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.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

A Quick Project and Netflix Rant

My Bradway has been keeping me company in the evenings as I make my way through season 4 of Longmire.  I've been so pleased, with both the shawl and the first netflix produced season of the show.  

I knew Shannon's pattern would be great.  The perfect palette cleanser between The Summer Sweater KAL and the Midwestern Knits KAL.  And since I seem to be addicted to everything ending in KAL, it's part of the Big Cozy KAL in The Fawn Knits' Ravelry group.  But ever since my disappointment in Netflix's season 3 of The Killing, I have been fearing this new season of Longmire.  It's not only good, I think it's stronger than season 3, at least as far as I've watched.

It's a quietly good tv series.  Nothing splashy and still not edgy, even though it's on Netflix.  But it's really good acting for a weekly "mystery" type show.  Only now, it's not weekly.  It's a "watch straight through to the end" type of show on Netflix.  I mean, yeah, there's more language and stronger language, but I can still watch it with my son and not cringe.  I don't feel like I have to keep the remote handy, just in case.  Is it old fashioned of me that this means something to me?  I'm sure it is, but it has nothing to do with my getting older.  I say this as I finish knitting up another woolen shawl...

The reality is that we have our Netflix profiles, as adults, and let our kids have theirs so that we can separate the sort-of-mature from the too-mature viewing.  Even if our children don't find a way around parental oversight, it's just a fact that there will be a slow, trickle-down of mature content.  We all just get more and more used to it.  And if you have high standards for writing and direction style, you're going to have a hard time finding new things that you can share with the fam that aren't too simple or too syrupy.

I guess I resent the pandering to the "typical American audience" member.  When I see lots of gratuitous sex and language in a show I feel like its the death knell of the good writing.  When it's in the first episode, like it was in a recent tv-14 show I tried that was waaaaaaay not for 14 year-olds, it probably means there won't be any.  I know I'm not alone in this.  And I know that I had the same tastes before I even had kids...even when I was a kid.  So, I'm not just thinking as a mother.  I'm just thinking.

I only tried watching Longmire because we were going to see Katie Sackhoff at comic-con.  I was so surprised to see her tone down her usual Starbuck shtick to portray a different sort of character.  Well, a little different.  I really, really liked the whole show.  Unlike that Riddick movie, which we also saw before comic-con, where I think my brain exploded from lack of intelligible input and leaked out of my ears onto the theatre seats.  Don't sit on aisle 20.  It was so bad, my husband fell asleep during it and actually got really grumpy because the people's yelling and hooting around us, at the show's gags, kept waking him up.  I just sat there dumbfounded.  People were laughing and hooting?  At this show's gags?  It was so bad it was almost good.  Almost.

Anyway, thank you Netflix for not ruining something that was good enough that you'd want to buy it in the first place.

Now, the shawl.  Doesn't it look like something you'd throw on next to the campfire?  I can't believe a shawl knit up so quickly.  It doesn't take too long knitting with fingering weight to feel like a knitting machine when you go back to worsted.

(inspiration via Pinterest)

I went to Pinterest and looked up pantone color schemes and such to find color combos that were out of my comfortable norm.  Eventually, I decided on blue and pink, but not the blue and pink of my pop-up camper's original curtains.  It's more like a faded denim and my worn coral deck shoes.  The tweedy yarn makes me think of a camping shawl.  I've seen a couple of Bradways knit in this color scheme and I loved them, so I knew it would work.  Check out Corinne's!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Lund or Linden? Sweater

I already posted about the inspiration for this sweater hack, so this post will be a little more knitgeek and get into the details, all of which are nothing clever.  So, if you wanted, you could make this sweater too and make it better.  I wouldn't have minded it being more oversized, to tell the truth.

