24 February 2014

Fake-it-'til-you Make It Monday

Can you tell what's fake in this photo? I hope not or I did a bad job! It's the hair. "Naturally", I've got a lot of greys, but almost all hard dyes these days seem to have propylene glycol in their formulas now, even ones that didn't previously. Sigh. I don't want to look like an old lady (even if I act as crotchety as one), but I don't want to break out in a rash on a regular basis. So, I finally found a brand (Revlon Colorsilk, which also surprisingly cheap yet inexpensive) that hasn't yet bunged up its formula as far as I'm concerned. What do you think?

With spring coming it seemed like the time was ripe to start sprucing things up, especially since I have to snap some beauty shots in the next week for a pattern. I'm even contemplating a haircut (crazy, I know)! 

If you follow me on Instagram, you might have noticed that I'm getting a little tired of winter:
There is a car under there!

Footwear option for when it's not absolutely frigid but still cold and messy. I love my Hunter boots but would like to reacquaint myself with my shoes. 

There is nothing better than these llbean boots in the winter. The shearling lining almost makes you think you can go sockless. But it's time for these beauties to go away!

The good thing about the cold is all my sweaters. Some of these beauties haven't been written up yet, so you have something to look forward to. Eventually :)

Alright, back to the grindstone. Lots of time with spreadsheets and layout software. I will fake it 'til I make it in regards to enjoying the pattern writing portion of my job, too. I love having written a pattern and love knitting but sometimes the number wrangling is hard. 

Thanks for stopping by, and happy knitting!

07 February 2014

So much non-bloggable work! Plus my FOs for my sister

Sigh. I finished a project I'm very excited about. All its ends are woven in, the numbers crunched, and even a few pictures snapped. It is handsome and modern with some clever moves that make its seamless construction pretty fun to work. But I can't show it to you. You'll just have to wait until Fall to see it in its glory. I promise it will be worth the wait, and I'm dying to see what else will join it in its publication.

And now I'm on to another non-bloggable item, wrestling with numbers so I can reknit the yoke. I think you'll like this one, too. Then I have to start sketching and swatching for some of the great submission calls that are out there right now. But I also want to work on some of my longer-term collection ideas. And a nascent book proposal.

But it's cold and sunny today, so I kind of just want to sit and knit and move the laundry along, recovering from the busy-ness of Thursdays when I teach my young friends to knit (we have two additional knitters this semester, so I really feel like that nun in the Madeline books leading home her charges, except they don't walk sedately two-by-two).

We are now at the point where all my young knitters are fairly comfortable with the basics, so my challenge is to help them find projects that will keep their interest and allow them to expand their skills, especially since most of them don't knit between classes. They are all capable of knitting, purling, casting on, binding off, increasing, and decreasing. Most of them have even done some work in the round. I think the next step is DPNs before they get too set in their ways. I'm thinking i-cord to start, just so they get comfortable with holding pointy-at-both-ends sticks.

In bloggable projects I can finally share the things I made for my sister a couple of months ago! First up a super-cozy blanket in Reynolds Andean Alpaca Regal, a bulky alpaca-wool blend that obviates the need for electric blankets. Due to the discontinuation of the yarn, this could only serve as a one-of-a-kind prototype for a future design. I'm trying to figure out what yarn I would like to use in its stead that is cozy, reasonably priced, will stand up to the rigors of blankie-dom (i.e., machine washable since there are two constantly shedding cats in my house), and won't be discontinued in the near future. Oh, and it might need to be the same silver-ed lavender/twilit sky colorway, if that's possible.

My sister has always wanted an Old English Sheepdog, probably as a result of watching Please Don't Eat the Daisies during childhood. Since she needs to spend this year smacking down breast cancer, she doesn't really have time to care for a live dog, I thought she might enjoy a small, non-shedding, low-maintenance version. I used some Kidsilk Haze and Cascade 220, which I had lying around, with the pattern from Best in Show, where my dad's scottie came from. It only became clear to me that my gauge was off once I sewed the pieces up - this one seems taller and slimmer than the version in the book (and than real life exemplars of the breed I have known). It's still cuddly and hopefully makes her smile, which is its intent.

