FO: Perpetua Shawl

The problem with holiday weekends is that I really do lose time.  While everyone is out enjoying a three day weekend, we are open extra hours for vacationers and families enjoying their time off.  Which is no big.  It's lovely.  And I'm glad people are taking advantage of the opportunity to spend time with their kids.  But man does it make for one exhausting week of catch up.  I feel like I blinked and it was Friday.  All of which means that I did not intentionally abandon you guys this week, I just did not have the chance to do any pre-writing over the weekend and thus missed an entire week of posts.  Which I hate doing because I really missed you guys!  But you know what I did manage to do?  I finished my cousin's shawl!

I knit the Perpetua shawl from Knitscene Fall 2012 out of Unwind Company Weekend Sock as a bridal shower gift for my cousin.  This is a 400 yard 100% merino in the gorgeous colorway "Asiatic Lily" (Ravelry project page)

The pattern is stunning but as you can see I ran out of yarn at pretty much the start of the border chart.  After quite a bit of panic (it seems I am the only one this has happened to) I decided to try a bit of striping with the leftovers from my wedding shawl that Dana custom dyed for me last year.  I did two rows of the border orange, two rows undyed, two rows orange, and finished it out with the Sangria.   I was super nervous about how it would turn out, but the result has been lovely.

I cannot tell you how excited I am about this shawl.  I shared a bit as I was working on it about the cousin for whom I made it.  My aunt gave her up for adoption in college and just reconnected with her a few years ago.  I have yet to meet her myself, but we are a big clan and she has invited all of us to the wedding (yes, the wedding for which I have been obsessing over my outfit).  Her favorite color is orange and so I wanted to make her something that is in the tradition of the wedding shawl but that is also more of a personal welcome to the family hand-made gift and less of the wear once and preserve item.  I hope that by striping in yarn from my own wedding shawl that I wear all the time that she will feel she has a bit of that comfort of family to wrap around her when she feels the need.  Honestly, I am tearing up just writing this because I am so happy for my aunt, who I know has felt the absence of her daughter and who just beams any time anyone asks after her.  I cannot wait to greet her in the manner that is becoming customary among the women in our family -- with a hug, a kiss, and a handmade gift.

To see more FOs, check out the gang over at Tami's Amis!


FO: Triptych

One of the really cool features of knitting is the fact that no matter how comfortable I get there is always something new to learn.  This month I decided to stretch myself in honor of my first Harry Potter Knitting and Crochet House Cup and take on my first ever beading project.

Liz Abinante's Triptych Shawl is not heavily beaded, nor does it even have beads going the entire length of the shawl in any particular direction, but rather uses just enough beads to add just the barest hint of sparkle.  At the same time, the funkiness of the asymmetry and the length of the shawl keep it from being obvious that the beaded detailing is only in a certain area.

I love the way the beads work their way through the lattice work.  The pattern is written for the crochet method of adding beads, but I ended up pre-stringing mine because I could not find a crochet hook small enough for the size six beads.

I knit this out of Sweet Georgia Tough Love Sock in the Honey Fig colorway which I picked up at Eat Sleep Knit while in Atlanta during Stitches South.  I picked it up specifically for this project and, as you can see with the shoes, my outfit for my cousin's wedding next month is now complete (for those concerned, yes I have a dress -- it was blogged here).

If you are looking for an introduction to beaded knitting I highly recommend this pattern.  As I mentioned I ended up pre-stringing and then knitting in the beads (more detailed explanation in my last video post), but the amount of beading is never more than five or six in a row, which gives you time to develop a level of comfort with the medium, rather than floundering about with intricate lace stitches and 50g of seed beads.

To see other Finished Objects this fine Friday, check out the gang over at Tami's Amis!


Geektastic Thursday: Fiber Factor

While I have a certain *ahem* beaded project blocking on the floor today I thought it was time to fill you in on my latest viewing addiction.  You may not have heard of it yet, but you almost certainly will.  A Youtube venture from Skacel called Fiber Factor.

I first heard about Fiber Factor through the twitter feeds of Alex Tinsley and Sarah Wilson, both knitwear designers who seem to have a knack for staying ahead of trends in the knitting community.  They had recently published a video on youtube in which they reviewed the first round of judging on Fiber Factor.  I was intrigued and decided to go check out the original videos before watching their recap.  What followed was a tumble down quite the rabbit hole as I watched the original challenge followed by the judging.  Then I watched Alex and Sarah's video.  Then I watched all the contestant videos.  Then I looked up to realize five hours had gone by.

