Sunday, October 28, 2007

A pictureless quickie

Life is pretty stressful and hectic right now, so this will be a quick post with no pictures -so dull. I have fully succumbed to the lures of the Bunad Mukluks mentioned in last week's post, and while in the dim recesses of my mind I haven't officially "started" them, a swatch has mysteriously appeared on my needles and inspirational books of various sorts have sprouted in my studio. I don't have the specific yarn called for in the patter on hand, and since that has never stopped me, I have pulled out all my basic feltable wools to see if I could conjur up something with those. It turns out I have lots of Cascade 220 on hand, but not enough in any one colour to make the boots as pictured. Once again, when has that ever gotten in my way? So the plan is to use the most plentiful colour, a deep purple, as the main colour, and to add bands of multicoloured patterns around the leg in a few related colours to stretch out the purple. The pattern has the boots knitted in a solid colour with embroidery added afterwards; my colourwork patterns will be in place of that, with perhaps some embroidery done on top of the colourwork later. I'm deciding between floral types of designs like the embroidery in the pattern or using more traditional stranded-knitting patterns. Right now I'm leaning towards a small repeating Eastern-European paisley pattern that I found in a couple books - stay tuned.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Something new?

What is that - over there? Is that a possible new project? It looks like - like, wait, I know what that is - it's the Bunad Mukluks from Folk Style! And I just happen to have a pair of mukluk soles that my good friend Cathi T gave me (and they're in my size, to boot!)

And over there? What could that be? Could it really be a new colour of Blue Sky Alpaca? And is it really just the final colour I need to complete the design I had in mind, to go along with the deep blue violet, lime green, magenta, charcoal and ivory alpaca that I already have? How did that get here?? Did it know that I have been pondering a possible design for a patterned border to go on the hem of a pullover, and that I needed just one more colour to really pull it all together?

How are these new project ideas getting in? Yes, I know I wished recently for a major new project to present itself, but I'm supposed to be making gloves, scarves, bags, whatevers for my holiday sales! How can be even thinking of really starting a new project when I'm supposed to be doing all this other stuff?

OK, look over there - there's 21 1/2 pairs of gloves done (the last 1/2 pair will be finished tonight during Game 7 of the ACLS playoffs (that's baseball, for you non-sports types out there; if you don't already know it baseball is perfect knitting TV - the sound of the bat on the ball, the crowd, the announcers, and your non-knitting (usually male) partner will all clue you in if you actually need to look up and watch anything).

And there's a short scarf blocking over there (I'm not even showing you all the stuff that has been done in the last year) so if I want to start something new for my own uses and just because I love it (and I do, I do, I do) I can. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Best intentions

My intention has always been to post to my blog on an at least a once a week basis, preferably on Sunday nights. A quick review of past postings reveals in hideous splendour the fallacy of my ambitions - I'm all over the place in timing on my posts. So forgive me for my trespasses, and be patient with my excesses (or something like that) while I try to have credibility of some sorts as a blogger. I'll get the hang of it someday.

I finished the EZ February sweater, and found some adorable ducky buttons at Full Thread Ahead to finish it off. I'll be mailing it off tomorrow, but I must say I am quite pleased at the finished product. The knit/purl triangle pattern always looks wonderful (it makes a great stitch pattern for a scarf, by the way) and after a trip through the washer it relaxed and became very appealing indeed. I always like to wash my gift knit items in the way I intend to recommend to the recipient before I send them off just to be sure what I say is a good method of washing is in fact true.

My excuse for not posting last Sunday was the busy, busy weekend I had. My alma mater, California College of the Arts (or California College of Arts and Crafts, the former name that was in existence during my student years) is celebrating its 100th year anniversary in 2007 and last weekend was a big reunion celebration for all alumni. My sweetheart, Thomas, is currently interim Chair of Printmaking (in the red T-shirt) at CCAC and had volunteered to lead a Printmaking Marathon Demo for the reunion festivities. My role was to be the photographer and documenter of the event, and if needed, the encourager to get people to draw and make prints. I was only needed as photographer - once people got going there was no stopping them.

Thomas demonstrated a very appealing monotype technique that produces very colourful, immediate, and exciting results for anyone who can make a mark of any sort. After a brief demo he turned the crowd loose to do their own prints, and everyone within earshot went just a little nuts drawing, printing, and getting excited about making art. It was wonderful! He had prepared enough materials for 130 people to make prints, and every single piece of paper, etc. was used - he cranked the press, encouraged, exhorted, and rallied the crowd for the entire afternoon and got a lot of people really excited about printmaking. What a guy.

After I graduated from CCAC I worked in the Admissions department for a few years, and had a number of work-study students working with me during that time. Hana was one of my favourites, and it was great to see her on Saturday - look at that smile with her print! This is what reunions are really all about.