 I needed this big, easy knit in my life.  I was mad at fingering weight yarn and the end of the Summer Sweater KAL was looming and I had nothing to show for it.  Using older stash also let me include this in Little Bobbins' Purposeful Stash-along group.
This is the most modification I've ever done to an existing pattern.  The only thing close to this was actually creating a sweater from Elizabeth Zimmerman's percentage method.  I had this color work chart from Alison Moreton  and the Bulky Ease pattern from Alicia Plummer to somehow marry into a big, comfy sweater that didn't hurt my overtaxed brain.

Tools: I used size US 6 for ribbing and size US 8 needles for the body.   The yarn was 2 mega skeins of Cascade Eco and 2 skeins of Sweet Georgia Bulky in the Terra Firma colorway as my contrast color.  I love the dimension the semi-solid color of the Sweet Georgia added to the Fair Isle.   I find that using an extra fancy yarn for only one of the stripes in a sweater can make a big difference in the impact, while only raising the cost a little.  Same applies to Fair Isle "stripes."  The Sweet Georgia was also discontinued and on a big time sale at Craftsy, so I couldn't pass it up.  And is there anything more fun than I gigantic ball of Cascade Eco at the other end of your knitting?

Basics- To get the pattern centered on front and back and not have to worry about making side increases and decreases work, I decided to let my raglan increase stitches be in the main color and to keep a side "seam" of 2 stitches in the main color all the way down the sweater and inside of the sleeves.  Personally I like the look of raglan stitches in MC.  The side seams were just for convenience- remember, brain hurtage?
I also reduced the waist shaping to 3 increases and 3 decreases.
There are 3 color work stripes on the body and 4 on each sleeve.
Except for the raglan increases, I kept all of my shaping rounds in the solid colored stripes.
With this post, I am reminding myself of my mods, without giving pattern details away.  If you're interested read away.  If you're not, scroll on, brother.

Modified cast on- I added 3 stitches to the cast on, increasing a stitch for each sleeve and one for the back.  When joining after working short rows, I cast on 11 sts for the front neckline.

Charting the first colorwork stripe-
My color work stripes were 12 rounds deep and my solid stripes were 13.

Since my color work pattern is interrupted by the raglan seams, I just drew out my color chart on graph paper and counted back from what the center stitch of the front should be to decide where in the chart to start the colorwork for front, back, and sleeves.  For my size, that was at stitch 15 in the color work pattern for the front and back, and stitch 4 for each shoulder.

Once I did my first round, it was easy to follow from that point forward.  I wrote out the beginning and ending stitch numbers for front/back and a sleeve ahead of time and made hash marks next to them as I knit them.  That way I could quickly check myself as I began a new portion of the chart.

I worked 11 raglan increases, total.  My color work began on the 3rd raglan inc round and after finishing that color work stripe, which included 6 increases, I still had 3 sets of raglan rounds (6 rounds total) to complete in the main color.

Sleeve separation- At this point my stitch counts for front, back and sleeves were all just 1 stitch more than that of the pattern.

I slipped sleeve sts, as directed, casting on 4 stitches for the underarm.  I continued knitting in the main color until I was on the last round of that MC stripe (round 13) in which I made my first waist decreases.

Second Colorwork stripe- With the addition of underarm stitches and the fact that I would be maintaining  2 MC stitches at either side of my side markers (see photo below), my first round of this colorwork stripe went like this:  1 MC st, st. 10 of chart, work chart across front and end on st. 12, then a MC st., slip marker and repeat for the back.  I maintained the MC faux side seams all the way down the side of the sweater.

At this point I've probably lost anyone who might have considered doing this.  I understand, but I'll keep typing for my own benefit.

Last waist shaping rounds in third solid stripe-  So on the next MC round, I decreased in pattern and decreased again on the last (or 13th) MC round.  That is all of the decreasing I did.

Third colorwork stripe- I started on a different st of the color work chart because of the decreasing, it was st. 12 I believe.

Hip increases and fourth solid stripe-  In the 13 rounds of this stripe, I increased steeply on rounds 1,7, and 13.