Fiber Factor is designed to be similar in style to Project Runway, only with knitwear design, rather than sewn fabrics.  Because of the nature of knitting the challenges have to take place over a longer period of time and are done via correspondence rather than in a matter of hours or days.  The last challenge required the contestants to design and knit a project that reflected something about their life or that had influenced them in 22 days.  The garments and shawls were then mailed in to the Skacel studio and judged by a panel that included such names as Franklin Habit and Ysolda Teague.  The contestants also submitted 90 second videos in which they explained their item and described why they made certain yarn and design choices.

In the last challenge, hands down my favorite pattern was the Seasons sweater by Natalie Larson.  I really hope that they work with her to write up and release the pattern because I am dying to knit it.  The customization with the removable hood and the fabric lining of the pockets and the hood just sing to me.  And while I don't think I would ever knit Lauren Riker's Butterfly Dress, I did look her up after watching the show and add many of her patterns to my queue.  She designs for a younger audience and her aesthetic is very cute and flirty.  If you sign up for her mailing list you get a download code for a sweet tunic style sweater that I already have plans to knit up soon.

The next challenge is due in mid June and the judging will be done at TNNA.  I cannot wait!


Work in Tangental Progress

Did I tell you guys the good news?  My sister is moving nearby!  She got a job at a hospital about an hour and a half from our apartment and we could not be more excited.  This weekend she came up to visit and we went apartment hunting on Monday.  We found some nice options, the not so great part of town, and I turned the heel on my sock.

What's that you see?  Oh yes, we also went to see Star Trek: Into Darkness in IMAX.  I really enjoyed it in the way I really enjoyed Enterprise as a younger teen, but I don't know if I am as wildly opinionated about it one way or another as a lot of people seem to be.  I grew up on Next Generation, so I am not as invested in original Trek as others may be, but I like to think that I've just learned to keep as open a mind as possible when it comes to sci-fi reboots because nothing will ever be as good as the original.

We had a really weird encounter while in line that brought back to the forefront of my mind a disturbing trend I have been seeing in geek circles.  There was a woman who was clearly very opinionated with no real basis for her opinions, but who was determined to chat with someone.  Chris was wearing his Chad Vader tshirt so she immediately latched onto our little trio as geek-friendly and somehow decided that my sister was the geekiest of us all.  At one point she was very loudly talking to someone else about the Hulk movies and could not decided "who was in that one with that Liv Tyler".  She went on and on and finally turned to my sister and pointed and said "I bet she knows".  My sister just kind of shrugged, so I finally gave her the answer, and the woman and the creepy gentleman who had joined her by that point went on to praise my sister for her knowledge.  I know I was giving off a "don't talk to me" vibe at the time, but I was still confused as to why the woman had not asked me even though I was clearly part of the group or had even looked at me after I clearly gave my sister the answer.  It soon dawned on me that she had been pointedly ignoring me not because I had only slightly smiled at her when we walked up before playing with my phone, but more likely because how I was dressed.

I know I could be drawing broad conclusions that are completely mistaken, but I tell this story to illustrate a trend I have noticed lately.  See, I was not wearing jeans, a geeky tshirt, sneakers, or anything that screamed geek.   Instead I was wearing a short dress, cute shoes, had a flower in my hair, and was wearing lipstick.  If she had been a guy I doubt she would have asked me no matter what I was wearing.  But the fact is that as our culture realizes more and more that women are geeks and starts to market to them, we women are becoming more and more judgemental about other geeky women.  It is not enough to just be a woman who likes geeky movies or reads sci-fi or plays tabletop games.  You now have to do it all.  And you have to dress the part.  Based on how "hard core" you are, or wish to appear, you now have to embrace the careful look of not caring and the wardrobe of geek slogan t-shirts and ripped jeans or some variation thereof.  Don't get me wrong, I have a closet full of tshirts and am down to one pair of unmarred jeans, but I like to look cute too.  

This may be something that is only apparent in the microcosm, like the college feminists who feel that they aren't considered feminist enough unless they go to the extreme and burn their bras on the fraternity lawn, but it has been on my mind for the past few weeks.  So many geeky women are multi-faceted and many of us make parts of our own wardrobe.  But if a woman has nothing on her person that says "I know the secret to the Leia bikini ask me how" she is often relegated to the category of non-geek, trophy, or air head, and a "how could she possibly appreciate this" attitude then clouds any further assessment of her.  And that is just wrong.  If we as geeky women do not stand up for one another, how can we possibly expect anyone else to?  What leg do we have to stand on when we complain that gaming companies don't understand their demographic if we make snap judgements based on physical appearance?  In other words, be good to one another.  And next time you go to a geeky film, don't just dismiss the girl in the stylish outfit.  She may just be expressing another side of herself.

For actual non-tangental WIP posts, head on over to Tami's Amis.


Artsplosure, or Adventures in Wearable Art

One of the cool things about working downtown is that I get to wander into some pretty cool local cultural events.  This weekend was the annual artist festival Artsplosure.  Being the broke girl crafter that I am I of course had to venture forth, but only for an hour or so after work.

