Sunday, December 30, 2007

Lustful Silk Corset the Second - Sleeved


Yes, it's true. Two sweaters in 3 days.

Pattern: Annie Modesitt's Silk Corset
Yarn: Alchemy Silk, colourway Gold Grace (I believe) not sure how many hanks, I think it was about three

I'll admit to the innumerable souls who read this bloggy that the first silk corset I made does not get much wear. There's three reasons for this:
1 - The no-sleeves aspect makes the corset slide off my shoulders, annoying me to a rather high degree.
2 - The silk stretched, too much for me to be happy. By normal-people standards it's fine, but in my highly self-conscious mind I feel frumpy.
3 - (and this one is just mainly a by product of reason #2) I think I look fat in it.

So, to allay these fears, I made it longer, added sleeves, made it smaller around the ribcage/waist, and blocked it much less.


I feel like a boxed chocolate wearing this (in the very best way one can feel like a boxed chocolate). The orange-filled ones have always been my favourite.

I was playing with the idea of adding beads, but am unsure as to the best way to attach them. I'd like very small beads, which don't fit onto the yarn.

Off to knit on another long-neglected knit.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Malabrigo; an Ode

Garn Studio Jacket (at least, inspired by the ubiquitous Garn Studio Jacket)

Pattern: Garn Studio A-Line Jacket
Yarn: Malabrigo Worsted in colourway Sunset - 4 skeins, almost exactly
Buttons: retro find at MacFab
Things I'd change: Not really so much this time. I have issues with the yarn dye, because during knitting it kept coming off on my hands. It looked like I was a smoker.
I soaked it in a vinegar/water mix, then some Soak (the citrus scent). It smells great so far, but I suspect it's still going to let loose some dye.
I credit the Malabrigo Lovers group on Ravelry for some yarn guidance - they mentioned something about microwaving yarn to set in the dye, which will be my next step if colour issues persist.


How I modded:
I didn't really follow much of the Garn Studio pattern. I was inspired by randomcyn's jacket, being a top-down raglan.
I made sure it was extra wide, so it would sit on my shoulders. I just worked a regular ol' top-down raglan, keeping the whole body straight and maintaining the double moss border until it was as long as I wanted (that was just as I finished the second ball).
I put the button holes wherever I felt like.



The neckline was just picked up after I finished the body and sleeves. I had to nip in at the shoulders a bit because it was quite wide - I picked up every 3 stitches, skipped the fourth.
I added an extra button at the top of the funnel neck.

If anyone would like some more mod notes, I'd be happy to oblige!


The Malabrigo, other than the dye-coming-off issues, is gorgeous. It survived all the soaking and washing wonderfully, and feels so soft. Highly recommended. Possibly my new favourite!

One with the collar down.


***Pattern Mod Notes***

Needles: 5.5 mm (now orangely stained)
Yarn: used thusly
2 skeins for body (plus a very small bit from the third. The last inch of the body is from the third skein).
1 skein for both sleeves (I had a very small bit left over from the third skein)
1 skein for the collar (once again, I had a very small bit left over. I just kept knitting til most of the yarn was gone).

I cast on 164 stitches. Sounds excessive, but here’s how I divided it up:

RIGHT SLEEVE|20 sts (that's "Right Sleeve" when you're wearing it)
| 14 sts
| 20 sts
| 20 sts
| 20 sts

52 sts

You can see some good instructions on how to do a top-down raglan from Grumperina’s Picovoli.
Be warned: I didn’t make exact notes on how I increased for the sleeves. I started by increasing every RS row, but found that due to the gauge of the yarn the sleeves were getting far too big far too quickly. The beauty of the top-down is that you can try it on as you go. I highly encourage this.

Once my sleeves fit, I just maintained the pattern for the body all the way down, doing no shaping, but adding the button holes when I thought they’d look good (one above the chest, one right below the bust, and one near the waist for definition. I was afraid that the sweater would make me look boxy and frumpy without it).

The bottom edge is just about an inch of 2x2 ribbing. Make sure to cast off semi-tightly. The first time I CO for the sweater it was far too loose, and flipped up unattractively.

Just picked up and knit down. I only decreased about an inch, made them about a ¾ length, and had 2.5 inches of double moss at the bottom edge.

Simple simple simple!
All I did was pick up every 3 stitches along the neckline, skipping every fourth (because it was just a tad too wide, and fell off my shoulders.)
I worked the whole thing as a continuation of the double moss from the lapels. I must admit I did nip in the sleeves, but only slightly. I did this by placing markers in the same spot they were for the sleeves. I just decreased once on each side of each marker (taking off 8 sts in total), then worked for a while. Remember when you’re working to keep in the double moss pattern. The “odd stitches” created by decreasing disappear into the collar; I can’t seem to find them now! (sorry I can’t be more specific on where I put the decreases – I didn’t write it down, and can’t see it now in the collar!)
I tried it on along the way, and I decreased the same way I did above once more.
The entire collar is about 11.5 inches long.
Don’t forget to add a button hole into the collar – I put mine just about at the collar-bone level.

Happy Knitting!

Any questions, clarifications, etc, please comment.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Wintery Waterhouse Wallhanging

Or; how I got my feet wet in quilting.


Interesting beaded close-up:


From the back:


How I made it:

Got creative. As with most of the crafting endeavours I involve myself in, I sort of winged it. I took out a book of quick Christmas quilts from the local library, and that's where I got the fancy star-pointy corners.
The lovely silk Waterhouse print was an eBay purchase.
Most of the fabric came from Fabricland, but some also came from the Quilt Rack.
Ribbon, from Michael's:

Wallhanging - on blog

I haven't mastered the art of hanging the thing (or any part of quilting, for that matter). The binding I did for this was my very first, and it was like magic when I flipped over the lip and saw an (almost perfect) edging!

