Friday, March 30, 2012

Indie Designer Revisited

PhotobucketDesigner: Thea Colman
Blog: Babycocktails
Rav ID: babycocktails
Some Great Designs: babycocktails' Rav Designer Page
Original Indie Designer Post: May 7, 2010

I love designers. They inspire me so much.

Especially when I see the prolific and consistently high-quality out-put of talented people like babycocktails.

It was almost exactly two years ago when I first profiled this knitter, and whoo boy, has she given me a lot to talk about!

This is just a brief tasting of the wonderful work babycocktails has done. She's one of those designers who's adept at designing different types of garments, with a variety of design elements. That's no easy task!

It was difficult to pick and choose what to talk about in this post, but I've decided to limit myself to three:

The most recent publication, Vodka Lemonade, you see pictured at the top. With instructions made easy-to-modify, this vintage-vibe spring sweater is both adorable and eye catching. I have a crush on it. Might be the colour, too. Good choice!

Many of babycocktails' patterns are self-published. I get really inspired when I see successful designers who work like this. You can also find at least one of her pieces, Allegheny, published in Brooklyn Tweed's Wool People, along with other fantastic designers such as Stephen West, Anne Hanson, Gudrun Johnston and Olga Buraya-Kefelian.

I have a thing for luscious cables and legwarmers. Vernors Legwarmers is right up my alley: so very pretty, so very functional.

I'd also like to point out her blog: it's really a great read. So, not only is she a fantastic designer, she can write too! I've got yet another knitting idol to look up to! Thanks for the great designs, and looking forward to all to come.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Where's the Ugliest House on the Block?

Someone told me once that if you can't find the ugliest house on your block, it's likely that you're in it.

Methinks that's the situation for my place.

Here's the wee property as it stands.


I've worked and worked on the interior: now that the weather's turning well, it's time for me to focus on the exterior.

I'm a total newb when it comes to gardening, home reno and the like, so I thought it might be fun (maybe more for you, dear readers, than for I, especially when you get to laugh at my foolish failures!) to design, dream and hopefully create this new lawnscape along with ya'll.

First thing I did was peruse magazines, other neighbour's lawn-scaping, and a hefty amount of Pinterest ogling.

I'd LOVE to be able to have a verdant, confusing muddle of a cottage garden, but logic tells me 1) I'm too lazy for the properly cultivated upkeep a seemingly muddle cottage garden needs, and 2) I don't know what the hell I'm doing.

Other constraints include:

-North-facing front lawn
-Zone 4 gardening (I do believe that's North-America-wide, if not: it's the same as the Niagara Region of Ontario).
-and yes, the aforementioned ignorance and possibility that I'm the Angel of Death for plants. Let's hope that's not true.

Herein lies the beginning of the beginnings, with many a (successful!?) update to follow over the coming months.

If you have any gardening tips or suggestions, favourite plants (simple to care for is key for me!) I'd love to hear them.

Thanks everyone! I look forward to reading and learning from your planty knowledge!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

I Knit, and Here's the Proof

Why yes world, I do knit on occasion.
I might be metaphorically winded by my bitty wrist issue, but progress that can be made shall be made.

Herein you see evidence of my knitterly endeavours.Photobucket

This is part of the planned publication of February's YearLong YarnSong. I'm really rather excited to wear it, so the rapidly approaching spring, if nothing else, has spurred me on to completion!
You can't go wearing a wool cardigan in the heat! Or at least, I certainly can't.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Indie Designer Day

PhotobucketDesigner: Emma Grivelli
Rav ID: emmacr
Some Great Designs: emmacr's Rav Designer Page

As the season begins to turn its mind to warmer times, I find it difficult to let go of my cool-weather knitting desires.

There's just too much lovely stuff out there!

To satisfy some cooler springtime knitting, you can look to this week's designer, emmacr.

First up is her embrace. You'd think a cabled top is a cabled top, but this particular cabled top does one of those things I love; the bottom edge ribbing plays wonderfully up into the cables across the body. But the twist here is the length at which those ribs turn into cables. I really dig the extra few inches of ribbing for the central panel!

Another great seasonally-shifting piece is her beret in english. I like this simple wee beret: just the right touch of lace, just the right amount of movement created by the yarn overs and shaping.

But before I bop off to rock with the Rockin Robin (who, incidentally, has been rockin in the tree tops all day long), I'd like to point out the riziere dress. Ah, a dress in fingering weight yarn. A designer after my own heart!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Sexy Vesty - Now In Italian!

Just a quick post today.

Wanted to let you know, thanks to the generous efforts of the Raveler isa1950,
Sexy Vesty is now available in Italian!

Just click on the link, takes you to the pattern page.


Thanks to everyone who weighed in on the colour conundrum on the last post.
Seems like I might have made the wrong choice: the pink Isadora is the clear favourite!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Let Me Tell you a Tale of Two Yarns; Or, a Yarn of Two Tales

I went yarn shopping yesterday.

I'm not supposed to, of course.1 I think that makes it all the more delicious-er.

Anyhow, I went yarn shopping: first to Michaels, to pick up some good old Patons Classic Wool for a current cardigan.

