I’m writing this from my phone on a bus upstate, which is kind of amazing if you stop to think about it, which I will NOT because I hate everyone on this bus, especially the woman in front of me, who is on her way to a meditation or yoga retreat but keeps slamming her seat back into my kneecaps, which i hope is destroying her karma.
I have started a new sweater, Baby Cables and Big Ones too, which is making me a little carsick to work on but I won’t stop; I’d rather get to my destination a little green around the gills but with something to show for my time than feeling normal and useless.
Category Archives: I knit
1. Current projects on the needles: a Cobblestone pullover in some gorgeous Blue Sky Alpaca melange I was lucky enough to get when a friend was cleaning out her stash. I think it’ll make a really great knockaround sweater for this fall. I’m making the smallest size and my gauge is a little tighter, so it won’t be as loose-fitting, but the drape of the alpaca is so fluid and dreamy, I think it’ll still read as a relatively flowy garment. And my Stripe Study is back on track. I tried a few different cream yarns, but preferred my original selection (Swan’s Island merino/silk) in the end. It’s a little lighter weight than the gray, but I don’t have anything in the stash that’s the right color and the exact right grist; the Blackberry Ridge wool/silk I tried was a little heavier and that looked inelegant and clunky, while a couple of other wedding-dress-option yarns whose labels are lost were even lighter than this. I think it’ll even out pretty nicely when it’s blocked, anyway.
2. I really like Colette’s new pattern, Myrtle, and the face that it can be made in either knit or woven fabric. I’ve been keeping an eye out for a pattern to use with this fabric and I think Myrtle might be it. I’ve been picturing it used in a dress or skirt that was ankle-length and sweeping to show off the gorgeous pattern and take advantage of how well that fabric will move. It’s 58″ wide, so there should be plenty of room to lengthen the skirt and make sure it’s very full at the lower edge
3. I know it’s hot and humid and so very, very July out there, but I have fall knitting on the brain already. Partly, I think it’s because I’ve been dipping my toes into Project 333, which really deserves a post of its own–I think I’ve mentioned it before, but the idea here is that you choose 33 items, excluding underwear, workout clothes, and sleepwear, and that’s what you wear for the next three months–and I’ve been thinking about what sweaters I’d want in a very limited wardrobe. When my friend Rachael did Project 333, she didn’t count handknits at all toward the 33 items, but I already give myself so many outs, I’d like to reign myself in a little if I can. So for fall, I’d really like to have a black Baby Cables and Big Ones Too. It’s patterned enough to be interesting, but not so much so that it would look weird with patterned clothing. And I’d like a fair isle cardigan in a relatively small gauge with small geometric patterns in natural sheep shades of gray, white, and black and raglan sleeves. I haven’t been able to find one that meets my specifications, so I’ll have to come up with one. This is the closest I’ve come across, but the gauge is too big and it has drop shoulders and while I love the cross motifs, I’m not wild about the floral ones. I have the cable pattern and some gorgeous black Italian finewool on cones that’ll be perfect for it, so should start that sooner rather than later.
4. A few things I’ve enjoyed lately: Rosamund Hodge’s debut novel, Cruel Beauty, which mixes Greek mythology and the Beauty and the Beast story in very smart, well-crafted story. Happy hour at Maison Premiere in Williamsburg, where I enjoyed some $1 oysters and a couple of French 75s yesterday while sitting at a marble bar with my husband in one of the prettiest spaces in New York City. And I finally watched Frozen, which is thoroughly charming. I was struck by the fact that Elsa has gotten so much attention when it’s really Anna’s story–she’s the one who meets new people and goes on the quest and makes things happen. Elsa spends most of her time shut away, either in her room or in her fancy ice castle.
5. My office is moving this weekend from west SoHo to the Financial District. I don’t really know that part of town very well and am looking forward to exploring a bit. I know about Les Halles and The Dead Rabbit, but any other leads on good places for lunch/after work/interesting things in the neighborhood would be much appreciated.
I’ve been working on this Stripe Study off and on for a few months. I had a bit of trouble getting going with it — hard a hard time figuring out a way to do the short row wraps that I was happy with — but eventually got it down and was sailing along. The yarn is super gorgeous; the gray is Jade Sapphire’s cashmere in Tanis Grays and the cream is Swan’s Island merino/silk, which was one of the yarns I was considering for my wedding dress.
Then last night I realized I’d dropped a stitch about an inch back and there is no way to ladder it back up through the stripes that will look neat enough to satisfy me. So it’ll get ripped back again. I would be a lot more disappointed, except that this will give me a chance to fix something that’s been bugging me about it: the yarns are not quite the same weight. The cream is a little lighter than the gray, so those sections are slightly sheer. I don’t think it would be especially noticeable in the finished scarf, but I’m happy to have a chance to use something else. I have a skein of Blackberry Ridge’s wool/silk (which was also in the running for the dress) that’s a little heavier than the Swan’s Island and I think will be an excellent match for the cashmere.
