Tuesday, December 29, 2009

end of the year knitting

I managed to get one of the lace repeats on the big shawl done on the lovely long train ride. I haven't yet broken into the Malabrigo I mentioned on my last post! There has been some other knitting going on, including some that I'm not ready to talk about yet, and some that didn't go how I would have liked... I started knitting a rich plummy pink baby thing and the yarn was just all wrong and I don't have access to most of my stash here at home so I didn't think I'd be able to come up with anything better. I was wrong, though, I had some good yarn just waiting to get back into action, and it's going to be excellent. No pictures yet though, and I'm designing something so my plan is to write it up and make it available somehow.

It seems like I'm so used to running around like a headless chicken that I can't sit by the fire for more than 15 minutes without feeling the need to get up and do something else. I'm working on it. In good news, the visit home has involved the gifting of a large super secret project that is frankly awesome and was well received by the lovely friends who had to be patient while the last little bits were sewn in and even gamely closed their eyes and reached their hands out to feel the fabric before seeing the completely piece (which I worked on in partnership with another fabulous knitter, more on that in the new year...). There was also a visit to a Vermont alpaca farm with a staggering 58 alpacas, the purchase of some related yarn (but of course!), and even my secret santa gave me yarn! Here was my second clue in the recent SS deal:

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Another lovely piece of impressive art with many many small letters cut out and pasted on. My SS is not a knitter, but had seen me knitting and asked a few very subtle questions about the needles etc - I had no idea what she was up to. Clever person, she went down to the yarn store closest to campus and asked for help and they hooked her up with a very colorful skein of Misti Alpaca sock yarn that is a beautiful blend of alpaca, merino, silk and nylon. What with the crazy not-having-packed and late-night-party before leaving town, I didn't photograph it before leaving and also haven't yet sorted out downloading photos onto my parent's laptop while I'm home. I also had my knitting projects for my two week trip picked out and didn't want to confuse myself by bringing that skein with me.

It's cold away from the fire so I think I'll put the kettle on and get back to that baby thingie. And hopefully download some pictures later on to show you a bit more of what's been going on, knitting-wise.

Just one more piece of colorful pretty for you:

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One of my residents does some very cool collage-painting stuff and she gave this to me at the floor's own Secret Santa gathering before all the girls left for home for the holidays. It's really neat and I haven't yet figured out how I am going to display it.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

train knitting / goals update

Almost a month ago I posted about some December knitting goals.

Turns out I have had even less time since finishing my assignments and classes for the term on 7 Dec than while I was still attending class. I managed to cram a lot of knitting time in last term. But now that I'm free, so to speak, I've been spending a lot of time running around trying to get miscellaneous things done, like fitting in extra hours at work, wrapping up my practicum, organizing a secret santa gift and assorted clues, and getting enough sleep. So there hasn't been much knitting. I did finish that pair of socks, and one endpaper mitt, but as far as finishing off either of the sweaters I pictured in that Nov goals post, it just hasn't happened. And there's no point in bringing nearly finished projects with me on my train ride, as they're not a good use of space. Hopefully January will be better for doing the finishing on those pieces.

So what am I bringing on the train, then? Well, I'm hopefully going to be ready to work on the lace border of Jared Flood's Bridgewater Shawl. I swatched two lace repeats...

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And looked at the oversized garter square I'd come out of the first stages with... and multiplied out the edge lengths and figured I'd better pick up more stitches than the pattern calls for, because the whole thing is coming out so huge. I hope this doesn't come back to bite me, but I know when I knit the Hemlock blanket I couldn't block that thing out to drape as nicely as everyone else's. Frustrating.

Instead of picking up 153 sts per side (my piece isn't even a square, because of my row and st gauge not being equal...), it looked like I'd better pick up 203 per side. The lace patt is a multiple of 10 plus 3. And when I worked around at picking up the sts it worked out more nicely to do 203, 193, 203, 193 - that would be the slightly varying lengths showing their colors. Of course I counted around last night to see if I'd really picked up the numbers I wanted, and they're off a bit on a couple of sides. It's so many ridiculous sts to count that I'm not worried, I'll take it with me to a friend's place this afternoon to work on and see how I get on with the lace chart. I will fudge the sts to make it work, and really hope that I can get the first round going correctly so that it's good train knitting, not too stressful. I have gotten miles better at reading my own lace so that I can tell if I've missed a YO or something and just need to pick it up from the row below rather than backing up 800 sts to fix the problem. Can you imagine?

