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.

21 November 2011

Trend: Cloches

There are 603 Ravelry patterns under the category Knitting> Hat> Cloche. 

Cloche is french for bell, and the hats do resemble little bells: tight against the scalp, typically with a band or seam that gives way to a slightly flared brim. The hat should be worn low across the eyes and look flirty:

I was really disappointed to see how many patterns were miscategorized on Ravelry. A ton of beanies, turbans, and even a few bonnets were thrown in. I did see quite a few toques, which are narrow- or non-brimmed hats, which actually fit the cloche bill fairly well.

Okay, let me start with flawless yarn goddess Marnie MacLean and the Chapeau Marnier:
Have you ever looked at this hat? Really looked at it? I love the inclusion of the ribbon; different textures with knitted fabrics are one of my favorite ways to push an item from looking homemade to Handmade (with a capital H!). I'd extend the body of the hat downward, so the lace section was right at/ below my eyebrows.

Cloche Divine by Meghan Jones is adorable with interesting details:
I think this hat is BEGGING for color, and wouldn't look as good in a neutral, except maybe black. I can't see this in a grey or white, personally.

Lea Cloche by Cecily Glowik MacDonald is a true cloche, which would be amazing felted:
© 2011 Joe Hancock
In that same book, Weekend Hats, there's a great little welted toque, too!

And finally, Carina Spencer's Regina, which is so popular right now:
I'm trying really hard to get past the duck-foot-as-design-element, but more effort is obviously needed!

Favorite cloches? Post 'em in the comments!
- YX

20 November 2011

Weekend illness and WIP progress

Thanks to this weekend's continued illness, I've been flying along on my Guernsey Wrap with relative speed. Although it's nice to see progress on a WIP, it's disappointing to miss out on surprisingly beautiful weather... and from the looks of my husband, who gifted me with this cough/sore throat/fever, it's not going away soon. 

At least I'm self-medicating:

Despite the crummy health and unfairly beautiful weather, the Guernsey Wrap moves along:

If you're familiar with this pattern, the photo above may seem distorted, or the project may look like the gauge is WAY off... That's because I nearly doubled the amount of stitches in the pattern! I wanted a super wide wrap, something I can possibly convert into a poncho, so we'll see how that turns out!

I definitely need more Eco Alpaca to finish the project, too. We're leaving for Ohio on Wednesday morning, so I need to determine if the ball that I have will last through the holiday:
(Note the Ricola for scale)

Looks like I'll be making an emergency trip to the yarn store this afternoon! 3 hour flights and lots of time inside will definitely result in increased yarn consumption!

- YX

19 November 2011

Yarn and FO storage

Well, we've crossed over to that confused time of year-- the part where it's 80 degrees one day, then 60 the next. I keep a few pairs of socks around like house slippers, to pop on and off as needed when my feet start to get cold. 

Imagine my horror when I pulled on my first (and only) hand knitted socks and there was a gaping hole in one. I never wear these socks outside of my house, and this wasn't a worn-through hole... It was courtesy of my own personal nightmare: we have moths somewhere. 

I've been fighting moths for a few months now. I catch holes in Andrew's clothing every now and then, so awhile ago, we went to the Container store and stocked up on cedar hangers, storage bags, and some awesome locking bins for my yarn. 

The ones I'm using for my yarn actually have 6 locking handles on them. They are great, because they're airtight and watertight, and stack really nicely. I have two for my yarn, and it's nice to be able to see everything and know that it's safe from moisture and evil moth monsters. 

But after the sock debacle, it became apparent that I'd need another bin for my finished objects. So back to the store I went...
This one is smaller than my yarn storage bins, but I hope to fill it up pretty soon! See all of my squares in there? It closes up nicely:

And stacks on my yarn! 

What now, moths? HA!

- YX

18 November 2011

WIP: Mitered Squares

I'm not feeling great today. In fact, I just woke up from a monumental nap, which is why this post is so late.

I've been working on a blanket, which is a series of mitered squares in Cascade Eco Cloud:

I LOVE love the fabric- it's light and warn, and shows the increases well, but my cast off (a stretchy one) isn't stretchy enough, and the middles keep bunching up. I hard blocked them again, and they flattened out, which is what you're seeing in the photo above. Unfortunately, when I sewed four of them together, they looked awful:

The sewing yarn is not stretching with the fabric. I even tried blocking the whole thing together, to get the yarn to stretch more, and it's not working. I'm using a pretty basic whipstitch, and the result is terrible. I do have plans to use a different cast off to try to make the squares even MORE square, which I'm hoping will help.

The thing that bothers me most about this project is that I just want it to be done. This blanket is replacing a really worn lap blanket, so the sooner I can complete it, the better. It's not mentally stimulating knitting, but the squares are small enough and easy enough to take along in a car, to a waiting room, etc.

I have to admit- I've been less interested in working on the project because I'm not happy with how it's going. Does anyone have any advice for me, out there in knitter land? The fabric is just too nice to give up on!

- YX

17 November 2011

We have a winner!

Congratulations to BydeMyTime, who correctly guessed that the yarn in yesterday's video was indeed Wollmeise sock yarn in Dornroschen! She'll be receiving a mini-skein of the yarn!

