Friday, April 27, 2007

Crafty Stuff

I love the new line of Martha Stewart stuff at Michael's stores. The website of the related line will open in May, Martha Stewart: Crafts. Most of the stuff is scrapbooking-related items, but there are kits for children's parties, stationary, favors, invitations, photo albums, keepsake boxes, etc.

I tell ya, Martha (or at least her people) is one smart cookie. All of the stuff goes together. I didn't realize it until I kept looking at the different things. Then I realized one thing went with another thing which went with another thing. For example, all of the little bits and pieces, and tags, and tapes, and embellishments, etc. all come in packages that have holes punched in the bottom of them. Then I realized that the little free crafty idea pages that Michael's always have (the ones for this line of things) all have holes on the sides of them. Then I realized that there were storage binders that until I saw all the punched holes, I hadn't known what they were for! They have 6 rings, so that all the small, medium, and larger packages all can fit neatly into your very own little crafty binder!

Well, since I am not a big scrapbooker, a big chunk of it didn't apply to me. I did find some little matchbox-sized boxes to put together that are for favors. What I will use them for I have no idea! I also got a set of 3 paper journals in cute patterned covers. I am loving the keepsake collector's boxes too, but I didn't buy one since I can't think of what to use one for.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Scoop Neck Tank

Pattern Notes
Scoop Neck Tank from Vogue Knitting Knit Simple Magazine Spring/Summer 2007

Yarn: Rowan Calmer in #482
Needles: US 8

I was looking for a simple tank top in my closet on one of the rare warm days early his year and somehow I couldn't find one. Also I really wanted to divert myself from my more difficult projects, so I cast-on for this much easier project. This was a very last-minute, not at all planned, Friday night at 11pm-cast-on-after-digging- through-my-stash type of project. Unfortunately, it didn't turn out nearly as well as I had hoped.

I had this Calmer in my stash (because we all know I am "knitting from my stash"...yeah, that's working out well). The only major modifications that I made was lengthening it by about 3" and I knit in the round up to the arm holes (instead of on straights). I had some major problems with this pattern, most of which were my fault, and all of which I can't believe I did given the simplicity of this pattern. I guess I figured that instead of paying attention just a little (unlike the lace project which requires my full attention), I would not pay any attention at all! Can anyone see my mistakes? A couple of them are pretty obvious...

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Family & Friends

I have gone back to my hometown a couple times in the last month (which is more than usual for me since it's a couple hours away). The first was Easter weekend. My best friend, Renee, who was only a few months pregnant when she last visited me, was due on April 7th. She was early and by the time I got home that weekend, Anthony Joseph was 4 days old. He was sooo tiny and barely woke up in the couple hours I was holding him. This is a picture that either Renee or her husband took on Easter Day.

This past weekend was my brother's 40th birthday party. There was good food and good company, including family and my brother's friends. The cake was printed with a picture of my brother from when he was 14 years old.

This is my brother and his amazing kids, John and Jake.

This past weekend was also a continuation of my mother's knitting lessons. I have been teaching her on and off since August. We went to Saratoga Needle Arts where she bought a couple skeins of Blue Sky Alpacas 100% alpaca yarn to do a simple scarf. Although I tried to convince her that she is ready for a simple sweater, she wasn't havin' it. She swears she can only knit something "flat". So, we chose a simple "mistake-rib" pattern and she is well on her way.

I am only on my 9th "point" of the secret project, even though I vowed to have the edging done by the end of April (which requires a total of 20 points). If I get moving on it, I can definately finish in the next week or so... I have just been procrastinating a lot, as well as starting to work long hours again.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Look How Pretty

Look at how pretty and creative this is...

The blogger, who's name I do not know, has been doing a series on Playing With Color. Since I am a color scientist by trade, the topic is very interesting to me. Someday I would like to look further into the technical aspects of some color stuff relating to knitting... if there is such a thing. However, don't expect any exploration of this topic anytime soon since work seems to continually get in the way of my blogging and knitting lately... unfortunately.

Runway Knits

I just picked up the book Runway Knits by Berta Karapetyan, who is the founder of Karabella Company. First let me say, this is a very pretty book. Underneath the book jacket is a plain, black, matte cover with simple red and white text. Inside are nearly 30 patterns separated into the categories Spirited, Playful, Demure, and Driven, all following a very short introduction.

The great thing about this book is that it doesn't waste any space on knitting instructions... so it's definately not for beginners (although there are a couple of easier patterns in it). In the back is half a page of abbreviations, a yarn substitution guide, and an index. The rest is
all patterns, and very nice ones at that. Before I get to those, let me just say I was impressed with the yarn substitution guide.

