29 December 2011

Queued: Chloe Cardigan

I'm flipping back through DK cardigans again, still looking for something that is a perfect fit for my Pistolero yarn. Although I don't think this is "the one", I HAD to queue it

This is the Chloe Cardigan by Jo Storie, and it's wonderfully unlike the vast majority of cardigan patterns on Ravelry right now. I love the textures of the yarn, which is Rowan Purelife Organic Cotton (DK), but I could see this being great in any DK yarn that has a little bit of grip to it.

LOOK AT THE DRAPE! The texture! The lightness! I even love the seam on the back, which gives it some structure and makes it look like a garment and not a blanket. I might even be inclined to reverse the seam, so it stands up.

This is SO pretty on so many levels... It could even be elongated by picking up the placket stitches all the way around the garment, so the textured band is also the bottom hem. I'd pair this with a plain tee, black leggings, and a pair of short boots. Or tall boots.

I love how different this is from so many of the other cardigans in the pattern database, and how beautiful, comfortable and effortless it looks. QUEUED!
- YX

26 December 2011

Trend: Winter White

Although Houston summers are brutal, I love this time of year because we travel enough to interact with snow, but don't have to stick around for the slush.
Instead, I find myself gravitating toward fluffy white sweaters and blankets, which remind me of snowbanks without the cold. Winter white is an awesome color: it's not as yellow as ivory, but it's not a cold white, either. It looks great with greys and browns, and festively bright when everyone's walking around with huge, black overcoats.

Here are a few skeins I'm loving right now:

Debbie Bliss Andes in Off White- this is the yarn I used for the failed blue slippers, which is totally nice in cowls and accessories: 

And I love anything Filatura de Crosa. Here's Pamir, which is 50% wool, 30% cashmere and 20% silk:

I would love to include some indie artists, but natural white wool kind of defeats the purpose, so I'll have to pick a more vibrant color for my next color feature, for sure!

How do you guys feel about white yarn? Wedding shawls only? Refuse to wear it for fear of dirt/staining? Have half of your FOs in white? Let me know in the comments...
- YX

23 December 2011

LRB Penny Farthing Sport (Ahab)

Hey! I have a video for ya:

Love this yarn for so many reasons: It's a gorgeous color, it's super soft, and it was made by an awesome indie dyer, so what more could I possibly ask for?

I caked the first skein two nights ago, before Andrew and I left for Christmas. We flew to Rhode Island, and I figured the TSA would be more lenient on my Addi Lace Clicks if I had a project on the needles, so I did the first little section of a project before I boarded:

Recognize it? It's the Texelle Shawl! I needed a break from all the gift knitting, so it's my side project. I'm worried about the rapidly increasing planned project/WIP/stash yarn situation I seem to be having, so I hope that I can get this (and my other projects) finished up relatively soon for the new year. The cardigan I'm planning (with the alpaca I bought from the farm- remember that?) will have to wait. I have a sinking feeling it'll be a next-fall FO, sadly.

Hope you guys like the video!
- YX

20 December 2011

Baby Chucks

I don't have anything new to report on the slippers- I finished the second one last night, and decided to take a night away from them to get a little perspective before attempting to felt them. But they are finished and waiting for the next step.

So I decided to cast on for my next gift project (non-Christmas-related, thank goodness). My friend (and wedding videographer) Drew announced that he and his wife are expecting a baby, so I figured some fashionable kicks were in order. I finished one last night-- IN TWO HOURS. Super fast project. All I have is this one image that I took before I blocked it:

I still need to do the logo on the side, and I think I will so a little bit of duplicate stitching over the areas on the toe that aren't perfect. Otherwise, I love it! I did a crochet chain for the laces, instead of the suggested 3 stitch i-cord. I dipped the ends of the laces in wax and smoothed it out to give the aglet effect on the ends. SO CUTE. I plan on finishing the other one tonight, and I might end up taking the yarn and needles with me and cranking out a few more over the holidays, just to have some in my gift stash.