And I have a backup small project in case the lace becomes too much: a single skein of Malabrigo laceweight in olive that I have been struggling to find a good pattern for, and a copy of a new Knitty shawl pattern, Citron:

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I'm not even going to swatch. I'm just going to enjoy the Malabrigo.

Oh, yes, you were wondering about the answer to the riddle I posted before? Think you know the answer?


....



(just giving you the chance to go back to the previous post and see the riddle before you see the answer...)



...






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WIP: Endpaper mitts / secret santa riddle

I clearly have a crafty and inventive secret santa - I got home yesterday to find this in my mailbox...

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Do you know the answer?

So I've been working on my endpaper mitts, which I started over a year ago. Yikes. Finished one, though, and the second one is coming right along.

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They're very pretty and fit so nicely, perfect for going up a coat sleeve.

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Tomorrow I'm getting on a train and there will be lots of knitting time.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

NaKnitMo results

Halfway through December, let me tell you how my attempt to knit 30000 stitches in November went.

It went really well.

It went so well that I upped my goal to 50000 and met that as well.


57399 / 50000 stitches. 115% done!

I found that I was being especially conscious of using all my little bits of time to knit - in class, in the afternoon, in the evening... might have had a little something to do with it being that time in the term when I was looking for procrastination tactics.

My stitches really added up and I was kind of astonished at how easy it was to make my goal. I even though I might keep doing it through December and see if I could get to six figures.

I've stopped, though. I like keeping track of things and watching my progress (hello, word counts), but the counting was taking away from my knitting time and getting to be a distraction. So maybe it'll be a yearly thing.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

(maga)zines

Had a fun experience last Tuesday afternoon - I met a grad of my program over the weekend at dinner at another friend's apartment, and she invited me to visit a zine library housed at a social center in the city. They have lots of zines (what's a 'zine'? you might ask) and they have set up a cataloguing system, and they need a bit of help finishing up taking stock of the collection.

It was fun to learn about the system that has evolved under the oversight of two recent grads of my library program, and to get started helping out with describing and entering zine details into their database. I was also kind of excited to pull out the DIY box and discover a couple of issues of Knitcircus within; I've had the blog in my RSS reader for a year or two but never encountered a physical issue. And now I see on the website that starting in 2010 they'll go totally digital.

That's one of the really interesting things about zines. They're so ephemeral, they can be made of just a few pages, and there might only be a few copies. Then after you discover one that you like, you might find that the artist or producer has moved online. But one of the coolest things about zines is the tactile nature of them, I think, because they can be composed of moving parts, or layered materials that don't really translate to digital formats.

I kind of can't wait to go back and look at more zines.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Now that's some tough knitting.

From Dude Craft: Jim Simpson - The toughest knitter alive.

And Craftivism.

Ooooh, it's a series! Crazy. And also inspirational :)

FO: Toe-up knee-highs

I can finally say I've finished a pair of socks.

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I feel confident that my next pair will be more beautiful, though these are certainly functional!!

These languished for the entire summer after I made good progress during my one giant lecture last academic year. I came back to them recently thinking that I would just frog the first sock back to the length of the second sock, since it was 75% finished, but when I looked more closely at them again and tried on the first one I thought, nah, I'll just go for it.

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I'm not really into the pink any more and it looks too busy for my liking, but this yarn is nice and stretchy - Patons - and I bought it on a two for one sale, I think, so I wanted to use one ball per sock, which is pretty much what I did. Size 0 needles. I used Wendy's toe-up sock pattern, and changed it just a little to do a three stitch wide faux cable at the back, mirrored ones, so it looks a bit like a seam which kept these slightly more interesting.

