Thursday, July 30, 2009

quick like popcorn, satisfying like butter and salt...


Did I tell you I was knitting a pair of transitional socks? Transitional in the sense that they are meant to help me transition back into my planned knitting and design. I just can't seem to right myself after the bustle of wedding creativity and the thank you gifts afterward. I just can't seem to interested again.

The solution is always socks. What ever the question, the answer is...socks.

These are made from two mini skeins (155 yds each) that I picked up at the local Sheep and Wool Fair a couple of years ago. The resulting socks are slightly short, slightly scratchy, and the dye job on each doesn't quite match the other. That odd looking mess on the instep is actually a purl pattern from a vintage 50's stitch-dictionary booklet that I wanted to try. Unfortunately, it didn't come out anything like the picture.

But, they served their purpose and it was a satisfying quick knit. Rather like eating a bowl of buttery popcorn instead of a meal when you're hungry and tired. Its quick, tasty, and satisfying in the immediate but never gets to the root of your hunger.

I do want to knit or crochet something substantial. But the inspiration hasn't hit me yet. So I guessed it...another pair of socks! These are Panda Bamboo and Soy - soft and very, very splitty.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Unexpected vintage...

I just found out that the Fleisher's Style Book that I found this weekend is not from the 40's like the other booklets. It's from 1934!!


(sorry for how fuzzy this picture is)

This is so exciting, because my collection of Fleishers knitting and crochet books already spans 1898 through 1932. After that, the booklets I had found previously from that company were all from the 40's and 50's.

I love Fleisher books because they are most likely to include equal numbers of crochet and knitting and their books have wonderful pen and ink illustrations of vintage fashion along with the photographs. The patterns are creative and well-written - sometimes very quirky (which I love) - and easily adapted to size and style... The crochet numbers are just as stylish as the knit, which is refreshing. Fleisher designers weren't afraid to use small hooks and luxury yarns for their crocheted designs.


The pictures of sweaters and the robe in my last post are from this same booklet.


Bed Jackets are among my favorite vintage designs. I always think they would make wonderful everyday sweaters. How Luna Lovegood!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Glove Egg

While my friends on the West coast were at the Portland Zine Symposium, I was searching out elusive vintage knitting and crochet magazines at a local antique fair. Every once in a while, the skating arena in town is taken over by a crowd of antique flea market dealers and mass vintage hysteria ensues. I noticed the sign a couple of weeks ago but couldn't induce any of my friends to come along - no, not even with promises of tea and cake afterward...

So off I went on my own, full of hope and with a pocket stuffed with one dollar bills. When I first entered the door of this huge space, I was disappointed. Few tables were set up and there was a lot of empty space. The goods looked more yard sale than vintage... but I thought there might be some hidden treasures, so I went on the hunt...


I actually found 4 tables with knitting and crochet. My attention was first caught by a colourful pile of aluminum knitting needles, which I passed up. This same vendor had the stack of 1940's magazines above and gave me big discount on them. The best ones are in the front: The Fleisher's Style Book, Woollies for Babies, Handknits by Beehive, Jack frost Sweaters... A couple of them were missing their covers, but had such great patterns that I couldn't resist them, like these crown and pomegranate charts for intarsia or duplicate stitch :


Some of my favorites... the Smart 40's Sweaters:


and this great robe! I think it would be wonderfully cosy to wear a knitted or crocheted robe in the winter, but very boring to make something so big and repetitious.


The rest of my attention went to vintage tools: this glove egg for my collection, which will be put to immediate use mending the finger tips (which lasted about a nano-second) of my winter cashmere gloves:


There was one vendor who had lots of bone crochet tools in dishes on the floor (which was annoying because I had to keep crouching down, and then getting up to ask a question, then down, then up, then...well, you get the picture) and on top of that, they were annoyingly expensive (like $30!). I was able to talk him into selling me this tiny, tiny bone and steel crochet hook and ivory thread bobbin for a couple of dollars, but had to leave all the pretty carved hooks on the floor. (tears)


