30 January 2012

Bulky Shrugs

I have 3 skeins of Araucania Liwen in my yarn stash... It looks like this:

It's a pretty mixture of beach glassy colors, and I have seriously struggled with what to do with 350 yards of it. As you can see, I started a big, foofy scarf in a herringbone stitch. Let us examine all the things that are so, so wrong with all of this:

First off, there is no edging on this sad little scarf square. I don't care if the world thinks I'm wrong, but at this point in my knitting life, I am a firm believer in the power of edgings- they just make things look so much cleaner, handmade and less "crafty". Have I mentioned my dislike for the term "crafty"? It conjures up images of pipe cleaners and glue guns, which just aren't the same, to me.

Secondly, I live in Houston, Texas, where What the Heck Am I Going To Do With This Giant Scarf? I already have a giant scarf that is currently vacationing in the outlands of Jacki's Closet, so why am I bothering with this?!

So obviously, I'll be tearing this little beauty out, in favor of something else. Maybe a bulky shrug that I can wear during the two weeks of spring that we have?

I found the #101 Shawl Collared Shrug by Sweaterbabe, which is adorable and classic:

Pretty in Misti by Kitman Figueroa could be super nice in the yarn:

And finally, the adorable Bazan by the adorable Jane Richmond. I swear, Jane Richmond could macrame a g-string and I'd queue it.

Or maybe an accessory? I'm not married to the idea of a bulky shrug, but I generally don't do well with things like knitted bags. Hmm....

Anyone have any suggestions?
- YX

28 January 2012

Video: Contiguous Shoulder

I haven't had many FO posts lately because I'm working on a big sweater project, but I did a video this week on the contiguous sleeve, which is an alternative option to the traditional raglan or seamed sleeve.

Contiguous sleeves are seamless, but look seamed. I love them! Rav member SusieM invented the method, and there's a group on Ravelry with more information on how to complete the sleeve.

Here's a WIP photo of the shoulder:

The bottom of the sweater is still above my natural waistline, so I have quite a way to go before I can start on the dreaded sleeves and hood. I hate doing sleeves! I actually have a sweater that is all but done, thanks to the sleeves.

25 January 2012

Queued: Aphrodite

I love knitwear. I really do. But I have a complaint.

Now, wait a minute, come back! I think it's a fair complaint. The vast majority of knitwear exists in the realm of medium to bulky weight. When I say this, I mean comparatively. Look at the knit goods available in a clothing store. There's stuff like simple v-neck pullovers that are the teeniest machine stitches, knit shirts with completely indiscernible gauge, and accessories that are cobweb weight at best.

Relative to the rest of my wardrobe, my knitwear tends to fill the same textural application in a daily outfit: The large, soft, obviously-knitted niche. Which is why I'm obsessed with this:

Eeeeeeeeeeeep!! It's Aphrodite by Jamie Besel, and it doesn't even look like it's knitted! It's so flowy and translucent. I audibly gasped when I first saw it.

Upon further inspection, you can see some incredible detail and the teensy stitches. This is Habu 20/3 bamboo on size 1 needles. Look at the shoulder, attaching by what appears to be just a thread. 

The drape is incredible, too. I love the smocked appearance on the bottom, and the Grecian style of the overall design. This is so feminine and sexy, but still modest, for those of you who aren't high on low necklines.

The back and fronts are similar. The top is just enchanting. I could see so many variations on this top, including using the gathering concept to create a maternity tank with pleats over the midriff.

I can't imagine this in a color besides white/natural. Maybe a dove gray? Black would hide all of the incredible texture, and colors would seem distracting.

I would love to knit this one as soon as I get Versio off the needles. So many potential projects! I DO want to work on a pullover for Andrew, too, since we're married now and it won't mean the demise of our relationship.

Have a great day!
- YX

23 January 2012

Fantasy knit spaces

If you had endless cash, what kind of knitting space would you create? I have a chaise lounge that is great for knitting, but I generally find myself on my couch next to my husband. But given the ability to create just a space for knitting and relaxation? I might do something like one of these:

I need a decent view, an inviting space, and plenty of space to put up my feet!

What do you need to make a great knit nook?
- YX

19 January 2012

Window shopping: Etsy yarn

I was idly browsing Etsy last night and happened upon some interesting yarn! Although I'm on somewhat of a yarn diet, I figured I'd share it with anyone who was actively shopping.

