24 May 2011

Yay! And something for Father's Day

Finally, the sweater is in its bath. Goodness, has this been a labor. But I am very happy with the finished product and plan to be even happier with the blocked piece. The last few nights I've closed my eyes and seen various design elements behind my lids. This thing was like the knitting equivalent of Sudoku - lots of things to keep track of all at the same time. And that's just the knitting - the pattern is still a bunch of notes and charts and numbers - I plan to spend Thursday writing while the kiddies are at school. In the meantime it's taking its bath and getting ready to dry out, which may take a few days considering that the humidity was 100% this morning. Reminded me of Houston in August. I hope when it comes out that you like it!

Speaking of which, I had a nice comment the other day asking where to find Jane Austen Knits when it comes out. Pamela, silly blogger didn't pass along your email address, so I couldn't reply directly. To the best of my knowledge Jane Austen Knits will be available from your LYS and to order directly from Interweave. I will be sure to post more information once I know more.

Once the writing is complete, I'll be able to get back to some other projects that have been on hold. Actually, it's more like when I had to write a paper in college. I couldn't start right away. I would have to think on the subject then ignore it, put it in the back of my head and go about my business. A few days later, and only then, I could sit down and pour my thoughts out. So, I have two more small projects that I would like to do before releasing a pattern booklet.

Yup, this experience with working on deadline has reinforced my inclination to self-publish. There will be a couple of sweaters, something each for the head, hands/arms, legs/feet, a couple of lacy neck/shawl items, and a blanket. There's still a bit of work to be done, but I'll keep you posted.

And I mentioned Father's Day... It seems to sneak up on me, coming just a couple of weeks after my dad's birthday and often right after school gets out. But if you're looking for a good gift that could even be almost last minute, how about my Dennis pattern? I saw this bit in the Wall Street Journal Saturday pairing knitted ties with handsome checked shirts. Rather than handing your hard-earned money over to Ralph or the good people of Brioni ($195?!), why not make your own? I'm thinking of making one for myself (some day). Since the original was for my dad, I still have to come up with something for him.

11 May 2011

Mother's Day

I hope you all had a lovely Mother's Day and/or made much of your mother on Sunday (if you're in the US - I know Mothering Sunday is different in the UK, and Mother's Day happens at the end of May in France; elsewhere, I am uninformed). I had a lovely day with Nick and the girls, including sleeping in (the best present!), french macarons from Bouchon Bakery, and sushi for dinner. Really, pretty great.

But the best part came yesterday, when Nick (who is done teaching for the semester) and I had to leave our apartment while some painters touched up cracks in the ceiling and some water damage in the corner of our bedroom. So, we hied over to the Metropolitan Museum of Art to see Savage Beauty. (Once when visiting New York in my twenties, I asked a cab driver to take me to "the Met", and he asked me if I meant the museum or the opera house - couldn't he tell that I was "arty"?)

The show, the whole museum, in fact, was crowded. But the show was amazing and completely worth it. My only beef was that some of the pieces were displayed so that you could only see one side, leaving me crazy to know what the front (or back) of the piece looked like. Other pieces were displayed on the fancy, art museum equivalent of lazy susans or displayed in mirror-backed cases so that you could see a reflection or peek around the back.

My favorite pieces included "Oyster", which I've always loved - it is also in my copy of 100 Dresses, the pieces made out of actual sea shells, and the gilded duck feather coat from McQueen's final collection. What was interesting to me was to see that his signature elements were there from the very beginning: the bumster pants, the high collars, the exaggerated hips and shoulders, really, the drama. Beautiful, repellant, thought-provoking, clever, weird.

To make the show complete, I brought home the catalog, which is also a little weird. I read about the production of it some time ago, and it is interesting, but I would have liked something a little less of an art piece, and a little more informative. All the pieces were photographed on live models covered in makeup. Then the photographs were altered to make the pieces look as if they were on mannequins (hinged wrists and waists). But there was only one view of all but a few pieces, and all the information about the pieces (title, show/season, materials, owner) is at the back. I still want to see the back of the buttoned-up jacket from Joan! There is an interesting history of McQueen at the front of the book, as well as an interview with Sarah Burton at the back. But I want moremoremore. I want a documentary or a DVD compilation of all his shows.

I was, however, thrilled to see the pieces from the last collection (colloquially known as Angels and Demons). The aforementioned duck feather coat, as well as the printed angel gown. And I had forgotten about The Girl Who Lived in the Tree collection, which was beautiful and fairy-tale romantic. Again, there was a piece that I wanted to see the back of, but what can you do? The calendar, which has Oyster for May-August and then follows with 18 months of beauty, also came home with me.

To cap off the morning, I had a cupcake and salted caramel milkshake from a truck for lunch (what? the kids were at school) and bought some Madeline Tosh sock yarn (Window Pane and Tomato - awesome turquoise and red/orange - might even do something stranded with the two together) at Annie & Company, a yarn store at Madison and 93rd, which I hadn't managed to get to before now. All in all, a super day.

Work continues on my publication project (knitknitknit), and the pattern writing will commence soon (lots of notes, and the charts need to be edited). Now that I have this pretty new yarn, I'm looking forward to finishing this project and playing!

06 May 2011

Turn of the Glass FAQ (edited 10/19/11)

First of all, thanks to all of you who liked Turn of the Glass. I hope those of you who knit it like yours as much as I like mine (wearing it again today). Since its publication I've received some questions and thought I would reiterate my answers here in case other knitters had similar questions. But if I haven't answered yours, please ask.