And I have to tell a tale on myself. You know that saying "If you want to make god laugh, make a plan"? Well, right after I shared my chore chart with you, I realized that the apartment needed some serious cleaning to prepare for my stepson's non-party birthday party, especially since his mom and her fiancé would be stopping by. Why is it that women are judged on the cleanliess of their homes? It's one of those sexist tropes that I can't escape - it's so firmly ingrained. I don't really care what other people's homes are like, but I get kind of worked up about my own, beyond even my own desires for order and cleanliness, when other people come over. I guess I need to just embrace it as something important to *me*, taking it off the gender peg. Anyway, the tasks and the days went right out the window! I cleaned and tidied and organized for much of the weekend. At least it cleared the decks of most chores (laundry being the ever-necessary exception) for the week, which allowed me to finish all the work on the first project mentioned in this post and send it off to Loveland a day early.

With all that said, I'm thinking of knitting something fun just for me this weekend. What do you have planned?

Thanks for stopping by, and happy knitting!
xoxo, Kathleen

31 January 2014

Chore list

Before January rushes off in a whirl of excessively cold air, I thought I'd add a handy graphic of my chore list to keep me on the straight and narrow :) I do try to stare at the floors rather than clean them every once in a while. This chart inspired me to wash down the inside of the fridge earlier this week (when the cupboard was quite bare). It's amazing how dirty that fridge was (and we're a fairly tidy group)!

daily + weekly chores (click to download full-size chart)

With the home front marginally under control, I've been able to focus on sketches and swatches for design submissions (I've tweeted about that a fair bit this week), the finishing of a sample, and work on another sample. Waiting in the wings are a list of projects for a collection and the idea for an instruction book for young knitters.

Away from the needles I've been reading the annotated Persuasion and Pride & Prejudice, which have been interesting, even if they aren't necessarily as scholarly as they could be. And with the needles I had a Jane Austen movie festival over the past few days to help me prepare my submissions for the next issue of Jane Austen Knits (submissions are due on Monday, in case you've been struck by inspiration, too).

I've also been tweeting about the dearth of obituaries of women in The New York Times Obituaries headlines with #nodeadwomen. The paper of record now includes up to three obituary headlines in their daily email, and at some point it became apparent to me that most of the dead people were men. To test this crazy theory of mine I decided to keep track for a while. So far 18 men, two women in one week.

With the return of the Polar Vortex (or whatever you call it), my skills have been front and center (sweaters, hats, scarves, mittens, gloves, shawls, etc.), particularly on Instagram where I've been capturing some of my "Today's sweater" details.

Mermaid's Cardigan sleeve

Sotherton waist shaping

Turn of the Glass seed stitch front edges

Wavelette hem
 Hope you're keeping warm in your neck of the woods. Thanks for stopping by, and happy knitting!
xoxo, Kathleen

29 January 2014

Greetings from the NYC Polar Vortex!

This is the time of year a knitter earns her keep: hats, cowls, scarves and shawls, mittens and gloves, sweaters. I am warm and woolly for the most part, though I think I may need to knit myself a pair of woolly leggings, since my legs are the only part of me that aren't warm enough. (I should knit socks, too, but I "cheat" with store-bought wool-blend socks and my fantabulous shearling-lined LLBean boots. They are the *best*!)

I had to bust through a couple of new pairs of mittens for the girls, since one was lost and the other was down to her running gloves, so I took a break from the sample I'm working on to cover the cold hands of the "cobbler's children".  Sample is almost complete and then I can think about designs for the next Jane Austen Knits, which is always fun! And Upon the Spanish Main is almost ready to be released, so get your luxurious sock yarn ready :)
Bundled up in blue

Even the produce at the market needs a blankie (and even after they added cold frame doors)

Upon the Spanish Main shawl (coming very soon) and An Aran for Anne

Isobel in her element (and my elf cap)

Penelope making the best of it with a Ripley hat and my Castaway shawl for added cover

Snowfall on the way home

Penelope's new mittens

Isobel's new mittens 

Heading out for Isobel to sled

In the meantime, stay as warm as you can. Thanks for stopping by, and happy knitting!

16 January 2014

FO: Scottie dog

Scottie dog in Cascade 220

Merry Christmas, Dad!

I knit up this adorable Scottish Terrier for my dad for Christmas this year. The pattern is from Knit Your Own Dog by Joanna Osborne and Sally Muir, and it turned out quite nicely. It's kind of fiddly, since the pattern is all in pieces and uses a loopy stitch for the fringe, but it worked. And, most importantly, Dad liked it (then Penelope borrows it for a nap, so it's got the double approval). 

14 January 2014

New Year, Same Me :)

As far as I'm concerned, today is the first day of 2014. The kids are back in school, the tree is put away, and I can start getting my head back in the game.

The above was written last Monday, then I got distracted, and now it is next Tuesday. Sigh.