So often "forward-thinking" administrators at the College decide that printmaking is a lost art and that replacing all the presses with a digital laboratory would be a great idea. It was wonderful to see so many people in the printshop get really excited about making real prints - putting colours on down on a plate and making hand-pulled prints - and to see administration folks there to observe the joy and excitement that resulted. Art is still a "get your hands dirty" activity no matter what trend seekers say or think; craft still matters in art making even when the College itself denies the word in its own name.

OK, the sermon is over; on to other things. Sunday afternoon was spent at a memorial for my long time Sew Group compatriot, Laurel, who died of cancer a few weeks ago. It was a lovely memorial, and the testimonials of her many, many friends gave me a fuller picture of her than I had known, even after 2o + years of acquaintance. It was an uplifting and simultaneously humbling afternoon, and I am grateful that I was able to be there.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Lots of little stuff (continued).

I have a terrible hankering to start a "major" project but have been prevented from doing so by a) a lack of adequate yarn for such a project; b) realization that the Holiday season is coming up; c) lots of my friends are having babies; and d) a lot of UFOs and WIPs are hanging around the house. Now, my perception of having an inadequate yarn supply is perhaps simply a perception, and not based on reality. I do confess to having a trunk in my closet that often cannot be closed properly due to the yarn inside of it. But, as any self-respecting knitter with a stash knows, the yarn in the stash is not the yarn I need right this moment for the yet undetermined major project. Why, might a non-knitter ask, is the stash inadequate? If someone has to even ask that question they clearly don't knit and don't have a stash. It the Law of the Stash - it is never enough, what one has is never what one needs right now, and more is always better.

To address the Holiday question I am continuing to churn out my fingerless gloves. I've added 8 new pairs to the supply left from last year, and have another pair on the needles. These gloves are perfect commute knitting - I can almost finish a pair in a day, with the small bit left to be done by evening quickly finished after dinner. I think I have a total of about 15 pairs right now and am aiming for around 2 dozen. The very bright white pair in the picture is an elbow-length style in a very fuzzy yarn left over from a commissioned pair. The yarn is very soft, entirely synthetic, and so fuzzy that it is almost impossible to see what I am doing while knitting them. The solid black pair is the same yarn and if the white was almost impossible, the black was completely so. Copious use of markers is the only way to figure out where I was in the pattern. The remaining black fuzzy stuff became cuffs on a pair of taupe wool gloves - much more manageable knitting, and looks very nice as well.

The zig-zag gloves are my own very loose adaptation of a mitten design in Elizabeth Zimmerman's Knitting Almanac. It's a lot of fun to knit and has a very sleek shape. The first pair I did used the same number of stitches from wrist to fingers, but for the tan and brown pair here I experimented with increasing the number of stitches in each zig-zag to allow a little more room in the finger area. Now I want to adapt the entire thing to being knitted from the fingers down to the wrist, which is my preferred way to knit these gloves. I'm usually using scrap yarn and often run out a little short of finishing, and I find I can work in some design variations at the wrist a little more elegantly than at the fingertips.

A coworker is having her first child in November, and I wanted to make something for her. Some stash yarn that indeed did prove to be adequate to my needs was some very bright white Cleo cotton yarn, which is now underway as a February baby sweater from, once again, the Knitters Almanac. It's begun at the neck and worked down to the lower edge, with the sleeves worked just after the yoke area.

As the mother in this case has chosen not to know her baby's gender I changed the stitch pattern for the body of the sweater to a Scottish Triangle stitch, which is less frilly and lacy than the pattern EZ originally designed the sweater in. The closeup of the sleeve shows the stitch (albeit sideways). I also adjusted the pattern slightly by knitting the sleeves in the round on DPNs, and picking up the underarm stitches once I returned to knitting the entire body, so that instead of being "practically seamless" as EZ called it, my version will be completely seamless.

An lastly (goodness, what a long post) my Mom's vest is still in progress. I don't know if it's more properly considered to be a UFO or a WIP. It is a unfinished object for certain, but it is also a work in progress; it's just progressing very slowly. Any thoughts?

Either way, I have completed one of the side panels that will join the front to back. They need to be slightly wedge-shaped and I've pondered a number of ways to adapt the very linear designs in the rest of the vest to an area that will include short rows, and therefor contain some slight angles. The panel I just did centered the largest of the body patterns, a Greek key design, in a field of the background colour, but added extra plain and short rows to create the wedge. Size-wise it worked very well, but the large expanse of plain background colour seems to be too much. In addition, the background yarn knits up very smoothly, while where I stranded the yarns for the two-colour area is very texturey. I don't like the contrast at all, but now that I know how many rows I have to work with to make the panel turn out right I am going to start the other side and rework the idea to include less plain background and have some other texture/colour in there somehow. I will also weave in the stranding less compulsively this time. Once the side panels are done then I can graft the side seams together, add the borders, and at long last it will be ready for my Mom to wear. Thanks for your patience, Mom!