Decrease for Ribbing- I decreased 8 stitches evenly, switched to size 6 needles and worked ribbing for about 20 rounds.

Sleeves- Using size 8s, I cast on 6 stitches for under arm and finished the solid colored stripe, ending with a decrease round.

I started my colorwork round with a MC "seam" st, then st. 5 from the chart.

Sleeve Decreases- the first one was just before the first sleeve color work stripe (last round of a solid stripe) and the next 4 happen on the first and last round of the solid stripes.

There will be 4 color work stripes on your sleeve now.  After the 4th one, I decreased 6 sts evenly, then began the sleeve ribbing.

Bind offs- I liked the sewn bind off I used on the sleeves.  I don't know if I like my Jeny's stretchy Bind off on the body because I do rib so loosely.  But it's an oversized sweater and I wanted it to be loose, so I think I'll leave it.

By the way, I blocked, then pressed this to get the puffy color work stripes to not me too Michelin Man.  I also wove in my ends by running the loose ends through the center of several color work strands on the back of the work, as Tanis recommended in the SSKAL post.  This really cut down on the added bulk.

I wish I had better photos of the sides and of the sweater in general.  It was in the nineties when my son helped me take these, then my camera battery ran out and my phone was too full of videos I can't erase to take another photo.  Of course.  But I don't think a photo of this colorwork motif could be ruined if I tried, it's too classic.  I love that I've got a stash busting, bulky, vintage, tv-inspired, comfy knit all in one.

Now, I debated with myself about adding the Ease drawstring collar and doing the motif around it, but decided that was just too much warmth for me.   In worsted, though, that would be cool.

The next knit I do from Alicia better be Cooldown.  I obviously, can't get enough of the raglan baseball look.  If SSKAL is extended, I might even finish the sleeves for my Pomme de Pin.  Maybe.
Longest post ever!  Check out the other finished knits for this KAL in the Ravelry thread.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Bowdoin Hat

Bowdoin, by Laura McDougal, was my other Holla Knits Summer Knit-along project.  I can't believe I finished two.  I think this is the best weight of hat for where I live.  It's airy and light and wouldn't necessitate me taking it off every time I get in the car or walk into a building during the winter.   It would be much more like an accessory instead of just being a necessity.

It was also a lot of fun to knit up!  I used size 2 needles and Tosh Sock in Jade.  I so love this colorway.   I didn't make any modifications, but for the next one I knit, I will.  I can't knit finely with fingering weight yarn, which gives me a larger, slouchy hat.  That's a good look, but I feel like I can't see the tilted blocks motif as well because of it.  So, for my second hat, I'll probably reduce stitches and maybe leave off the last pattern repeat.  Like I said, it still looks good, like other slouchy hats I've knit, but check out Cheryl's mustard colored Bowdoin to see how it could look if I was just a normal knitter.  Ah, to be a normal knitter.

This selfie is the pits, as only selfies with hats can be, but you can see enough of the tilted blocks stitch pattern.  This is the kind of project I like to work on between lengthy sweater projects.  It's quick and lets me use that much coveted yarn I can usually only afford in single skeins.  It also leaves me lots of extras for that sock scrap blanket.

Laura has another really cute, classic hat pattern, Setauket, inspired by Turn.  I'd like to get a natural tweed, like she used, for that one.  It's the kind of thing I could just tack onto a Knit Picks order sometime.  Turn is one on Netflix I haven't seen yet, but have wanted to try.

But the knit I really, really want to knit of Laura's is Rolling Thunder.  I want to knit it in Cotlin, in really groovy colors.  I think the Cotlin will extend the amount of time I can wear it.  I'm trying to move to cotton blends from so much wool, but it's really hard.  Everything knits up easier in wool.

I gotta say, it feels good to get so many things off the needles after it seeming like nothing was moving for weeks and weeks.  So, what are you guys casting on for Fall?  Stuff you need, or stuff you want?