P.S. Yup. This is the sum total of today’s blog post. This week has been insane. Totally insane. Next week will be a tiny bit better, but the following weekend? Not so much. I’ll blog when I can… In the meantime, totally check out March Madness. Rockin’.
Well… Sort of. I’m blocking this sweater where the water bed used to be. But it died. A couple of weeks ago I woke up in the middle of the night in a puddle. It was warm, but it was still a puddle. And I was soaked. From mid torso to upper thighs I was drenched. This wasn’t a night sweat. Those have been getting better. Besides, even at their worst the night sweats weren’t that bad. No. This was completely different. I got myself out of bed, removed my sodden night clothes, toweled myself off, and got to work, too wide awake at this point to sleep.
Turns out the bed’s plastic mattress finally let go. On my side.
While we wait for the stars to align, and for the time to go get Mom’s bed (she’s getting a smaller bed for herself), we’re preparing the spot for the new bed. Dave took the water bed frame apart over the weekend, and there’s suddenly this huge spot on the floor where the thing used to be. The perfect spot for blocking the blue sweater.
I love this picture to the right. –>
Not only does it show the lovely texture of the knitted fabric, but if you look toward the top of the picture you can see my denim-clad knees. The wall behind the bed is mirrored, floor to ceiling. Currently, most of the mirror is (thankfully) covered up by the headboard. But right here you can see under the headboard, and see the blocking sweater and me reflected in it.
I laid out the sweater to dry yesterday afternoon. I’m chomping at the bit, eager for it to dry, so that I can get started assembling it.
First a couple newsy bits
One of XRX’s long time employees is battling with ovarian cancer, and needs your help. Purchase of raffle tickets gets you entered in a drawing to receive a fabulous blanket, and proceeds go to help the fight.
Read Uncommon Threads’ interview with Kaffe Fassett, one of my long-time design heroes. Read about his journey with selling finished sweaters.
I haven’t sold patterns on Ravelry for almost 1½ years now, but am doing a little experiment to see how things go. I’ve uploaded pdfs for three patterns to my Ravelry store. Will it be worth it? Will pattern sales for these three designs be better on Ravelry than on Patternfish? Only time will tell.
Sweater progress and buttons
I’m so close to finishing the largest phase of making this sweater that it’s making my teeth itch. I only have a few more rows left to do at the top of the right front, and then I’ll be able to block the whole thing. Sweater assembly is on the horizon!
Huge thanks to everyone who participated in my button polls. Sorry that I had to change it part way through, but these things happen. It’s definitely down to either the black buttons or the dragon ones. Once I have the sweater all put together I’ll make the final decision. Your input definitely helped narrow down the options for me. Thanks again!
Last Monday I thought I had the button issue resolved. Today I feel like I’m back at square one. Kristie vacillated. Michelle was certain. Dave put the nix on Michelle’s choice. The “brown” buttons look brown in most lights, but when you pick them up and look closely, have really good light, or put them next to the right things you can see that they are actually purple and gold. Plus, they’re too small. If that’s your choice, I’d have to get new buttons that are similar to these, and the right size.
Here are the buttons. In alphabetic order they are: black (deepest black, floral design in relief; these are vintage Czechoslovakian buttons), blue (hand-made resin buttons), brown (hand-made resin buttons), Celtic (silver buttons), and dragon (antique silver finish). Click on each one to see a larger photo.
As you’re considering which buttons are best, please keep in mind the textured quality of this knitted fabric.
Now vote! I’ll leave the poll open for a few days while I’m knitting the last piece (yes, all pieces are knit except for the right front). If you don’t like any of these buttons, and think you have a better suggestion, please let me know what it is by leaving a comment for me.
- Black (28%, 11 Votes)
- Blue (18%, 7 Votes)
- Brown (0%, 0 Votes)
- Celtic (44%, 17 Votes)
- Dragon (8%, 3 Votes)
- None of the above (3%, 1 Votes)
Total Voters: 39
Edited on March 8 to add: It’s been brought to my attention that, though a popular choice, the Celtic buttons would be wildly inappropriate, because the sweater has a Greek name. Because of this I have closed the original poll, and started a new one that does not include the Celtic button option. Time to re-cast your votes! The poll still closes on March 10.