Finally, at the very last booth I stopped, I found a big bin of antique buttons! After I was done pouring through the bins and boxes on the table, the woman said, "would you like to see my special buttons?" Apparently, she kept the good ones in a little cedar chest under the table and didn't display them, but I got to look through those too and bought quite a few. She was selling these so inexpensively, that even though I had spent most of my money, I was able to collect three bags full! Here are just a few of the good ones:


The big one is pressed horn with a pattern of grapes. There is a glass paisley button with gold accents, and a black glass one with melted copper flakes in a violet flower design, some mourning jet buttons, and a complex milk glass, blue glass, and gold carved button. There were many more, but I can't show them all because, well, my friend Marky has a birthday in a couple of months and he is as crazy about old buttons as I am.

The great thing about my button collection is that, since I use them on my knitting I can buy just one instead of holding out for the full sets. So I get really excited with these random single finds! Even so, I fell for two sets: some small coral domed buttons, and 12 really unusual red glass buttons with mother-of-pearl centers.

So the Antique Flea Market was great fun and has set me up with goodies to mull over for while!

I'm completing a transitional pair of socks (transitional between one project and next) right now because I couldn't decide what to get started on. I do have to complete the lace Lily-of-the-Valley shawl, and then might start the blanket design I have percolating in my brain. But I really, really want to start making sweaters for fall! Is it too early?

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Last Minute Girl

If I were a Superhero - this would be my Superhero name: Last-Minute Girl and my superpower would be....Oh, I don't know... taking crappy photos of my FOs with my phone camera just before I stuff them in a box with no time to add even a note and rush to the post office 5 minutes before closing?

Among things now on their way to the West Coast:

Baby Blue, a crocheted cabled raglan sweater of my own design



I love doing crocheted cables. It tickles me that they look so perfectly even - so much better than my knitted cables. This was crocheted in some random washable wool from the thrift store...

Vintage 1909 Baby Sweater crocheted in periwinkle Baby Ull (washable) with an unidentified scrap of yarn for trim. This trim yarn didn't photograph very well - its really purplish, not dark as it appears.



This was really fun to crochet, because it was made all in one piece, including the sleeves, crocheting up and down and shaping around the neck. Those Victorian crocheters were so clever!

That's it for now! Signing off.... Last-Minute Girl!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Teal of Sean


What do I know about Sean? He has an Elven magic and works in a hospital. He is an artist and cartoonist and very kind to his friends. He rocks the turquoise/teal - the colour of his jacket... I think (hope) he'll like this scarf.



I used 4 skeins of Noro Silk Garden, 50 grms each

The main colour was two skeins of colour #47 - Browns, Tans, and Black
The first contrasting colour was #244 - Rust, Yellow, Teal and the second contrasting colour was #245 - Yellow, Teal, Turquoise, and Purple

The pattern (from Brooklyn Tweed's website) called for needles size 7, but I used size 5 needles and was glad I did! The scarf is about 6 inches wide on the smaller needles and the stitches are pretty loose. I wouldn't want it any bigger or looser. It was just a mistake, at first. I had an Addi lace needle that I started with and thought was a 7. When I decided to switch to straight needles, and noticed how much bigger the straight sevens were than the Addi I was using, I realized it was really a 5 and decided to stay with that.

The scarf is 6 feet long, but I don't think it matters if yours turns out a little longer or shorter...

I'm really happy with this and the way the neutral main colours really mellow out the contrasting colours. Even though it's July, I'm going to send this off to Sean as a thank you for all the help he gave on the day of the wedding. When he opens it, he'll probably think, "heh?" but when winter comes, he'll wrap up in it and be happy...


The July shipment of the Blue Moon Rockin Sock Club came early this month (SPOILER below!), because all the Blue Moonies are busy getting ready for the Portland Sock Summit and Marketplace in the Convention Center. When I was in Portland last month, I stayed at the Red Lion hotel that is right next door. It's in a really convenient spot and the train is right across the street and you can get anywhere from there.