The scope of Artsplosure is extremely wide.  All of the booths feature a placard listing the artist name, where they are from, and the type of medium in which they work -- a wide variety that included 2D images, metalworking, and my favorite, 3D textural objects. This seemed to include anything to do with the fiber arts, stuffed toys, clothing, and some of the jewelry.  I met a woman who crochets and who likes to teach children how to make their own stuffed animals.  I stopped in another booth featuring skirts made out of old blouses that were turned upside down and then rubber stamped with botanical images.  A happy pottery duo told me that their eclectic mug collection make the perfect wine cups for entertaining.  And of course there was a representative of the felted fiber arts.

This gorgeous dress drew quite the audience as it hung in the corner of TrendeFemme's booth.  She came in as I was dragging myself away from her felted soaps (I already have one from another festival stand, I need to use it up before I get another but hers were gorgeous) and very graciously gave me permission to take a photo of it.  I will definitely be shopping her Etsy shop and making her booth a must-stop if I ever see her at another area festival.

Of course the only place I spent money was the final booth I saw just as I was walking to my car.  I had just left another jewelry booth.  I've developed a fondness for gorgeous stone worked into metal.  As I left to head home I turned around and saw a set up that looked so light and airy I thought it was floating.  The wearable art of Lisa Toland Collection is right on trend for current 1920s fashion.  All of her pieces are made of crochet wire with beads and fabrics.  Somehow I managed to keep myself to just one small clip -- perfect for that outfit for my cousin's wedding that I keep working on.  I put her card on the fridge so that my husband will know for the next gift giving occasion.

And of course no trip to Artsplosure will be complete without a stop by the sand sculpture.  It's for the kids, after all.


Going Loopy

You know how I said at the beginning of the year that I was not going to put too many obligations on myself?  And then I committed to those stockings I keep talking about.  And then I signed up for Harry Potter Knit and Crochet House Cup.  And now?  And now.  Now I have signed on for Camp Loopy.  Because that is what I have become.  Loopy.

In all seriousness, though, I have been wanting to give Camp Loopy a go since year one.  But I did not find out about it in time to participate.  I didn't even know what the Loopy Ewe was two years ago.  And then last summer I had my standard "holy crap I'm getting married" preoccupation,  so I absolutely had to sign up this year when I found out that it was that time again.  This round's first month assignment is to knit a single skein project with no less than 375 yards in a yarn you have never used.  Any guess what I picked?

I am pretty sure I am going to knit Shur'tugal by Alice Yu.  I've been ogling Desert Vista Dyeworks' self-striping for ages, so I jumped at the chance to knit a pair of socks for this challenge.  Mona Lisa is a five color self-striping that looks to have short color repeats, which should work well for this pattern.

If you have any interest in jumping in on the Camp Loopy fun you still have time before the first cast-on date.  Camp kicks off June first.  I'm climbing Mt Fiberopolis!


Magpie with a Plan

I'm an impulsive person.  I have my lists, and my plans, but I am easily distracted by a bright shiny new idea. My husband dreads the nights I decide that I just have to go for a run even though it is after 8pm and it is getting pretty close to dark outside.  Sometimes a girl just needs a bit of an endorphin rush, you know?  Nothing embodies my magpie with a plan tendencies quite like my knitting.  I have yarn for specific projects and a general idea of what I want to knit and when, but I've learned to give myself a little wiggle room and leave the door open for impulse.  Doing things like picking up pattern collections when designers have a sale and only buying yarn if I will absolutely cast on immediately (this last one doesn't always work, but it has given me more structure than you might think).  So it is with great excitement that I can share with you that despite my love affair with my new hoodie I am halfway through my Triptych Shawl!

I swear this is a much more subtle and varied colorway than it is coming across in photos.  It is much more a soft mix of plum and honey yellow and red than these stark shades my camera loves to find.  Triptych is my first knitting adventure with beads and it has been quite the learning experience.  Talk about impulsive.  I went to the store, bought two tubes of beads, and then sat on the floor with them in a pile in front of me until I figured out how to get them onto the yarn.  I ended up using the prestrung dental floss method after a series of trial and a lot of error.

I am in the beadless section now and I am quite excited with how it is moving along.  At this rate I should be done with plenty of time to wear it to my cousin's wedding.  Now if only I could find shoes.

For more works in progress, check out the gang over on Tami's Amis!


A Rambling Amble and Contest Winner

I talk way too much in this entry, but I do get to some relevant information including current projects and the winner of the What's Your Beach Contest.

Helpful Links:

Singlehanded Knits with Mel Ski

Drizzle by Mel Ski

Perpetua Shawl by Romi Hill in Unwind Yarn Company

Triptych Shawl by Liz Abinante in Sweet Georgia Tough Love Sock, Honey Fig

Havasu Hoodie by Par Oiseau in Lion Brand Fisherman's Wool

Sunshine by Robin McKinley

Someday, Someday, Maybe by Lauren Graham (review)

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Thanks for watching!