- Black (34%, 10 Votes)
- Blue (21%, 6 Votes)
- Brown (0%, 0 Votes)
- Dragon (31%, 9 Votes)
- Other (14%, 4 Votes)
Total Voters: 29
Last night I ripped out everything I’d knit during the day. I hate it when knitting goes that way. Sometimes it does, though. I’d gotten far enough on the first sleeve of my blue cardigan that I could do a temporary seam to see how things were going. The knitting was fine. It was the width. It wasn’t exactly snug, but neither was it loose enough for what I wanted. So, I ripped it out, added four stitches to the width, and started over. The good news is that I was careful with my frogging, and was able to preserve the provisional cast on. The better news is that there was plenty of room at the end of my crochet chain to add the four stitches without having to frog that part, too. Today I managed to knit up almost to the point where I’d started frogging yesterday. I’m hopeful that later today (after I actually get some sleep) I’ll be able to get close to finishing the sleeve. If not, then I should at least come close to it. After that I’ll just have the other sleeve and the right front to knit. Then blocking, assembly, and finishing. Progress!
I took everything to my knitting group this evening to get help picking buttons. I really, really, really wanted to use those blue resin buttons I got at Stitches West this year, but the color is just too close. It doesn’t do the buttons justice. I’m thinking that perhaps a darker blue yarn will work better for them. Only time will tell. Kristie (no longer blogging), who agreed that the blues were too close, was helping me out with the other button choices, and waffling between two different button styles when Michelle walked up, and pointed to these buttons. No doubts in her mind. When Michelle pointed unerringly to these little dragons from Abbey Yarns, Kristie agreed. Yup. Those are the ones. They look great on the blue, but don’t either get lost or overpower the color or texture of the knitted fabric. Sold. Thank you, ladies!
Saturday morning as the sun rose there were a lot of lovely clouds in the sky. Here are a couple of the pictures I took that morning. In certain places the blue in the sky is close to the blue in the yarn.
I haven’t done much in the way of regular (cough) blogging (well, except this week) for, uh, quite some time. Dave has been beating me about the head and shoulders on this subject. For a while now. When Benjamin of XRX started doing it too, both in January at TNNA and in February at Stitches West, I thought that maybe it was time to re-emerge and make a more valiant attempt at blogging again. So, this is me, beginning said valiant blogging effort, and posting about a sweater that I’ve been working on. One that I can post about as it’s not a secret project.
This is a cardigan on the hoof. No, not the picture on the right. That’s a sock I did last summer, Doric, that uses the same stitch pattern. The sweater pictures are down below. No lace is involved in this sweater, but this wonderfully textured stitch makes full use of yarn overs. I think it’s fun to knit, too. Quite addictive, actually. The yarn is Kollage Milky Whey in a new colorway called Blue Sky. It’s dreamy. You should see the drape. And it’s super soft. The yarn is 50/50 soy and milk. Yes, milk. What will they think of next? I ask you.
The pictures here show the neckline I thought would probably work (left), and the one I discovered I really wanted (right) when it wouldn’t leave me alone in the middle of the night, waking me constantly until I finally relented at 4 am, got up, and went to my computer to figure out the details of it. The v-neckline, eh, worked, but was a little puckery where it veered off from the button band. I could have fixed that by spreading out the decreases a bit, but opted for the completely different shape instead. I’m glad I did. This rounded neckline feels better.
Today I plan on fixing the back so that the neckline treatment matches. Then I get to cast on for the second front, the one with the button holes. I need to figure out which buttons to use, how many, all that stuff, before starting the second front. Hm. Maybe I’ll cast on a sleeve instead of the second front, so I can get button opinions from friends at my Monday knitting group. That’s probably a better idea. It does mean that I need to finish up the sleeve math, though. That said, I’d better leave off this blogging thing for today, and get to that math.
Wait, wait, wait. I have one more thing. Flowers. Roses, actually. These tiny Cecil Bruner roses are less than 2½ inches across. There are three in this tiny vase that Dad bought for me to put small flowers in when I was a child. I picked the flowers as tiny buds, and they’ve been filling my office with their heady perfume ever since. There are a few more photos in this gallery.