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So for the center back 12 sts:
p2, k3, p2, k3, p2 for three rows
p2, sl1, k2, p2, k2, sl 1 for two rows
p2, holding slipped stitch to the front, k2, k slipped st, p2, work over next 2 k sts to k slipped stitch, then without dropping it (because 2 other k sts are in the way) k the 2 stitches coming up next, and drop that slipped st off when you come to it, having already knit it, p2.

I'm sure there's a better way to explain that, but when you're working it it makes sense. Repeat these six rows until the sock is as tall as you like and then do a couple of inches of k1p1 rib.

My next pair will be shorter and have a more interesting pattern. And also I learned that it's a pretty good idea to increase a few sts as you progress up a calf, since the knitting needs to cover more ground. Oops. Hindsight is 20/20, right?

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

FO: Quimper

I finished Quimper just an hour or so before leaving for the party last Friday night - talk about under the gun!

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This was a lovely knit, and though it doesn't photograph well because of the black yarn, I'm pleased with it.

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It stretched out quite a bit in blocking, but drapes super nicely and will go with everything. Hooray!

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I didn't use as much yarn as I expected. I think I used about five balls in the end of Elann Luna in ebony. I knit the whole thing on US 2 1/2 (3 mm) except for the sleeves on US 4 (3.5mm) needles. I actually realized later that I think the main body portion, under the sleeves (it's knit top down) should have been on the larger needles. I like it knit on the smaller needle though, and it's plenty big enough. I knit the 34" size, and it covers my 36" measurement just fine, though of course it's designed to hang a bit open in the front. And I had the perfect button from my travels to DC last June :)

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So we have the first of what I hope will be a few FO posts this December...

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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Goals

I did well with the NaKnitMo goals, just clinching my new goal of 50000 sts in November. It turns out that those stitches really do add up, even when you're a full time student.

Yesterday was my single biggest day, nearly 7500 sts in one day, because I'm determined to finish Quimper to wear over my party dress on Friday at the department holiday celebration. This pattern is really coming along. I cranked out a few inches of the lower body yesterday in class and down at the campus pub in the evening, and today hope to go back to the bottom of the sleeves - which I left as live sts on spare cables and finish up those borders. Then with whatever yarn I have left I'll keep working on the body and we'll see how long it ends up being. If I can block it by tomorrow night I think I can wear it Friday. Otherwise, I will be scrambling for a coverup!

My next goal - and November went so well that I'm feeling pretty positive - is to clean up my list of WIPs for 2009. December is going to be the month of finishing. (I can do this because I haven't had time to even think about holiday knitting, so I don't have many gifts waiting for attention. And even if I did, they'd need finishing!)

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Who's with me?

Monday, November 23, 2009

button change

Choosing buttons for a project can be tough. And even once you attach a button or buttons you might realize the choice was not a good one.

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Early in 2009 I was knitting up the first skein of cashmere I ever purchased into a lovely soft cowl. I used every inch of the yarn. I devised a way to fasten it with a button to keep it cozier around my neck. I chose a special handmade button, clay with blue glaze; I think CK and I picked up four similar ones at a yarn shop in Vermont a couple of years ago. They were pretty. We didn't know what we'd use them for.

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I haven't used this cowl much despite its super-softness - the blue button is so heavy it weighs down the fabric. I finally made a change.

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It can be hard to revisit an FO and fix it up so that it's more usable, but in this case it seems better. I even added another button option so that it is more adjustable - I can button it to hold it under my chin if I have it drawn up over my head and ears, or button it closer to my neck if I'm wearing it as a cowl. The extra little button is to tell my fingers which opening that button is for.

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Yesterday at an outing that involved a beach, a campfire, and a chilly wind I wore it up around my ears and the new buttons worked a treat. They're nothing fancy, just green plastic, but they also match my winter coat perfectly.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Revisiting an old FO: My original Clapotis

Clapotis was one of the first projects where I purposely chose a luxury yarn, and knit up every scrap of it, inspired by one of the women in my knitting group at the time, which was the first one I have ever visited frequently. I miss it there, it was supportive and friendly and relaxed and welcoming.

