Friday, June 29, 2012

Woot!

I told you I had happier thoughts on the way.  Here's one... my Armoirmeurs pattern is officially live!!!

Armoirmeurs 3

Armoirmeurs 4

I like to surreptitiously call them the anti-sweater - for those summer days that make packing a sweater seem revolting, until you feel the wonders of modern air conditioning.  The pattern is free, and while I don't hand you your measurements on a silver platter, I worked hard to make it versatile and fairly user-friendly.

One of the details I enjoyed using in the design is the tubular cast-on.  There are multiple ways to work a tubular cast-on, but have you seen Ysolda's video?  I found it to be wonderful, even if it's not state-of-the-art. The method she describes doesn't use any waste yarn, and is basically just a slight bit trickier than a normal longtail cast-on.  As one of my wonderful test knitters noted, this method is genius. Love it.  Go try it out!

Speaking of test knitters, I am very grateful to the people who have generously been extra eyes and hands and brains to help me sift through the mass of issues that came up during a process that I thought would be fairly simple to execute.  Writing a pattern is not a light task!  At least not for the way my mind works.  I have that much more respect for yarn shop owners and designers who somehow manage to turn out patterns that people actually knit, time and time again.  Kudos!  Me?  I need all the help I can get, so thank you, test knitters!

Armoirmeurs 5

Also, a special thanks to dearest Kristine, who helped manage my iPhone like a pro.  Well, actually, she is a pro... check her out!  Isn't she so much better when given good subjects and a decent camera?  :)

Now is your chance to take the new pattern out for a ride and let me know how you like it.  It's nothing fancy, but I've been encouraged that at least a few people have found it to be both useful and enjoyable; maybe you will too!  Even if arm warmers just aren't your cup of tea, I thank you for stopping by and reading here.  Come again!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

So much for team spirit.

Warning: this post is not as positive as I usually like to keep things here.  I promise I have some exciting and happy stuff to post, but I'll keep it separate.

It has come to my attention that the United States Olympics Committee has decided to send a "cease and desist" letter to the folks over at Ravelry, because, as they see it,

"We believe using the name “Ravelympics” for a competition that involves an afghan marathon, scarf hockey and sweater triathlon, among others, tends to denigrate the true nature of the Olympic Games.  In a sense, it is disrespectful to our country’s finest athletes and fails to recognize or appreciate their hard work."

It's understandable that they would view using trademarks such as the Olympic symbols or calling one's business "the official training blah-blah for the Olympics" - people pay big bucks for that. But for the rest of us without corporate wallets, how do we enter into the Olympics?  Sure, one way is to buy stuff from the paid supporters. Another way is to hold your own microcosm of the big event through parties and competitions -- things that raise awareness and interest. This, in turn, tends to lead to buying the "stuff" of said paid supporters.  What used to be called the Ravelympics and the Knitting Olympics was a way of bringing people in to engage the sports on a new level, and even reaching an audience that might not otherwise support the Olympic team.  Basically, the USOC declared that they would rather have a smaller audience that only wants to watch and pay and drink, and leave the competition to the 'real' athletes only.  Because that's respectful.  Not inspiring people in their 'average joe' life to strive for excellence.  It's no longer even pretending to be about the solidarity of a nation.  And, sadly, this letter makes the Olympics feel just that much more like any other professional sport -- something on TV that I can just as well live without.


Post Script: I'm coming to the discussion a bit late. The Here's a link to the USOC's response to the uproar in the knitting community. It does not make me feel better about their initial statement.  The knitting community is still carrying on the competitions and events, but cannot call them "Olympic."  Meh.  What's the point, then?

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Lace blocking, my friend, it has been too long!

Happy Summer!

Here's my last FO of the spring : a bit of lace that's been about a year in the making!  

The Dover Castle Shawl is a great bit of lace and a nice knit; I'm glad I buckled down and finally finished it. 

Shawl Full


Shawl light

Shawl 1

Dover Castle 3

I even like the reverse.  I figure if I can walk around wearing this kerchief, I can just as well wear it wrong-side-out.  Maybe it's a little less recognizable or something, but it reminds me of the trend in clothing that puts the seams on the outside as a design element in the name of being more "rugged" or hip.  Not that I think I can wear this to a skate park and fool anyone, heheh.


Shawl Reverse

I apologize for the picture quality.  Carol of Black Bunny Fibers dyed the CashSock base in a beautiful grey that suits the lace too well to pass up.  I am always excited to knit up another project in her yarns; in fact, I currently still have another lace shawlette on the needles in one of her colorways.

Speaking of "on the needles," I'm working away at a testknit for a new shawl designer, and I think you'll be interested in the result.  It's bold design and a fairly simple knit.  Here are the colors I'm using as a teaser:

Testing

Also on the lines of testing, much thanks to the interest people have shown in testing out my armwarmers pattern!  A few people have already finished, and now I gotta get my rear in gear and spruce up the written pattern.  Woot!  

Here's a picture of the first prototype, before a few tweaks.  Madelinetosh yarn photographs so beautifully, even for someone with my inexperience! Can you see a color fixation? 

Armoirmeurs Prototype 1

Have a great summer, and keep knitting! 

P.S. And for you Southern Hemisphere blokes, happy winter!

P.P.S.  Edit: Um, I don't know what I was thinking, but the Dover Castle Shawl is knit in Black Bunny Fibers Softsilk Sock (50% merino, 50% silk).  This is why I keep the labels... in the event that I might one day find them and need to correct myself.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

When it rains, it pours, apparently.

