Thursday, September 20, 2007

Newly finished and newly begun.

The circular vest is now done and even has been worn! Desdemona, my ever faithful mannequin, is modeling the vest for me here. She has a seriously Barbie-doll figure (unlike me these days) but for this garment it doesn't really matter what your shape is as long as the wearer has shoulders to hang the garment from. I wore the vest to work on Monday and it was a big hit from a visual point of view - the drape and flow of the back, especially, got a lot of attention.

However, the vest is a big circle, with the armholes created in a way that is easy to knit, but not necessarily in a shape or angle that is anatomically correct for the human female figure. In a forgiving fibre like wool the vest would probably be just fine; in a non-stretchy fibre like the silk I used it was OK, but every so often throughout the day I found one side down around my elbow instead of up on my shoulder. I pinned the fronts together with a brooch, which did help a lot to keep everything more or less where I wanted it to be.

My suggestion is that if you like the look of a lacy shawl, but find them to be too difficult to keep on, try this vest as an alternative. It has the look of a shawl but with the armholes it stays in place better, but due to the lack of figure-conscious shaping it's not quite a vest either. Think of it as a shawl with a place to put your arms.

Now that the vest is done I have begun a little sweater coat for my baby niece, who just turned 2 last week. Before her birth I bought some Koigu Kersti Merino Crepe in a blue and white colourway to make a blanket for her but for various reasons ended up using Dale of Norway's Baby Ull instead, and have had the Kersti yarn hanging around in the stash ever since. It's beautiful yarn, but it wasn't quite enough for a sweater for myself, and the dye lots on Koigu are so changeable I couldn't really get more that toned in well enough for my personal preferences.

I've been waiting for the right thing to come along to use for Madi (my niece) and finally put a few things together to come up with an idea. I had some adorable hand-made ceramic buttons with blue and white cat faces on them which were too big for a small baby, but now that Madi is two she's big enough for the buttons to suit her. I have wanted to make Sally Melville's Einstein Coat from her The Knit Stitch book for a long time; the yarn and the buttons all come together and will (if all goes according to plan) Madi's Christmas gift this year.

Along with all the knitting is some spinning. My back has felt better lately and I can spin for longer periods of time. During a visit with my Dad and stepmother last weekend at their home in the Sierra Mountains I took along my spinning wheel and the deep brown Perendale wool my Dad brought me from New Zealand and got a good start on spinning up a batch of it.

My Dad is an engineer and is fascinated with how things work, so it was a good project to take along as it kept me occupied and interested him as well. (Last year he made me a clock reel with a yardage counter which is absolutely wonderful for figuring winding off my finished yarn and knowing the yardage at the same time.) I plan to knit some pillows for their home with the finished yarn and have spun it with a bit more twist than I usually do so that the yarn won't be too soft and prone to pilling. All of the furniture in the house was built by my Dad and it just seems fitting to have handknit pillows from handpsun yarn on the couch and chairs.

One pillow will have a deer pattern (based on the Intricate Stag Bag design from Interweave Knitscene) and another based on Hawaiian tapa cloth designs, as my stepmother grew up in Hawaii and loves the arts of the Islands. Tapa cloth designs are traditionally black, brown and white so the deep brown wool plus the creamy merino my Dad also brought me from NZ will be very suitable.

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