Sunday, October 18, 2009

On how to wear shawls

Sometimes I see comments about how nobody ever wears shawls nowadays and how they're not only not useful, but also not decorative, because they look like granny clothes. I think that's because people forgot. They don't know how to wear them anymore. For all the fineness and light weight, shawls can be surprisingly warm, so they're a good substitute for a jacket on cool nights, or for layering when you're going to some place where the air conditioning will be strong. And they're easy to remove and put in a bag when they're not needed anymore, unlike jackets.
This is the most simple way to wear a shawl. Just throw it over your shoulders, and you're good to go. Except after a while it starts to slide off, and you get annoyed and tired of keeping adjusting it all the time. One solution is to just tie it on the front, but I don't really like that. I like tieing it on the back:
I prefer to do it with circular and semi-circular shawls, but triangles work too. I think it looks great with a strapless dress or top, and besides warming up the shoulders and back (and arms, depending on the size), it's a way of showing less skin. For weddings, for example. Chic and modest for the church, easily removable for the party.
Same idea, different setting, great for low-cut tops:
Put the center over one shoulder, cross the points over the other shoulder, and fix it in place with a shawl pin or a brooch.
Or you could just roll it a little and wear it as a scarf.
I really like this option, but it's not equatorial zone friendly.
All pics were taken with the Aeolian shawl I just finished, so the effect might vary with different shapes or sizes, and of course there are lots of other possibilities that I didn't cover, or even thought about.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Double FO

I got two things to show. First, I blocked the Raspberry Rhapsody scarf (ravlink) that I've shown unblocked weeks ago.
The wrong side looks very cool too:
Knit on Knitpicks Palette yarn, 5.5mm needles, violently blocked.
And then I finished an Aeolian shawl that passed by unmentioned. I knit it with Knitpicks Bare Merino Lace, and dyed after the fact with cake dyes. The dye didn't take uniformly (my fail), but I think it doesn't look too bad.
I misread the pattern and knit one extra repeat of the Agave leaves, when I wanted to knit the smallest size. I expected a scarf, but it ended up huge. I think it'd still be large even without the extra repeat. Maybe because I used 3.75mm needles.
And because I'm a merciless blocker.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

How my hubris was kicked on the butt

I used to think that, since I learned how to purl, nothing was difficult in knitting. Complex, maybe. Requiring attention, counting stitches, needing brute force to stick the needles in (nupps, I'm looking at you), but as long as I focused it would come out allright. Circular cast-on for a center-out shawl was a little difficult, but I got it after 4 tries. This hat, my first all-over colorwork, kicked my butt in severa different levels, though.
The pattern, End of May (ravlink), requires light worsted weight yarn and sportweight for the lining, but I was set on knitting it and I only had Merino Style from Knitpicks, which is a DK (I used Iris and Cornflower). I went up a needle size, to 3,75mm, and started it without swatching, with NatureSpun fingering for the lining. Almost the whole time I was working I felt like it would come out too small. Everytime I tried it on the stitches stretched so bad you could almost see the floats on the inside. Halfway through the hat I kind of found my gauge, so the first repeat was way tighter than everything else. You could even see it narrower than the top of the hat. Look with attention, you really can.
And the stitches on the lighter colour, which I was holding on my right hand, look all wonky and even twisted. They're not twisted. I checked. They just look weird. Everything puckered at all directions.
unblocked close-up
Then I had to sew in the lining.
My handsewing is even worse than my gauge, but I'm content enough that it doesn't show on the outside.
I blocked the hat over a balloon and I'm really happy with the way it looks now. The puckering disappeared, and almost all stitches relaxed a little. Plus, it fits a human head.
If I had to do it again, the only thing I'd change was adding maybe half a repeat to the lenght. As it is, it's kind of a bucket hat with the size of a beanie. I think it's a really cute pattern, very easy and straightforward, regardless of my lack of skills. I also think my lack of skills is a little smaller now, that I got a wearable item at the end, and overcame a childhood shortcoming and finally learned how to tie up a balloon in the process.
The hat will be on the mail as soon as I finish a few other items to send along. (Because a very thick 100% wool hat isn't much Equatorial weather friendly. It's a gift. Wish I could keep it.)

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Creamy in the morning

Even though it was Smoky last night.
Undyed light gray cashmere/mulberry silk (50/50) from World of Wool.
The colour difference is only due to natural daylight. Silver at night, gray/beige with hints of red now. I like both. I got 802 yards from the 100g of fiber, though there were some matted bits that I discarded. shouldn't be more than a few grams, though, and I don't think it makes much difference.

