June 03, 2008
Salve Bellas! Photos from Italia
Clockwise from top left: Us on the terrace in Vernazza; Horse by the Spanish Steps with a crocheted head dress; M basking in the sun in Vernazza harbor; Vernazza from above; Me & Mishka at Trevi Fountain; Me in Venice; the Colosseum; Us in the Bardini Gardens of Florence; M at Trevi Fountain; Florence's Duomo; My baby belly at Trasimeno lake in Umbria; Vernazza Harbor; Stoic Cats in the Bardini Gardens.
Most photos are clickable, but the ones of Moxie aren't.
We're back! Both tired and happy. It was a wonderful romantic trip and a great way to steal some time for ourselves before the little bundle of joy hijacks our lives. Many knits were worn, and some were photographed. The little snippet of pink in the first photo is the River Stole, Mishka made it to the Trevi Fountain and Rome, the Daktari Skirt strolled through Florence, and several sweaters kept me warm in chilly Venice.
I had originally hoped to finish the Bubble Pullover prior to our trip, thinking that at least Venice would be sweater-worthy. When that didn't happen, I realized knitting memories are created on trips even more than before, and that I would probably enjoy making the Bubble Pullover in Italy more than I would enjoy rushing through it to wear it there. I'm still not quite done. I have about five and a half inches of collar left to knit, two sleeves to seam together and buttons to sew on. I'm going to savor the process and finish when I do. I won't be able to actually wear this big alpaca sweater until late fall, regardless. It has been a lovely journey as well - my first Norah Gaughan pattern after years of admiring her work. And the Misty Alpaca yarn is heaven. I'll try to get some decent progress shots so that you can enjoy it, too.
The Bubble Pullover may well be the only knit just for me this year (gasp!). I have several projects for publication that I'm working on this summer and I'm going to sneak in some baby knits where I can before D-day. I have a feeling that the end of the year will get swallowed up by a screaming, pooping, boob-wrecking baby who has already stolen my heart.
May 08, 2008
Knits for an Italian Honeymoon
Well, a pregnant Italian honeymoon. If you've known me since the early days of blogging, you know that our honeymoon was supposed to happen four years ago in Italy. Time and money have gotten in the way, but as soon as I got knocked up I was determined to go to Italy this spring, even if it meant waddling through Rome! Happily, I am not nearly as large as I envisioned at this point, so if the kid can manage not to balloon me out for another month, it should be a pretty easy trip, pregnancy-wise. In preparation for the trip I've been going through my closet to find things that fit with room to spare, because I have a feeling that all that wonderful Italian food will aid in the expansion campaign. Happily, I have much more than I thought because, wonderful things that they are, knits stretch! I'm so glad I tried things on rather than assuming I didn't have anything. The shopping can be confined to Italian shopping - the best kind.
Knits In Action!
Top to Bottom, Left to Right: River, Birch, After Dark Nightie, Pia (top) & Daktari (skirt), Japanese Motif Skirt (Marnie), Nautical, Deciduous (Marnie), After Dark Nightie ('cause it shows off the bump)
Now I realize that it's no big shocker that the shawls fit, but it is nice to have them to accessorize the cute little empire waist dresses that have over-run my closet. (This one is from J-Crew, and may technically be a beach cover-up. Ask me if I care.) I have a little snippet of lingerie that I've been stuffing myself into, but it's short, so the belly makes it looks ever more ridiculous. The after dark nightie is much more forgiving. The skirts were a bit of a surprise. Marnie lent me the Japanese motif skirt when I visited her in March, and lamented the 40 inch waistline - how fortuitous was that? Fabulous and tons of room. The Daktari skirt still has a lot of play, too. The tops were probably the biggest surprise. Pia is still a little big on me without a blouse underneath it - a testament to how off the sizing was in the first place - and nautical fits perfectly with the aid of that fabulous invention, the yoga skirt. (Seriously back-ordered, but worth the wait if it appeals to you. I have two!) Deciduous is probably pushing it, but with a bella band I could probably manage that, too. Absolutely nothing I'm wearing is maternity. (And I'm showing more than in these pictures - my waist is 7" greater in circumference than it was when this all started.) Between yoga-wear and those adorable waistless dresses everyone is wearing, I've only gone to maternity for things like jeans and shorts. Normally I can't get anywhere near one of those empire waist dresses that pouf out below the bust because they make me look pregnant. Now that I am pregnant, they rock. Comfy, too.