Etsy is such a great resource for handmade things, but it's also great for hand dyed and spun yarns, as well as recycled yarn! Great cashmere at reasonable prices, silks, and a guilt-free conscience for re-loving fiber that was given away.

Sunrise Fiber Co.'s Neon Green Silver sock yarn:
Lightbrown Hare's Jackalope sock in Luna Cat:

Wild Hare's Handspun Self-striping Bulky Superwash in Peacock Gradient:

ShopYarnLove's Poppies in Winter sock:

Gnome Acres's Fawkes the Phoenix lace:

I love them all! That first one is really killing me! I can't wear green near my face, but I could see awesome gloves or iPhone accessories with it! Eeep!

Leave your pick in the comments! 
- YX

17 January 2012

Trend: Layerable Dresses

There are something like 1,000ish adult dresses on Ravelry. Some are definitely tunics, and some are skirt/top combos, but I was astounded at how many there were. Especially because I'm typically floored when I see  dress FOs showing up in the Ravelry forums. It seems to be rare.

So I grabbed three layerable choices in different styles for today's post. I like layer pieces because they are so versatile for various weather choices.

First we have Liesl, by Julie Weisenberger. I love the sheer fabric, which is a sport yarn on size 8 needles. The uneven hem and pockets are a total bonus. This would be awesome over leggings or jeans, with a tank or long sleeved tee underneath. So cute!

Bente Geil's Topstykke is gorgeous for the opposite: it has a defined structure and incredible pleating that makes the piece look like it's made from felt, when it is actually sock yarn on #4s! Wearable and tectonic. This would be great with cute tights and a long sleeved tee, or layered over a lace or chiffon underdress.

Heather Dixon's Hattie is my last pick. It's different from the other two, and is fully in the "summer" camp.
It's a great beach coverup, but would be cute with long, lacy socks and a ballerina-style wrap to give it a more coquettish look.

Dresses scare me: the amount of yarn and the dedication to project completion are a step above sweater knitting, which is currently a 2-3 time per year occurrence for me. Were I more prolific with the needles, I might be more willing to jump into bigger projects with less reserve.

Share your favorite dresses in the comments! And link your FOs!
- YX

16 January 2012

FO: Texelle

Oooh! I love finishing a project that I featured as a Queued item. This time, I'm happy to report that Texelle is off the needles and blocked!

I love the finished product. It's warm, soft, and a beautiful color. A friend on Ravelry mentioned that it looks like soft metal, and I can definitely see that. Ahab is much greener in the skein than I thought it would be, but knitted up, the light and dark areas blend together really well. It's an idea semi-solid, with subtle heathering, which is SO HARD TO FIND in semi-solids.

Andrew and I went to Galveston this weekend, which is about 45 minutes from Houston. While the dogs went crazy on the beach, I got a few quick snaps. I was surprised at how well the shawl warmed me up.

So happy with the textures, and the lack of lace!!!

It's awesome as a bandanna, a traditional granny shawl, or worn off to the side (like the photo above), which is my favorite way to wear shawls like this. It's an easy wear, but depending on the slipperyness of the yarn, you may find yourself disliking it. The steps are simple:

1) Place shawl over left shoulder, with the point on the back of your shoulder (but not centered on your back)
2) Throw "front" end across chest, over right shoulder.
3) Lay "back" end on top, over the right shoulder, and let it hang down.

With this wrapping style, you get to see the edging and ends from the front, and the dramatic center yarn overs aren't cutting your back in half. Love it!

How do you wear your shawls?
- YX

11 January 2012

FO: Viking Hat!

Well, the viking hat (and accompanying beard) is completed, and I did a quick shoot before sending it out the door:

The beard is my favorite part, namely how ridiculously long it is:

The Knitpicks Comfy I used on the hat is great for stitch definition, but may not be stretchy enough. I'm sure a quick wash and light tumble dry would tighten it back up. The trick to the horns is definitely to stretch the base of the horn out as wide as it will go as you're sewing it on, in order to get stability at the base and keep the horns from drooping.

I did a video last night explaining everything I could about the beard, including materials and construction methods. Hope you enjoy it!
- YX

10 January 2012

Sweaters, sweaters

So, as I said in my video, I'm restashing my black alpaca until the right pattern comes along. Instead, I pulled out a different skein and wound it for my next sweater project:

I'm going to swatch tonight for Versio, which I stumbled upon quite happily last night. There's a modified FO that I just love, and I'll be using her modifications to create a similar sweater/tunic.

