing more you can do.  So the very topic of how to reduce stress becomes a stressor.   So, I became a bio-identical hormone replacement guinea pig out of sheer desperation.

My cycle did straighten out and my skin cleared up. Then with some more tweaking, I got more energy.  Then a few months in my skin went bananas and I gained like 15 pounds overnight.  Well,  ok, it was within a month.  I literally woke up one morning and thought, I have nothing to wear.  Where are my grandmother's mumus when I need them?

As annoying as my experience with the bio-identical pellet has been, I don't regret it.  I was beyond exhausted before my grandfather passed away, and when he did, there was a lot to do, plus my daughter's wedding.  The hormones gave me a serious energy boost to do the things that had to be done.  So, I'm thankful for that.  But, I am ready to get off that crazy ride and try extreme rest and wellness to coax my body back into balance.

One more thing I feel like I should say, in case I'm giving bio-identicals a bad rap, is that I did realize a few weeks ago that I had gradually stopped eating an appropriate amount of food over the last year or so.  I'd be so busy that I'd skip a meal, then two.  I was discouraged because, you know- death, and so I had little appetite.  Then it hit me the other day as I watched my son wolf down his supper, that I used to be a big eater.  What happened?  So I sat down and wrote out what I remembered eating that day and the one before.  It was pathetic.  Then I started thinking about how much I consume in a typical day and actually felt a little frightened.  I have always believed that a person should eat when they are hungry.  I may have tried elimination diets for allergy issues, but I have never tried to eat less food.  I didn't know a person could actually need to eat or sleep and not feel the normal urges to do those things.  But that's where I was.   Ugh, I am ready for some sanity again.

Wow, this post got really side-tracked.  I started with shawls as drugs and ended up with drugs as drugs.  Aaaaanyway, I'm still going to knit up my Midwestern Knits sweaters as planned, but I have quite a few shawls in mind too:

There's Britt Schmiesing's KAL Shawl  which will be perfect for a variegated Voolenvine skein I have,  Whispering Pines in a Jill Draper purple, Sunwalker which I want to do in an unusually (for me) dark colorway, and Ashburn in Madtosh Dandelion.  Do any of these look good to you?  Let me be your dealer.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Audrey-Inspired and Cowichan-esque

As if it's not enough that there will be a new X-Files series starring Duchovny and Anderson, that Longmire returned via Netflix, and that some of the cast of Firefly will be returning in Con Man, there is now about to be a new Twin Peaks series and a knitwear collection based on the original series.

When I read about Teresa Gregorio and Leah Coccari-Swift's Great Northern collection, I had to re-watch the tv series.  Then, I had to back their kickstarter.  I want all of my knitting friends to know about it, too.

(image via Pinterest)

I'm so excited for this.  Do you remember the show?  I do.  I was a sophomore in high school, I think, and it was the first show I ever watched that had awkward silences on purpose.  I think it paved the way for other, less strange, series like Northern Exposure, that made good use of odd timing, silence, and strange characters.  I also really liked Donna's hair.

(image via Pinterest)

This collection is bound to be cool.  As a tv watching knitting geek, I can't wait.  I love seeing how designers interpret images, movies, and music into wearable art.

I also love print knitting pattern books.  It seems like the second I committed to try to buy knitting ebooks to save shelf space, all of these gorgeous pattern books started coming out by designers I love.    They're even more special if they are based on a topic I'm interested in.

Here's the deal: In describing their collection Teresa and Leah use terms like "Audrey-inspired," "retro vintage,"and "Cowichan-esque".  Must I type more?

Right now they have an instagram challenge going where they will randomly draw from a week's worth of participants for a free copy of the Great Northern ebook.  All you have to do is follow the daily prompts and use the #greatnorthernknits hashtag to be entered for the giveaway.  This post includes a few of my photos for the challenge.  But I'm already a backer of the project, so I'll be receiving a print copy, ebook, and some lovely yarn (for a song) anyway, once it's funded.  I'd like to see your images based on Twin Peaks prompts!  It seems instagram is all I've had time for on the internet these days.

When I first saw their  kickstarter page  it was very late (or early) and I had insomnia.  Apparently this is the best time to peruse knitting blogs and such.  I scrolled down their incentives until I saw a dyer I love and backed it.  Looking again today, I see there are lots of yarn and design incentives left.  Some are patterns by my favorite designers, or really great ebooks and magazines- like Holla Knits.  Can you imagine Doomsday Knits by Alex Tinsley, based on our culture's obsession with dystopian/ apocalyptic literature and movies, along with your Twin Peaks inspired collection?  I can't think of a better pop culture pairing.

I guess I just really want to see this project funded because, people!, we could make our own Log Lady sweaters!

That must happen.  So, anyway, take a look at the kickstarter and consider supporting for an ebook.  It has at least 10 sweater patterns, some accessories, and home items.  If you're like me, you'll want the print book too, or even incentives beyond those.  And don't forget the instagram giveaway.

Next week I will have a little more to share about the collection and my memories of the Twin Peaks era.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Bright Flecks

Here's some progress on my Blowing Snow Cardigan for the MidwesternKnits KAL.  I really liked the yarn used in the sample, but my budget didn't allow for it at the time, so I went with something I felt had a similar vibe.  It's just Patons Classic Wool Tweed.  The little blue flecks are unexpected.  I'd never looked carefully enough at this Patons color to notice them before.

There are times when I think it's best to use a less expensive, workhorse yarn like Patons.  Like when you've blown all of your "fun money" for the month and you realize a knit-along is about to start and you have no yarn for it.  Or when Joann's is having a big yarn sale.  Or when you want a fun tweed because, really, Patons has some fun tweeds.  Most natural colored tweed yarns don't have bright blue flecks in them.  I think I would've chosen this yarn had I been able to afford a more expensive tweed.  I realized, when knitting my second Beatnik, that I love boring old brown when it's knit with Paton's Tweed.  There's all of these fun little yellow, green, and red flecks throughout.  Their black tweed is the same way- flecks of red, green, and blue.  A boring black turtleneck wouldn't be quite so boring in that.

Then there's my whole tweed fixation.  It's like I'm perpetually wanting to live in Ali McGraw's  wardrobe ca. 1970.  It doesn't matter that I rarely get to wear it.  I've got a stockpile of Love Story- worthy sweaters anyway.

(image via Pinterest)

I have big plans for my Midwestern Knits book.  There's this cardigan, which I hope to focus on for the next couple of weeks, then there's the Furrowed Pullover and Furniture City.  Both of which will be in yarn I'm excited to try.  Eventually, I'd like to knit up some Riverwalk Mitts too, but my crafting plate is a bit full at the moment.

All of the designs in the book have a KAL thread in the Ravelry forum, with staggered cast on dates.  I don't know that I'll finish them within their KALs but I feel confident they'll be finished for cold weather.  And it'll be just like I'm ready for my undergrad classes come this crisp New England Fall.  Only, it will be alternating between 40º and 80º F in Texas... and I didn't finish college ...and I haven't been 24 for a while... but you get the idea.