31 October 2011

Trend: Halloween

Okay, you know it had to be done. Just a quick roundup of some of my favorite Halloween patterns!

Wee Sandy's crocheted Eyeballs:

This amazing Mermaid Set by Melody's Makings:

Hallowig, by Megan Reardon. I'm sorry, but browsing the FO's is a riot. ESPECIALLY BABIES! This FO is made by Knitsmith, who has 154 projects, all of which appear to be flawless!
Okay, I'm sorry, but this photo makes my day. I bet I could eradicate any bad mood by bringing this post up at looking at this kid in this hair hat. I'm cracking up!

There's the ever-popular Fish Hat by Thelma Egberts, which made me snort the first time I saw it:

Maybe a little witch doll? Purl Soho can hook you up. My friend Liz from my knit group just finished one of these and it was SO cute! (I did have to ask her why she was making a miniature version of me...)

I'm going to work dressed as a late 50's/ early 60's secretary, since I already have the outfit and glasses. I'm practicing my beehive french roll, too! Not many people downtown dress up for Halloween, but a little vintage look is enough to be festive without going full-on costume. I'm also a big fan of just wearing clip-in devil horns, weird color contacts, or those stick-on vampire teeth. Something small that can be removed for meetings, if needed. I can take off my glasses and just look like I shop at Banana Republic this year. Here's a photo of my makeup and outfit test-run:
What you can't see: knee-length tweed skirt, sensible shoes, white kid gloves, skinny belt, and my winged eyeliner! So much fun! Now to get the hair in shape. I don't know how those women did it!

Happy Halloween!

27 October 2011

Queued: Flame Yoke Top

If I had an army of monkeys, a room full of laptops, and a million years, I don't think I'd be able to get through all of the patterns in Rav's database. Yet, somehow, that's what I find myself doing currently. I've sorted the knitting patterns just down to "Female" "clothing" "with photos", and I've spent a few nights already click-click-clicking through. Mind you, this is JUST garments, not accessories. My filtered search returned 24,353 items, and each day, I see a few duplicated patterns from the end of my current page, on the next page, suggesting that more designs have been added since I last searched.

So many patterns. So many OBSCURE patterns.

I didn't find this one in my search, though. I found it quite awhile ago, while I was searching for a pattern for some alpaca I bought at a farm down the street from my parents' house. Anyway, check this out:

Okay, first of all, if you put a gorgeous model in a shoot, I may buy the pattern regardless. I feel like pretty models in simple poses really do amazing things for the garment. The way she holds her hand up gives you a look at the sleeve cuff, and draws attention to the yoke. 

And can you see the shaping? What? Do you need a better image?
LOOK AT THAT. Hourglass-shaped decreases and increases! Illusion of hourglass figure! Well-planned ease! I'm floored. Awesome. Designer Ashley Knowlton did so many effective things in this sweater. The yoke is appropriately sized, for one thing. I can't tell you how many yoked sweaters I see, where the yoke's too long and the armpits of the sweater end up sagging lower, and they end up creating this weird saggy pit-boob zone that is not sexy at all. 

I also love this yoke because the designer included a split at the neckline. I love yokes, but I get so bored seeing the same shapes, over and over. This one isn't a scoopy, roundy "I made a yoke, so here it is, it's a yoke" neckline. It has INTEREST. It works well with the lace pattern. The only change I might make it to pick up some stitches around the neck and create some kind of stabilized edge. Maybe just a crocheted row. I'd really have to knit it and see what the edge looks like without anything, first, but I just get the feeling that it needs more. 

Look at the length, too. Mid-butt. I love sweaters at this length. Partly because I have a long torso, and partly because I like sweater cover in case I get a hole in my pants or sit in something, or want to wear a sweater with leggings and kick it 1980's style. And it's screaming for a soft, simple yarn with an eensy bit of halo, just like the alpaca I have. 

As much as I love this pattern, I have gripes. First off, there are NO pattern notes on the Ravelry page. All I can tell about the construction is through the tags: Bottom up, charted and written, requires kitchner. It also says it is both worked flat AND in the round. How? None of the FO's have information, and half of them don't even have photos. Yep, this is the plight I mentioned earlier with projects that are obscure, coming back to bite me in my non-flame-yoked butt

Another issue (pun time!): it was published in Yarn Forward magazine, which has changed its name to Knit Magazine. It makes finding back issues a nightmare. Luckily, the issue has a discussion about the top, and some nice person suggested Yudu.com for locating a digital copy. At this point, I honestly believe there is no excuse for magazines when it comes to having digital patterns on their website, or available as a Rav download.