In other news, I just saw the new VK Winter 11/12 preview, as usual, my opinions are mixed. I think that's a good sign for a magazine, though: it means the styles are varied enough that a large audience should appreciate them. Here are a few images:

I LOVE the image on the far left, which is a big, tinuc-y, cowly lace dress. Totally my style!
- YX

19 December 2011

Progress and next projects

I know Mondays are normally reserved for trend posts, but I wanted to update you guys on some stuff! My free trial of Final Cut Pro ran out over the weekend, so I had to buy the full version... Not exciting for you, at least, not until you see my next little video project. Here's a teaser photo:

I finished my lovely Guernsey Wrap at the beginning of last week, gave it a quick blocking and took some photos:

And I was lucky enough to finish those Oh, Slip test slippers. On Friday, I decided a teeny bit of felting might help the shape and fit a little. So into the hot washer they went, and I watched them like a hawk. They needed a little rinse and some blocking, before being placed on the stationary rack in my dryer. The shape improved TREMENDOUSLY:

Full disclosure: This was my first felting project, EVER. I really liked the texture of the fabric and the shape after washing! These slippers have been saved! And had I let them go a little while longer, they would have been at least another size or two (or three) smaller. This was just a low agitation hot water wash! 

So with those saved, I moved on to the "final" slippers, which are knit from double-held strands of Debbie Bliss Andes. The recipient loves the color blue, but I am super skeptical of the final product, yet again:

This time, since the yarn is 65% alpaca, 35% silk, I'm not sure that felting will give me the same result, but I'm going to give it a shot. They're a size 9 right now, but I'm sure that I can felt them a little and stretch them back out to the correct size. I'm done with the first slipper and moving on to the second, which is at the heel short rows. 

I think I'm really nervous about the final product because I feel like this is a big gamble: my recipient is my grandmother-in-law, and I'm petrified that she'll hate them, think they're stupid, or they won't fit right. Not being thrilled with the look of the slipper is definitely making that worse. I find that the vast majority of my projects end with positive results, which makes me hypercritical of anything new. Does anyone else feel the same way?

Luckily (or unluckily) for me, I'll have plenty of time to work on my gift-giving neuroses, as my next few projects are giveaways. Another pair of these slippers for MY grandmother (probably in the same oat-colored wool as my first pair, and felted more), a pair of baby converse booties for one of my wedding videographers, who just announced their pregnancy before we went to video school, and a secret beanie project for my OTHER wedding videographer. 

I also have to finish up my Oh, Handsome rugby sweater for our friends' baby, who is due in the new year. TONS of things on the to-do list, before I can even get to my alpaca cardigan or my texelle shawl

14 December 2011

The Trouble with Slippers

Somewhere, deep in my box of awful ideas, I decided it would be awesome to knit my grandmothers ballet slippers as a bonus Christmas gift. Andrew and I were asked to get them photos from our wedding, but I felt guilty just giving them a photograph (of us, no less), so I thought "hey, I have some Jade Sapphire cashmere in my stash from a wicked LYS sale... I should use it!"

Unfortunately, I should've known that laceweight cashmere is a bad choice for slippers. I did have some rather pretty, natural worsted yarn in my stash, so I went about using that to do a mockup. I chose Oh, Slip as my pattern, but was dismayed to find that the pattern was actually calling for a doubled sock yarn... But I thought I'd give it a shot with the worsted I had:

The first one, which was completed in mere hours, was a bit disappointing. The construction is basic: Short row toe, some shaping for the foot, and a short row heel. The pattern is well-written, but the fit was pretty rough. The heel came up too high, so my ankle joint kept pushing the slipper lower, off my foot. The sides were a bit shallow, as well. I do love the purled opening/ bind off, but I'm not thrilled with the yarn. I think I'll  look through my stash a little more tonight, as I finish a matching slipper to the one above... Might as well have a pair! I'll use them around the house.

In other news, I scored an awesome knit dress at Free People last week. It was on sale! I love Free People, because they always have kickass knits that can, at the very least, serve as inspiration. Here's the dress on me:

I love the details: the chiffon slip and ties, the shaping at the waist... It's so comfortable, too! Here's a back view, courtesy of the website:

I love finding good knits! Any other stores I should shop at? Leave 'em in the comments!
- YX

12 December 2011

Trend: Christmas Ornaments

The holidays are upon us! Happy holidays!

Andrew and I decided to buy a Christmas tree at the last minute this year, and it's being shipped to us today! I can't have a real tree due to my allergies, so we opted for an artificial, prelit (LED) tree with some little sprigs of holly berries and pinecones on it. I figured that, since we don't have many ornaments on our own just yet, the berries would help to make it look more Christmassy.