More Stitches West pron, but instead of yarn pron it’s button pron. Since I’m getting more and more yarn support these days, buying yarn isn’t the priority that it used to be. Finding unique buttons seemed more important, especially with all the cardigans I have in mind. My favorite source for old buttons, The Button Lady, was at the show again. She doesn’t have a web site, nor a brick and mortar store, so I don’t know how you’ll find her except to haunt Stitches West shows. I bought buttons from her last year, and I was pleased to see her on the vendor list again this year. This is what I got:
These are all antique buttons. From what The Button Lady tells me the buttons were all made in a button factory in England prior to WWII. The factory was re-purposed to make military buttons when England joined the war, and some boxes of buttons were put into storage. The Button Lady found them not too long ago, and she’s selling them off bit by bit. Turns out I have three flower buttons that I got last year that are exactly like these five, except the ones from last year are larger. The buttons are made of horn, and have some sort of shiny coating on them in addition to the design. They’re fabulous things. I’m quite addicted. I always buy as many of these from her as I can.
In previous years I’ve always missed the buttons that I wanted at Abbey Yarns, so after leaving The Button Lady’s booth I went straight there. I love their pewter Celtic buttons, and since I never know when the cable mood will hit me, having a supply of them on hand is just the thing.
Next up: handmade resin buttons from Gail Hughes. I hope the blue buttons I got are the right size. They’re fabulous with the blue cardigan I’m making right now. Dave thinks the color is too close, but (at least so far) I think it’s perfect. There’s so much going on in the sweater that I don’t want the buttons to jump out, but at the same time I do want them to add interest, which these buttons definitely do.
I just went and fetched the back of the blue cardigan I’m making to take some pictures of it and the blue buttons together. Now that I look at them in the light of day… Gads. Dave might be right. I think I’ll have to get more opinions on the button color thing when I have more of the sweater done. I do still love these buttons, and will definitely use them on something.
I have one more set of buttons to show you. These were made by Alice of Alice’s Tapestries and Art Buttons. Alice makes her unique buttons with polymer clay, but they’re not like any polymer clay buttons I’ve ever seen. There are no millefiori canes here. I don’t even know how to describe these buttons. Each is unique, even compared with the ones that are just like it. The colors are complex. The designs bold. Some, like the ones I bought, have designs stamped into them. Others are what Alice calls “art buttons” and have geometric things going on. They range in size from about ¾ inch to… Huge. The set of eight buttons here are all about 1¼ inches—I know what you’re thinking. They’d be perfect with that blue cardigan, wouldn’t they? They would except for one thing: they’re far too big. Drat. The large single one I got of the nautilus is 2¼ inches square. The nautilus button will be used as room decoration, maybe on the wall, so I’ll be able to see it every day.
Ack. Turns out the picture of the nautilus button has lost all its color. Hrmph. It has the same color scheme as the round ones: slightly metallic blues, greens, golds. It’s a stunning thing.
That’s it for the buttons, but there are a couple more things to share with you. Yarn Barn of Kansas had some of the Japanese stitch dictionaries that I’ve been coveting. I don’t know about you, but I find it difficult to lay out a large sum of money for a book when I’ve never seen the inside. I got to see the inside of four Japanese books in their booth, and bought two of them. As promised by so many, there are wonderful things in both books.
The last thing I have to share with you is this fabulous little yarn case from Walker Bags. It’s the perfect size to put a ball or cake of yarn in to corral it before you start knitting. I can so see using this to help contain unruly yarns. Though Walker Bags is from nearby San Francisco, I got the bag from Unwind, who came up to Santa Clara from Burbank in southern California.
(P.S. My friend Barbara saw this post and wanted me to add how essential she has found these bags to be when knitting with slippery yarns. She loves them! She got two at Stitches, and already wants more of them.)
You’ve finally seen everything that I got at Stitches West this year. Now to find a place to put it all!