Despite these problems, I want this pattern so badly. I mean, even the things I'm complaining about have nothing to do with the design or the designer! It's still gorgeous, just going to be hard to track down.

That said, anyone have Issue 30 of Yarn Forward?

25 October 2011

Scalloped Table Runner

Tuesday video time, in which our hero sounds like she hates the pattern and yarn, but honestly doesn't! The pattern's lovely and well written. Check it out:

And here's the yarn that I'm using....

Ravelry Project Page
Pattern Page

24 October 2011

Trend: Spine cables

Halloween is coming... so here's something skeletal!

These cables are often called Y-cables, but I refer to them as spine cables. Most cables twist in one direction, but these are delightfully monodirectional. The projects I see that incorporate spine cables generally have a refined but edgy look. They're super fun to knit, too! Here's a spine cable project I've had on the needles forever.

Drops 125-23 jumper:

And more...
The Aspen Wrap by PreciousKnits

Silken Scabbard by Jennifer Hansen

#02 Backbone Vest by Mari Muinonen / tikru

Backbone Shrug by Melissa Halvorson

They're showing up on a ton of apparel items. I couldn't believe it when I opened my Victoria's Secret catalog and the first big spread included the sweater below. They look like little hearts on a lot of these items, but I find that the hand knitted spines I see are way... spinier. 
Sweater by Haute Hippie, Old Navy slipper boots, Sweater from Victoria's Secret, cushion by AllSaints, Hats by Kangol.

I'm in love with the way these cables are so structural. They look great on men's and women's garments alike, and read well horizontally or vertically- how's that for versatility? 

Got a favorite spine cable pattern? Post it in the comments!

20 October 2011

Queued: Texelle Chunky Shawl

I love searching through Ravelry's database of patterns. Right now, there are just over 180,000 patterns for JUST KNITTING projects on the site. I spend hours searching terms, flipping through options, and narrowing down my searches to find exciting potential projects. When I queue something, I immediately get excited about the potential yarn choices, project timeline, and I begin envisioning my final product. I'm definitely a product knitter, too. I love having THINGS when I'm done! It's like winning a trophy every time. 

That's all fun, but I really love it when I can find a project with less than 10 finished objects on Ravelry. Why? I think it's the excitement of finding something that seems obscure. I like being able to say, "Hey, have you seen this?" to my knitting friends. With fewer FO's, I feel like my brain is more flexible on yarn choices, too, because seeing a great FO in a great yarn just makes me want to run out and get the same thing, instead of thinking through fiber and color choices for myself. The downside is that I depend on the designer to have some great photos to get my excited about the pattern. 

I'm excited about this one: 

Look at that! No, really! Look!
1) This is a shawl
2) But it's not a shawly shawl.

There's no lace, there's no foof, it's clean but has excellent texture. It calls for WORSTED YARN, people. WORSTED.

This is the Texelle Chunky Shawl by Phydeaux Designs. Look at that. It's beautiful in its simplicity, but has enough variation in the stitches to be an interesting knit. Brenda Lavell, the incredibly talented designer, chose Madelinetosh Tosh Vintage for the shawl, which makes a beautiful fabric without overwhelming the pattern. This is definitely not a multicolored yarn showcase. It looks so appropriately autumnal that I can easily see it being beautiful in jewel tones. I could even see- if one was feeling a bit saucy- some of the textured stripes in a different color.

So simple, so beautiful. It's a great companion to the Raphaelite's intricacy. I can see this being wrapped around my shoulders during a fall walk, or making an excellent gift for someone who isn't into a lacy shawl. And I love the variation in the stitches as a great way to show off just a few of the different stitches you can do in knitting, in such an intentional way. Let's look at some more images:

As with all patterns I love on Rav, this one has some great pattern notes, which let you know all the info up front without surprises. Check out the pattern's Ravelry page.


19 October 2011

Weaving with Wollmeise

Hi readers! Sorry I missed my video update yesterday; late nights at the office don't do well for blogging on time! Since I can't get you a video right now, how about a review of a project that has pretty decent photos, anyway? How about something that uses yarn really quickly? How about something that isn't knitting?
How about this scarf that I made? I'm new to weaving-- this summer was my first attempt at weaving. I wasn't particularly interested in learning how to weave until I saw some really cool pooled Wollmeise scarves in the Wollmeiseaholics group on Ravelry. Some of the colors, like the pitahaya I used for the above scarf, look a little crazy when knitted into a fabric. I find the irregular striping to be super loud and distracting on me, so this is a great way to use supermultis in a more controlled way. You can actually pool with knitting, too, but I haven't tried it yet. 