If you're going to the Sock Summit - don't miss going to Twisted. They carry Blue Moon yarn I hear and I know they are super nice! (I'm in their Single Skein Club this year). And don't forget VooDoo Doughnut:


We ate all the funny ones out of this box already - the blunts with red sprinkles on the tips and they also have a voodoo man which is shaped like the gingerbread man and has red jelly inside the squishes out with you poke him...Someone even brought Voodoo Doughnuts to the wedding reception! Very wise idea. a good omen.

Another place I can recommend whole-heartedly is Urban Fondu. We spent a really fun evening there and the dinner was incredible - We had Tillamook Cheddar fondu and then had the dark chocolate dessert fondu.

Now for the Sock Club Spoiler.... Definitely Don't Look if you are in the club and want to be surprised.....









Garden Daze, a riff on Heirloom tomatoes and all things gardeny in this hazy July...picture taken in my raspberry bushes...


Friday, July 10, 2009

too early for wooly scarves


When I was out in Portland, I got to meet a lot of new people and one of my favorites was Sean, who was the best man and a really, really big help with the wedding. I wanted to send him something more than a thank you card, so I've started making him a scarf for winter.

Do you remember BrooklynTweed's Noro Striped Scarf? ...Seems like years and years ago that this was first popular! I think it's a classic. I had several skeins of Silk Garden in my stash and had fun putting the colors together for the perfect pattern...

This scarf uses two skeins of the main colours - I used one of my favorite combinations with black, browns in many shades, and greys - and then pairs it with one skein each of two different, more colourful, but similar colors for contrast. I used two skeins that I love best: greens and browns and blues and brownish reds... They seem to be working very well together in a toasty mellow kind of way.

Sorry for the poor phone-camera picture, but you can see a bit:


This is a very soothing knit so there's lots of good magic in it! I watch the baseball game and knit away, carrying each colour up the side. It is early for knitting winter scarves. But it's always the right time for gifts!

Monday, July 6, 2009

finished things


The silk wrister is done. It looks larger and more significant in the photo than it really is, because of the angle of my picture. I don't know why it didn't occur to me that the part of my arm closer to the camera would appear larger than life, but there we are.... It's really only about 3.5 inches long.

This silk really should have been knit on larger needles for a more delicate lace. I used 1.5 and I think I will make another with size 3. I just got some wonderful Hiya-Hiya 9 inch circulars in sizes 1.5, 2, and 3. Perhaps I can use that one. I'm really going for an arm cover that is lightweight for summer to cover a healing wound. Somewhere I have little bit of cashmere left from another project that I think would be closer to what I have in mind.

Next projects:
1. 2-sided blanket of my own design

2. Juliet summer sweater in stormy-coloured Malabrigio silk/wool

3. crocheted Crocus Scarf (From Interweave Crochet Spring 2007) in the BMFA sock club May colourway: Pepe le Plume or perhaps in the previous: Gertrude Skein, or perhaps in the leftovers of last year's Lucky...

and here's a bit of summer eye candy - Cape Cod, where we visited the boyfriend's mother on her birthday this weekend:


Sunday, July 5, 2009

Independance.... of a sort


Driving home from my boyfriend's last night, as I passed the big park near my house, I noticed that the city's fireworks could be seen over the trees. "click, click, click'! went my cell phone camera in rapid succession. And here is the result: one semi-decipherable photo of blurry light blobs among trees! The white column in the lower right front is the fountain in the middle of the pond; it has lights in it so that it shows up in the night. I suppose that it leads the ducks and herons to it, and it definitely keeps the roaming night kids from falling in!

The fireworks were pretty, but none showed up on the camera except the white ones. There were lots of green and of course red and blue. When they let off the final volley, when they shoot up all the little ones at once, I couldn't help thinking about those ancient wars and their "bombs bursting in air" that lit up the night sky. I imagined that, over beyond the trees, the real fighting was happening and young people in tattered put-together uniforms were fighting the regimented straight lines of the red-coated soldiers. Mostly, I imagined the carnage.

My bf and I had watched a show on the History Channel earlier in the day about the first few presidents. I learned that George Washington lost his last child in the final weeks of the war for independence to a "camp fever". The show went on through all the first few presidents. Andrew Jackson was not the nice person I had always assumed, but regularly fired people who did not agree with him and ruled like a tyrant. He installed his best friends as advisers, and the term "the Kitchen Cabinet" meaning a personal advisory and decision-making committee outside of the approved or agree-upon set-up, was coined by those who observed this. How short a time it was between the idealism that supported this country's independence and the competitive narcissism of "politics". Still, we have an independence of sorts and a lot of freedoms within the the system.

