Monday, October 31, 2005

Out of the cardboard

Thank you all so very much for your well wishes regarding my neck and the compliments on the sweater. Your comments have been a great comfort over the past week and a half. I usually try and respond to everyone and I'm so sorry I haven't been able to this time, so instead of something written, I've been sending kind thoughts and wishes to each of you. If you had an eye tick, that might have been me ;-) While the chiropractor visit was successful and made me feel better, all of the sudden my fingers started cramping up, something that's never happened before. So there was little knitting and blogging, but lots of packing, because last weekend people, was 'The Move'. Where I crammed some more stuff into my already existing 3'x4' storage locker, and the rest of my possessions into a 5'x7'x7' plywood box, which now sits 20 feet up in a warehouse. A few choice items now reside in bf's room. Yarn and needles, of course, laptop and various i-gadgets. After running 31 stairs up and down countless times, I'm sore. Everywhere. Even my eyeballs hurt, after looking at 353 cubic feet of stuff.
But here goes the knitting: First a pair of man socks aka Thursday socks for bf, made of Lana Grossa yarn, meilenweit something, his pick. Modeled on me.
Second, a pair of man socks aka Friday socks for bf, made of Lana Grossa meilenweit something. Modeled on me, a surprise for bf, to be handed over while saying good-bye at the airport come Friday. See, bf said a while ago that he would love to have a pair of handknit socks for every work day, because they feel so good and keep his feet so toasty. While I told him sternly that no way was he getting another pair until his b-day in January, my melting heart went to the LYS right away for more Lana Grossa, his favorite. And because he wanted 'a pattern' after seeing all my socks, he got some fancy 2x2 rib down to the toe!
So my socks and Lila have been on the back burner. I'm not sure I'll finish either before Friday, what with the sausages dangling from the logs attached to my body.
But here is a question for you guys: Anyone been to Poland, specifically Warsaw or Krakow? Are there yarn shops, or anything cool aside from the obvious Lonely Planet listings that you've seen or heard of? I'll be there(Warsaw) for four days while my mom is attending a teacher conference. I'm taking the train to Krakow for a daytrip.
One of my huge Noro shawls will be with me, to shield me from the Siberian winds. Bring on the vodka!
Oops, I almost forgot! Two fabulous knitters (Angela and Winnie) have tagged me with a knitting meme:

What is your all time favorite yarn to knit with?
Oh, knit with is different than wear, right? I love knitting with Noro Silk Garden, it's exciting to see the colors melt into each other, and the sheen and touch is beautiful. I also love Debbie Bliss Cathay, because it slips so easily off the needles. Nature's Palette is such a treat, despite it's tendency to split. I happily wear Calmer, but I didn't really enjoy knitting it.

Your favorite needles?
A couple of years ago I purchased a complete set of old Phildar circs from eBay for $20. They've worked fine for me, as do the old unidentifiable plastic ones I have. My dpn's are all bamboo, whichever brand is cheapest at my LYS. I haven't tried any of the needles people rave about, so maybe I'm missing out? I did finger a pair of Lantern Moon needles at the LYS yesterday, but I've been hesitant to spend this much ($32) on needles, when I already have every size.

The worst thing you've ever knit?
I look at my projects like ex boyfriends, while some weren't great, I learned from all of them, so it's hard to pinpoint the worst. Maybe that vest from a 1920's knitting book, which is so nicely knit yet so impractical. I was in a Great Gatsby mode and the yarn went so well with a pair of Marlene style trousers I have.
But the worst I've ever knit WITH.....oh, that'd be Rowan Yorkshire Tweed DK.

Your most favorite knit pattern? (maybe you don't like wearing it...but it was the most fun to knit)
Clapotis - so simple, such stunning results. Wendy's toe-up socks - this pattern launched the sock knitting addiction.

Most valuable knitting technique?

Best knit book or magazine?
I like Nancy Wiseman's Finishing Techniques, which has helped me lots. I love the instructional drawings in Interweave Knits but rarely their patterns. Knitty has been helpful many times.