Before I get further in my current spinning project, I wanted to pause and see what kind of fabric the yarn I’m making is producing. I made sample skeins of (from left to right) two plies of the Gotland fleece, one ply Gotland/one Gotland blended with mohair top, and one where both plies are Gotland and mohair and swatched them each on #9 needles. I went into this experiment fully expecting to love the one with the most mohair content the best, but it was actually my least favorite; it’s too heavy and dense and I think the colors got muddied. Both of the other swatches are really lovely though; it’s impossible to choose a favorite. I think I’ll probably spin singles of Gotland/mohair until the mohair runs out, ply it all with Gotland singles, and then ply whatever’s left of the Gotland with itself. It’s a decent-sized fleece; I may end up with a sweater’s worth of each.
While those projects are just barely in the planning stage, though, this cabled cardigan is in the home stretch. I just need to do the front bands, weave in the ends, and block it. And find buttons, but considering that I won’t be able to wear it for at least four months, there’s no real rush on that end.
And, lastly, I am thrilled and honored to announced that my wedding dress won both the knit/crochet category and Best in Show at the Crafty Awards.
Now that the weather is warming up, my craft focus has started to shift back to spinning and sewing. I’ve been carding the Gotland fleece I got at Rhinebeck last year with some hand-dyed mohair top I’ve had since before I moved to New York, so 1999? 2000? I know I bought it on eBay from a seller whose name I can’t remember who sold different base fibers dyed in the same range of colorways and that this one was called Vienna Woods. I bought the plain wool and the mohair, spun them separately, plied them together, and knit an oversized seamless raglan cardigan out of the yarn. I’m not sure what happened to the sweater. Maybe I gave it to my mom at some point?
Anyway. I had close to a pound of the mohair left over and it’s been sitting in my stash, moving with me [counts] either seven or eight times, depending on where I was living upstate when I bought it, and I’m delighted that I’m finally doing something with it. My original plan was to ply this blended single with a plain Gotland single for yarn for a big, wild, wooly pullover. I may still do that, but I think I’ll have enough of the blend to ply on itself and still have sufficient yardage for a big, wild, wooly pullover.
I had my favorite kind of day yesterday, the kind where I spend my time moving from project to project, making demonstrable progress on a number of things. I made a batch of spicy peanut sauce to have with noodles and vegetables for dinner and oatmeal chocolate chip cookies for a work party today. I worked on my cashmere/merino cabled cardigan (the back, two fronts, and one sleeve down; the last sleeve, assembly, collar, and ribbing left to go), the scrap chevron afghan I’m crocheting, and the handspun log cabin blanket I’m knitting. I made a batch of soap (scented with orange, clove, and cinnamon) and cut out fabric for a Scout tee. I got caught up on The Americans (I really like the show, but have kind of forgotten what Larrick’s damage is in the first place, so I’m not as fully invested in what’s going on as I could be), watched an episode of the original Swedish The Bridge, and listened to a fair chunk of The Alienist audiobook. Looking at my calendar for the next couple of months, I’m not sure when I’m going to have another full day just for puttering, so I’m glad I put that one to good use.
1. I made Mark Bittman’s recipe for tofu jerky this week (the miso variation, more or less) and it’s really good. It’s basically just semi-dehydrated tofu used as the vehicle for savory flavor. It took a fair amount of work–careful slicing, frequently turning the pieces over in the oven and brushing them with the sauce–for how long they lasted, but as healthful, relatively inexpensive snacks go, they’re a keeper.
2. I can’t stop thinking about a documentary I watched last night, The Elephant in the Living Room. It’s about people who keep exotic animals as pets, yes, but mostly from the point of view of one man, Tim Harrison, who gets called in when they escape or hurt someone or aren’t being cared for properly. Absolutely fascinating.
3. I only have a single sweater project on the needles at the moment, which isn’t like me at all. I’m kind of enjoying the experience of being single-minded in this way though. Maybe knitting the wedding dress last summer broke me or something something monogamy.
4. I actually did win part of the pot at my mother-in-law’s Derby party last weekend, since California Chrome was one of the names I drew out of the pot. I had to split the money five ways, but we got a night’s worth of Tibetan takeout earlier in the week and some tacos last night and still have enough left over to order a pizza or two at some point. Apparently found money = takeout money around here.
