Sunday, June 27, 2010

Cheeky Monkey

Another sweater for the little guy is finished. I just can't seem to stop making these, and he's growing like a sunflower, so he needs a new size every couple of months!

This one is called Cheeky Monkey:


Yarn: Louet Gems (100% washable merino) Sport weight, 2 skeins (Used 1.5 of the skeins)in Chocolate
Madeleine Tosh Sock (100% superwash merino) Fingering weight, 1 skein (I used about 1/10 of the skein) in Rhubarb

Needles: Hiya Hiya interchangables in size 4; Brittany DPNs in size 4

Size : 1 year (22 inch chest)

Buttons: Monkeys!!!


I love the little pockets. I like to put pockets on all my sweaters, even infant sweaters. It gives you place to clip a little toy or other tiny necessity.


My bf liked this sweater so much, he wanted me to make a big size for him! It would be cute for a guy with a shawl collar....


My next sweater for the small guy is going to be a Doctor Who style sweater... can't wait!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

those 40's ingenues

Although vintage knitting and crochet is my passion, I do have a thing for vintage sewing patterns. I've used many of these, even making a silk wedding dress last summer from an original 1930's evening gown slip pattern.

I just can't resist picking up these vintage patterns when I find them in the charity shops and thrift stores! But I know that there are many beautiful patterns I'll never use. I plan to put them in my Etsy shop:

This charming bathing suit and oriental-style coat pattern seems to be from the 1940's.


Here's another bathing suit from 1967 - I love the low-hip bell bottoms!


These two skirt patterns are probably 40's again, or maybe very early 50's... Look at those Tiny waists!



and finally, this gown... the pattern number is listed on some vintage pattern sites as the 30's but the style of the pattern cover and the hairstyles and the style of the gown itself looks to me like late 40's or very early 50's, like 1947 - 1951. Can't you just see some 1949 high school ingenue going to her prom in this gown?


I love all of these and can so easily picture them sewn up and designed in very cute ways! But I know I'll never take the time from my knitting and knit designing to do that. I'll leave it to more clever fingers than mine!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

stripey string beans

Remember the String Beans, from the knitting zine?


I made another pair!


This time, they are made from light fingering weight in self-patterning yarn. This is a skein that my friend Nad sent me from Germany a few years ago. This skein goes on forever! I made a pair of socks for myself out of it. I used it for a winter hat, mixed with some jaunty tangerine wool. And now it makes a pair of baby knee socks! and... there is a whole lot left (which I am sending to a Ravelry friend).

But, back to the Stripey String Beans:

You can see that in this pair, I made a little modification - a rolled cuff! I love this tiny detail... Even though these socks don't look vintage with their modern colourful striped yarn, the rolled edge is so very ancient! (and perfect for holding up with garters). In fact, in my late 1800s and early 1900's pattern books, many - or most - of the baby shirts have little knitted garters attatched to the bottom hem. These were actually supposed to tie through or button to buttonholes in leggings (the trouser type of leggings, with or without feet, not the half-a-sock type leggings of the 80's), which had two holes in the front and one in the middle of the back waistband for this purpose.


But, you could use them for thigh high stockings too! Many baby socks were made extra long, and in this modified pair of String Neams, and my saffron Carrot Sticks pattern, I have a row of tiny buttonholes for potential, imaginary, perhaps-future baby garters.

Monday, June 14, 2010

I have traveled around the country pretty extensively, but I do have some favorite places. One of those places is Portland, Oregon and I've been visiting there a lot lately. I spent some time in Northwest Portland a couple of weeks ago, and really wanted to stay longer. I stayed in a charming Guesthouse that spanned 3 old houses, side by side, connected by their back gardens and porches.


I was given two rooms at the top front of the end house, and had a wonderful picture window under the eaves, that was shaded by tall, leafy trees. The wide bed was incredibly comfortable, and I slept deeply - something that often doesn't happen when I'm away from home. Right across the street was a great coffee & tea shop where I spent many happy times, and we all gathered one afternoon to draw comics and talk and make plans. I had Rooibos tea, and they prepared it in a French Press.


One day, we went to the Portland river market, in search of local honey. But rather than a Farmer's Market, like we have here, this market - that stretched all along the river - was an artist's market, like a perpetual craft fair. There was no honey. But, there were some really beautiful handmade things, and I did buy some dried sweet potatoes for the dogs.

Another rainy day, we took the bus to a big paper warehouse, to get paper and supplies for books and comics (I also got some plastic sleeves for mailing my knitting zine). It seemed like a long way away, and after we left the bus, we walked through winding streets lined by warehouses and very few people. We passed by a warehouse for an auction house, and it was open, so we wandered in. It turned out that everything waiting for auction was for sale, and it was great fun sorting through boxes and bins. In some cardboard boxes under a table, we found a whole set of Jadite china. I bought Jule some soup bowls and a big mixing bowl with a handle and a pouring lip, because her Jadite mixing bowl had fallen off the counter the day before and shattered, as Jadite does.