The next time you see these knits of yesteryear they'll be in front of Italian architecture. Yay!
May 23, 2007
What I'm Wearing Today
No time to pontificate on knitting today, so instead I bring you another "knits in action" photo.
I. Love. This. Skirt.
May 12, 2007
When I first began blogging, I was very cautious about meeting other bloggers and commenters in person. It took me about eight months to meet with anyone, and almost two years to become completely comfortable with the concept of making in-the-flesh knitting friends from on-line.
Nonnahs, MJ, LoriZ, MH and Yours Truly. Photo taken by LoriZ's extremely photographically gifted husband, Cam.
Oddly enough, the first person I met up with was a commenter. Mary wrote to me when I had just moved to DC. She volunteered to help out with my job search, and I was so touched that a total stranger was interested enough in me through the blog to lend a hand in that way, that I just had to get to know her. DC didn't end up being the right place for me at the time, but I still have fond memories of sock yarn shopping with Mary, our lunches in Chinatown, and her kind and generous efforts to help. I also met up with Froggy several times during that period. The two of us spent hours upon end on those rainy DC days pouring over knitting patterns and yarn in Teaism. Sadly, I have lost touch with both of these wonderful women. They seem to have departed the knit-blogging world or at least relegated themselves to lurkdom. Girls, if you are out there and see this, know that I dearly miss you both.
When I came back here almost all of my friends had moved (this is a city of transients if ever there was one), and with M still back in DC for six months my only option was to make friends in any way that I could. I had already cultivated a long-term e-mail friendship with Marnie and met up with her once when we vacationed here, so she was an obvious choice for a *real* friend. (MH has always been a *real* friend, and I met Kat for *real* before I read her blog as well.) From there it just grew.
Now that I have made so many blogging friends, and found them all to be as great in person as they are virtually, I've become much more laid back about meet-ups. I trust my instincts, and if I have read someone for a bit and feel comfortable, then we must meet!
Friendships on line really can be lasting and meaningful (I'm writing this from Marnie and Leo's in Portland), so if you are in doubt take a chance, and if you are in town, let me know!
P.S. Thanks to all who commented on the fire. I was particularly comforted by those who have seen many fires and assured me that the vegetation will return, along with the coyotes and geckos.
March 20, 2007
Postcard from Phoenix
I made a whorl-wind journey to Phoenix this past weekend to bask in the company of my friends from the law firm where I worked right after finishing school. These are my friends with whom I made the wedding quilt; now the first of them (Ellen) is very, very pregnant and a second (Julia) is pregnant as well. The last of us left the firm in the fall, and only one of us remains in private practice (she was smart enough to do transactional work, the rest of us are litigators). It's really interesting to see the changes in our lives and careers. It's also nice to see everyone happy.
I feel like each of us has found a way to make life work, which is a far cry from the stressful blur that our first few years of practice were. Phoenix was not the right city for me, but it has a place in my heart because I did so much growing there, and made so many wonderful friends. When you get out of the strip malls and move toward South Mountain or the Superstitions, there is a quiet and an alien beauty to the place that doesn't exist in my current landscape. It was nice to remember that quiet, and to enjoy seeing so many people that I care about enjoying their lives and starting their families. The weekend was filled with happiness and hope. Here are some photos of Ellen's shower, hosted by Julia, who will be having a baby shower of her own soon...
Photos taken by Me, Jessica and Nick.
Top to bottom, left to right: The proud father-to-be displaying his son's tiny argyles; Julia and Bert's beautiful home; Yours truly happily contemplating life from behind her Mimosa; My gifts: the soon-to-be-blogged Harvey vest and pee-pee tee-pees purchased at Edna's; Close-up of the argyles made by Ellen's mom using the intarsia method; The girls all together: Me, Julia (pregnant), Ellen (pregnant) & Jessica; The radiantly beautiful Julia with her devoted pup Chewie; Ellen's mother and Delana laughing; Ellen's darling niece; A blessedly flattering close-up of my posterior in the Daktari skirt, petting Chewie; Ellen's nephews transfixed by the presents; Homemade cupcakes from Nikki's kitchen; Ellen unfurling the "cuddle quilt" which her mother hand-stitched for her.