One of the things I really like about this is the striping, which I will have to forego due to a lack of a secondary yarn color. I think it'll still turn out great as a solid! I'm not normally a swatcher, but the FOs are so different in terms of needle sizes, and I don't want to get way into the knit, only to realize that it's way too big or small.

Also, I noticed there is a serious lack of laceweight sweater patterns on Rav! Crazy!
- YX

09 January 2012

Monday video!

Hello friends! I made this video on Friday and have finally uploaded it! I talk about some WIPs. Longest video ever... I promise to stick to ONE project or yarn in these videos! Auuugh!

Have a good week!
- YX

07 January 2012

New look!

Notice anything different?

I decided to change up the look a little bit! My old template was having some issues, so I was excited to come up with a new design. At least for now, until I find something else I like!

I'm working on editing a video for you guys, and it should be done for Monday's post. I teach at a local university, and getting ready for classes to start has been my primary focus (and primary time consumption!)

I hope you guys like the new look!
- YX

03 January 2012

Queued: BIGsessories

I love big, bulky accessories-- they're a great way to dress for the season without sweating when you finally get inside. I love my textured tunic, but the truth is that it's rarely cold enough to warrant pulling it out of the old knit bin.

So I have not just one, but TWO! awesome bigsessories for you.

I love a project that plays off of feminine facial features, and Eveli Kaur's Starflower does that so well. It's rustic and roomy and just the right kind of textural for the yarn.

I love the pairing of this with a leather jacket; there's a vintage feel to it. The pattern calls for Gedifra Highland Alpaca, which is a super bulky weight yarn that comes in a large array of colors... and is on sale at Jimmy Beans right now, coincidentally. I love the neutrals, but I might be tempted to use a teal yarn, too.

The pattern is $3.50, too, which makes me happy. All of Eveli's patterns are super cute and reasonably priced, which preys on my impulse-buy weaknesses. I want this hat, yo. Plain and simple.

The OTHER thing I queued was this big, sexy Marshmallow Fluff cowl, by Sarah Kraly. I want to put my face on it:

Yeah, just like that! FACE COWL!

How gorgeous is this thing? It looks like a five-second knit, in Classic Elite Twinkle Soft Chunky... But how does this photo make the yarn seem like it's a silk blend?! It's 100% wool, so I assume it'll pretty much save me from freezing high in the mountains of Houston*. Looking through the FO page, I'm drawn mostly to the solid projects, as opposed to the multis or semis. What a perfect gift opportunity, too! I love it! Big cowls are so hot this season, and I might be inclined to triple the length on this one and make it a mobius scarf, which I would wrap around my face about eighty times before passing out blissfully on a fainting couch, awash in my own fabulousness. Stop looking at me like that!

Simple knits in big yarns are so incredibly sexy, and have a wonderful way of contrasting with smaller knits to give textural variety without turning into the yarn monster. I definitely wouldn't wear these two items together, but they'd be amazing individually.

Yarn choices? Leave 'em in the comments!
- YX

*Houston is not freezing nor does it have mountains, but you catch my drift.

02 January 2012

Trend: Off the Shoulder

Happy New Year! I hope everyone's enjoying 2012 as much as I am!

What did you wear to usher in the New Year? I love sweaters that show a little skin, like these off-the-shoulder pullovers:

#22 Paton's Off-the-Shoulder by Pierrot for VK. This is pretty in the Paton's Grace that is suggested, but would be awesome in a cashmere blend, like Rowan's Cashsoft line. I'd style it with leggings or jeans and a ribbed tank underneath:

A more textural option comes in the form of the Interlocking Cables pattern by Shirley Paden. This thing looks majorly comfy, and the neck can be worn like a cowl or down over the shoulders for a more coquettish approach:

Finally, something a little more modern... The Off-the-shoulder Pullover by Vladimir Teriokhin. Check out his designer page for tons of cute and recent designs. I love the dolman sleeves and oversized fit paired with a glimmery, feminine yarn choice:

I'm not a big believer in New Year's resolutions, but I do have some knit-related goals for the year:

- Knit 2 sweaters: one for me and one for Andrew
- Continue to blog frequently
- Knit from stash, but also try new yarn sources
- Fave more projects on Ravelry

Do you have any resolutions?
- YX