Monday, February 26, 2007

Wip and Fo

I finished a pair of socks for Vikki, the wonderful woman who is teaching me wig making. She was really happy with them and thought I had made a perfect choice of design and fiber. I used Bare superwash Donegal yarn from Knitpicks and the Aran Braided Sock Pattern by Susan Lawerence. I really enjoyed making these and was so happy that Vikki was pleased.

Last Saturday I took a class at Black Sheep Knittery on 2-handed Fairisle. It was 'taught' by the owners of Philosopher's Wool, Eugene and Ann Bourgeois. I use the word 'taught' loosely because I could have learned this amazing technique in 5 minutes. The 3 hour class was mostly a long rambling autobiographical sketch, a'la Will Rogers. of Eugene's amazing success as a sheep farmer, carpenter and wool processor. I would have enjoyed it much more if I had brought my knitting!

The class write up said we would be given yarn and needles and didn't need to bring anything, but this didn't happen for nearly 2 hours so I sat there, stewing over the fact that I was wasting valuable knitting time. The rest of the class was basically a pitch to buy their kits, which are beautiful and colorful, but their wool is so coarse and scratchy, just knitting on the swatch made me fear my fingers would start bleeding.

Very nice sweaters for skiers, fishermen, or wool farmers in Nova Scotia.

But I am glad I learned the technique. I also feel that I understand steeking now and can take a scissors to my handknitting (I have done cut and sew on Machine knitting, no problem.)

I bought some lovely, soft, merino/cashmere/microfiber blend to make my own fairisle pattern and cast on as soon as I got home. I am just making up the pattern as I go.
Of course, I am adding some texture along with the color. I am using a little mohair, a little ribbon and a little grassy looking stuff from Habu textiles. There will also be embroidery and beads. By the time I get to the armpits, I may just stop, knit the sleeves, and finish the whole thing in the round, which I think gives a better fit than drop shoulders. so maybe it will be a vegetarian sweater - no steek.

Another thing about their technique that I like is the way you weave in the floats every 2nd stitch, so the back looks really beautiful - almost reversible.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Trunk Show Last Sunday

Ellen Bloom did a great job reporting on the Trunk Show last Sunday at A Mano. Read about it here.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Valentine's Flowers

Yesterday, these came.

Today these came.
So now, it looks like this.

One is for Valentine's Day. The other is for giving birth on Valentine's Day, 15 years ago. Yes, Eden turned 15 this morning at 1:46 AM.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

It Wasn't the Dress...

It was me!

I am so accustomed to designing clothing that looks good on me, I just assumed that since it didn't look good on me, it wasn't a good design.

I can't tell you what agonies I have been going through regarding my Adult Pansy - making it into a blouse, folding under a hem, seriously considering throwing it into the UFO pile and forgetting about the whole thing. Finally, I put it on the dress form and there was the truth - right in front of my face.

It looks adorable as a dress, just the way I designed it!

I am just not the model for it.

So there you go - I am not the lace mini dress type anymore. I am more the lace-tunic-with-lots-of extra-width-so-it-can-hang drapingly-from-my-shoulders-with-no-flashy-little-trim-around-my-hips type. Not quite Maude, but getting there...

Putting it more positively, I am trading youth and beauty for patience, wisdom and mastery.

So now that this is understood, all I need to do is write and edit the two patterns (flower sock, is the other), format and print them, and get everything ready for my trunk show and class at A Mano this coming weekend.

Also, it is Eden's birthday on Wednesday, with all the festivities that entails. Special dinner on Wednesday and party for his pals on Friday.

Patience, wisdom and mastery are really a better deal than youth and beauty, right?

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Where Have I Been?

In the 3 weeks since I last posted, I have been having "disappointing knitting" and family illnesses.

To begin, my mother, who is basically healthy despite having leukemia, landed in the hospital at near death. A lifelong obsession with her weight (and she has never been more than just 'chubby') has made her, like millions of others, a target for every magazine and television ad promoting herbal diet products, especially if they promise to give you energy and restore your youth. This time it was super strong dosages of Green Tea Extract that thinned out her blood until she had no ability to clot at all.

Thank God she was rescued, transfused, lectured to, and has recovered, and is back home.

I am so angry when I think of how the media and consumerism have led us to believe we are fat, flabby and smelly. Multi-billions are spent to stay young, tight, and smell good.

And then my step-mother discovered that the breast cancer she had last year has returned, despite the mastectomy and chemo, and is in most of her ribs and various other bones and her lymph nodes.

Fuck Cancer. Just fuck, fuck, fuck.

