Wednesday, March 9, 2011


Ok, so I've been gone for a while. I have plenty to show off, but right now go check out this wind knitting factory. Super cool, right?

Thursday, January 6, 2011


Pattern: Kaino from Norah Gaughan volume 1
Yarn: Berroco Ultra Alpaca in #6296
Needles: US 5 and 6
Mods: Added a few inches of length to the body and one inch to the armholes. Most obviously, I added sleeves. I took the sleeve cap shaping from Annikki from the same book.
I knew when I decided to make this that I did not want to use the little sleeves included in the pattern. No sleeves or long sleeves was my decision. I thought about it some more and further decided that I did not want any orphaned skeins of yarn hanging around. I have found the yardage requirements in this line of patterns to be extremely generous. I ordered the number of skeins suggested in the pattern for my size (6) and had enough yarn to lengthen the body and armholes and make two generous 3/4 length sleeves with a few yards left over.

In order to make the sleeves work out and end up with as little yarn leftover as possible, I cast on provisionally, knit the sleeve caps, and then knit down from the caps until I ran out of yarn. I used the sleeve cap shaping from Annikki in the same book. By chance, I lengthened the armhole to the same length in the Annikki pattern, so this seemed like very little work on my part. Unfortunately, the sleeve caps do not fit perfectly in the armholes. This may be due to my negligence in measuring row gauge, but the caps are quite long a fact that I suspected while knitting but did not bother to do anything about (knitter's intuition = 1, reason = 0). I also did a somewhat shoddy job of easing them in, particularly on the right hand side. This is not helped by the fact that the shoulders on this garment are quite wide. If I were to do it again, I would probably leave the sleeve cap shaping as is (and take more care with the sewing) but narrow the shoulders so that the seams sit closer to the tops of my shoulders. This is nitpicking, because I have worn this garment at least 5 times since I finished it two weeks ago with great compliments. The back is especially pretty with the long ribbing and the pointed neck band.

Once again you will have to listen to me rave about Ultra Alpaca. The yarn is incredible. It makes a nice firm fabric at a certain gauge but in this piece the gauge is looser than I have done before and the fabric is silky and drapey. This is a sweater that invites lounging, curling up, and wrapping around. The colors in this yarn have amazing depth and versatility as well. This color (whose name I have forgotten) is a combination of peaty brown, verdant green, and unexpected bursts of bright blue. Without close examination, you cannot read the individual colors but the overall effect is complex and nearly glowing.

Monday, December 6, 2010


I didn’t mean to fall off the face of the planet, it just happened. Among other things, I recently purchased my first Mac, and I haven't quite got the hang of iPhoto yet. Photographic proof of some of the things I've finished up recently:

I've got quite the backlog to show you, starting with my Rocky Mountain Sunshine Afghan.

Please see my Ravelry project page for more information on the specifics. I adore it. Love it beyond all reason. Would save it from a burning building. The yarn is delicious (Michigan-based Shepherd's Wool) and the colors are perfect. I think the red edging really helps to bring it all together and keep it feeling fresh and modern.

My dad had a birthday, and I made him some socks. He adores his handknit socks. Frequently when I call him, he'll find a way to work into the conversation that he's wearing socks I made him. He has a serious attachment to these pair from a while back, so I figured it was time he got a new pair.

These are the Gentleman's Half Hose from Knitting Vintage Socks by Nancy Bush. This book is my absolute favorite source for socks in general and men's socks in particular. I used Lang Jawoll superwash with size 0 needles. They were excellently received and immediately modeled by my dad. Knitting men's socks can be quite the slog - their feet are just so big! - and I find I never know for sure if they're going to fit properly. These are perfect.

My sister-in-law also had a birthday. I decided to make good use of the the fabric scraps I've been collecting at an enormous rate since I got my machine last year and make a patchwork scarf. And then I decided that I loved the end result so much that I made one for myself! These patchwork scarves sew up in an evening, with very little thought required.

I apologize for the blurry photo, and for the sans-makeup-Sunday-is-for-homework look I'm sporting.

Anyway, the only materials I bought for this project were 1.5 yards of quilting flannel in that putty grey that is so popular right now. I used it for the backing. While I don't love the color in general, I wanted a flannel back for snuggliness and I wanted something that would go with the overall color scheme (black, white, light grey, yellow, purple, red) without matching anything in particular. If you're looking to do something similar, just Google "patchwork scarf" to see what I used as inspiration. I interspersed long strips and short strips, laying them out in a manner that pleased me. I pieced the scraps with 1/4 inch seams and sewed the front and back right sides together with 1/2 inch seams. Then I just clipped the corners, turned, pressed, and topstitched. The flannel yardage I bought was enough for 2 scarves with a seam in the middle of the length. The scarf is 8 inches wide and about 84 inches long. It is long enough to wrap once and have long ends or to double and pull the end through, if that's your preferred method. I really like that the fabric has enough body to stand on its own in front of your mouth and nose so you can really snuggle down in the face of winter wind. Also, it takes a lot fewer scraps than you might imagine, so if you're looking for a quick and cheap holiday gift, you could consider this.

In other news, I spilled 16oz of hot coffee on myself on Friday in front of (among others) a certain male that I am crushing. All 16oz of coffee. I was wearing my Ravelympic vest. The whole situation was very Meg Cabot, and definitely the sort of thing that happens to me more often than not. Luckily, the vest has a lot of patterning, so the fact that I wasn’t able to remove all of the coffee is not noticeable to anyone but me.