Q. What other yarns might work?
A. Not everyone can use madeline tosh DK for whatever reason. If you are looking for a similar hand/kettle-dyed yarn, Malabrigo Rios would be a good choice and is also superwash. A knitter has already worked up the sweater in Malabrigo Merino Worsted, which must feel dreamy, but it certainly pills - the tradeoff you must accept when working with this yarn. Since tosh DK is something of a light worsted, Cascade 220 (regular or superwash) would work, as would Berocco's Vintage or Plymouth Encore. Goodness, there are lots of yarns in this range!

Q. Wait! I thought the yarn you used was a DK-weight, but you're talking about Worsted-weight. Which is it? And under materials it is listed as 50g/skein, but on Ravelry it looks like tosh DK is sold in 100g skeins.
A. It is a little confusing, but tosh DK is a heavy DK or light worsted yarn. It used to be called tosh Worsted, but the company renamed it to align some other yarn names. Tosh Worsted is now a single-ply yarn, and the yarn used to knit this sweater  (tosh DK) is a multiple ply, which will make it a little sturdier. The yarn comes in 100g skeins; the listing of 50g/skein is a typo.

Q. I'm having trouble getting started with the chart. Do I have to worry about mirroring the cables on the other half? Any advice?
A. Although these look like cables, technically they are twisted ribs; you don't need to use a cable needle to work them, since they only involve two stitches. The twisted ribs are set up so that you don't have to worry about mirroring. By working an odd number of ribs and adding a pair at each increase, all you have to do is remember which rib to work next.
Let's call Little Hourglass Rib "A" and Twisted Cross-Stitch Rib "B". In the first row of ribbing, after working Seed Stitch and Stockinette, work the ribs as follows: B, A, B, A, B. After working four rows bookend these ribs with a pair of A's.
For those who have trouble with charts, here are the rib patterns written out:

Little Hourglass Rib
Row 1 (WS): K2, *p2, k2; repeat from * to end.
Row 2: P2, *k2tog-b, then k2tog the same stitches again through the front loops, p2; repeat from * to end.
Row 3: K2, *p1, yo, p1, k2; repeat from * to end.
Row 4: P2, *ssk, k1, p2; repeat from * to end.
Reverse Cross-Stitch Rib
Row 1 (WS): K2, *p 2nd stitch and leave on left needle, p 1st stitch and slip both stitches to right needle, k2; repeat from * to end.
Row 2: P2, *k2, p2; repeat from * to end.

Q. How do I choose a size?
A. That depends upon your measurements, but it's probably best to go by your chest measurement, since the ribs are more elastic. The ribbed section can stretch quite a bit without looking stretched out and still, through the play of light and shadow on the purl and twisted sections of the ribs, give the illusion of a curvier figure than you may have. Can you tell that I'm a classic apple shape?

Q. At the Waistband, you say to work the Waistband Chart, but the charts are labeled A, B, and C. Which one?
A. Chart B is the Waistband Chart, although at this point in the sweater you probably don't need it, since you've been working the stitches in the twisted rib pattern. Just keep everything in their respective patterns: 10 stitches in Seed Stitch, the next whack of stitches in their respective twisted ribs, and the last 10 stitches in Seed Stitch.

Q. Right before the Neckline shaping begins, it looks like I'm supposed to work three WS rows, in a row. How can I do that?
A. I think there is a typo there, and the row where you place the underarm markers should be labelled RS (and should be one last repeat of chart B, row 4).

Q. Eep, the Joining Round! I'm confused. Something seems wrong with the numbers. And what's up with those held stitches?
A. If you've never knit a sweater "together" rather than in pieces, this will seem a little confusing, but it will be OK. I promise! On your sleeves set aside 'x' stitches at the beginning and end of each sleeve - these held stitches will, combined with the same number of stitches on the body, be your underarms when the sweater is complete. 

Start with the sweater body, work your way *in pattern* (Seed Stitches in Seed Stitch, Stockinette in Stockinette, twisted ribs in twisted rib) until you get to 'x' (as in pattern) stitches before the first marker. Place 'x' times two stitches from the body on waste yarn or a stitch holder, then get a sleeve. It doesn't matter which, since they should be identical. Place a marker on your right needle and, starting after your set-aside 'x' stitches on the sleeve, knit across until only the other 'x' stitches remain. The numbers for this sleeve should be 54[54, 54, 60, 66, 76, 82]. Add another marker, knit across the back stitches until you reach 'x' stitches before the other marker on the body. Repeat the setting-aside-body-stitches-and-sleeve thing with the second sleeve, using the same numbers. Work across the second front in pattern.

Now your entire sweater is on one needle. This is the fun part! You're going to magically set your sleeves into the body of your sweater.

I'm sure there will be more questions, so I will add to this post or post another.

02 May 2011

Red Cross

Well, my pattern and item sales donation period is over, so I made another donation to the Red Cross this morning. Many thanks to everyone who participated!

The Mother's Day promotions for 20% off in my Etsy and Ravelry stores will continue through next Sunday, 8 May 2011, if you use the code "mother20" at checkout.

I'm working away on a pattern and sample due 1 June. When that one is complete, I should be able to get back to more bloggable knitting. Plus, I need to take some photographs so I can release some new patterns. Soon!