Thursday, May 24, 2012


One great thing about those plastic canvas iPhone cases is that whatever you embroider on them will start to look worn out long before the plastic itself does. Maybe this is not so great if you produce only excellent work that satisfies you forever, but for fickle changeable me it's pretty ideal. I had a grouchy curse on my phone for a few months, but last night I removed it and replaced it with something a bit classier.

Some recent sifting through my mountain of pattern samples has left me feeling very grateful for Ravelry, without which I'd never really know when I made something or indeed whether it was me who made it. I don't sign or date my knitting the way I might a big piece of embroidery or patchwork or a garment (on a tag attached to a seam allowance inside). There are some tells that something was mine—obsessively adding yo-k2togs at the beginnings of edging rows; revisiting Mrs Montague's Pattern and its variations over and over; arranging almost everything into grids—but looking at all that work carefully produced but unsigned freaked me out a bit, and it came out in my noodling around on the phone case.


There is very little to this design other than that I signed and dated it. The alphabet I drew the letters from is in an old DMC booklet of many alphabets and borders; the letters are slightly too small to have effectively twined together, so I just nestled them close instead, and I think it still counts as a monogram. It looks pretty portable and I want to add it to other things now (towels? handkerchiefs? the insides of things I sew for myself?).

This is ecru DMC floss, and I doubt that it will stay looking pristine for very many weeks, but I also doubt that I won't change my mind and want to re-embroider again in the same timeframe.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Knitscene Accessories

I had a frustrating RSI week and am trying to limit typing and knitting (note: finding activities to do that don't exacerbate existing RSI pain and overdoing them until everything hurts is not a great coping strategy!). But! I have some things to show off that I am pretty excited about and maybe you will like them too. These were my happy-funtimes projects in December, and I loved having them to work on intermittently while I was also tackling my challenge socks.

Thing 1 is quick-to-knit ruched socks with a springy DK-weight superwash merino! Knitscene named them Clandestine Socks, I hope because of the tiny lace at the cuff edge which is totally hidden if you're wearing pants.

clandestine socks

(Photo courtesy Knitscene)

Thing 2 is Wellington Mitts, small fingerless gloves that just reach the wrist. The stranded colourwork pattern zigzags differently on each hand; I hope they'll appeal to people like me, who tend to like knitting things that come in pairs but hate knitting the same thing twice. Harrisville New England Shetland is, as always, fabulous yarn for colourwork.

wellington mitts

(Photo courtesy Knitscene)

These guys are on the cover, and I am delighted because I thought they were very cute and they were a lot of fun to knit. The magazine was just made available for digital download and preorder; it'll be on newsstands at the beginning of June.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Tacit Tuesday

Llama and wool

I put this spindle and a bag of fibre in a corner of the kitchen last week, to fiddle with while waiting for oil to heat or water to boil. It seems to be coming along!

(The fibre is llama/wool roving, which I am spinning with a long draw to turn into a rather puffy and hairy 2-ply for Jane, who likes sheepy yarns with character.)

Monday, May 14, 2012

Continuing apace

I am still slowly working away on the jam spectrum project. Here's yellow and green:

Jam spectrum: yellows and green

Left to right: a sliver of tangerine & rose marmalade; lemon & camomile jelly; Meyer lemon & vanilla marmalade; kiwi & jasmine jam. (Not lime after all, because I screwed that up by getting distracted by something while it was simmering—when I looked back a couple of minutes later it was a simmering pot of lime caramel. Oops.)

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Palate cleanser

I finished the doily I was knitting the other day, and I think I might love it.

Dahlia doily

It's #36, Jurginas/Dahlia, from Staltiesėlės by A. Pelakauskienė, which is very difficult to find in print but easy to find scanned on the internet. I blocked my doily a bit more ferociously than the book's sample-knitter blocked hers, so that it's actually hexagonal. After blocking it measures 16" across.

Dahlia doily, detail

The way the petals begin and curve apart from each other is the most clever thing in the world.

The whole book is great; none of the knitting is very strenuous once you get past the initial rounds of very few stitches, and each doily is interesting, even the ones that are variations on other doilies in the book. Most of them are round-ish but there are a few small square pieces, too. None of them is enormous; they're nice little break projects if you want a change of knitting scenery without a whole lot of commitment. Maybe I will knit more!

…but not yet, since I seem to need my doilies-with-20/2-silk-thread needles for another purpose.