I had to fudge an awful lot of the pieces - clearly, I cannot measure, or do even rudimentary geometry. Thankfully, this was a small project, and I bought loads of fabric for the inevitable mistakes.

This one now "graces" my bedroom door.

Here's a puzzle for you: it's now very floppy. How can I make it flatten out and lie neatly against the wall? The batting is acrylic, so ironing is out (at least, I assume so).

Wallhanging - on blog

Monday, December 17, 2007

What to do with Leftovers? the Felicity Hat Edition

Yet another reason why I love ravelry:

Here's the latest FO from the sanctuary.
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Pattern: Felicity Hat
Yarn: about 1.5 skeins of leftover Karaoke from my Central Park Hoodie
Things I'd change: absolutely nada. I love this hat very, very much. It fit so perfectly, and I didn't have to change a thing from the pattern. Highly recommended. Thanks so much to Wanett (I've just used her ravelry name). My head will be warm and fashionable this winter!

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Friday, December 14, 2007

Canaries deserve Christmas too

And here they are with their stockings:
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A reluctant Ives and his stocking.

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A very worried Butters and his stocking.

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Hilts, checking out his stocking.

Now that a winter storm is here, I settle down into my warm bed for some sleep.
And the boys on their perches, spheres of feathery cuteness.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Things that are Yummy

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Some of my favourite yummy things: lavender tea, handmade yellow mug and a lemon Larabar.

A time out from your normal knitting blog, and a quick survey:

What is it that most attracts you to a pattern?
I know I've scoped out patterns for their infinite change-ability, their intricacy, their wear-ability, and in some cases the fact that the pattern is just what I need to use up x yarn.

I have a thunderingly long queue on ravelry, and I'm trying to make it coherent. I suppose it doesn't have to be, but if I can get to the bottom of what I likes about a pattern, then perhaps I won't make mistakes in selecting appropriate knitting activities (as I have done in the past). Castastro-knits. Yes, I've had my share.

Oh, and a quick side note: any of you use Malabrigo yet? I've heard only good things, but I want to hear the bad! Prepare me, man. I'm set to undertake the ubiquitous Garn Studio A-Line jacket in Sunset. I loves me my orange yarn.
I even found the perfect button* for it in Mac Fab on Tuesday.
Mmm, buttony goodness.... (I will spare you the unnecessary button photos for a later date. As per usual, I couldn't make up my mind and bought about 4 or 5 different buttons, so I could decide later.)

*of course, the perfect button had not a mate in sight. I was sold the button off the front of the box, but alas! What to do with only one perfect button when you need three matching ones? These and other gripping tales of the fascinating journey from yarn hanks to finished jacket to follow.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Alpaca - the first in an ongoing series

Alpaca, my dear friend;

I've knit a few items with this lurvley, soft and rather inviting yarn. And who could resist something that comes from such an adorable critter?

Since I made the mistake (twice, at least) of mismatching fibre and project, I thought it may be helpful to someone out there (and it will certainly help me!) to clarify the pros and cons of certain fibres, illustrating of course with all my knitting mis-steps.

Alpaca: the warm South American

usually very soft
hollow fibre allows for even greater warming-capabilities than wool
animal secretes little lanolin, making this fibre nearly hypoallergenic
natural colours of alpaca come in over 20 shades, for those of us interested in fair isle knitting avec natural colours
(depending on how you look at it) alpaca doesn't felt as easily as wool

has less elastic memory than wool
may have a tendency to shed
because of the smoothness of the alpaca, it'll show all your mistakes (even the teeny ones)

These are important points to keep in mind when knitting with this luxury fibre. I quite admire the alpaca's warms and buttery-softness, but did not take into account it's tendency to stretch (and not sproing-back). Victims of this have been my Fair Isle U-Neck (knit with an alpaca-silk blend) and more recently my bulky Pithy hat (knit with %100 alpaca).

Seems to me that if you don't mind the stretch, then a pure alpaca (or a blend of alpaca with an equally in-elastic fibre) would be suitable for many different projects. If you don't much care for a stretched-out garment, then stick to alpaca blends with fibres like wool, which does have a wonderful sproing-back-to-the-way-I-made-you tendency, or just use your precious alpaca for garments that don't have to fit (eg: scarf, shawl).

Knitter's Review reviews of several alpaca yarns.

Alpaca Yarns I've used with satisfaction:
Elegance (Knitpicks)
Sulka (Mirasol)
Blue Sky Alpaca Bulky

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Gots to get: the Santa Hat Edition

Just a quick one...

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Pattern: Santa Hat from Handknit Holidays
Yarn: Lion Brand Thick and Quick in deep garnetty red and cream
Things I fudged: Quite a few. I cast on something like 60 stitches. I used yarn that was not on gauge (as per my usual MO). Since I wasn't on gauge, I had to get creative with the decreases. In the end, I have a santa hat that's a wee bit big, even for my noggin.
I've had this book for over a year and a half now, and this is the first FO I have from it. I'm quite pleased.

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Saturday, December 01, 2007

Warm December Greetings to you...

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While I sit here pondering the possibilities of cashmere-golden goodness, as-yet-to-be-formed Christmas gifts and the surprisingly tasty/incongruous pairing of chili spice and dark chocolate, I find my brain whizzing through the imaginary library catalogue I maintain and coming up with no satisfactory results for my next read.
Can anyone suggest any wintery/Decembery sorts of novels to put one in the merry-making spirit?
Last year it was Dickens' "Christmas Carol" (slightly obvious, I know. But I was having difficulty coming up with a seasonally-themed novel then, as well).
They say a storm is on the way tonight. It's perfect reading weather!

Now, if I could only fit a fireplace in my apartment...