I left off the last post with sharing yarns that I bought and won. Now to the wonderful yarns that I was given to design with. Across the aisle from Kollage Yarns, and up a tiny piece was a booth that kept drawing me in, but was almost always full. I eventually had better luck, much better luck, as it turns out. Not only was the booth not busy, but Eric wasn’t either. She spent some quality time with me, telling me about Green Mountain Spinnery’s fabulous yarns, encouraging me to come back the last day of the show to get samples from her to take home to swatch and play with. It’s easiest to let Green Mountain tell you about their yarns themselves. This bit is from their site:
All the fibers we use—alpaca, mohair, wool, and organic cotton—are grown in the United States. We make every effort to purchase directly from individual growers. Our 100% wool yarns are spun entirely from New England fleece. Unlike most commercial mills, The Green Mountain Spinnery uses no chemicals to bleach, moth-proof or shrink-proof yarns. The result? See and feel our yarns for yourself.
I saw. I felt. I’m smitten. The yarns and colors are wonderful. The sample sweaters they had all over the booth showed off the wonderful stitch definition. I definitely see cables in my future. Perhaps some cable/lace combos. Yum. I can’t wait to wear the sweaters from their yarns that I haven’t even knit yet. So, what are the yarns I came home with?
In order, the yarns are Mountain Mohair, 70% wool, 30% yearling mohair, in Pistachio. This wonderful yarn has a slight halo from the mohair, and is lovely. The label tells us that the yarn will become even softer with use. Yum. The red hank is their Local Color line, 100% certified organic fine wool, in Amaranth. The yarn is died with Earthues® Natural Dye Extracts. I love this dark red color. I’m drooling all over the cardigan I’m going to knit with it, not that I know what it’ll look like yet, but does it matter? This is so my color. The third hank I got from Eric is their Maine Organic yarn. It’s 100% Maine Certified Organic Wool certified by VOF, in White. The wool for this yarn is all grown in Maine and spun in Vermont. Talk about a low carbon footprint! You should see the twist. It’s perfect for lush, dense cables.
The rest of the yarn I was given to design with all came from Teresa Ruch Designs. Teresa’s hand painted yarns have two things in common: interesting fibers, and intense color. Both are right up my alley. The first day we talked, Teresa gave me a hank of her Blue Face Leicester Yarn to design some fingerless mitts with. This is a tightly spun fingering weight yarn that should hold up beautifully to the abuse it’ll get when you can’t take off the socks or mitts you knit with it. This is a generous 6 ounce hank, with 675 yards of reddish brown, burnt orange, and gold yarny fun.
When Barbara and I returned the next day with a copy of my catalog for Teresa, I came away with more yarn. The center picture above is a 100% bamboo rayon in a stunning combination of dark gold, burnt orange, and green. This gorgeous yarn will drape like nobody’s business. It drapes more wound up in a hank than some yarns do a single strand at a time. Luscious. The yarn on the right is 100% tencel, and is a combination of dark rose, dark fuchsia, pinky-purple, rich red. Its color is deep, rich, and complicated.
The last yarn that Teresa sent me home with is an amazing thing. Each strand is two loosely twined strands of yarn, one a bamboo rayon, the other tencel. These three hanks are destined to become a summery top. The shades of turquoise shimmer when you look at them. They make my heart sing. I need to come up with something special to really set off this yarn. I wonder what it will be.
That’s it for the yarn I brought home from Stitches West this year. I’ll share the buttons and books I got in another post. In the meantime, I must get away from behind the computer so I can work on the blue Milky Whey sweater, and swatch some of these fabulous yarns I just brought home.
Stitches West. Where do I even start? It was wonderful. But then, it’s always wonderful: the friends, the yarn, the books, the yarn, the pajama party, the yarn, the prize I collected and donated to the pajama party, the Ravelry party, the yarn, the buttons, knickknacks, needles, and fleece. Oh, and the yarn. And the friends.
Instead of staying at a hotel this time, I stayed with my dear friend Barbara and her wonderful husband, who happen to live only about half an hour from the convention center. Barbara and I took a couple knitting classes together back in the mid 80s. When we reconnected last year she hadn’t knit for a while, and I had to remind her how. She took to it again like a bee to honey, and has been knitting madly ever since. Yea! It was awesome having Barbara walk the showroom floor with me, talking to vendors, playing with yarn, oohing and aahing over it all. She was also a great ambassador, and made sure that yarn companies knew who I was. Some of the yarn I got was directly due to Barbara’s enthusiasm. Thank you!