Mentally pulling myself back from commentary (this is a knitting blog after all), I'm making excellent progress on the wrist warmers out of silk. The lace pattern is little hearts, which I think is very fitting.

I discovered a whole new group of knit-worthy recipients at Jule's wedding and I'm very excited to think that her friends would like some things. My little brain has been making plans. We'll see if I can actually carry them out!

Knit New London had their annual Fourth of July sale yesterday and I went up with a friend. We stopped at Andover on the green where an antiques flea market was going on, organized by the Lions Club I think. We had public pancakes (tasty!) and I found a full case of vintage crochet hooks - about 30 in all. All plastic and metal, but some really small sizes that I can use for antique crochet repair. And, at the library book sale, I got a 1947 copy of the Book of Needlework, that has great knit and crochet sections including designing.

Now I'm off to make toast and download an ambiance sleep program with ocean sounds on my iPhone. Have happy days, friends!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

...and what I did while in Portland...

My recent trip to Portland included much running around the city, which – to me – is like a collection of distinct towns connected together by a great train/ bus/ subway/ trolley system. The architecture is beautiful – I kept thinking that I should take pictures of the buildings, but unfortunately was so often distracted by the “Oh! That’s Pretty!” in the windows. I remember an apartment building that had winged Sphinxes on it’s four corners…

I did do some yarn-related shopping, visiting Knit/Purl on 1101 Alder Street and The Yarn Garden on S.E. Hawthorne Blvd. (The #14 Hawthorne bus stops at 14th avenue on both sides of Hawthorne). Both places were great fun and had big comfy chairs for my non-knitting friends to sit while I browsed, but neither had local yarns from indie dyers. I kept expecting Portland stores to carry Blue Moon Fiber Arts, but was disappointed in that respect.


We went to the Yarn Garden first, and it was there that Jule found copies of HandKnit Heroes for me!! I was super excited! I read both zines on plane on the way home, but was a bit stymied by the microscopic lettering and the poor airplane cabin lighting. I’ll have to re-read them at the kitchen table with a magnifying glass. I think I managed to get most of the words right. Both patterns (each magazine includes one knitted item) are great – a hooded scarf with pockets (very 1920’s!) and a mesh beach or market bag.

Yarn Garden had a whole shelf of Japanese knitting books. I wanted about 10 of them, but they were all very expensive – mostly between $25 and $35. I contented myself with one – the 300 knitting motifs. I haven’t had a chance yet to look through the whole book, but I’m really, really hoping that these knitting pattern (lace mostly) are different from the US stitch dictionaries that I have. The girl at the counter told a funny story about all the customers who buy these Japanese knitting books and then return them because...well, they're written in Japanese!


On another day, we went to Knit/Purl. Knit/Purl is one of those shops that goes on and on and on with multiple rooms. One of the last rooms had a huge table full of knitting and crochet books on clearance! And at the counter was a display of used needles. I was in heaven pouring through this collection, and found some of my favorite vintage circulars: Bates Circulon, an early 50’s plastic that is warm and pliable. I even found one that has metal tips in bright blue and the rest of the needle and the cable between the tips is Circulon! There were also several used Addi Turbos that I got for a much reduced price. I don’t know why someone would sell their Addis, but … lucky me! (I left many, many of these behind BTW – in case you want to get some). They were not damaged in any way and I checked the joins which were nice and smooth. I gathered mostly smaller and shorter sizes for sock and baby knitting.


I also picked up a nice skein of green single ply silk (I love this yarn!) but I don’t remember which store had this. Both has extensive collections of posh yarns – walls and bins of silks! Knit/Purl had a bin of MadelineTosh and I wished I could justify getting more of this, but I couldn’t. I got just the one skein of silk to make these wristers:


Now – if I could only finish my Lily of the Valley Shawl so I could start them!!