Your favorite knit-a-long?
I've never done one.

Your favorite knitblogs?
Well, there's the list to the right which hasn't been updated in ages, but there are so many more, all for different reasons.

Your favorite knitwear designer?
Kim Hargreaves and I'm always inspired by fashion designers such as James Coviello, Alexander McQueen, Yoshi Yamamoto and Dries van Noten.

The knit item you wear the most? (how about a picture of it!)
Debbie Bliss' Cabled Jacket from The Cashmere Collection, knit in Rowanspun Chunky cardamom. Favorite hang-out comfy cardi in squishy soft yarn.

Who's next? You guys are it.
Lori, Blossom, Tari, Annie, Jo

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

The Yoshi sweater

This weekend was supposed to see Lila finished, pictures taken of sweater and bf socks and more socks, but nothing happened. I've become stuck, or more precisely, my neck. I've noticed that sometimes my body tenses up while I'm knitting. Not just lightly, but my jaw will be clenched, my shoulders are rolled forward, my head is bend down. I have to constantly tell myself to relax and sit properly, straightening my back and shoulders the way I do when I'm not knitting. But unless I hold up my hands level with my eyes, the head droops. Shoulder muscles turn into steel blades, neck and head aches ensues. And sometimes, a vertebrae gets stuck. It's time to see the chiropractor. Until then, not much knitting.
But I did a little bit of packing and stumbled upon the sweater that marked the re-entry into knitting fever two plus years ago. A sweater I made up from scratch, using Peruvian wool and Rowan Kidsilk Haze stranded together, inspired by this Yoshi Yamamoto design:
It was described as a two piece, and I thought it would be very easy to copy. Knit a top, then a looong scarf seamed up at the ends to create sleeves. Here is my version:
Even though I've been knitting since I was little, it's only in the past two years that I've learned more about yarn and its properties and different knitting techniques. Had I known then what I know now, I would have used a thinner, and stiffer wool for this project, or maybe just mohair double stranded. I would have tightened my stitches to eliminate the 'ladders' you can see in the sleeves (the arms were knit in the round, as was the top). Or I might not have knit the sweater at all, as it is too warm for this here climate and requires a lot of fussing to have the wrapped shawl look good and stay put. Which it only does if you stand perfectly still.
The armscarf is about 11' long and knit in garter stitch while the top is stockinette. It was easy mindless knitting, and I made up the instructions as I went along. While I don't wear this sweater, I love it nonetheless. It was started with a "hey I can make that myself" and I did. Lesson learned: Think hard about copying another designer sweater.

Monday, October 10, 2005

New Beginnings

Thank you all so much for your encouraging words on the crochet squares. I think having been a professional bookmaker has given me the ability to become easily detached from my works, which transferred over to my other crafts. There wasn't much love left for the squares, but I view them differently now and started to mull around ideas, and suggestions from you guys. It'll be a while though before I'll get working on them, as everything is being packed up right now. I'm moving out of the flat at the end of October (bye bye messy mates), my stuff gets put into storage, I'm going to Europe for three weeks, and when I get back, I'll be homeless. Well, I'll be staying with BF until I find a place with fewer and neater roomies (with rent going around $1200 for a one bedroom, living alone in SF is unfortunately not an option), hopefully a garden, in a quieter neighborhood. Hooray!
I was more than pleasantly surprised this morning when I looked at the newest Vogue Knitting preview. I've never bought a copy before, because there ususally were only a couple of pieces, if any, I liked. Sure enough, in the upcoming issue they have some not so pretty items, but they also have these:
Something for KSH fanatics maybe
This jacket is simply gorgeous
I love the idea of translating a typically Victorian high-neck lace blouse into - my mole eyes can't quite make it out - crochet?
It's hard to see but I think it's a pretty jacket. No zipper for me though.
There are also some cute capelets/ shoulder warmers, and while I'm not sure I'd wear these out, I might make one as a "house" capelet, the perfect accessory for a hermit. I'm not really one for fussy accessories when I'm out and about, a long scarf is usually all I can deal with. But go check it out, there are also some nice projects in Highland Swing.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

When Pigs Crochet!