Monday, September 28, 2009


Not washed, not set, at night:
Natural light gray cashmere/mulbery silk blend.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Gentleman's Fancy Handspun

This fiber (sw merino/seacell pencil roving from FiberOptic)
Fiber Optic pencil roving
became this yarn (461 yards/4oz/fingering weight)
Fiber Optic sw merino/seacell 3-ply
and now these socks:
I used the Gentleman's Fancy Socks pattern from Knitting Vintage Socks (Ravlink), with a few modifications. First, because I had less yardage than recommended, I knit shorter legs. I didn't read the pattern before starting, so instead of casting on just the needed number of stitches, I cast on as if to knit knee-high socks, and did the calf decreases twice as fast as the pattern said to. I also didn't realize I was doing ktbl till well into the cuffs, so I didn't bother correcting before the leg pattern started.
Other than that, and a few gauge adjustments, I knit the pattern as written, as I plan to do with all patterns from this book. I want to try different kinds of heels and toes and see by experience which ones are my favourites. This pattern uses the French Heel, whose heel flap can be seen on the pic above, with the fake purl seam in the center. The view on the sole is this:
I think the french heel looks weird, with the triangular shaping, but it fits just right on the feet and it was easy and fun to knit, besides having the advantage of looking like a peen in almost all sides.
The Wide Toe is not new to me, and it's pointy, but I knit it anyway. I knit a couple extra plain rounds before starting the decreases, and did one less decrease round than the pattern said to, because of gauge differences. My favourite part is that in one of the socks the yarn changed colour right at the grafting, so it has this one row of darker green at its apex.
I think FiberOptic fiber is bringing me luck, my 2 favourite projects are made with her fiber. These are the best fitting socks I've knit so far, with the best sock yarn I've spun so far, and the glow from the seacell is just an added bonus. I love the way that the yarn seems to shine from within, instead of reflecting the light from outside. Of course that's just crazy talk, but it's pretty anyway.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Unblocked Porn

Right side:
Wrong side:
And the "I want to jump into this and swim":

Saturday, September 19, 2009


Today is World Wide Spin In Public While Talking Like A Pirate Day! Well, no, they're two separate events. And that's good, because I can't talk like a pirate. But I can spin in public, and I'm totally going to do that in a few minutes, when I leave the appartment, even though there isn't an organized event in my city, and even though I don't even know anyone else in the city who spins.
I've searched for spinners around here, and the only ones I found were in a distant city in the my state, but all they do is 'rustic' cotton yarn in electric wheels, to be used in souvenirs for tourists.
It might have something to do with the weather. Spinning animal fibers in this heat isn't always easy. As demonstrated by the only pict I have of me spinning:
That day was so hot that the only way to survive fiber play without air conditioning was wearing a bikini and sitting in front of a fan. And all that sun glare is coming through the closed curtains. =(
I love winter. I wish I had some.
Anyway, I was spinning this:
Natural coloured cashmere/silk blend. And I'm going to spin more of it now. In public. But I'll find a cold AC'd spot and keep my clothes on.
The things we do for love...

Friday, September 18, 2009

Handspun socks are the best

They're still toeless, but not for long. I just couldn't wait because I became fascinated with the way the colours played this morning.
They're my resting project, because the pattern is so easy I can knit it without thinking much, so I work on them when I'm tired of more complicated things. The yarn was handspun from sw merino/seacell pencil roving dyed by FiberOptic.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Simi Wings

So, this is my new shawl:
Last year, I was going through the Dark-Hunter series of books, and at some point my favourite character, the Simi, was wearing pink and black striped socks. I thought that would be a good idea to spin and knit a pair like that, and I wanted to try spinning a superwash merino/tencel blend, so I ordered some of that custom dyed by FiberOptic. I asked her for fiber alternating zones of pinks, black and grays. When the fiber arrived here, I thought it was so shiny it just kept screaming LACE at me. I didn't want striped lace, though, so I broke the top, separating the colours, and spun the pieces in order of light to dark.
It looked like this:
It ended up like this:
And then I had to choose what to do with it. I remembered how, in one scene on Dance with the Devil, Simi appears with black and blue wings, and I imagined them with wing tips being the darkest part. I chose the Lutea pattern, from Oceanwind Knits (Rav-link here), and modified it to maximize the yardage I had.
My favourite little detail of this pattern is the knitted-as-you-go leafy upper border:
But I absolutely love the Lotus Lace on the center, and the way it looks round and fluid and angular at the same time:
It took me a little calculation and charting paper to jump from Lotus Lace to the final border:
And honestly, this picture came out at a weird angle but I just can't get enough of this shawl:
And I haven't pointed out yet, but did you notice how SHINY it is? The Simi likes SHINY!
It came out huge, too, but I fail at using the timer and the focus at the same time for modelled pics, so here's a night pic with the webcam:
I think it's pretty even in the dark.
I'm imensely proud of this shawl, because it's the most hands on work I've ever done. Both the spinning and the knitting took a lot of planning, and except for the fact that it's bigger than I expected, which means better than I expected, everything else came out exactly as I wanted. I love my Simi shawl.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

It's the whacking that changes everything!

