Saturday, March 28, 2009

Detective Canary and the Case of the Confounding Conundrum

Where oh where has my knitting time gone?
Oh where, oh where can it be?

I'm confounded by this conundrum: Ostensibly, the days-getting-longer approaching springtime should instill a vigour and energy, wherein my knitting-self desires nothing better than said craft, and there exists oodles of time upon which to work with the yarnny magic.

But by some devious workings of the universe, I come home everyday, perform what I believe to be the tasks I always have, and suddenly it's sleepytimes for me.

And so another week begins in the CanaryHomestead, with renewed goals and ever-growing lists of To-Do. I think topping the list is discovering where that off-switch exists, that one that makes your mind stop racing and jumping and shouting ideas at you while you try to fall to a slumber. (maybe it's that switch by my kitchen door which, seemingly, has no detectable purpose!)

/end whining

My Curious Minds Want To Know:

If you were going to knit yourself a wedding shawl*, which pattern would you choose?

I have a few ideas stowed away so far:
This pretty shawl has been on my to-knit list since it was published in Knitty last spring. Something about those cool little curving end-bits really intrigues me, and I think it looks real purdy. I particularly enjoy how it's got two sizes in the pattern to choose from (I prefer the smaller).
The triangular shape isn't usually my bag, but in this instance, I believe I can live with it.

Oh, the sacrifices one makes for beautiful fashion.

Also by the same designer, and published in this spring's Knitty, Aeolian is mondo rawkin. It's got some of the same great design elements as Laminaria, and added to the fun is the suggestion of adding beads to the knit itself. I like the intricacy of the floral edging. Would look pretty dramatic when spread out, across one's shoulders.
Methinks it might also make for a pretty elegant scarf to wear after the nuptials are all said and done.

Luna Moth
Luna Moth Shawl
This shawl, being of a simpler lace repeat, is a lot less intimidating. Not that I've never knit lace before, but I'm not used to knitting to actual, real life deadlines. Given, I do have over a year to knit this baby, but I've been known to procratiknit. It's certainly not unheard of (ahem - Bee Sweater been on the needles for like, two years! *cough*cough)

Snow Peacock
Snow Peacock
This guy is a bit different - the whole wrappy thing taken to another level. I like the wide undulations along the bottom edge. I'm also a fan of the feather-like qualities of the lace pattern.
It's particularly appropriate, since the full title of the knit is Snow Peacock Bridal Veil.
The designer, Tonks who you've probably heard of, has some kickass knits to her design-name.

In the Pink
In The Pink
A cute shawl such as this must be knit at some point - just not sure if it's got the right, "tone", for a wedding shawl. What d'ya think?
I really love the swirls, and like the knit above, I enjoy the wrap-around-your-shoulders design.


Like the Snow Peacock above, I dig the feathery quality of the lace design.
My mind, she's no made up.

*shawl can be substituted for stole, wrap, or any other kind of lacey prettiness which one can drape and/or wrap around oneself in an artful and, dare I say, graceful manner.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Indie Designer Day

PhotobucketDesigner: Trish Woodson
Blog: ttwcreative: making beautiful things out of yarn
Rav ID: ttwcreative
Some Great Designs: ttwcreative's Rav Designer Page

In a recent discussion with a knitting-friend, we came to the conclusion that bulkier yarns are not always the easiest to work with. I think it takes a particular talent to design something with a thick string o' yarn, and ttwcreative has harnessed the best qualities of this weight and used them with very pleasing effects in her designs!

Her knit, My Kind of Town Cowl (pictured), practically depends on the interplay of yarn and shape. See her blog or her Rav projects page for numerous ways of wearing it!

Lynn's Shrug is another cool demonstration of how bulky yarn can really work. I love how this piece is multidirectional; it adds subtle texture change and interests in the knit. And, get ready for me to BLOW YOUR MIND!: it's actually a seamless design.

Yeppers, a designer after my own heart :)

Saturday, March 21, 2009

The Tale of the Crafty Crow - Part the First

PhotobucketGenerally I don't post about my WIPs. This is down to the fact that I
1) have no creative ideas about photographing said works and
2) have this paranoia that I'll not fulfill my reader's expectations, since I so rarely fulfill my own!