My mom bought us a Hallmark ornament every year as kids, and they all have some kind of meaning. I have Tinkerbell ornaments from my Halloween as Tinkerbell (and a short stint in my school's Peter Pan production). There's a Pepe Le Pew ornament, for my favorite Looney Toon. Tons of different ones. They're being shipped to me now, too, so I'm really excited to open them up and share them with Andrew.

We'll definitely need knitted ornaments, too. Ravelry's pattern database even has a search category for them, which made it easy to pick out my favorites! So here we go...

Stjarna by Karolina Eckerdal is successful in its simplicity. You could make a ton of them to hang (or give) as a set, and they won't overwhelm a tree. A glimmery or silky yarn would be awesome for these, as would a neutral tweed, if you wanted to go the rustic route:

Frankie Brown's Advent Garland is ridiculous. Aside from being adorable, it has the kind of variety that keeps you from stabbing someone with a freshly sharpened candy cane. I mean, how cute is this?! You can put it on a tiny tree or just hang it, and delight in adding a new piece every day until Christmas. Just don't try to knit them on the day before!

I like these Deck the Balls ornaments by Kelly Jensen as a traditional, classic option. Great gifts for your Aunt Kathy, who wears awful Christmas sweaters sans irony:

LOVE LOVE LOVE (gasp) LOVE these Knitted Paper Chains by Kelly Kingston. I love them as a holiday option, but they would be adorable as in a Birthday in a Box kit, or knitted in a gold yarn to make a street cred statement:

These Christmas Lights by Amalia Samios are so cute chained together, but they'd be adorable as single ornaments, too!

And on a hilarious note, I thought these were too good to pass up: 0-548 Easter Chickens by DROPS. They may claim they're for Easter, but I would totally put these on my tree!

You know the drill- post your favorites (or WIPs and FOs!) in the comments!
- YX

08 December 2011

Video: Wollmeise Grab Bags

Okay, folks, I made a video which explains the Wollmeise Grab Bag process. It's actually pretty similar to the standard update.

Here's the Wollmeise Main Shop Page link as promised.

Here's the "We're Different" page I talk about in the video. The listings for each grab bag will be below:

And here's what an individual listing looks like on the page:
(Click to enlarge)

So, this listing is for a random mix of semi-solid or multicolored skeins of 100% superwash yarn in yellow or orange colorways.

Something that isn't incredibly clear in my video: The fastest way to get to a page to just buy any grab bag of yarn is to use the "In Stock" listings. The fastest/most accurate way to get a SPECIFIC grab bag you want is to load the individual listing's page via "We're different"... But you run the risk of that exact bag not being available on this update (not all bags are available each week), so it's, in some ways, riskier.

The updates are at 11:00a EST / 10centeral.

And here's what you get in the mail:

In the bag is the yarn, a receipt, a free pattern (usually gloves, for me), and a teeny bag of Haribo Goldbaren. :D

What bags are you going to try to snag during the update?
- YX

07 December 2011

Amazing Project: Mario blanket

I can't believe that something this awesome exists, but it does. Marie from Minneapolis, Minnesota recently completed this incredible Mario-themed blanket:

My jaw dropped when I saw it. Marie credits CrossStitch Ninja for the creation of the original chart, which she scaled up to crochet. She started the blanket about a year ago, with several periods of hibernation, but look at it! I can't get over it! Here are some in-progress photos:

I think the reason this project is so effective is the diligent loyalty to the original colors of the game. Accuracy! Precision! NES Super Mario Brothers 3! This blanket has everything I need.

I would love to see a whole series of these- every level! Any crocheters out there interested in committing? I might have to learn how, just so I can represent my favorite world.

Thanks to Marie for sharing your project! Which Mario game is your favorite? Let me know in the comments!
- YX

05 December 2011

Trend: Ballet slippers

I love slippers: from the fair isle, leather-soled versions I've seen in stores lately all the way back to my big poofy Steve Madden muppet slippers, there's nothing more cozy than a good pair.

There are a TON of great knitted and felted slippers, but I want to focus on a very specific type for today: non-felted, ballet-style flat slippers.