She and my father, who just turned 80, are positive and upbeat. She is on a bridge binge this weekend, determined to earn the few points she still needs to become a life master.

Enough about the illnesses. I could go on awhile about Parkinson's, too, but I won't.

So for the knitting part.
I decided I don't like the beaded sock idea enough to finish the collection. I may still write the pattern for the yellow socks, since they're done.

I made a new design, called ??? Haven't decided yet. I like them much better, but am actually not sure if I like Koigu for socks, after all. Here is a photo:
They have a unique construction, from the toe up, using a seamless cast-on I 'unvented' myself, and knit flat from the ankle up.

Then there was the thing with the publisher from London that wanted to purchase one of my designs for an upcoming book. Due to a short deadline, they were asking all their designers to purchase their own yarn, and wanted me to use Noro Silk Garden Light. They also want each designer to pay for the postage. I negotiated for a slightly higher fee, and they agreed, so I went out and purchased the yarn. Here is the beginning of the design on the needles.

Due to the long repeats in Noro, I decided I needed to buy 3 skeins in order to make the colors match on each hand.

To make a long story short, the person I was corresponding with was not prompt in her responses, waiting 2-3 days to reply to each e-mail, and then not responding to every question. Like why did I need to furnish my bank account info? Couldn't they just deposit my fee into my Paypal account? And could I please have a copy of the contract before I mailed the sample and pattern to them? (No response at all.) So after 3 more days, (5 days before the extended deadline) I dropped out. I have never done this before once agreeing to an acceptance. But I felt miserably frustrated without good communication, and didn't want to pay the huge amount it would cost for overnight delivery to England out of a small fee, made smaller by having to pay for the yarn myself. This would have netted me about $50 for knitting the sample and writing the pattern! Bahhh! Who needs it?

So out of frustration, I began a procrastination project, inspired by a design in Amazing Crochet Lace.
At first I was quite thrilled with this one. I started off with the pattern from the book, but could see the sizing wasn't going to be right after about an hour, so closed the book and worked it 'freeform' as I love to do, ending it at the hemline in a totally different way from the book.

As I said, at first I liked it. Then I wore it (over a black turtleneck sweater) for a day. Received many compliments, and felt good in it. But then the disappointing thing happened... it stretched waaay out, and WORMED!!! I thought chenille wouldn't worm when worked in crochet! The armholes, bound with a row of sc, drooped even lower than they look in the photo. The worming was slight, but noticeable (to me, anyway) Damn!

And here's the worst disappointment! the sweater I made Reese for his birthday, from Misti Cotton, (silk and cotton). He loved it and wore it for 2 days straight. It was so soft and fit just right. After 2 days, it was huge and shed all over.

Mea culpa! I should have used smaller needles, knitted at a tighter gauge it might not have stretched so much. The shedding? I don't know if that could have ever been remedied. Is this yarn good only for scarves???

Figuring I had nothing to lose, I threw it in the washer and dryer. After about 20 minutes, I checked it and discovered it was getting even longer in the dryer! so I took it out and dried it flat. I had temporarily forgotten that my dryer has a sweater rack.

It didn't shrink. All that happened was the fiber got worn out looking (you can't really tell from the photo). Now it looks like it has been worn for years. He'll never wear it again. He likes to look perfect at all times - even color coordinated clothes and shoes to wash the car! I guess I could wear it with jeans but the sleeves are at least 6" too long and I am so sick of it, I don't even want to work on it again!

And my last disaster(?) is this sweater I've been working on for my pattern line. Entitled "Adult Pansy Blouse", it is a derivative of this:
Child's Pansy Dress

I started and worked for days and then ripped this one twice before I finally decided on the correct gauge, stitch count and body style. One of the things I love about Koigu; it is a hearty yarn that can withstand multiple rippings and blockings.

But after all this, I'm still not sure if I like it. Most disappointing is that the crocheted pansies for the hemline look AWFUL! The hemline with no pansies looks TERRIBLE. The only thing that looks right is a folded hem (pinned in the photo) This is a technique I have never seen in a knitted pattern and yet - it really works on this design. It gives the hemline the body it needs to stand away from the hips slightly - which is falttering to the wearer, and at the same time, preserves the airy nature of the knitted lace.

As I was bemoaning this piece to my dearest, he responded, "Break new grounds! You are the decider!" or something to that effect, and he is right, I guess.

The only thing it needs besides the hem sewn in is the beading around the top. Please let me know if you think this one is worthy of completion and the hours of sweat and tears that go into writing, grading and printing a pattern.

WIG WIP (Work in Progress)