My ego, sadly, has not recovered.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Too much thinking, too little sleeping

Maybe you haven't heard, but the Detroit Symphony Orchestra is on strike. The strike is historic for a number of reasons, and it is the cause of many sleepless nights around my place. I have been working with the library at the DSO since June, and while I am not on strike, the strike is raising some very personal, very touchy issues for me. I'm spending a lot of time thinking about the use of music in the world and why orchestras are important to culture and what it means both economically and spiritually to a city to have an orchestra. More information, from the musicians' perspective, can be found here.

This passage from a book I'm reading for class has sparked a lot of thought today:

"It is with art as with religion: people think too often that all truth, all perfection, is confined to one sect, to one school, and that beyond it there is nothing but error and imperfection. Nature and the spirit that pervades her is too great a theme to be exhausted by one man or school - a theme to which not even the united schools of all arts and all ages can do justice; it is inexhaustible, infinite. Let us be careful that by disregarding any branch of art, however slight, or by disparaging any style, however uncongenial to our individual taste, we may not lose part of the interpretation of that glorious mystery."

-- "On Mendelssohn and Some of His Contemporary Critics" by Friedrich Niecks in Mendelssohn and His World, edited by R. Larry Todd

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Fall Break

I went back into the woods again. This time we went to Nordhouse Dunes just outside of Ludington. That's Lake Michigan - the darker line of blue above the gorgeous trees.

This time, the trail was easy. Because it was easy, they didn't feel the need for accurate maps or markers of any kind. It was easy, but no one really knew where they were. This made me nervous, but the sound of the water calmed me down.

There are a lot of things to love about being on the water. One of them is the sunset. Have you ever seen the sun set over water? It literally sinks into the water right before your eyes. The sunset from the top of a dune? Pretty much perfect.
We walked on the squeaky sand.

And we dipped our toes in the water. It wasn't exactly warm, but it was also not terrible - nice enough for a barefoot stroll along the waterline.

In other news, I recently had a run-in with a professor. You know, the kind of person who expects you to rely on telepathy instead of assignment sheets and tells you that you simply aren’t trying hard enough all the while marking you down for not including requirements in your paper which you demonstrably did include. I find it incredibly hard to let go of these kinds of injustices, and they unfortunately effect my life for many days (and in this case weeks) afterwards. I find it depressing and yet oddly comforting that at every level of education I have received and in every school I have worked there are bad teachers and good teachers, no matter the level of funding or prestige. There are people who are good at their jobs and are always striving to be better, more effective, and more relevant, and there are people who are lost in their own world or, worse, don’t care at all. These people exist in every place and in every job on the planet.

And because I still have half a semester left with this professor (maybe more), I'm wondering how it is you deal with these kinds of people and these kinds of injustices. Any advice is appreciated.

Sunday, October 10, 2010


I've been dreaming about a red corduroy skirt since last winter. Don't ask me why. I just wanted one. I never really got around to it last year - I wasn't sure what kind of shape I wanted on the skirt, and it needed to have pockets and waistband, and I hadn't found the Right Pattern. Then it occurred to me that I had a pattern I liked. I didn't like everything, but I liked the basic things. That pattern was New Look 6873, otherwise known as the Lemon Skirt. I liked the substantial waistband and the pockets. I liked the length (which I had also altered from the pattern on the Lemon Skirt). I didn't like how severely triangular the shape was, and the skirt was a bit big. Not so big I couldn't wear it, but big enough to migrate during the course of wearing so I might find my pocket located closer to my belly button than previously imagined. So, I redrafted the pattern.

First, I traced the existing front and back pieces on to paper. Then, I added two inches in length and took off two inches at the side seams from the hem of the skirt, removing 8 inches total circumference from the skirt. I blended that line up to nothing at the waist. I added less room at the fold when I cut out (recall that I graded the pattern up for the Lemon Skirt. This red skirt is something like a size 19.) I didn't do anything to alter the pockets. I sewed them from the original pattern pieces, and when it came time to attach things I lined up my notches and whatnot, cutting the side seams flush by hand.

I really like this incarnation of the pattern, and I'm already considering new directions for it. I don't, strictly speaking, have a lot of use for this skirt at the moment, but I have worn it to various client meetings and workshops. It never fails to make me feel confident and a bit smug. The picture is an example of an outfit from a real live workshop earlier this week. I also made the teal shirt under the cardi. It was my first go with knits, and more successful than I had hoped, but still a learning experience. The pattern is from New Look 6569. It's not so successful that I feel comfortable modeling without something over it, however, so you'll just have to take my word for it.

In other news, I finished up my granny squares and am now sewing them together. It's starting to look like a blanket, and I adore it more with each new row.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Sunday Morning

Right now my life is:
- learning a semester's worth of computer programming in 4 weeks.
- being a project manager (!)
- sunny mornings and cloudy afternoons.
- granny squares. Lots of them.
- acorns. I have an unreasonable love of acorns.
- sitting through 3 hour classes, then managing the work for said classes.
- learning to be a different kind of student.
- putting on the first handknit sweater of fall. Arwen, my favorite.
- cutting down the basil to make pesto.
- trying to go running, but mostly not managing it.
- missing friends.
- eavesdropping on the bus.
- thinking. Lots and lots of thinking.