That Anthropologie shawl? Yeah, soo pretty and what a match for the Koigu. To be honest, I posted that picture because I feel like I always have to include a picture in a post, for interest, because I'm not writing any dramas here. And it went so well with the Koigu. But there won't be any crocheting multiple pieces that need to be connected chez Craftoholic unless I finish this:
This is the oldest and biggest UFO in my life. It's supposed to be this:
Well, actually, my version is larger. A lot. I saw this pretty tablecloth maybe thirteen or so years ago in a women's magazine. Back in those days, dainty crochet was big. And boy, was I into crochet. I was also into all things lacy, dried roses, china painted with Peter Rabbit and leather hatboxes. Those days are over, though I still have the Peter Rabbit set and a couple of hat boxes. In storage, for when I have a cute Victorian in SF (insert title). So this tablecloth, started in the early 90's, originally measured five by five feet, consisting of crocheted squares (most are still unblocked)
and embroidered linen squares. But sometimes my ideas tend towards the megalomaniacal, and I wanted the ultimate, amazing crocheted-linen-ed bedcover. Or even more romantic, having something to drape above a four-poster. I got crocheting with a tiny hook and white thread, and seven years later there were 31 crochet squares, just waiting for the linen squares. I stalled, because I never quite liked the flower motif of the magazine piece and wanted to design something more art deco looking. I think the first and only drawing is still around. Part of me wants to finish this. Part of me wonders whether I'll want to use it. Maybe I should leave the linen squares plain. Then maybe the squares should just go back into the plastic bag, so that I can take them out every ten years and wonder if I should finish this.
That cute wrap? (See title)

Tuesday, October 04, 2005


Koigu KPM, dye code: 1160, dye lot: 37.
We could do a 1160 knit-along, hehe, who's ever done a particular color knit-along??? Just joking. Pattern ideas are starting to form in my head already. Here is how it goes: It starts with the color. Gothic. This sends me thinking of Sadie Frost in Frankenstein, Mary Shelley, the cathedral in Reims, my early teens (I was more "Waver" [New Wave] though, think Gary Numan, Visage, Bladerunner). These might become knee-highs, at last. We'll see.
The BF: He's got some expensive hobbies, so he's a good enabler when it comes to yarn. But don't take him clothes-shopping. Just like a toddler with a tantrum ;-)
Here's another little wrap from Anthropologie, the crocheted Daisy Web Shawl. Would be perfect for the 1160.

Monday, October 03, 2005

A little bit of everything

I tried to hold out. Honestly. But you know how it goes: you read blogs, you see people buying gorgeous yarn, making gorgeous socks and then you find yourself running errands on a lazy Saturday and BF asking if there's anywhere else you'd like to go. All of a sudden synapses are breaking down and before you can try to be stoic and restrained your heart races faster and you blurt out "yarn store!". But it is dangerous to have BF as a partner in buying sock yarn. He loves the socks I make for him and gives me the sad puppy look so that we leave the LYS not just with two skeins of Koigu for me, but also a skein of Lana Grossa Meilenweit Magic for him (he gets to pick it). So here is this weekend's bounty:
Koigu in a color I would describe as 'gothic'. The camera lit it just a bit, so imagine this darker,almost black, with cabernet tones shining here and there.
BF's Meilenweit is being turned into socks already. My hand was shaking uncontrollably when taking this picture, could it have been due to all that stripey goodness?
And here my wip du jour, the sweater which will be known as 'Lila'. Lila (pronounced lee-lah) means purple in German and is also one letter short of spelling lilac. Terribly creative, I know. I have one sleeve (pictured) finished and half the body (it's knit in the round). The yarn doesn't knit up very evenly, it's very stretchy. But I think it'll get better after blocking. And to be honest, I'm not very concerned with stitch appearance here, as it will be a lounge-about-the-house sweater.