Friday evening we went to the pajama party… just to go, see friends, but also to drop off the prize I’d collected, and to see who had won it. I didn’t get a very good picture of the woman who won the prize for best pajamas, partly because the official photographer was in the way (I was also too far away…). Definitely check out this photograph of her. I wish I’d gotten her name, but the winner was so excited about winning the prize I assembled. It was great. Every time I saw her afterward she was clutching the bag to her chest. There was no way she was going to let anyone take it from her. I think, maybe, that she sort of liked it. Maybe a little.
I have a few more photos that I took at the pajama party to share with you. A dear friend from my knitting group, another Barbara, was one of the runners up for the PJ prize. Here she is decked out in red from tip to top. Then there’s Benjamin, the CEO of XRX. He totally got into the pajama theme. I love how not a thing he was wearing went together. My Dave even thinks that’s the worst smoking jacket he’s ever seen—and that it was perfect. Check out the pink bunny slippers. Guess who was wearing them. No, not me. Benjamin. Aren’t they a riot? I laughed so hard when I saw his feet. They look difficult to walk in, but worth every minute of it. LOL
Wanna see some yarn? I have some… Compared with other years, I didn’t come home with vast quantities. I actually purchased very little yarn. I spent more money this year on buttons and books than on yarn. I brought home some lovely things, though, and promises of more yarn from a number of small yarn companies and indy dyers in the near future.
Onto the pron. The following are displayed left to right, top to bottom: Anzula Sebastian in Coco. This stuff is so soft. It’s 395 yards of 70% superwash merino, and 30% sea cell. It’s fingering weight, and probably meant for socks, but I’m going to make a scarf out of it. The Berroco Remix is made of 100% recycled fibers, and I’m going to use it to knit a skirt that someone else designed: Sawtooth Skirt by Kira K Designs. I know. Knitting something that I don’t have to think so much about will be a delight. The Cascade Eco + is yarn that I won at the pajama party. I so didn’t expect to win anything! But, some kind soul at our table “ratted us out” (her words), as being the people to come to the party from the farthest distance wearing our pajamas. It was great. Barbara and I each got one of these huge balls of yarn, plus a Knitting Korner DVD showing how to knit the same short sleeve top three different ways.
Next up I was trying to get my purchase value at Webs high enough to get the discount. I was close, but I had to buy a hank of lovely Madelinetosh Tosh Sock in Calligraphy. I can’t wear this color at all, but it’ll look fabulous against the dark green velour that covers my dress form, so I bought it. I’ve been wanting to play with Tosh Sock for a while anyway. I wasn’t going to buy any more yarn. I wasn’t. Really! But when Barbara and I were wandering through Tess’ booth, this hank of silk Linguini wouldn’t leave me alone. Everywhere I went, there it was. In my hand. Refusing to get put back on its hook. It was useless trying after a while, so I bought it. I couldn’t help it. Now it’s telling me that it wants to be a light little summer top. I’ll need to get more of it, of course, but this will be fine for swatching.
I have more yarn to share as well as a bunch of buttons, and a few other things, but it will have to wait. It’s getting late, though a different late than you might think. As I write this it’s afternoon, and I haven’t had lunch yet. My body is starting to complain about this, so I’d better go feed it.
Up until the time I left for Stitches West last Thursday I was knitting madly on a new sweater. The yarn is Kollage’s Milky Whey in Blue Sky. Isn’t it gorgeous? It knits up like a dream, too. Can’t wait to get back to it. The back is almost done. Almost. Just a couple more inches…
Just before I dashed off to Santa Clara for the show, I stole a moment or three and re-released Ancamna, previously known as Denim Lace Tunic. The pattern has been completely revamped and tech edited. It’s so much better than it was when it was in the magazine.
Our peach tree put on quite a show this year. Dave got some great pictures of it. In addition to these four pictures, there are some more here. Over the years our little tree has had good flower years like this one, and some not so good. One year we had only one or two flowers, and another all the flowers were on one side of the tree, while the other side of the tree was bare. Hm. Odd, isn’t it? Anyway, the tree is a sucker from the neighbor’s tree and doesn’t bear fruit, but that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy what it does give us.
I will have a bunch of yarn pron, and other pictures from Stitches West in a day or two—hopefully tomorrow. Fingers crossed.