I've had Julie Wiesenberger's Pleated Ballet Flats in my queue for ages. I love the subtle gathering around the opening, which makes these a great candidate for a simple, luxe yarn. I'd make some for myself, and then a bunch as gifts.

Suede slippers, by Lisa S. Rowe, are simple, elegant, and could be a canvas for fun multis. I'd head to the fabric store and get some faux suede to sew on the bottom as sole pads. I can see these being a great scrap buster:

Jade Lee's Seamless Slipper pattern is affordable and adorable, with a different look that presents an opportunity for buttons!

And finally, the Shine Home Slippers by Julia Noskova are cute and worthy of some of the more radical multicolors... These are really successful, in my opinion, due to the solid border and strap around the opening:

Okay, you know the rules: favorite slippers in the comments!
- YX

30 November 2011

VK Sale!

Looks like Vogue Knitting has a sale going on- all patterns for $2.99. I was gifted a subscription several years ago (and my parents continue to indulge me annually), so I have the fortunate situation of owning most of the VK patterns I would want... But there's something so frustrating about toting around a magazine (or a pattern copied out of one).

Maybe it's the way VK writes patterns, which is crammed at the end of their quarterly in 3-column-per-page teeny writing. Flipping through the photos is awesome, but actually attempting to knit anything is irritating.

For the mag issues I don't have, it's great to be able to get the download from their website. All magazines should offer the option-- I mean, if you pay $4 for a single download of one pattern, that's more expensive than buying the entire issue, which would make more money for the magazine.

I flipped through the VK offerings on Rav and pulled a few for us.

#33 V-Neck Dress (H 2006) by Fayla Reiss for for VK. This dress got up, walked over to my desk and screamed "MISSONI" at me. My ears are still ringing. Is the dress painfully simple? Yes. Is it a v-neck pullover with ease at the hips and triple stranded in a way that  makes my hands hurt without even casting on? Yes. But I think a yarn sub could fix that. This dress is so flipping wearable. Tights and boots? Done. I'd choose whites, reds, and pinks for an over-the-top Valentine's day deal, or charcoals, barks, and light greys for an ethereal winter palette.

#07 Mohair Lace Dress (EF2011) by Laura Zukaite. I hate the way this is styled in the shoot, because it makes it appear long-sleeved, but this video gives you a better idea of the final product. I loved the laced-up back and the variety of stitches used in the pattern. This is one of those "I'll never knit it, but I absolutely admire it" projects.

I know I'm going to lose some of you with #18 New York Skyline Pullover (H2011) by Renee Lorion, but I love it. I don't love that it's knit in mohair lace, which works so well for the pattern above but would be too fuzzy to wear close to the skin. The sweater is shown as a layering piece, which saves me my initial negative reaction to all short-sleeved sweaters. Boxy, short-sleeved "relaxed" sweaters like this one only attract me if they're balanced by a coquettish design feature- an open back, deep neck, or off the shoulder scoop. Renee borrows the Skyline motif from Perry Ellis, and it's what I'd borrow from this pattern. I think it'd make a kickass bag or cushion cover.

I'm enamored with #28 Colorwork Poncho (EF2011) courtesy of Deborah Newton. I love the colorwork, color choices, and the garment's interesting side seams. It isn't a poncho, but it's a really cute pullover.

Okay, I could keep going, but I want to see YOUR VK picks. Sale ends Friday- are you going to partake? I will, if I can find something I absolutely KNOW I'll knit in the next few months. Otherwise, saving $3 isn't a good enough reason for me to scamper off to the site and start hoarding.
- YX

28 November 2011

Daily Posting Fail and Trip Recap

Well, the holidays drove a big stake in the heart of my daily blog posting. But life goes on!

We arrived in Columbus early on Wednesday morning, and after various activities, we exchanged Christmas presents! For anyone wondering, my niece loved the case we made for her!

The holiday went by smoothly, and on Saturday, we decided to go to the Scott Antique Market at the Ohio State Fairgrounds. When I lived in Columbus, the market was one of my favorite things to do. It opens once a month in the fall and winter months; a venue full of antique vendors selling various wares and accoutrements. The thing is huge. Here, I took a photo from one corner:

This booth was really open and had a ton of different things in it. One small box under a table caught my eye, though:

Vintage yarn? And not just any yarn...