One of the women was knitting Clapotis in Koigu KPPPM, and I loved the way the mottled sock yarn knit up. Just before I left the San Francisco area to move to Japan to teach English for a year (mid 2005), I treated myself to three skeins of Koigu; I think I needed a traveling project. That may well have been my most extravagant yarn purchase to date. (Oh, how the times have changed.) When I finished the knitting I had moved half a world away.

And I never blocked the thing. Four years later and I never blocked it. I like the pattern so much that I've knit three of them since and I'd knit one again. It's a great, simple, entertaining pattern that works with pretty much any yarn.

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Over the weekend I was procrastinating over an assignment, wandering around my room and picking things up and putting them away, tidying, when I saw my original clap over the back of a chair. I wear it all the time. I had just had a conversation with a knitting friend where he remarked that it wasn't very big.

It blocked out a treat. It still looks wonderful in terms of wear, matches everything, and was a great investment for three skeins of Koigu. A quick soak, a quick block over the back of the couch on a brightly colored towel, and I got a compliment yesterday from a total nonknitter, and then a second. It looks really nice all blocked out. I'm quite pleased.

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I have to try to do this random blocking business a bit more often.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

public art

Recently a call went out around the crafty Halifax community for pieces to contribute to a telephone pole cozy for the upcoming crafter's market.

I've been working on a small contribution.

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Thanks to RP for giving me some of her scrap yarn. It will look great on that telephone pole.

If you're in the HRM and want to use some of your unwanted yarn to keep this telephone pole warm contribute to some public art, you have until 4 Dec, and contact Hello Pineapples about dropping off your piece(s).

Sunday, November 15, 2009

New Twist C

The winter ed of the Twist Collective is up, stunning as always!

A huge congrats goes out to a friend in Vermont, LadySaphira who designed a gorgeous sweater, Cambridge Cables, that made the cover of the issue!!

I am loving Tanit's Jacket, and there's a neat article about what happens when you substitute yarns for this pattern, as well. I like the kettle-dyed option.

Bright Star is also super cute (do we see a cropped jackets theme here? I love them!)

The photography is gorgeous, and there's a really nice variety of winter accessories in there as well. One of these days I'll learn double-knitting.

Ok, back to work!! And hopefully some knitting during study breaks - if I can make it to my month-long goal of 30,000 sts today I'll up the goal to at least 50,000, seeing as today is the midpoint of the month and I'm nearly to my original goal. Yeah, Sunday knitting!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Gauge issues

As I said in my last post, the Bridgewater shawl is flying off my needles.

Earlier this week I reached the widest point of the inner garter square, 205 stitches. [Hee hee BB, I remember when it was only a couple of stitches, too!] I started with 1 st cast on, so at that point I had knit 205 rows, give or take, increasing a st at the start of each row. The beauty of the lacy garter is that gauge is not really a problem so much; I am very relaxed with this knitting and on size 4 needles, the laceweight is very loose. When I got to the apex of the garter square a few days ago, I didn't have time to get the pattern out and find out how I was going to get back down the other side of that mountain.

So I brought a different WIP with me to a class, an unfinished sleeve in simple stockinette, on much smaller needles. And I didn't give any thought to my tension. Here are the results:

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Wow. Something tells me I just wouldn't like my Drops Cardigan 97-18 if one sleeve was well fitted and the other a baggy mess starting at the elbow. Ick. Rippit, rippit... Clearly I need to sort of reboot my fingers when I move from a lacy open loose pattern to something more structured.

I put my gauge lesson into practice last weekend. It might be something about the temp outside -- suddenly perfect for a big ole sweatercoat and me with none to be found - but I suddenly had the urge to dig out the special yarn I got for the Tilted Duster (Rav link) out of IK Fall 2007 and at least swatch it properly. [Rav tells me I queued this pattern on 31 July 2007. Woah.] I think I swatched it a long time ago and used size 10 needles, as are called for. I've realized in the last year or so that I tend to need to go down at least one needle size, usually two to start. So I actually swatched on 7s, then 6s, as my gauge on 7s looked too big. After blocking, however, 7s were perfect.