So the thing about pitahaya is that it's lovely: pink, green, and white. The skeins are SO pretty.
So I had to show off the color. I bought a Schacht Cricket loom from Lion Brand's website, and after a little assembly, had it up and running. I did a few practice items (ahem, 2), before I dove into warping for the scarf. Things I learned on my first two objects: make the selvedge edges as loose as the middle threads, don't yank on your weft thread when you pull it through, and you have to plan out your project before you get started, which is something I fail at. ("Stripes? Sure, how about....here. And there.")

Warping for pooling colors is an easy process that looks complex. Basically, your scarf length is guided by the dye repeats in the skein. Think of your skein untwisted and sitting on a swift. One 360 degree rotation around your skein will usually equate to one dye repeat. I used two rotations on my swift, so I got about 6' of length. As I warped, the colors pooled:
From there, I wound the warp threads around the apron bar, got everything ready, and started weaving in my weft yarn. For this scarf, my weft yarn was the same color pink as the pitahaya, but just solid. If I had a white, I would've used it. 
Weaving goes REALLY quickly, but you have to pay attention to your fabric to make sure things don't get uneven or wobbly. See my fabric above? Wobbly, due to the warp threads having uneven tension. I'm still working on how to do a better job. I wove the weft thread through the warp about, oh, fifty million times, and then BLAMMO, scarf:
You can see all the color repeats here, really well. I ended up doing a triple knotted fringe on the ends, which gave it a decent finish for this newb. 

For simple weaving projects, I really like my little Cricket. It's portable, easy to store, and makes good presents that don't require the commitment of knitting. On the other hand, your finished product is basically 10" to 12" wide, with an infinite length. More complex weaving, or wider objects, have to be done on another type of loom. While I DO enjoy weaving, knitting's still number one for me. 

See ya on Thursday!

17 October 2011

Trend: Owls

Okay, owls have been around for several seasons, and definitely aren't a new trend, but I keep seeing them come across my Ravelry "friend activity" feed. My college mascot was an owl, and I've always had a soft spot for them. They're also symbols associated with wisdom, the Goddess Athena, and even the Illuminati. Regardless of occult involvement, they seem to be everywhere, and I've taken this trend's popularity as a rare opportunity to stock up on owl-related goods to support my Alma Mater (Go Rice!). 

The knitter owl craze kicked off hard with Kate Davies's Owls sweater. So cute and funky. I definitely like the knit as shown, but it's also cute with eyes on just one owl (preferably one that isn't in the center!)

But now, aside from seeing this cabled motif on all sorts of things, I feel like owl patterns are popping out everywhere. Look at this mooshy Big Snowy Owl stuffie from Purl Soho:

How about Amy Gillespie's omg so freaking cute Owl hat:

And a sweet minimalist plushie Owl Pattern from Linda Dawkins over at Natural Suburbia:

They're showing up all over the place. 
(Clockwise from Top Left: Garnet Hill Owl Sheets, print by UnitedThread,  Alexander Henry Owl Fabric, Tee by PRVCY, Owl wall vinyl by SimpleShapes, Owl earrings by McKee Arts, Lunchbox by Skip Hop)

I think I'll celebrate the owls today with this necklace I picked up last week! 


13 October 2011

Queued: Caliper Hat

Know what I love?

Hats. I love a good, quick hat. People don't wear hats anymore; what's up with that? 

There are a ton of knit patterns for hats, but I find that the vast majority of them fall into one category: winter hats. I've told you before that I live in Houston. Today, it's 84 degrees out, but it still feels like the surface of the sun, so many of these heavy, bulky hats that make most people look like sexy snow bunnies are laughable here. I crack up when I see women in Houston wearing faux fur or shearling boots. It's 40 degrees in the winter. 

So I'm relegated to hats that exist purely for the fashion. Things that are effortless in their presence, and I find that these are the most difficult patterns to find. It has to have slouch. It has to have drape. And it has to be something fun and interesting to knit.  You know who pulls off sexy knit hats flawlessly? P!nk. Mr. Kangaroo agrees. 

When I see a hat that has the qualities I'm looking for, the combination is usually off: It's too slouchy. The yarn choice is integral to the design, but I hate it. The stitch pattern is unappealing to me. There's too much going on. There's not enough going on. I'm obviously way too hard to please. 

Well, here's one I love. 

It's called Caliper, and the designer is Tori Gurbisz. Her pattern is $5.50, and available as a Ravelry download. It is so many things that I love: Rock and roll. Simple and effortless in style. Had a cable element that is 100%, pure, unadulterated liquid sex. I love the decreases and detail on the cap:
This hat is exactly the reason why I will never be an awesome knitwear designer, period. She has a beanie version in worsted, but it's this DK toque version that has my heart aflutter. I love the yarn choice, too! One skein of Viola Silky and you're done! I ALSO love that this pattern only has 10 projects as of right now-- I love new things! 