Gold sock

I talked my partner into 20 hours' worth of movie theatre opera dates over a week and a half, and since I can't seem to sit still for hours at a stretch without something fiddly to do, I started some new socks in a pattern that's easy to do by feel. It's travelling broken 2x2 rib that will spiral in opposite directions on opposite feet, and I think the heel flaps will involve zigzags (for knitting during intermissions) and the toes will involve spiralling decreases (for finishing off post-opera). #2 is tomorrow morning; I have my textbuch mit den hauptsächlichsten leitmotiven and my knitting and am ready to rock.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Idée fixe

I have loved the edging from the Madder and Ivory Wedding Veil (1891), charted by Sharon Miller in Heirloom Knitting, for about as long as I've known it existed. I clumsily swatched it over and over, thinking about how to ease it around corners (it's tremendously wide), but never using all of it on any of my own projects.

I used the outer part of it in a shawl project in 2008 (from the Unst Stole, by Sharon Miller):

unst stole - edging

And I had various ideas and ideas for ideas since then, but no follow-through, just a little pile of swatches in a file folder.

A swatch!

When I got a call for submissions for an Interweave digital product last year, I decided that the edging's and my time had come at last, and that it would turn into knee socks. And so it did.

madder stockings

Yesterday Anne posted the preview gallery for LaceKnits, a new digital product from Interweave, which includes my stockings and lovely patterns from Carol Feller, Laura Nelkin, Heather Zoppetti, and Donna Druchunas. It's for the iPad, and available from the App Store. I see that the stockings are paired up with a historical essay by the incomparable Franklin Habit and an article on grafting in pattern by Joni Coniglio, so I'm feeling in very good company.

Knitting the sample was one of the most challenging projects I've ever undertaken, even though it was totally my own idea and I volunteered to do it. Once the design was commissioned it took me a few days to realize that it actually was possible for me to do. Knitting these patterns back and forth in fine, drapey 2-ply yarn is one thing, but knitting them in dense, springy yarn in the round turned out to be quite another. In my entire knitting life before producing these socks, I had never purled three together so many times as they required (and I still have the callus to show for it, months later). I emerged from the experience a stronger and more confident knitter—which felt like quite a trick, since I knit for dozens of hours a week and have done for years.

Madder stocking in progress

The yarn—A Verb for Keeping Warm's High Twist, in madder-dyed colourway "Transnational Fury"—was absolutely perfect for the project, and I am grateful to Anne for having found it for me. It's a very round and sproingy heavy laceweight yarn that produces a beautiful, dense garter stitch and smooth, squishy stockinette. I can also vouch for its sturdiness in knitting, having frogged and reworked several sections of the sample socks more than once to no ill effect. If you ever want to knit lace socks at 10+ stitches per inch (and maybe I do, now that I've done it once), it's exactly what you need.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

mostly-wordless Wednesday (cameraphone edition)

Our apartment is undergoing some disruptive improvements today and tomorrow (plaster dust covering every surface! new grout filling every crevice! jackhammers at dawn!), so my partner and I have been loitering extensively around other places. Today I brought some silk and a new-to-me old doily pattern.

20/2 silk and seven DPNs: a love story

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Deep breaths

We are taking a breather around here today. Reading books in bed all morning, a long lazy afternoon walk, swatching,

The difference a millimetre makes

and jamming.


A couple of my lovely friends are getting married in June, and one of them informed me that jam or jelly or marmalade would be an excellent wedding gift. Not content to do one thing where eight things would do, I got started on a whole bunch of tiny batches of jam and jelly and marmalade with interesting floral flavours. The goal is to fill out the whole colour spectrum, although I know that blues will present a probably-insurmountable challenge. (Damn blueberries for turning purple!)

Jam spectrum: reds and oranges

This is the story so far, from left to right: cranberry, hibiscus, and ginger jam; strawberry and apple jam; tangerine and rose petal marmalade; apple and jasmine jelly. Next up are lemon and chamomile jelly, lime and mint jam (my partner's genius idea), then The Blue Challenge and jam of whatever purple fruit looks best when I go shopping.

Chopped tangerine

Orange is obviously my favourite. This tangerine felt very heavy for its size, and the flesh was beautiful and juicy and tender. One of them ended up being 3/4 cup of chopped fruit, which turned into just enough marmalade to fill a 250mL jar with a spoonful left over to taste.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Oh baby

My buddy G. had a baby recently, so I am knitting tiny baby things. Round 1 is baby mary janes by Hadley Fierlinger, who also wrote the most adorable baby knitting book in the history of publishing.

Baby shoes!

I used little mother-of-pearl shank buttons because Aveline is elegant and sophisticated already (she owns a tuxedo t-shirt!), and Sublime Yarns Cashmere Merino Silk DK because the garter stitch fabric it knits up into is dense and stretchy and squishy and decadent, just right for eensy baby feet, I think.

This pattern is worked flat and could be streamlined by working in the round, but the seams are so short and quick to sew up that it hardly seems worth it. And they're so cute that they may become my go-to emergency last-minute baby present.