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The yarn was custom made at Yarnia in Portland OR, a blend of three grays, a thick alpaca strand, three thin strands of dark gray wool, and a strand of silvery silk. Approximately 50/30/20. I think it's going to rock.

Once the swatch dried you could see the silvery strand much more clearly:

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Funny thing was, after that careful swatching and blocking, my hands relaxed again when I cast on - I thought I'd be sensible and do the 40" size so it would fit over a couple of layers and be plenty comfortable - and my first few rows of the back piece came out about 25 inches wide when it should be 20 inches wide.

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Even with the inch or so I'd probably lose in blocking, this was coming out WAY too big. I tore it out, considered my options, and knowing that the fabric I'd produced when not giving st st much thought was looser than the lovely dense swatch I'd made, I cast back on with the same 86 sts for the back and focused more on my hands. It still seems a little big, but much better, so I'm going to keep going and see how it comes along. If I can get the gauge right, this is going to be a fast knit, I think.

Probably not fast enough to finish before winter comes for us, though.

WIP: Bridgewater Shawl

I've been getting a lot done on the Bridgewater shawl, especially with class time knitting. In fact, this shawl is the reason my NaKnitMo count is flying; I may have lowballed my capabilities for the month and am considering revising my goal upward.

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Earlier this week I reached the widest point of the inner garter square, 205 stitches. Just before I got to the widest point, my first skein ran out, but it was close.

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It's kind of hard to get a sense of what this is going to be like; for right now it's just a massive pile of garter stitch. Luckily I have an imagination that includes fabric once blocked, while my classmates who've seen me chugging away at these stitches don't really understand how it will become beautiful in a more defined way.

That's alright.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Rav milestone

Wooooooo I just noticed that Ravelry is poised on the precipice of half a million crafty folk! 499,640 in the community. Amazing, isn't it?

Carry on.

Today's ensemble

Sometimes I get a big kick out of myself when I look down at what I have on and realize that half of it is knitted. Ok, not really half. But a sweater, usually, and then maybe mittens, a scarf, a hat. Today is perfect wool weather. And this is half of what I wore to class this morning:

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All wool. And so cozy.

I am also wearing a skirt today. With shiny tights. At some point I'll get around to some legwarmers, and then maybe I really will be able to wear knits from head to toe. And also a matching hat/mitten set wouldn't be a bad idea. I have a bunch of yarn left over from Quincy, so perhaps I'll get going on that.

Monday, November 2, 2009

FO: Quincy

Wow! It has been so long I think I forgot what it is like to finish something! This hat, in its wonderful simplicity, was a very satisfying and quick knit. I worked on it a bit in class, a bit at home, and then put in the final crunch of grafting the rectangle ends together, picking up stitches around the built in i-cord, and decreasing the crown for a really pretty, classy hat. Big fan.

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And I've been getting nonstop compliments from knitters and non-knitters alike. It did come out a smidge short over the ears so I plan to wet block it out so that it'll come down a little lower.

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Here's the crown and tidy decreases:

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It's so satisfying when you can finish the top of a hat in one half of a lecture and then break out a different knitting project. If only it were possible to set in sleeves and pick up stitches for a neckline during class - I couldn't possibly focus on anything other than the project so that idea is out!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

NaKnitMo / Treat bags

This should be interesting - I've just signed up for NaKnitMo (National Knitting Month) after reading Knit Nutt's post about how excited she is for it...

30,000 stitches in the month of November? That's 1000 per day. Not really a problem when you look at some of the projects I have on the go that just motor along in simple stitches and add up fast (nothing bulky on the needles at the moment) but when you factor in full time academics and 1, 2, 3, part time jobs, plus all the other activities... it may become a true challenge! Even if it just helps me pick up the needles every day for a few minutes it'll be worth it. I signed up on Ravelry here. Someone will keep track of the sts knit by the group as a whole and come up with a monthly total.