Ok, so when I was plying the yarn and hoping the plying would make it look pretty and suddenly I'd like it? And then I finished plying and still didn't like it? I still don't LOVE it, but setting the twist did change the yarn a lot. Now, besides being bouncy and light, it looks like this:

And because I'm in love with the focus on this pic, here's it posing with the n-plied left-overs from the singles:

I'm very, very afraid

It's all I have left in the whole world!

Monday, August 24, 2009

What a surprise

This looks pretty:
if you like orange. Which I don't. But it made me think of a beach sunset, as if the bottom of the cop were beach sand, going up to the sea, reflecting a little of the sun on the horizon and the sky still blue on the top. Except I don't even like sunsets, because they're orange. And yellow. I don't even know why I dyed this fiber in this way. Still, the damage was done, so I spun it.
And kept spinning (there was still orange)
The orange never left. Maybe I was in denial, because I kept thinking maybe when I plied I'd suddenly like it because it would look pretty.
Not so much. I guess everybody disagrees with me, and seeing these pictures, I disagree with myself and think it's a little cute. It looks all primary colours and happiness and little fish. But the cake is a lie, and I think these pics totally fail to capture just how hideous this yarn looks IRL. It looks dirty and muddy. Seriously, while I was plying, my thoughts kept getting grimmer and grosser with each yard. At some point, I thought it looked like someone had chewed on all the art yarns that I most dislike, swallowed it with Fanta, then puked and spun the result in even, nice, perfect singles. It was a fight to finish plying after that.
Still, I have one good thing to look forward now:
Whacking! I love whacking. I wish I could whack everyday. I'd be so much more relaxed. As would the yarn.

sw merino, 125g, 393 yards

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Doing things

I don't feel like I have anything completed to show yet, working on several things at once makes for slow progress. And when I say many I mean it.
My bedside drawer
(I like to keep things close to hand.)

Wednesday, August 05, 2009


I went to the bathroom yesterday just before midnight and was very surprised because my pee was bright green.
I freaked out and started planning to go to the hospital immediately, but then I remembered that House episode with the Cat of Death, and the nurse with the green pee was faking it by taking some medicines she stole from her elderly patients.
I didn't steal anyone's medicines, but I was taking some new pills prescribed just yesterday morning, so I checked and yes, it's a known side effect of one of them. Phew, I'm not dying.

This story reminded me of my friend Erin Lynn Jeffreys Hodges. 

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

I didn’t finish the second of the 2 main projects I had for the Tour, but I feel like I achieved a lot.
I worked with 2 new fibers to me, tencel and pure silk. I didn’t expect the tencel to be so difficult to spin as it was for me, and I sure didn’t expect the silk I got to be a really bad preparation, almost as difficult at moments as the time I tried to spin cotton balls. After these two challenges, when I got to the easy merino/silk blend I could feel just how much my drafting had improved.
I managed to spin from the whole top as I decided to do before the Tour, not pre-drafting and not splitting. I’m better at keeping a triangle drafting zone instead of drafting from one side only.
I learned long draw, spinning from the fold, and how to use a supported spindle on Challenge Day.
I got more than 1600 yards of plied, finished yarn, and some singles to be finished yet. I even have part of that already knit.
I learned to use my camera on the manual mode and deal with focus, white balance, exposure, etc.
If I have to choose only one achievement, though, I think I’ll go the sw merino/tencel yarn, because with it I spun thin and even enough singles to navajo-ply them and still have it at laceweight, and I took a top alternating pink and black zones and used it to make a yarn that starts in baby pink and ends in black, all the while fighting the fiber with nails and teeth. So I feel like with this yarn I really showed the fiber who was the boss, and got exactly what I wanted at the end.
The final result, with a bad pic to disprove what I just said:

Thursday, July 23, 2009

On MSN, about TdF Day 16

Me: on other news. have you seen this pic?
Dan: No, I don't think so.
me: it won
me: like, 2 days ago
dan: Hmm. On any particular merits? It doesn't look stunning.
me: probably because there wasn't any rainbow yarn on that day
dan: Ah, k.
dan: Wait: this is yours?
me: : yeah
dan: :o
dan: You won?!
me: yes
dan: woo!
me: too late
me: not stunning
dan: Honestly: you've done other stuff that I think's been better.
me: i agree
dan: It's good, but not your best.
me: i think it's very good photographically. not spinning-wise
dan: Didn't mean to be blunt! Didn't realise it was yours...
dan: :-(
me: hahaha
me: but see, you were honest
dan: <-- ass
me: i'm more pleased that way