But, this year is my year of embracing challenges, and so I've decided to tell the tale of my designing process with my most recent knit, Corvidae.

(The picture shown here to the right is a beautiful crow, taken by Vincent J. Musi. There's a very cool National Geographic article that goes along with this aviary portrait, if you'd like an interesting read).

I've been interested, for rather a long time now, in the idea of creating my own lace design. And not just any lace design - I'm thinking big(ish) and non-repeating. Something that will create a "picture", something other than cables and colourwork, to create a design feature that would be a flattering focus and unique addition to a simple garment.

Enter the inspiration: a day spent clothes shopping and the lovely black crow.

I like to try on clothes, and see how different shapes actually work on me (usually I'm right about my estimations of what would be good and what would be very, very bad). But there's always those rare pleasant surprises, of which my new little open, short, and drapey cardi is one. I bought it in brown, but it dawned on me that this type of garment would be perfect to try out my lace designing ideas.

The fortuitous swapping of yarn between myself and a particular purple-yarn-loving friend (and you know who you are!) gave me the opportunity to cast on straight away. I knew I wanted something with a very small gauge, and so the springy black sock yarn included in said swap jumped on to my needles and away I went!

At this point I've only completed the right front panel, and am currently knitting on the left one. The lace design (which will be based on the silhouette of a crow) will sit on the back, aligned with the right side. He's going to be big, and he's going to require some extreme mental calisthenics, but I feel ready for the challenge.

Next time: Lace Plotting, and wrapping my brain around it.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Indie Designer Day

Designer: Shannon M. Simonelli
Blog: Welcome to the Knitosphere
Rav ID: Shanny
Some Great Designs: Shanny's Rav Designer Page

Winter knits? On this, the first day of spring? I think toques are one of the most perfectest knits out there - and so I display this lovely hat as a wonderful example of Shanny's designing talent.

I love a knit with a good story, and Tuesday's Miracle (pictured right) has a lovely one. I've recently been eyeing up cable patterns, and I love this one for its boldness and simplicity.

Another toque from Shanny is the colourworked Vermont Hat. The way the two colour patterns play off of each other reminds me of an Escher :)

And, in a nod to the new season beginning today, there's the very cute Felted Vase, a pattern created to hold some lovely hand knit flowers (specifically, those found here on Knitty).

Happy Spring!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Park Pretty

The lovely weather beckoned me outside and away from my knitting to a much admired park near my parent's home. I got some pretty pics, and thought I might share with ya'll what I've been doing instead of crafting.


Sunday, March 15, 2009

That 70s Sweater

Pattern: My 70s Sweater
Yarn: KnitPicks Wool of the AndesPhotobucket

Why I like it: I've actually finished a practically perpetual WIP. As of late, those've been piling up on me.
I also got to play with intarsia, which is fun (save for the nightmare of ends one has to weave in). It was also a chance to try out a different KnitPicks yarn, and experiment with collars and necklines.

Why is there an obviously-missing tree in the back there, right there, so clear that anyone could notice it?:
Well, I not good for maths, and coupled with the tear-inducing idea of ripping back intarsia, I made the executive decision to just let it go.

My opines on the yarn: good for what you're paying. It's snugly, and decent to knit with. It's springy and soft enough so as not to be itchy in the least. I believe it also has a decent range of colours, so you can get nice an creative with your colourwork.

Though for me, I think colourwork is on its way out (for a few projects, at least!)

Friday, March 13, 2009

Indie Designer Day

Designer: Leo
Blog: Hungry Knitter
Rav ID: laurenO
Some Great Designs: laurenO's Rav Designer Page

Today I'm going to focus on one beautiful pattern: laurneO's Herringbone Cowl. This knit (generously offered for free) is one of those one-skein wonders you dream about. A perfect combination of yarn (Manos Silk Blend) and design (simple herringbone texture and basic circular cowl construction). Each plays off the strengths of the other. The delicate nuances of colour in the hand-dyed yarn, along with the sheen provided by the silk, allows the beauty of the herringbone stitch to shine. Of course, the practicality of having a wool-blend for a cowl is pretty evident: in this case, it also lends the elasticity needed for an over-the-head accessory, ensuring that the knit won't stretch out to sad-and-possibly-unwearable proportions.

