22 April 2013

Recently Queued and Excitement

Did you all have a good weekend? I spent a bit of mine cleaning up around the house, because I'm expecting guests. Also, on Saturday I got the prize for my May Giveaway, and it's awesome and I can't wait to share it with you!

In other news, I've queued quite a few things recently. Here are a few.

Toft Racer Vest via the Toft Alpaca Shop. I love this simple top; it reminds me of the kind of fluttery, simple things I like to sew. The front of the vest is fairly plain, and the knit would be quick and could work in a variety of fibers for summer (rayon, I'm looking at you!)

Sperry, a design by Amy Miller, is all over my Rav RSS feed. It's gorgeous and summery. It doesn't hurt that the model is wearing the heck out of the sweater in the featured photos. The lower hem is selling this for me. A simple sweater with a classic detail like that... It really elevates what would otherwise be kind of basic. And the sample color scheme is killin' it for me.

Next is Cleo Malone's Chevron Bamboo Tunic. In a bamboo or cotton, it'd make an excellent coverup. Something about pairing this with cutoff denim gives me a music festival vibe. I love that the pattern page shows the garment with and without the belt, too. There's one FO with images for the pattern, too, and it's just as cute as this one.

So there we are, Monday! Lots of things to knit, once I finally get through my Meridien flounce.

- YX

19 April 2013

National Tragedy

Over here in the United States, we've had quite a few awful things happen in a short period of time. First, as most of you know, was the Boston Marathon bombing, followed quickly by an explosion at a fertilizer plant in West, Texas (three hours from me). Now, we're watching a manhunt unfold as the Boston suspect(s) run from the authorities.

I woke up this morning incredibly sad, and I just couldn't shake the awful feelings of despair that come with these types of events. I think about my parents, and how they must have felt as the Oklahoma City bombing and Columbine shootings were going on, as the Unibomber and anthrax powder caused us all to fear our mailboxes. I worry about having children, something my husband and I hope to do soon. How do you raise children in a climate like this? How do we move on?

I found a knitting charity that collects and distributes knitted items in Boston, but their recent blog post explains that they can't handle an increase in items. The charity seems to be run part time by one person, so I can certainly understand what an undertaking that could be. At least it's April, and as of this post, the temperature in Boston is 70 degrees F, indeed a bit warmer than the mid-50's of Houston right now. Knitted items may get a little more use, but I believe the most useful thing we can do right now is donate money.

Many of the victims of the Boston bombing were injured, some severely. Some of these people are close friends of the knit community. Some are service officers and volunteers who may knit, know knitters, wear knit goods, or protect us on the streets of Boston and around the country. Although the fatality count is thankfully low, there are many injured people who don't need the added stress of mounting medical bills interfering with their recovery.

The One Fund is a collection of monetary resources to help those affected by the Boston tragedy. The fund, formed by Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick and Boston Mayor Tom Menino is applying for 501(c)(3) tax status, and appears to be a direct way to help all those affected.

Take a moment to think about your yarn. A skein of nice Madelinetosh or Wollmeise are around $25. Even a skein of Red Heart is around $4. If we all just gave $4, think of the good it could do. The One Fund accepts Paypal and traditional checks, so please consider a donation.

Big, yarny hugs for everyone today,
- YX

16 April 2013

Technique: Buttonholes

Fasten up, friends! Today we're looking at buttonholes. I totally wanted to do some little swatchy examples of buttonholes for you, but I have totally screwed up my wrist and it's hard to knit! So instead we're getting chatty.

I've done a few projects with buttonholes. Not many. Although I love buttons and I like button closures, it seems like I end up with pullovers or open cardigans more than buttoned things. My first big buttonhole project was my sultan cardigan:
Every time I look at this cardigan, I wish I'd added at least one more buttonhole:

The button band for this cardigan is made by picking up and knitting perpendicular to the cardigan stitches. The holes are created by binding off a few stitches along the way, knitting to the end and turning the work, then casting back on when I get to the bound off stitches. It's a really easy way to make a traditional vertical buttonhole. In fact, I used the same strategy for this little baby sweater:
I had already purchased the buttons, so it was imperative that the holes were correctly sized. I always side with a little tighter fit with the buttons, but the star shape of these buttons meant they'd stay fastened better without a fight. Important, since you're trying to get a sweater on a tiny baby who doesn't understand the need for fashionable closures. Sheesh, children, get it together. 

I did one more baby cardigan with buttons, and it utilizes a yarnover buttonhole:
It's impossible to see then, but the holes are just above the leaf stems on the buttonband. Essentially, these are done by creating a yarnover k2tog, then knitting or purling back across those stitches. It makes a tiny little hole that is perfect for small buttons. 

There's a new type of buttonhole, called the Tulips buttonhole, that interests me quite a bit. I'll probably give it a shot on my next buttoned project. The lovely Eunny Jang shows us how to make the buttonhole, which was created by TECHknitter

There's also a knitty article that shows the basic buttonholes I've talked about above, if you'd like an illustrated walkthrough done by someone without a bum wrist!

There's also this illustrated guide for button loops that showed up on Pinterest and linked back to a Chinese site... Does anyone recognize it? I'd love to know if this is from a book or what. Click to enlarge:

Creative Knitting's newsletter shows some buttonholes, but more importantly, a great way to reinforce standard buttonholes, for those of you who want to go back and tighten up your older holes (WOAH let's not read too much into that, okay?)

Do you have a great buttonhole reference you use? Do you just follow the patterns as written? Tell me everything!
- YX

10 April 2013

How to: Photographing knitwear

This morning has been rainy and a bit dull, and on top of everything, I've somehow hurt my wrist! Since my knitting has slowed down, I figured I'd do a little instructional video on my process for photographing knitwear:

I hope you enjoyed it!
- YX

06 April 2013

My mojo!

Can I start out by saying that I have a general distaste for the word "mojo", but I have no better way to describe what I'm talking about-- the feeling of excitement and desire that comes with working on knitting projects. The need to create more, faster, an ever-changing lineup of works in progress on the needles.

For some reason lately, as I've slogged through my Meridien cardigan, I've felt my mojo waning. I'm repeating the same 33 rows over. I'm on repeat 14 now, and nearing the end of the first section of the cardigan. Normally, I'd be racing to the finish line, ready to work on the little Gramps sweater that is now overdue (the intended baby had an early yet fashionable arrival). I don't like having a ton of projects on the needles at once, but even if I did, I think I'd be slowing down, anyway.

What happened? I still love knitted things. I enjoy knitting, when I do. My queue is still growing. Indeed, quite a large group of knit friends are starting on Viajante, a Martina Behm creation that appeared in February.
I have the yarn for it, and I'd love to knit with my friends, but actually casting on seems to encompass some kind of weight that I can't explain. I'm not producing at the same rate as I was before. Do I need to take a break from Meridien and my endless repeats? Should I allow myself to slow down and focus on getting things done methodically, not pushing myself if the "mojo" just isn't there?

I feel like I've been thrown into water and forgotten how to swim. On a logical level, I'm still inspired by projects I see on Ravelry, by my local knit group, and by your comments, lovely readers. What keeps me from picking up my needles at night?

Have any of you been through something similar? I took an extensive break from knitting for a few years during college and came back stronger than ever... Maybe I just need time? A new yarn store to peruse?

- YX

01 April 2013

March winner!

It's winner time! We had 52 entries...

And the last one was picked! I know the odds for picking number 52 are the same as picking any other number, but it just seems so weird! Congrats to Patmom!

I'll be back tomorrow with another giveaway!
- YX