Edited to add: I have had a few questions on the baby argyle socks. My guess is that these are not from a formal pattern, but I will make inquiries when Ellen's mother has finished her travels. In the meantime, these very cool posts are a great place to start when making argyle socks.
March 04, 2007
Modifications: A Designer's First Step
This post covers the basic starting point for most designs - modifications - and borrows photos and an example from one of our very talented CALer's, Samantha. Sam started making a version of the Daktari Skirt (Lacy Skirt with Bows) for herself, but quickly realized that a single panel of the skirt could be modified to make a dress for her daughter. The pattern is the same as the original, except that only a single panel is used and there are garter stitch straps added at the top. These are simple modifications, but brilliant - what a lovely transformation.
I was completely taken by Sam's dress idea. When I was Sam's daughter's age my grandmother had a very similar ingenious idea. She took some of her old slips, smocked them at the top to gather the fabric in, and sewed on satin ribbons for ties. I had several of these slip dresses that I wore as nighties and used to play dress-up. I still remember all the details of those little dresses - that is how much I loved them. (I know that my mother, who reads this blog, has a photo of me in one - maybe you'll send me a copy, ma? I don't know if she still has any of the nighties.)
Having finished her daughter's dress, Sam can now go on to make other dresses using the first one as a template. She has the measurements from the Daktari dress to use as a baseline, so for the next dress she can use the same basic shape and change the patterning. Or she could go one step further and tweak the shape a little, too. What would the dress look like with a fitted bodice? What if she changed the length a little? A completely new and different dress can be designed using what Sam has already figured out here, and with a few little changes she will have stepped from modification to design.
The same is true of little sweater modifications. I try to keep track of little details that I add to commercial patterns, and I also follow which measurements will tend to work best for me in different circumstances. I've learned over time that a bodice twenty inches in length is my "standard," and will fit in such a way to keep my midriff covered (No muffin-top to be seen here people! ). A twenty-two inch bodice will cover the waistband of my trousers and give a nice elongated look to an outfit (which is why I plan for Mishka to be about twenty-two inches in length). Twenty-five inches will give me a tunic or coat length. Knowledge of these measurements gives me a good starting point for design. I am fairly standard-sized, so I can take my measurements and simply add to them proportionally (more on that later) to get the other standardized sizes in a range, but if you aren't standard-sized you can simply figure out how differently your measurements run from the standards proportionally and then make those adjustments across the board for all sizes in a pattern. The opposite approach works as well. If you are working from a commercial pattern and know that you need to take in two inches at the waist as compared to the usual standard size you can work out that modification before you start knitting so that the piece will fit you in a flattering way.
These are just little things to think of as you design. Don't undervalue your experiences as you go along - use them for the next step. Just look at that dress!
A stroll on the ocean in Guam. With a backyard like this, would you miss wool?
February 11, 2007
Pattern Notes: Daktari Skirt
I am so freaking excited to finally be at the point where I can write up pattern notes for this skirt. As you may know from my last post, it's been a long journey. But the results are so worth it. This skirt is both feminine and extremely comfortable, which is a rare treat. I can feel "pretty" when I wear it, but still feel as comfy as I would wearing jeans. It goes well with both flip-flops and ballet flats, so you can dress it up or dress it down.
My "photoshoot shot" graciously taken by Moxie.
Lacy Skirt With Bows
Other than that the pattern is wonderful, easy to follow, and a surprisingly quick knit. I have watched Kat's work since she was first published in Knitty in 2003, and had the pleasure of becoming friends with her through our work with Suzan on the Greetings from Knit Cafe book. I have long admired her amazing lace pieces, and her incredibly wearable knit skirts.