I do realize that Spring is coming on. But I shun it and its non-knit wearing warmth, and direct the reader to remember that winter always comes back around, and you can never be too prepared :)

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Knitting Stubbornly; Or, How I've Gracefully Surpassed the Stubbornness

In the last post I said there were a few skills that I'd chosen to ignore. Today's post outlines a few of the techniques that were once on that "gracefully ignore" list, and have subsequently moved in to the "knitting bits I've accomplished" basket (and why it was worth-my-while to move them there!)

One-time Avoidance #1: The Turned Hem
"Provisional cast-on" still strikes just that tiny bit of fear into my heart. But after playing with this technique a few times, its benefits are clear. I had one of those giddy ah-ha! moments when first I turned a hem. The end result was so pretty, and really didn't require all that much mental calisthenics.
Why it was worth my while: Having the ability to turn a hem takes away the necessity of ribbing (or some other such flat-lying-knit-fun), and of course ribbing isn't a desirable effect for every garment.

One-time Avoidance #2: The Circular Needle
They used to freak me out with all their bendy freakiness. I was an adamant dpn user for the first year or so of my knitting.
Why it was worth my while: One word - Interchangeables! They make me a very happy knitter indeed. Not to mention the ease of seamless knitting when you use circs.

One-time Avoidance #3: The Cable Charting
Once I took the time to understand a chart, I knew I wanted to be able to make those twisty turns twist and turn in my very own, rather unique, ways. I thought it might be a difficult task, but referring to Eunny's Unventing a Cable post, I overcame the technique fear.
Why it was worth my while: It entirely broke down my fear of the intricate cable. There are so many lovely cable designs out there that look intimidating, but once you understand how to "unravel" them, they suddenly seem accomplish-able.

One-time Avoidance #4: The Gauge Swatch
Ok, ok, I don't actually do gauge swatches, but I do pay attention to gauge.
I personally don't advocate the making of the swatch just to be a swatch. I can't do it myself, because it seems to me a large, and very sad, waste of beautiful yarn. Instead I put my inital trust in the yarn label, cast on, see how accurate it is (and honestly, it usually isn't) and then frog back and re-cast on accordingly. Wasted time? Possibly. Wasted yarn? Not at all.
Why it was worth my while: Ease is everything. I very quickly got sick of patterns that were waaay too big on me. And I also very rarely had the same yarn to hand as called for in the pattern. Subbing and modding was, is, and always will be, my lifeblood.

One-time Avoidance #5: The Short-Row Shaping
The whole "wrap and turn" thing messed with my head, and, being a fan of the extreme negative ease, I didn't see the use for this technique.
Why it was worth my while: Duh, totally fun shaping! My most recent applications of it have been on necklines (see Gaets and Arethusa for examples). I'm sure I'll be able to whip that one out for other garment aspects, but the neckline applications alone are exciting!

One-time Avoidance #6: The *gasp* crochet
Other than the afghan and decorative toilet-paper-roll-cover, I once saw no need for this skill.
Why it was worth my while: So many reasons! Crochet does have limitations, but partnered with knitting, a few basic stitches go a long way. See my one-time avoidance #1 for a great application. It also creates an "i-cord" with great ease, and allows for pretty little details (see scalloped edges on Anne Elliot neckline).

Monday, March 09, 2009

Knitting Stubbornly; Or, How I Chose To Gracefully Ignore

I've been described (by a few people) as stubborn. In line with my usual attempts to make a definite negative into a possible (though questionable) positive, here is my list of knitting skills/techniques and other bobs that I've chosen to "gracefully ignore", and (if appropriate) the way I've gotten myself around them.
(lest you think I'm a whiner who constantly and consistantly avoids, stay tuned for tomorrow's post where I'll outline all the skillz I forced myself to learn, and why I'm really glad I did).

Avoidance #1: The Steek
I've not gotten over the *gasp* of cutting one's own, precious, knitting. Admittedly, this is basically because I haven't looked into the steeking process all that much.
Way I've gotten around it: choosing not to knit the beautiful knits that take advantage of this particular technique. Yes, not the greatest knit-role model ever, but there it is. I'll add this caveat: steeking is on my list of things to accomplish this year.