Another day, we walked down to a local Yarn shop, Knit/ Purl, to check on my knitting zine. It turned out that it had never made it to the manager's hands - perhaps put on her desk and then buried under days of mail... So we left another and chatted with her a bit and - of course - perused the yarn.

They were having a sale on Catherine Lowe's Couture Yarns, so I picked up some skeins of the luscious extra fine merino - 400 yards each for less than the cost of a good loaf of bread.


I believe that this is the same Catherine Lowe who used to write The Ravel'd Sleeve - an antique knitting newsletter with patterns. I've never been able to get my hands on a copy, though I want to, badly...

This yarn store also has a very nice big collection of Habu Textiles. I found some unusual examples that had to come home with me:

Navy blue wrapped cotton (for a summer baby hat):


and 700 yards of some incredible silk and fiddlehead fern fiber. This is going to a lace wrap, perhaps an Ishbel:


I was also captured by the wall of Handmaiden Yarns - they do make beautiful hand dyed yarn - and splurged on Flaxen, a blend of 65% silk and 35% Linen in the colour "Smoke". Two skeins should be enough for a shrug.


My last purchase was a bright little sample of beaded silk in Blaze, a fire-red. The sample if from Planet Earth fibers, and this will probably become an edging on something fun.


I love souvenir yarn!

This trip was so fun and we all got addicted to Dominion (a role-playing game) and I made some good food for the whole group, as well as eating great food made by friends (gluten-free peanut butter cookies - Yum!!). I can't wait to go back.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The half-colours of quarter things...


Break open a cherry tree and there are no flowers, but the spring breeze brings forth myriad blossoms. ~Ikkyu Sojun

I'm sorry that 2 weeks have gone by without an update. I've been away... in Portland, which I love... (more on that later).

Today, I am back on the East coast, sitting by my window, trying to nurse my under-watered African violet back to life and thinking about the subtle colour of a coastal spring.

"In the same way, you were happy in spring,
With the half colors of quarter-things,
The slightly brighter sky, the melting clouds,
The single bird, the obscure moon-

The obscure moon lighting an obscure world
Of things that would never be quite expressed,
Where you yourself were never quite yourself
And did not want nor have to be ..."

- Wallace Stevens, The Motive for Metaphor

a few days ago, members of the Rockin Sock Club 2010 from Blue Moon Fiber Arts, received their Spring shipment of the surprise yarn. It has been very controversial...

SPOILERS BELOW - Do Not read further if you are a member and want your package to remain a surprise. I have photos and descriptions below.

The controversy, it seems, arose first from the fact that the Spring skein was what is called a Spirit: a faintly tinted yarn with just the essence of colour, and second from the fact that some people received a faintly tinted pink version just like this:


and some people received a faintly tinted cream or pale yellow version, like this:


and, from descriptions, some few people received a skein that had absorbed no colour at all...

For me, the skeins - in all their permutations, as you can see - were exactly like the Sweet Peas in my garden. I could see the dyer's hand in their design, and appreciate the inspiration.

A profusion of pink roses bending ragged in the rain speaks to me of all gentleness and its enduring.
~The Collected Later Poems of William Carlos Williams

I say that from the perspective of someone who received a skein that has more visible colour and that I love.


I do understand the very real disappointment of a sock club skein that seems - to the receiver - to be inferior to that which others received and that you really, really dislike for that reason. I felt that way a few months back and made a royal fool of myself in the posts (for which I was soundly "disagreened" by my group-mates). Now I am more sanguine, and I can tell myself that if I don't like one, I'll like the next; that I can de-stash at will (though I've never been able to bring myself to de-stash a BMFA skein, whether I liked it initially or not); and that I can order another and ask the lovely folks at Blue Moon to pick out a skein for me with "more pink" or "less yellow", which they are always happy to do.

The arrival of a yarn club package or an order is a highly anticipated event, fraught and weighted with a myriad of emotions only barely related to the yarn itself. Yarn packages assuage loneliness and replace company, they substitute for the doctor's home visit and bedside manner, they calm raw nerves and sooth grief for a time... they encourage overworked mothers and reward over-stressed workers. We all want to open that package and find a bouquet of flowers and I think that our disappointment is commensurate with our emotional expectations.

My heart goes out to those who were disappointed this month and I hope that they find happy homes for their yarn and substitute it for themselves with another colour they like better.

"Happiness? The color of it must be spring green, impossible to describe until I see a just-hatched lizard sunning on a stone. That color, the glowing green lizard skin, repeats in every new leaf. ... The regenerative power of nature explodes in every weed, stalk, branch. Working in the mild sun, I feel the green fuse of my body, too. - this mindless simplicity can be called happiness."
- Frances, Mayes, Bella Tuscany: The Sweet Life in Italy, 1999


"In these divine pleasures permitted to me of walks in the June night under moon and stars, I can put my life as a fact before me and stand aloof from its honor and shame."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson, Journals