Going back to the pattern, although it looks complex, I think that it's the type of garment that a newer lace knitter could work without frustration. The panels are worked from the bottom up in crest of the wave lace, capped with eyelets for the bows (or in my case, ribbon). Then it's stockinette and another eyelet section for the ribbon drawstring. The lace will eat up much more yardage than the stockinette, so don't be concerned if you get to the end of your first skein soon after your lace is done for the first panel. You will have plenty of yarn for the stockinette.
The knitting goes very quickly. A fast or dedicated knitter could bang this out in two weeks easily.
Modifications: The only modification I made was the use of ribbon rather than a second yarn. I found a wonderful coordinating ribbon in the garment district at Michael Levine. I purchased 6 yards to be safe, but the skirt only required about half of that. (Buy 4 yards to be safe if you go this route - that should be more than enough). I omitted the bows and just threaded the ribbon through the eyelets. At the waistline I did the same. Other than that, my skirt is exactly like the original.
Impressions of Twisted Sisters Daktari:
There are substantial pleasures to this yarn as well, which I hope you can see in the finished product. It is a slubbed cotton with a wonderful organic feel, and the colors, consistent or not, are truly beautiful. It reminds me of something that Blue Sky Alpacas might produce if they partnered with Habu Textiles. I haven't seen anything quite like it, and honestly, I might very well purchase Daktari again for this very reason. I will definitely work with it again, as I have a skein and a half left. I will just have to plan for the variations.
Possible substitute yarns:
A Parting Shot:
*Yarn Market has this yarn listed at 145 yds/skein. I am not sure if Twisted Sisters has changed the yardage or if this is a misprint. For the small size skirt, 4 skeins should still be enough, as I only used around 3.5, but it may be wise to check before purchasing if you have concerns about yardage. I would also highly recommend buying an extra skein to ensure that any color variations can be worked out.
February 10, 2007
Iron Knitter: Battle Daktari
My experience with Daktari began quite happily. Despite the fact that I was knitting a skirt which appeared to have quite a bit of stockinette at the top to slow me down, the fabric sailed off my needles. Within the span of about a week I had knit almost all of the first panel. I was excited. Even better, we were getting ready to spend a week in Hawaii on vacation with the family, so I knew that I would have hours of time ahead of me in planes, boats and cars, where I could knit away contentedly on my skirt. Perhaps I could even finish it and take some lovely shots on those lush Hawaiian Islands.... I got pretty far on the skirt over vacation, and blocked the first panel with stunning results soon after we returned. Then suddenly, I hit a snag.
I would now like to draw your attention to the fact that there are four skeins of yarn knitted up in these photographs. The first three skeins flow together fairly seamlessly, with some expected, yet subtle, variation. Given this state of affairs, I thought that perhaps I had a rogue skein, so I decided to go back to my LYS and purchase another. Interestingly, the newly purchased skein, also in the same dyelot did not match the first three knitted skeins or the "rogue" skein, but was instead a shade somewhere in between the two. The difference was not as stark as before, but still not negligible enough that alternating the yarns would do anything to alleviate the problem.
I had several possible plans of attack for solving the problem with this new, closer-to-the-original-color skein, most involving some variation on ripping out most of the skirt and incorporating the darker-colored skein into the lace in alternating rows on both panels, so that there would be less of a noticeable difference both horizontally and vertically.
Then last weekend, when we had that lovely bought of unseasonably warm weather, I was inspired to pull the Daktari skirt out again. I still wasn't in the mood to rip it all out and start from scratch, so instead I ripped out the offending very dark skein, and decided to make use of some information that I learned while blocking the yarn. I knit the rest of top of the second panel with the medium-dark skein, and then I took a little gamble. When I blocked the first panel I noticed that the fabric bled a lot. So I thought why not dip the top portion of the panel in scalding hot water a few times to see if I couldn't get enough of the color out to make it match the rest? Daktari is cotton, and cotton can handle the heat. So I soaked the top of the panel in three changes of really hot water over the span of an hour, and miraculously....it worked. Not perhaps the most reliable cure for this issue, but you can't argue with the results.
This one goes to the Challenger. Next up: pattern notes.
August 16, 2006
Twisted Sisters Daktari, 100% Slubbed Cotton in Cappuccino. Heaven.