Holy mother of SuperSaver, this stuff was super itchy! And the skein was teensy. One ounce! At least it's shrink and stretch resistant, and comes in a handy, tangle-free ball. NO WINDING! I do love the cute little heart tag that marks the end of the center-pull tail. If only current skeins employed something similar, I'd (a) be able to make some sweet charm necklaces with them (or tile my kitchen backsplash) and (b) not have to reach in and pull out the guts of the skein to find that errant little tail.

Ah, well. I've given up on the center-pull ball, anyway. I knit exclusively from the outside of cakes now. No deflated skein or cake ends, and a cutely shrinking ball that never seems to change size until one day, what happened? It's all gone.

Finding old yarn like this makes me super thankful for modern fiber!
- YX

24 November 2011

Trend: Turkeys time!

Oh, c'mon now, you knew it was coming:

Janice Anderson's Francis Turkey is my favorite of the stuffed toy variety:

Decorative Gourd Season wouldn't be complete without a few table pumpkins. How about Luscious Little Pumpkin from Marie Greene?

Get into the spirit with a Pilgrim Bonnet, courtesy of Heather Buelow:

And of course, the best FO gallery on Ravelry, period: Jive Turkey Baby Hat by SewGeeky!

Happy Thanksgiving to my American friends, and happy Thursday to everyone else!
- YX

23 November 2011

Thanksgiving eve

We have arrived in the not-so-warm midwest:

I'd be lying if I said I wasn't looking forward to the minute potential for snow in the middle of the night. I brought my Caliper, and that's the only knitted thing I packed this time. Boy, that was a mistake.

And we're almost at the end of NaBloPoMo, too! Just one more week of daily updates before I'm back to a normal Monday, Tuesday, Thursday schedule. Exciting! I can't wait to be back on a normal schedule with enough time to really find the absolute best projects and items to show.

I'm looking forward to our big meal tomorrow (all of our family is convening at my parents' house for the festivities), and I wish all of my American buddies a super happy Thanksgiving! I even have a special post lined up for you tomorrow... You'll love it!

- YX

22 November 2011

FO: Doll storage

I love throwing things away. 

Okay, that's not accurate. I love finding things in my house that are not useful to me, but can be given away, sold, or donated to charity. I'm not what you'd call a minimalist (what knitter is, really?), but open, clean spaces are so much easier to maintain when there's less clutter in my house. Imagine my excitement when, one day, Andrew pulled out a dusty looking vodka gift set from the top of a cabinet. It looked like this:

(c) Foodswami

We're not big drinkers, but the case reminded me of a trunk I had for my American Girl dolls:

Apparently, storage has been a big theme for me this week.

The trunk above was used to store tons of things, including a doll. Andrew's liquor case, at 14" was not tall enough to hold an American Girl doll (18"), so I figured it would at least be a decent closet/ storage container for her accessories. We took stock of our current situation:

Straps and shelves would work well for various little items, but drawers would be better. And there was the problem of the front... It had the Grey Goose logo embossed in the leather. We drew up some plans and got to work. While Andrew worked on the drawers, I came up with a solution for the front:

The logo is a sticker from the American Girl Scrapbooking area at our local Michael's Crafts store. I mounted it to a piece of brown mat board, and glued it to the logo.

Then, we worked on the inside. Andrew built some drawers out of poplar craft wood, and I tried to figure out a way to make the open space on the left work. My mom had suggested some kind of hooks for the larger hats my niece has. I didn't want to guess size and placement for hooks, so I came up with a modular solution: A corkboard! I cut out some cork squares, layered them to get the right thickness, and glued them to the inside face of the case. Andrew lined the drawers with felt, and I ran a white ribbon along the bottom (to help them slide easier), and at midnight last night, we were finished:

We printed out little pictures of the doll and our family members to pin up on the board (and added a cool sticker we found in the scrapbook aisle, too. I loved stickers as a kid! This Yorkie sticker wasn't like anything I'd ever seen before, though-- it's like 5 or 6 layers of felt. So cute!

I hope my niece likes the case!
- YX

PS: Did you know that you can click on my photos to get enlarged versions? When I post photos of patterns, those photos are linked to the purchase location or Rav pattern page.