Third post in two days.  Sick, man!

How about a finished object?  It's the Age of Brass and Steam Kerchief, made with a special skein of Bugga! bought by my sweetie on our visit to Maryland Sheep and Wool. I added a section repeat to make it bigger, planning to add a color stripe at the end.  It turned out that I was forced to do that color stripe anyway, because I only had about a foot of Bugga! left after the last eyelet section!  I love how it came out.

Brass and Steam 4

Brass and Steam 3

Brass and Steam 1

So, that's that.

Now, onto other news... I bit the bullet and finished typing up the arm warmers pattern! Now I'm looking for a few brave souls who would like to try it out while I fine-tune things. Is anybody out there tired of being cold in the summertime?  

Friday, June 1, 2012

Spring Progress Report

You may notice from the sidebar that I have a lot of works in progress going on right now. Remember how I have been saying I'm "working on things," even though I haven't shown much for it? Here's a progress report:

Grannies blanket: I currently have all the squares done, and they're waiting to be joined into a little lapghan.
Grannies' grannies

Armoirmeurs prototype: I'm working my way down the second arm, and am feeling good about it.  Once I can finish getting it on paper, I'll be looking for a couple test knitters to try out the pattern. 

Armoirmeurs

Kiddie Socks: I was gonna make little kiddie-sized versions of my sister's sandal socks, but took too long to finish. Now I am dropping the "sandal" part during the summer and just making normal toes for this particular pair.  In lieu of a picture of these, how about a pic of my sister's sandal socks, photographed Christmas morning? (They had been finished an hour or two earlier.)



Meadow Socks: First done, second cast on. The blue-green yarn is a Blue Faced Leicester wool yarn dyed by Fyberspates. I grabbed it on a visit to Carol's shop down in Bridgeton, NJ; I first met Carol on a bus trip to Maryland Sheep and Wool a year or two back. For an area that's not exactly thriving with great yarn, I was delighted to find some little gems in her shop. I felt that the yarn called for size US 0 needles, and it's gonna be one great-wearing sock, although I can't exactly say I love knitting at that gauge.
Sock 1

198 Yards of Heaven and Dover Castle shawls: still plugging away now and then. Lace doesn't lend itself to reading at the same time, and the pace life has been, I've taken a lot of solace in easy knitting.
2 shawls in progress

More Fish Hats: Here's a baby version using orange Koigu and green Zarina Baby Print, with tweaked numbers.  I'm so excited for it.  It's gonna be craaazy!
Baby fish

Milkweed Shawl: I'm using the same yarn that comprises the toe of the Meadow Socks. Not the cushiest stuff out there, but I like the color.

Shur'tugal Socks: You can't see it in the picture, but I've since turned the heel.  Really an interesting knit with nicely planned details when I need a project with a little extra kick.  

PGR Socks: I couldn't wait for all the other socks to be finished to try a a different construction as presented by Priscilla Gibson-Roberts in her book, Simple Socks Plain & Fancy. The thing that strikes me about her approach is that she appeals to sock construction through history and various cultures, as well as modern techniques utilized in the socks purchased at your local department store. It makes for an interesting read, and it's available in the Kindle store.

Whew! Well, there you have it: most of my active works in progress. I've missed being able to finish a project and hold a fun photo shoot, but this helped scratch the itch.

What are you currently working on?  How many projects do you find yourself juggling at a time? 

I'm a bag lady

I admit that I am not one of those cool people who walks around in cool clothing but no coat to bulk up their figure, no wallet to make their pockets bulge, and no bags to throw their profile off balance. In fact, I generally have the look of a two-legged pack horse. I love taking my knitting (and the occasional spinning) with me wherever I go, so that no moment is lost.  Yes, I'm a guy, but I have come to love bags. They are the means for keeping my projects portable, but most of them are simple canvas totes I've obtained for free when other people had the sense to get rid of them.  The problem I am finding is that many of them become easy to confuse with each other, besides looking sloppy.

My sweetie surprised me with a very special present a while back, made by one of the gals from knitting group - my own set of custom-made bags!  

Bags family

The colors are a lot of fun, and definitely jive with the fixation I've had on bright green and its neighbors. But the thing that gets me is the canvas used for the outside.  The designer's words, "I think the canvas outside gives it just enough structure to not collapse, but they’re still crushable if you want to stuff them all into a larger bag."  Word.  There's something about the combination of the fabrics that I love from a tactile standpoint... maybe I'm just not used to being pampered with lined bags.  Check out the lining on these babies:

Bags 5

Bags 4

Bags 3

Bags 1

The little zippered pouches are perfect for sock projects, being wider at the bottom to welcome a ball of yarn.  But I think my favorite is the little drawstring bag, since portability goes hand in hand with multitasking.  And maybe it's the odd one out, and I like that.  Anyway, it's a good thing there's a big sack, because I find myself using all of them at once. 

Our friend has an etsy store called Llama Star Creations. From knitting with her, I can tell you a dirty secret.  She's nuts.  She pops out amazingness without thinking twice.  Yep.  She's one of those annoying people who knit things that most people wouldn't have the patience to finish, and does it at lightning speed, and still manages to turn out incredible project bags and other goodies. If you don't see a lot in her store but like what you see, go send her a message.  I happen to know she's working on more bags at the moment.