For those interested, Dornroschen translates to "Sleeping Beauty":

I love Wollmeise. It's the perfect combination of warmth, twist, and strength. I also really like that the price is so reasonable for being such a popular yarn... around $27 bucks gets you 575 yards.

My Ravelry queue is full of patterns that have been tagged with "wm"; things I hope to knit - some day- in my favorite yarn.

Carina Spencer's Whipporwill:

Rat Ruffles from Arlene's World of Lace:

Trillian by Martina Behm- REALLY shows off those multicolored skeins:

Love it! Leave your favorite Wollmeise patterns in the comments!
- YX

16 November 2011


I'm so excited today! Last weekend, Andrew and I went out to shoot some video. We didn't have a concept or subject, so I just took along some knitting supplies and started casting on a project. 

Last night, I edited the footage. This was our first attempt at doing anything on our own, and it was so fun! I'm hoping that shooting, at least once or twice a month as a team, will help us improve. 

Startitis from Jacki Schaefer on Vimeo. - Password: yarn

Bonus internet points (and a special prize*) to the first person who can correctly guess the yarn brand and colorway used in the video!

Good luck!
- YX

(*Special prize may or may not be a mini-skein of the featured yarn)

15 November 2011


My parents live within stone-skipping distance of Swisher Creek Alpaca Farms. I had no idea that they had a shop on the premises, so it came as quite a surprise when my mom mentioned that I might be interested in going to check it out. 

The alpacas aren't normally available for public visits, but every once in awhile, they'll open up the farm for visitors and a market. I happened to be in town one weekend and got to meet several of their alpacas.

Unfortunately, the alpacas aren't generally for sale. Nor do they fit in an overhead bin... But you know what IS for sale? YARN. Tons of it. I went to the shop at the beginning of the summer and came home laden with purchases. I scored two skeins of natural suri, but most of my cash was spent on this:

That, friends, is a giant hulking pile of DK weight alpaca, next to my dog (for scale). The yarn is gorgeous: it's intensely black, with a bit of a shimmer.

I lightened the photo, so you could see the twist and texture. It's lightweight, fluffy, and insanely warm. I have 1600 yards in 8 skeins. The fiber is courtesy of Pistolero, a Huacaya alpaca that apparently doesn't believe in smiling for photographs.

I've had the yarn for a few months now, and I have been drawn to it more than usual lately, while going through my stash. 1600 yards is definitely a sweater quantity, but I've had some problems landing on a pattern. At first, my plan was to do a classic v-neck pullover, but then I remembered my Textured Tunic, which sees almost no playtime in this climate, and I decided a cardigan would be a better direction. Something warm and enveloping but layerable. I returned to Rav's pattern database and came up with some candidates:

Cassis by Thea Colman (I would lengthen the sleeves):

Zephyr by Tori Gurbisz... Remember her? She's the Caliper designer. 

They're all gorgeous, but black is such a difficult color. Textures are subtle, and too much can be harsh. Black is my staple neutral - I eschewed navy and brown about 3 years ago and haven't looked back. Maybe I should do some photoshopping to get a more accurate idea of what each FO might look like...

Leave your pick in the comments!
- YX

14 November 2011

Trend: Kimonos

Remember my friend Liz, the one who made the cute Halloween witch a few weeks ago? She asked me to do a blog post on Kimonos! Since fall is unmistakably here (for everyone but Houstonians - it's 82 degrees here today), I thought it'd be an excellent idea. Kimonos are great for fall- they can be left open for a more casual look, wrapped tight against a chill, and feature sleeves at various lengths. 

I love kimono sleeves. They help balance my shoulders, which are decidedly... shouldery. A good kimono sleeve can make an arm look so slender and delicate, too. 

My personal love affair with kimonos began with this pullover, surprisingly. The Pull Kimono from Phildar:
I curse the French language and my inability to understand it, but I think this one could be reverse engineered. Anyone notice the spine cables?

Get kicked in the face with some awesome colorwork via Murasaki Akai by Vicki Square:

I love the simple casual Glitter Shrug by Lion Brand. Yeah, by LION BRAND. I can't believe it.

And Norah Gaughan brings us the Origami Cardi via IK:

Can I just stop us there for a second? The name bugs me. There's nothing about this cardigan that says "folded" to me, so the reference seems to be purely for the sake of the Japenese connection, which seems lazy to me.

Best thing ever: babies in kimonos. Here's Seamless Kimono by Carina Spencer:

And I'll point you in the direction of a sassy man kimono, if you're interested!

Post your favorites in the comments!
- YX

13 November 2011

Knitting beverages

I love knitting. This is probably apparent due to, you know, the whole blog thing.

But there's nothing better to me than sitting in a great comfortable chair, with a warm glass of sweetened herbal tea. There's something so simple about it, but it definitely takes my knitting from a crafting activity to a relaxation activity. The warmth of the drink means I have to sip frequently, which gives my hands a break, too!

How about you guys? What do you drink while you knit? 

Oh, and here's a bonus-- New FO photos of my caliper, including my toggle button, thanks to Blue Lab Workshop:

- YX