This Michaels happens to be oh-so-close to my LYS; I don't know how I got there. It might have resembled the (now really rather old) commercial with the Fruit Loops "Follow your NOSE!" toucan.

So I arrive at the LYS.

"Got to go in with a plan" I tells myself, I do.
"I'm heading for some warm-weather yarn. Just looking at the cotton. Cotton. Yes. Go for the cotton."

Where's the cotton?

Well, the cotton is on the far side of the shop. I have to wander through the other rooms; rooms filled with colourful sock yarn, shimmering silk/wool blends, and the grand dame mother of them all, the Tosh section.

I don't think I'll ever get tired of looking at madelinetosh yarns.

My dilly-of-a-pickle yesterday was the torturous conflict I found myself caught in: which of these two colours do I purchase?

Here, Teddy Bear.

Here, Isadora.

The conundrum was this: I like both colours, I really do. Both appeared to be good colours for me (there's a handy, very large mirror right next to the yarn, incidentally).

The issue is: I knit to design, design to knit. I rarely pick up knitting that isn't going to become a published design. And, part of publishing designs is choosing yarns that people will find attractive.

Sometimes, that helps me rule out colours. I love me some orange, but it might be a contentious colour, and apt to turn some people off rather than on.

Pink and a neutral brown are pretty safe bets.

So, I'm still standing there, arms full of both yarns.

I figure the brown is the "safer" colour to go with, the pink most beautiful.
Safe, or beautiful.

I was harsh with myself, and put down half my lovingly-cradled horde, retained the other, and sped away quickly to the cotton so as to avoid further indecision.

I ended up taking home the Teddy Bear.

Which would you have chosen?

1I'm on a yarn diet, you see. I have plans for my upcoming cash, and unfortunately, yarn buying isn't, or rather shouldn't, be a part of them.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Indie Designer Day

PhotobucketDesigner: TECHknitter
Blog: TECHknitting
Rav ID: TECHknitter
Some Great Designs: TECHknitter's Rav Designer Page

Fantastic, simple shapes are a hallmark of the work of this week's designer.

I thought the Spice Road Cap (pictured) was a great example to use for this: really, how cool does that look?! So simple, and yet so structural, such a definitive form, with strong lines and neat finishing.

The same aesthetic appears in the Elizabeth Cap. I dig the slouchiness, and the *way* she's created the slouchiness. The flipped-over brim provides a gorgeous swoop, (again, playing with lines) and the structure is fanciful and stylish without being complicated or dated.

And lastly, there's a neat little free pattern, Gaugeless Magic Loop Ski Hat with a TKIO. Featuring a great shape and simple design, I must say I'd love to see more people knit this piece (if only to see it modeled on a variety of people's noggins!)

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Indie Designer Day

PhotobucketDesigner: Elisa McLaughlin
Blog: elisa mclaughlin designs
Rav ID: elisajoy
Some Great Designs: elisajoy's Rav Designer Page

With a great selection of hats/head accessories, this week's designer has patterns that make a great transition from chilly wintery winds to crisp, springtime mornings.

First, I'll show you the wintery stuff.

The picture is of the very pretty Reversible Smocked Hat. I'm keen on it for a few reasons: one of which is the reversibility. I love the just-the-right-amount of slouch, and I've been known to squeal in delight at pom poms. I'm a simple being, sometimes.

The Amazon Stripe Beanie is a really cool, unique-looking hat. With a nifty cinched part, and simple lines of ridges, the texture just pounces on you. This makes for a great March/April hat.

Lastly, I'll point you to the Parisian Twist Headband. This ear warmer is simply elegant: a nice wrap-over twist makes an easy-level project look technically tricky, and gives you a fantastic accessory that can carry you from winter to spring.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Ranty Rant in my Pants; It's my Body and I'll Wear What I Want To

I've been thinking lately.

There's this super dramatic, moralistically encompassing, and horribly guilty-tripping argument going on in my head. I've had it there for years, ever since my feminist switch was turned on.

How can I justify the exorbitant amount of pleasure I get from fashion, beauty and (in particular, and some would say arguably) pedantic and prohibitive television shows like What Not To Wear with my feminist ideals?


For a while there it just ate me up; I thought about constructing internal arguments in regards to sexless, genderless beauty, glorying in the sometimes mystical battle cry of art, culturally symbolic skewerings taking on conceptual levels of probing critique and intellectual insight.

But truthfully, none of those stuck.

It finally dawned on me, as I was staring at one of the many fit-yourself-into-this-shape resources (you know, the ones that compare your face to geometry and your body to fruit?)

I was desperately trying to figure out which one of these face shapes fit me. Yarg! I thought, metaphysical fist shaking, round or heart? ROUND OR HEART! If only they could make it clearer, I'd be able to choose the perfect haircut, dammit!

The thing is, they're right: if you have large (insert body part) and a small (insert body part), and if you dress in XYZ, then you'll draw attention away from your "flaws" and towards your "assets".

The visual principles upon which they're basing the advice are sound.