5. This week I learned that C.S. Lewis had a fondness for the whip, which came up during a very interesting conversation I had on Twitter yesterday with a former coworker and a few librarians. There’s some about it in this New Yorker profile, in The Magician’s Book by Laura Miller (who also weighed in on Twitter), and in A.N Wilson’s biography of him. As my friend Molly pointed out, it does add some texture to the character of Jadis and how easily Uncle Andrew is in thrall to her.
Well, this is one of the nicest things I’ve ever knit.The yarn is from my ombre handspun project; the silver is silk/merino, the red is merino/alpaca, and the charcoal is merino/tencel. It was knit from the top down using the Alga pattern, though without the pleats.
The striping where the colors change is a little less obvious in person, though I can’t say I mind the effect. I don’t know that it’s going to get much wear this spring, but I know I’ll be happy to have it once it cools off again in the fall.
Over the last few years, I’ve crocheted a few blankets for gifts, but haven’t kept any for myself. I seem to be bound and determined to change that, starting a new blanket every few months. They’ve all been conceived as ways to use up scraps or to repurpose larger quantities of yarns that aren’t ideal for garments or whatever project I bought or spun for them originally, but I know I’ll like and use the finished objects whenever they’re done.
I’ve mentioned the handspun log cabin blanket before. It continues to grow slowly, especially on cooler evenings when its warmth is welcome in my lap and its utter simplicity makes for mindless knitting. Even though the days are going to be heating up, I think it’ll still see a lot of action in the mini-season known as My Landlady Turned the Heat Off, but It Isn’t Really Warm Yet.
I haven’t done much with the crocheted hexagons over the winter. They’re such a good warm-weather project though, I expect to make some progress with them this summer.
And I just started the third one this week. It’s the Purl Bee’s Elegant Granny Stitch Blanket, though I’m doing it at a bigger gauge, which dials the elegance down a bit. I have a big bag of assorted fingering-weight yarn in blacks and grays and am working with two strands at a time, switching new yarns in as the balls run out and trying my best not to micromanage the randomness.
I’ve been wanting a new website design for a while and now, thanks to Carrie, I have one! I wanted something that would be sort of crafty and sort of graphic and also make it easier to navigate around, and I really love how it came together.
I wasn’t really planning to launch the new site design the same weekend as the pattern for my wedding dress, but there’s a nice symmetry there, I think.
Silvermine is available in my Ravelry store.
Named for our wedding venue, the Silvermine Tavern in Norwalk, CT, this dress has a modernized Gibson Girl silhouette, with the straight front skirt panel and fullness around the sides and back and a fitted bodice. While it makes a spectacular wedding dress, it would be equally stunning in almost any color for any formal occasion.
The knitting itself is not at all difficult and could be ably dispatched by anyone comfortable with basic lace knitting. It does, however, require hours of careful, attentive, and patient finishing work.
The fit of this garment can be blocked slightly larger, smaller, longer, and shorter due to the nature of the lace fabric. Choose the size closest to your measurements and block to fit yours. The project was designed to have about two inches of negative ease in the bust, about zero ease at the waist, and several inches of positive ease through the hips.
The pattern begins with the waistband, using a provisional cast on to center the stitch pattern. The bodice is knit in three pieces (one front, two backs), with a buttoned placket in back. The center panel of the skirt is knit from the bottom up, while the main piece of the skirt was knit from the top down with cording separating the lace patterns. The bodice pieces are sewn together with mattress stitch, but all other seams are done by picking up stitches along the edges to be joined and doing a three-needle bindoff on the right side, both for strength and because the look mimicked the cords on the skirt.
This time of year, it can be hard to rally a tremendous amount of enthusiasm to work on this kind of project–it’s far enough from done that even if I devote all of my knitting time to it for the next month or so, it won’t be done before it’s too hot to wear it–except that it’s extraordinarily nice to knit. The yarn is gorgeous, a multistrand cashmere/merino from School Products that I’ve been hoarding for close to a decade; the color is basically the best color, a rich, heathery navy/purple/black that’s surprisingly tricky to photograph; and the simple cables are easy to work but produce a lush, plush fabric that I basically want to wrap myself up in forever, or at least until the temperature climbs much north of 60. The back is done and I’ve cast on for one of the fronts.
This was my inspiration for it, a tear sheet I’ve had kicking around long enough to forget where it’s from. I love everything about it: the cozy sweater, the gorgeous dress, the setting, her luminous skin and wacky bedhead, her feline friend, the enamel basin of … berries, let’s say, the eccentric-highborn-English-ladyness of it all. As much as I love looking at Marion Cotillard in Dior, my idea of chic is much closer to Stella Tennant with oxfords and socks under her gown and a cat at her feet.