Geektastic Thursday: Someday, Someday, Maybe

As you guys have probably pieced together, I love to read.  I was raised on books.  I was one of those kids whose vocabularies never really fit their place in life because I read so often. I loved classics, I loved foreign novels, and I loved anything that people would think was too "advanced" for my age (which is how I read Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf in middle school).  As I grew up I found that I was not the only one who spent their formative years this way.  In fact, it seems that many of the truly great young adult authors, the ones who appeal to both teens and their moms, did the same thing.  Following in the steps of Ann Brashares and Meg Cabot, Lauren Graham's debut novel Someday, Someday, Maybe centers on a strong female heroine who has the wit and sense of someone who spent more than a little time immersed in a good book.

If I am being totally honest I have to admit that I probably would not have picked up this book if it were not for the fact that I am a huge fan of Lauren Graham's acting career.  It's a well known fact that I have watched Gilmore Girls so many times that I have it memorized and Parenthood is an excellent show in its own right.  But Someday, Someday, Maybe is the kind of novel that could stand on its own.  The narrative voice is clearly articulated as a unique character.  Franny is the kind of girl you want to hang out with and the fact that the story is set in the early 1990s gives it a certain amount of charm that a story about a young actress trying to find her way might not otherwise have.

Yet the book also does not suffer from Graham's credentials.  She is not skating by on name recognition, but rather delivers a fun, well-written read that brings laughter with each chapter.  One can hear Lorelei Gilmore and Sarah Braverman in the character of Franny.  It is clear that all of her experience and work has given Graham a close and careful study of storytelling.  There is a structure and intelligence behind the magic that is the key to creating a successful novel.

I bought the Kindle version of Someday, Someday, Maybe, but I will probably purchase it again when it is released in paperback.  Like Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants or The Princess Diaries it is one of those books I want to carry around with me to read over and over until the spine is creased and the pages are worn and curled.  If you are looking for a light read with an intelligent heart to carry with you this summer, give this one a try.  It will bring out that teenage bookworm you still have on the inside.


Here There May Be Ponies

How is it Wednesday already? My friend Taryn came up on Sunday for the "weekend" and we had way too much fun knitting, thrift store shopping, and watching My Little Pony (How did I not know of this brilliance before? I will never know).  It has been a perfectly lovely followup to the rather traumatic work day I had on Saturday.  I had a very unpleasant encounter that put quite the damper on the rest of my day.  When I got home all I wanted was the comfort of organization and a basic knit.  As I was working on my new craft area I started flipping through a random magazine.  Next thing I knew I had sat down and cast on a new sweater.

Somehow I had never noticed the Havasu Hoodie lurking at the end of the last summer's Knitscene.  Something about the very unassuming description and the comforting basic ribbing and stockinette made it exactly what I needed after a horrid day.  I'm knitting it out of some Lion Brand Fisherman's Wool that I bought a few years ago but never managed to use.  Here's hoping I bought enough.

For more WIP Wednesday posts, check out the gang over at Tami's Amis!

Also, don't forget that you still have time to enter the What's Your Beach Contest to win a copy of Drizzle!


Craft Corner

Happy May!  It was a crazy week at work this week, so rather than put all of that stress out onto the blog I decided to take a week off.  Honestly, I barely got any knitting done at all.  My basket of wips has reached the point that I went into complete denial and cast on a basic sweater last night.  But out of the craziness has come something really cool -- a sewing desk!

On Thursday I walked into the back to find this baby sitting next to a sign that said "free to a good home."  It seems it was not working out for its intended purpose.  I immediately put my name on it and on Friday loaded it into my back seat and brought it home (This is what I love about my Buick.  It may look like an old lady car, but I can fit quite a lot into the back seat).  Once we got it inside I realized that it didn't make sense to keep my stash cabinet in a separate room if I was going to have a crafting desk, so Friday night found me rearranging furniture until I finally created this (Thank goodness I had already reorganized the stash to fit back into the cabinet).

I'm not done moving everything out of its dedicated storage space, but I am excited by the organizing potential this will create for other things we have stashed away. And it is amazing how much larger our bedroom appears now that I don't have my cabinet shoved into the corner.  I would say that it is helping our apartment really come together, but I'm sure that by the time I am done it will be time to move again.  In the meantime I am just excited to have a dedicated space for all of my knitting supplies, my yarn, the crochet and embroidery I inherited from my grandmothers, and even my sewing machine.  Maybe it is finally time to relearn how to use it.

Don't forget that there is still time to enter into the What's Your Beach contest and win a copy of Drizzle!