The problem is 1) the language these guidelines tend to use and 2) the fact that they assume if you have large (insert body part) and a small (insert body part), you want to draw attention away from whatever flaws they claim you have.

What they do is give you an entry point to the information that's predicated upon a series of questions, meant to sort you based on your body shape. This has nothing to do with what you particularly like about your physical self.

These shape comparisons, all these guidelines, they're all pointing you in a direction which will make you (in your flawed humanity) look as much like what you're supposed to look like as possible.1 Using words like flaw and asset make it clear that they're working from this basis: you want to look like (for lack of a better term) Barbie. So logically, your "disproportionate" waist-to-hips ratio should be "disguised", and your "correctly" proportioned bust line, an "asset", should be played up.

What they should do is change their language and general attitude. Treat women like fully actualized adults with a brain and the ability to decide on their own what they like and what they want to do.

But! My brain shouts, the visual principles are sound! They might be talking down to me, they might be assuming I want to accentuate my waist but draw attention away from my non-existent bum, but they're right: wearing a baggy, high-necked sack dress without a belt will make me look like a stumpy and lumpy tent.

Yes, the visual principles are sound. Certain lines, textures, colours, and other tactics will draw attention to one part or disguise another.

The crux of the issue (for me) is this: you need to flip this "advice" around and use these tools, these visual principles, for what YOU want.

Who cares if you're a bloody "pear", "apple", or other such nonsense? Let's be positive here! If there's something about your body that you like, you can use visual principles to accentuate it.

I suppose the easiest way to utilize the existent information would be to work on it backwards. Do you like your bum? Read through the tips/advice for whichever shape happens to glorify the bum and use it for yourself. Skip the stupid sorting questions at the beginning. They just tear down your self confidence and make you feel like dirt anyway.

And that ends my ranty rant.

1 That is, accentuate your sexyhawtbits so that the menz will be able to use you for your express purpose: visual gratification.

Saturday, March 03, 2012

Sugary Learnins'; Or, Cupcake Decorated Part Sixtus

This cupcake class has made me look at the possibilities of apparently humble sugary candy.

In this case, it's Starburst.

Here's the cupcake (meant to look like kids in sleeping bags - I decided I need it to be me.)


What you need

-white icing
-mini marshmallows
-several colours of Starburst
-rolling pin
-jelly beans
-nilla wafer cookie
-brown icing (red, or whatever hair colour you'd like to use)
-plastic baggie, or piping bag

How you do it

It's all about the Starburst here.
Roll out each candy. This is a bit tricky, and you can warm up the candies a bit to make them more easily pliable.

There's all sorts of great ways to decorate your blanket. I didn't get all too creative with mine, but decided I would manipulate the Starburst into a yarn ball and some knitting. Super easy. Just treat the Starburst as though it was silly putty. It's actually pretty simple to work with.

With the white icing, slather some on your cupcake, and place a couple mini marshmallows where your little person's body will be, and one for a "pillow".

You can make the face before you place it on the cupcake or after: the bonus of doing it after is that you can artfully decorate the hair, and have it extend onto the blanket/rest of the cupcake.

Now, for the face:
Using the nilla wafer, pipe hair, eyes and mouth on.
Place on pillow, and then cover with the blanket.


The jelly beans come in for feet and hands. Just slide them under the blanket.

Friday, March 02, 2012

Indie Designer Day

PhotobucketDesigner: Amanda Rios
Blog: Bobby Soxie
Etsy Shop: Bobby Soxie
Rav ID: BobbySoxie
Some Great Designs: BobbySoxie's Rav Designer Page

I can't tell you how much I dig Bella Rue
(pictured), but I'm gonna try:
The pattern's designer, BobbySoxie, is very adept at integrating interesting shapes and texture into her work.
Bella Rue is a wonderful example of Good Design. This cardigan is wearable and functional; it includes a variety of design elements, but all are combined very harmoniously. The sleeve detail is lovely on its own, but there's also the very interesting lines, shape and texture to the back. The front of the sweater continues the pleating/gather detail with adorable pockets.

Perfecto! Wonderful design.

This sensibility is carried forward to her other work, some of which I'll briefly point out here:

Baby it's Cold Outside Poncho certainly is a poncho, and one with a good amount of relaxing stockinette. But, Good Design strikes again with a nice subtle neckline detail and ridged texture along the poncho's bottom edge. The yarn overs draw your eye up and toward the wearer's face, which is always flattering!

Stripes of Betsey is a shawl where wonders await: the potential for colour combinations and the very satisfying ability to use up beautiful stash yarns and bits and bobs is almost irresistible.

Finally, Soxie's: an embellished set of slippers. What a great idea! Use those pretty buttons on a cute pair of socks, where you'll always see them!

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Happy Birthday! You get a Coupon!

Just popping by for a quick announcement:

All CanaryKnits Ravelry group members receive a discount coupon off any CanaryKnits pattern purchase on their birthday!

Just join the Ravelry group here (it's all entirely free!) and leave a message in the thread titled "Happy Birthday! You get a Coupon! " so that I know when I can pm you the coupon code.

Happy be-earlied birthday, all!