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In other crafty-ish weekend goings-on... I thought I'd have time to blog this yesterday but it did not happen so just in case you have not had enough Halloween...

I put together treat bags for the 26 girls who live on my floor. I picked up huge boxes of candy a few weeks ago, then left it to the last minute to figure out how to distribute it. I was picturing small orange gift bags with black ribbon or something like that, one for each doorknob down the hall. Of course when I went to the dollar store Friday afternoon after a very hectic week, there was nothing of the sort. I totally lucked out and found these awesome children's birthday party goodie bags, though, with a skull and bones topped by a pirate hat...

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Perfect! And they had lots in stock, so I got 40 in the end, and did them up for my 26 students and then the residence staff. First they had to be filled up with candy...

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And then I cut up some random orange cardstock I had, punched a hole in them somewhere, and wrote Happy Halloween on them.

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Tied the tag on with black ribbon, curled it, and set them all in a box, ready for sneaky morning distribution. It took a bit chunk out of my Friday night to get that all ready to go, even with a bit of help from a friend downstairs putting candy into each bag before I dressed them up a bit more. I woke up Saturday, threw on sweats and ran around the floor and the campus putting them out - and as far as I know, no one saw me! So I was happy with that, because I wanted the whole hallway to have the bags on handles before people started their days. I had a bunch of nice thank yous on my white board later in the day. Fun times.

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Friday, October 30, 2009

tweedy jackets / blogging

Walking to work this morning I saw a girl with a lovely jacket - warm chocolate brown with narrow cream stripes running through it in both directions like a very widely striped tartan. When I passed her I realized there was a subtle burgundy stripe echoing the cream. I just had a quick look in Ravelry to see if I could find something similar and mark it to come back to later, but nothing so far. Does this sound like anything you've seen? I found Laura's Cardigan (Rav link), which I was reminded of, but the pattern is too busy and the stripes are not really what I was thinking of. [side note - this sounds like a new idea for Ravelry: we have reader's advisory in libraries, why not pattern advisory in Ravelry? If a pattern reminds you of another pattern, people could suggest similar patterns, so that if you're looking for something particular, and you find something similar, you might be able to follow the trail of breadcrumbs to just the thing you're after. Of course we can search by pattern type but when it's a bit more specific, as in this case, such a feature could be quite useful...]

I'll keep looking.

In other news, Quincy is finished and looks fab; I've been getting compliments even from boys who don't know about handknitting. I took pictures yesterday and will do my best to download and then upload them asap for an FO post this weekend - after I came back from Philly and looked at my Ravelry project page I realized I hadn't had an FO for months! The months of Sept and Oct, to be more precise. Hmm, that's when school started up and things got really crazy. Coincidence?

Oh yes, I wanted to mention this little tidbit I just came across from an info professional's blog that I follow - he is very into social networking, Web 2.0, Library 2.0, that sort of thing. He has been tracking trends in blogging and apparently 2/3 of all bloggers are male. Not on my RSS reader!! I found that kind of amusing.

So it's nearly Halloween. While I was down in Philly BB and I visited a wicked arboretum/garden place on the outskirts of the city, and this phenomenal sculpture would be a great home for a friendly, artsy witch:

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February Lady Sweater was keeping me warm:
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Happy Halloween!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Industrial lace

Over the long October weekend I headed down to Philadelphia and visited a special crafty friend, Beigeberry. She had a great treat in store - we went and checked out the Lace in Translation exhibit at The Design Center at Pennsylvania University.

When you approach the Center the first thing you see is the wonderful chain link fence lining the drive.

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It seems a reasonable item to budget for - an industrial strength fence that is attractive rather than menacing.

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There were lacy window coverings, made of hand tied rafia:

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And huge panels of black machine made lace:

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Obscuring a Japanese maple.

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And up close, in/out of focus.

Creative lighting fixtures:

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Motifs in a burned lawn:

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And more by the acetylene torch wielder, a massive rusty oil drum:

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The cut out pieces were used to create patterns as well.

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Highly recommended for anyone in the Philly area, or visitors!