Avoidance #2: The Set-In Sleeve
or, more specifically, Designing the Set-In Sleeve. I've knit them before, but have not chosen to master the (most probably) simple mathematical equations required to skilfully manufacture a sleeve that sets in how it's supposed to. Let alone re-size a knit to make sure that a sleeve will set in how it's supposed to.
Way I've gotten around it: the wonders of the raglan. Knitting garments (wonderfully) have numerous ways of construction. My current favourite is the bottom-up raglan. This happily avoids the set-in sleeve math, as well as decreasing and all seaming!

Avoidance #3: The Throwing-Your-Yarn Technique
or, Knitting English Style
This skill, I understand, is particularly helpful when one is creating a colourwork knit (in tandem with the continental method).
Way I've gotten around it: plugging along with my yarn-pickin' method, generally inducing an aversion to said knitting style.

Avoidance #4: The Sock
While I hear that "there's nothing like a hand-knit sock", I ask, why invest so much time (precious, precious knitting time) and yarn into a garment who's job it is to clothe a foot, absorb it's gross sweat and icky smell, and in many cases ultimately not last all too long due to hole create-age from constant walk-age?

Avoidance #5: The Beautiful Shawls
Yes yes, I've fallen into this trap before. And I have an awful lot of shawls queued. But I've learned this about myself: shawls are just generally not for me. Though I love their beauty so.
Ways I've gotten around it: in this case, I need to let some of the lace-knitting desire out. I try to integrate it into my other, more wearable knits. But I also have plans for a rather large, possibly tedious, lace project for my impending nuptials (stay tuned for that one).

Avoidance #6: The Variegated Yarn
Recently blogged about by the wonderful Cyn, I must address the sneaky tactics of the alluringly lovely variegated yarn. Sitting in their hank, they beckon the colour-file knitter with their gorgeousness. But be forewarned! They never, ever, turn out the way your idealistic knit-brain imagines they will.
Ways I've gotten around it: I have a rule, and it's a very sad one indeed. I am not, under any circumstances, allowed to purchase variegated yarn.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Indie Designer Day

Designer: MacGirlver
Rav ID: MacGirlver
Some Great Designs: MacGirlver's Rav Projects Page

Oh, the things you can do with a creative mind and a modifiable pattern!

MacGirlver has demonstrated some great adaptive skills with her First Sweater (pictured right) and her Diamond Shrug. Both are based on the"Incredible Custom-Fit Raglan", but with the variance in design elements I'd say she's made these knits her own.

I really love the raglan hoodie; I think my favourite part is the spot where the bottom ribbing and the deepest part of the neckline come thisclose to touching.

She also has a beautiful Bag to her designing credit. I don't think I've ever seen a seed stitch matched so nicely with sinuous, rather dramatic cables.

While MacGirlver does not currently publish a blog, she's informed me that she hopes to have one up by this summer. It will include some of her designs; a minidress, some tees, a sweater, a nightie and a bikini.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Indie Designer Profiles: The Archive

tinyowlknitsjaneyfromcanadiaDulle Grietweirdrockstarfiubzdziu
erqusome & loutheperson
Mrs. MK

"Snozberry! Who Ever Heard of a Snozberry!"

Strawberry Jug - on blogEvery now and again some non-crafting post sneaks into this blog. I try my best to keep it of the "very interesting" kind, but in this instance it's filed in the "beautiful object" category.

While I've been living on my own for two years now, I still am lacking some of the basics of kitchen preparedness. It was a last-minute-dash, with a sprinkling of daring ingenuity, which allowed me to locate a suitable large cookie platter for a festive get-together last year.

But no longer! I shall be prepared (at least for all those juices I suppose I'll be mixing) now that I've purchased this lovely, lovely strawberry jug. How can you not smile at a strawberry jug?

(fyi: it's a piece by Portmeirion, from the Eden Fruits collection. There's a bunch of other edibles portrayed beautifully on their pottery, but the strawberries won me over).

Reason for the non-crafting post?: well... my rather sorry excuse for an excuse is the dramatically cold temperatures outside, preventing me from creative photography. I'll also venture forth that I need to locate a willing photographer (who also has to understand the sometimes naughty personality of my camera). But knitting has been done! I swear it. And it shall be seen. Stay tuned.

Oh yes, and if you're, for whatever reason, unfamiliar with the quote in my post title, here's a linky to a YouTube Vid that'll explain it quite nicely.