Anyway, this year is off to ... a start. I didn't get the job I'd interviewed for (twice). My ex-husband is AWOL (umpteenth time). My little sister was diagnosed with breast cancer (string of disbelieving swear words here). And the weather has been bonkers (54 degrees to 5 in 24 hours!). And don't even get me started on the hauling-the-family-to-another-time-zone two times in three weeks stuff. I always look forward to the holidays, but the status quo we have going on them is brutal.

On the plus side, I'm working on a design for a new special issue from Interweave (oh, you'll have to wait a bit for that one, but I think it's worth it), another for KnittySpin in collaboration with the awesome Wooly Wonka (more waiting - sorry!), the test is pretty much complete for a new shawl design (a quick tech edit, and then it's all yours, people), and I've got more ideas and yarn just waiting to become new designs for you. There is even a backlog of samples and spreadsheets and scribbles in some sort of scrum/queue to become even more new designs. And that crazy cold weather allowed me to wear some of my favorite sweaters, like An Aran for Anne with a turtleneck (usually I can't layer a sweater like that here in NYC - just too warm - lucky for me that the Louet merino is soft enough for me). The shawl is the one that's almost ready for you...

And to wear as many blue handknits at one time as possible (Ysolda's Ripley cashmere hat, my Infinite silk/mohair cowl, and the shawl-to-come in a merino-cashmere blend) over the aforementioned sweater.

A friend at school pickup said I looked like a blue version of the White Witch from The Chronicles of Narnia - I am more than OK with anyone thinking of me and Tilda Swinton in the same thought! Thanks, Kathy ;)

Time and focus seem to be the missing ingredients for me right now (since I can't cure cancer), so I'm working on organizing my life to be more efficient, starting with the fact that I do my thing from home, which means my home (and the housekeeping that comes with it) is always there, staring, sometimes balefully, at my not doing housekeeperly things. Now, I know that this is largely in my head, but I can't escape that place any more than my home, so all I can do is manage it better. To that end I've assigned different tasks to different days:

  • Monday - floors (vacuuming, dusting, washing, staring - I like having choices)
  • Tuesday - kitchen (cleaning out the pantry, washing the fridge shelves, using the aromatic stainless steel polish, de-crumbing the toaster - the stuff that doesn't get done on a daily basis, but not all at once!)
  • Wednesday - laundry (I tried doing a load every day but just couldn't and would rather wait until the hamper is full)
  • Thursday - bathrooms (like the kitchen, stuff beyond the usual wipe-down/towel hang-up)
  • Friday - floors (with two cats and three long-haired ladies in the house, a second vacuum in the week sometimes seems necessary, and it's nice to go into the weekend with the rugs looking fresh)
  • Saturday - FREE! (or something the whole family needs to get in on, like cleaning out a room or washing windows)
  • Sunday - laundry (this way everyone has clean clothes for the start of the week)
Now, I've just implemented this system, so I can't really say how it works yet for sure, but I'm feeling good about it. I tried FlyLady and the lovely cult of Apartment Therapy and some other systems, but they never really stuck.

Anyway, I'm hoping this will free up some mental time for me. Instead of getting bogged down in guilt about the coffee dust that accumulates on the fridge shelf where the container lives (seeing it, being annoyed that it's there but not wanting to clean it up now, then worrying about when exactly I will get around to cleaning it up), now I know that I will deal with it on a Tuesday.

I'm not big into Resolutions, but after Winter Break is a good time to adjust habits. What's your New Year thing?

Alrighty, off to knit some sleeves. And deal with the coffee dust. Thanks for stopping by, and happy knitting!
xoxo, Kathleen

23 December 2013

Etsy Treasury: Victoriana

I've been plugging away at some non-bloggable knitting (shareable in a couple of days), and in my downtime I've started curating Treasury lists on Etsy. Such fun! I have a tendency to get an idea in my head and then fall down the Etsy rabbit hole until I've seen all there is. My time suck is your gain :)

Two to share with you today:

  • Victorian Engraved Jewelry I have a few pieces like these that I inherited from my paternal great aunt and grandmother (baby bangle and an Elgin watch) and find this kind of handwork so lovely
  • Mourning Jewelry Having just re-read Possession by A.S. Byatt, I've got a thing for hair and jet mourning jewelry. Again, the handmade aspect is so appealing, and the slightly macabre (check out the last ring - OMG!) and personal aspects of such items are so interesting in today's mass-produced world
Happy holidays to you all (whether your holiday of choice has already occurred or is coming soon)!

Thanks for stopping by, and happy knitting!
xoxo, Kathleen
P.S. More knitting in the New Year - promise!