There are some people (I won't mention any names) who have their own yarn brands who use only their own yarns in their pattern books. This one is no exception. It is all Karabella (the author's son's brand). The difference here is that the yarn substitution guide assumes that you may not want to buy the Karabella yarns and doesn't seem to push you in that direction- this is in addition to the fact that it has a yarn sub guide at all! While it doesn't give you another brand name, the guide tells you the names of the Karabella yarns used in the book, their approximate weight, and a description; all for the purpose of finding a substitute with a similar drape, texture, and appearance. There is also a warning on substituting by yardage, not just by number of skeins (which might be obvious to most knitters who are knitting from this book in the first place).

Okay, on to the patterns. The book being called
Runway Knits, it is safe to assume that all the models in the book are tiny. A couple are even beyond tiny. However, there is some larger sizing in the book, as well as some non-sized items for everyone. Here's the rundown on the largest [bust] sizes for each pattern (because so few of us care about the smallest sizes):

38" - 4 patterns
39" - 1
40" - 5
41" - 6
42" - 3
44" - 1
46" - 1
No size - 7

You'll note this makes 28 patterns, but a couple of them are sets (hat/scarves) that make the 30 that the book claims. Here's the other thing: Some of the size 38" patterns are sooo good, it would totally be worth the time it takes to do the size-up calculations! Okay, I know... I sounded like a cheerleader there- but the more I look at this book, the more patterns in it I like!

Some of my faves are the Little Black Dress, Diamond Top, Leaf-Paneled Sweater, Seawave Turtleneck, Silky Turtleneck, Roman Candle Sweater, A-Line Jacket, and the Leaf-Drop Sweater.

The Little Black Dress is super-cute, but unfortunately would looks terrible on me due to my hips. It's knit mostly in stockinette for a size 38" (max) bust with lace sleeves, hem, and neck, in cotton.

The Diamond Top is also cotton. It's a fitted sweater (max 41") with capped sleeves and a simple stitch pattern.

The Leaf-Paneled Sweater is actually more of a halter top/mock-turtle-style for summer, also knit in cotton. The lace leaf pattern is very pretty and travels up the center and sides of this tunic-length halter (38" max).

The Seawave Sweater is a long-sleeve sweater in extra-fine merino wool for a 40" bust (max) and a wave stitch pattern. It is pictured in a jewel-toned sea-green color.

The Silky Turtleneck is also sort of a halter top/mock-turtle-style, but this time knit in silk with a lace-leaf or wave pattern and scalloped edges (39" max).

The Roman Candle is one of the bigger sweaters with a 42" bust, a basketweave cable pattern, long sleeves, and a high neck. It's knit in a beautiful red-hued merino.

And finally, the A-Lined Jacket is the largest pattern (which makes sense, it being a jacket and all- 46"). The cutest thing about this wool jacket is the extra-large buttons that adorn the front.

Basically what I am saying here is that I highly recommend this book as much as I can without having actually knit anything from it (I just bought it an hour ago). The knitting experience of this author tells me she is probably very good at writing patterns. She mentions in the intro that she has been knitting since she was 12 (in Russia) and her customers at her two yarn shops have helped her a lot in knowing what the customer wants (in terms of pattern-writing). If nothing else, go to B&N and look at the pretty pictures of the flawlessly made-up models in beautiful knits.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Vogue & Sensual Knits

I can't wait for Yahaira's Sensual Knits to come out. This book looks so promising as one I will definitely need for my collection. Just look at that cover! There is a good description from the publisher here. I am also sort of looking forward to this one, which will probably have skimpier knits than Sensual Knits, but which I hope doesn't end up like this one, which might be useful to me if I was 10 years younger and a size 2. I am hoping here for a couple of sexy while still being classy, adult pattern books that are not raunchy, cheesy, or only for the skinny models that reside between the pages.

I have also been reading The Best of Vogue Knitting lately. I don't actually own this book and I probably won't buy it (since I already have an abundance of knitting books). But, one of my favorite pasttimes is going to B&N (often) to relax with a hot chai and a knitting book. It seems that since this book came out I have read a few articles each time I see it. It is a collection of the best articles of Vogue Knitting from the past 25 years. Note that I said
articles- there are no patterns here (well maybe an EZ pattern here and there that is described instead of written in knitting abbreviations). This book is great because it has articles on techniques (both well- and little-known), famous (and not as famous) knitters (men and women), articles on design, and much much more. I love the articles on Fair Isle and Bohus knitting. The great thing is no article is more than 2 single-side pages long! So, you get quick snippets of reads with a lot of information in them, and all written by great knitters!

Okay, so I broke down (again) and bought some yarn... I know, I know... but it was a great deal for some great alpaca laceweight! I got it on Destash, which I have been stalking (mainly out of boredom) despite the yarn diet. I have actually refrained from most of the great deals (or just plain beautiful yarn) that I have seen. This yarn is plied with 2 slightly different shades of the same hue to give it a lot of visual interest. The origin is an alpaca farm somewhere in Ontario. The yarn is sooo soft, and I probably have enough yarn here for 3 shawls!