But seriously, check out Tori's blog. I love this hat, but the more I read, the more I adore her sense of style and ability to pair yarns with designs. 

Hey, this Thursday post thing is killing me; I'm getting the screaming wants!!!

11 October 2011


It's Tuesday, so here's my video! I thought it'd be a quick one, but my inability to shut up won again!

I loved this shawl on so many levels. It was a great pattern, written well and clearly, and I made a good yarn choice for the project. Super happy with the final product!

Have a great week!
- YX

07 October 2011

Queued: Pas de Valse

I was looking at my queue and determined that I have great aspirations and never enough time, so why not spend Thursdays looking at some projects I hope to knit eventually... Once I find a way to cram more sand in the hourglass!

So, I have some serious admiration for Marnie Maclean. I love her patterns, which are always so well written, and include about a bajillion sizes. I'm big on sizes. I think it's because one of the greatest benefits of knitting a garment is the ability to make it FIT you. Not just in the offhand way that XS-XL sizing works, either. Like I said in one of my videos: Body: Small. Hips: Medium, for sure. Store-bought garments always look great up top, but they tend to ride up on me, because they're gasping for air once I stretch them over my hips! I realize my obvious solution is to buy bigger and tailor down, but that seems silly on a $20 tank top... Besides, I like this despair: It gives me More Reasons For Knitting(TM)! And we all need more of those.

Anyway, back to Marnie. She is just so flipping cute, and is one of the rare designers who has not only a huge catalog of designs, but a breadth of typologies, silhouettes, and concepts that flatter all sorts of people. She's not a skinny designer making skinny stuff, and she's not a busty designer making knits that would look great on Christina Hendricks and awful on everyone else. She does knit AND crochet. She's essentially Fiber Superwoman, and I want to be her when I grow up.

The first time I saw Pas de Valse, I fell in love. It's a fingering weight, open cardigan with this sexy lettuce edging that is raw, ruffly, and the right amount of pretty without being kitschy.

It calls for Oceanwind Knits Hand-Dyed BFL, but I could see this working in pretty much any soft sock yarn with a nice luxe feel. There are quite a few FOs on Ravelry in Madelinetosh Tosh Merino Light, which looks awesome. For down here in Texas, it'd be amazing in cotton, keeping it airy but still warm for the occasional cooler evening. I'd warn against dramatically variegated multicolor yarns, which are combative with the design, and if you're going the variegated route, stick to hue variations of the same color, which will give it a vintage feel. Essentially, this is not a sweater for showing off your yarn; use the yarn to show off the sweater. I'd also stay away from particularly shiny yarn on this project; it begs for a matte, washed look... But on the other hand, a super fuzzy mohair is going to drown the lines in a blur of fluff.

Twelve sizes (what did I tell ya?), which run the gamut from 30" to 63" busts! The open nature of the sweater makes it a great pairing with skinny jeans, vintage flares, cute little dresses, even a great pair of wool trousers. Something I absolutely LOVE is the versatility of the closure: she shows it belted, open, and pinned, and I've gotta say: it looks ROCKIN on cute pregnant bellies, too! Something you can knit during pregnancy and wear after. I'd knit it in a cool grey or a pink similar to the test knit, pair it with my floppy vintage Joplin hat, and some flares.

Check out the Ravelry project page here, and note the depth of information about the project, before you even buy the pattern: you see what the process is going to be, so there's no !surprise! skill in the pattern that suddenly makes it be above your skill level. (The edging is a crocheted lettuce, so that'll be a new skill for me to work on.) She even talks about finding a yarn with a good halo to fill in the "holes" that are created in order to make the fabric floaty.

Dang, maybe it's time for a 5th WIP? What yarn would you use for this sweater?

04 October 2011

Cascade Baby Sweater / Wollmeise 100%

Here's video 2:
Ravelry Pattern page
I loved this sweater. I didn't really have any challenges with it, due to previous sweater knitting experience! The leaf motif was kind of annoying, because the main repeats were at the top of the pattern, so after working part of the way down the page, I had to scroll back up to refer to that repeating pattern. Honestly, that's a quibble at best, because the pattern is so easy and cute! I love the photos, which were a great mix of detail and overall shots, and I REALLY loved the bottom and button band pattern, which had a seed-stitchy effect without the pain of doing full-on seed stitch. 

Wollmeise 100% "Nicole" page
Wollmeise is a 100% superwash merino fingering weight yarn, which is great for all kinds of garments. I've done quite a few projects with it, and I'm always pleased with the wear, warmth, and color of the yarn. 

See ya in a week!