Rhapsody in Blue

Published on Wednesday October 17th, 2007


The way the knitting is going these days, I ought to consider changing the blog handle to Blue Ribbing. Where did all this blue wool come from, you might understandably wonder? I’ve been holding out on you, I’m afraid. So let me introduce you:

On the right, in the ice blue: a new sweater design for Shibui. I can’t give you all the details yet, but what you’re looking at here is the torso, worked in Merino Kid. The upper part and the sleeves are in Sock in the same color. Cross your fingers for me that it all comes together as neatly as it works in my head and sketchbook.

In the middle: most of the back of a pullover, also my own design, in Jo Sharp Silkroad Aran Tweed. It looks like a lot of work, but it’s been flying along beautifully. And I’ve just joined the third ball, so I’m getting much better mileage out of this stuff than I expected.

The blue blob on top: Ana hat kit from Fleece Artist and Perl Grey. It’s a sample for Knit/Purl, a sort of hat cum ‘do-rag. I’d like to draw your attention to the last line of the instructions — and I quote: “wear your bandana K or P side out / boho chic 4 ever”


I couldn’t make this stuff up, people. But let’s talk about the yarn for a moment. Fleece Artist Woolie Silk 3-Ply. 65% wool, 35% silk, DK weight. Often I find that wool/silk blends, while beautiful and lustrous, feel a little dead on the needles. It’s the silk: no liveliness. But Woolie Silk seems to have gotten the blend just right; its 3-ply construction is tightly spun, and the hand is pleasantly wooly, but you still get a wink and glimmer from the silk. The stitches leap from needle to needle like so many chamois bounding over an Alp. The knitting is fast and smooth, and I found myself tearing through the stockinet rows as quickly as I’ve ever knit in my life. I also began to drool at the thought of a whole sweater in this stuff. I can’t wait to see what colors we’ll be carrying in the store.

And no attempt to catalog the works in progress would be complete without an appearance from You Know Who:


Felis interruptus: Mingus being Mingus

That’s all for now, folks. Someone needs to pack her bags for an obscenely early flight to… Boston! For… another wedding! And I haven’t even shown you what I got at A Good Yarn the last time I was there…

Now with free patterns!

Published on Monday August 27th, 2007

Er. . . pattern singular, for now. But take a look at the Patterns tab above. I’ve posted the schematics for Leif’s Twisted Tree Pullover, and you can grab the PDF and start knitting for your favorite tot. If you do, I’d love to hear about your experiences so I can become a better pattern drafter. The Patterns page is set up just like a regular blog post with a comment forum and everything, so please leave notes of any errors you encounter or any roadblocks you hit in the knitting. I’m especially curious whether I guessed correctly on the yarn quantities. I’ll be knitting the 4/5 size again this fall since Asa’s about the grow out of the 2/3, but it may be a while before I get to testing the smallest and largest versions. My intent is that patterns at Blue Garter will be a communal effort, with dialog amongst all those knitting them, until they’re perfect. It doesn’t seem right to me to charge money for something that hasn’t been thoroughly tech edited, so until I draw up something super schmancy, they’ll all be gratis. I’ll also post notes about patterns I publish elsewhere so you’ll know where to get them if you like my work. I’m excited to be offering something of my own to the knitting community, so thanks in advance for your support!

I give you… Glee!

Published on Saturday May 26th, 2007


It’s done! It goes with things in my closet! Pardon the strange facial expressions… this was not our most successful photoshoot. But as you can see, Glee is a success: shapely but not too snug, so I can still wear something under it (Garnstudio Silke-Tweed is definitely less prickly after a wash, and I did wear this top throughout the evening against my skin with no discomfort, but you can tell it’s half wool), easy to introduce into an outfit, and relatively fetching, if I say so myself. Mr. Garter digs the peek-a-boo hook & eye closures. But look:


This is me smirking because even at this angle, Glee can hold down a PG rating. Three cheers for short rows! I’ll wear a camisole under it when it comes to work with me — elementary schoolers tend to be eye-level with whatever there is to see in this department, and I don’t want to warp any tender young minds — but it’s modest enough to go out among adults with no underlayer.

Just the facts, ma’am:

Glee by Zephyr Style

All of five balls Garnstudio Drops Design Silke-Tweed

US #3 needles

Modifications: longer sleeves (I was going for elbow length, but ran out of yarn a little short), short rows across the bust and a few across the back, lots of added waist shaping, got lazy about reading the pattern and worked the hem to match the sleeve and neckline rib instead of doing the deeper ribbing suggested.

Complaints? I firmly believe that any pattern written to fit close to a woman’s body, as the photos on the Glee pattern sleeve and website would suggest, ought to decrease a minimum of 2″ either side at the waist. If you’re one of the rare women this wouldn’t flatter, it couldn’t be easier to eliminate the decreases and keep knitting straight. But most of us want a cute top, not a gunny sack, and no matter what our proportions, we tend to be a little smaller in the middle than at the bust and hips. This is such a straightforward pattern that it ought to be a dandy choice for beginners, except that beginners are far less likely to go off-book and modify a design to fit their bodies better. I really think the designers could have taken the extra step to suggest a little waist shaping. But other than that, this picture best sums up how I feel about Glee:


And it goes perfectly with this:


It’s my swanky new little handbag from Tortilla Girl! Tortilla Girl is, of course, none other than the inimitable Becky — I had to get in on the ground floor of her design career, because she’s going to knock the French fashion world into next week. Thanks, Becky — this little number rocks!


Published on Friday May 25th, 2007

Some people fix their hearts on their goals, map out a plan to achieve them, and toil relentlessly until they’ve become doctors or successful entrepreneurs, artists or builders of schools for girls in Southeast Asia or published authors. I truly admire those people, and for a long time I lived with the gnawing worry that I didn’t seem to be one of them. I’ll be 28 years old this summer, and so far I’ve been employed as a teacher, an editor, a construction worker, a paralegal, an administrative assistant, a college admissions intern. I have degrees in anthropology, environmental studies, and education. I’ve contemplated further schooling in art history, astronomy, architecture, literature. When I was a kid I thought I’d be a veterinarian, an archaeologist, or a marine biologist. Sometimes I think I’d just like to go be a woodworker with my dad. At any rate, my career path seems to have the trajectory of a windblown dandelion seed. As I said, this used to bother me.

But the upside of lacking the drive and vision to pursue the kind of quantifiable success that gets you introduced by your vocation at cocktail parties is that you’re generally more free to follow the interesting overgrown offshoots from the trail. And you never know what’s down there.

Because I have a blog and a knitting habit, I drifted into a job at one of the greatest schools around. Because of said blog and habit, I met Katrin, and we began to take weekly knitterly refuge in one another’s company. And on Sunday, waiting for her at our usual haunt, I was suddenly offered a job in a yarn store (cue Holy Grailish choral music). Could there be any greater felicity than spending a few days a week fondling yarn and helping other people to fondle yarn and getting paid for it? I won’t even tell you about the discounts. You’d cry.

So Tuesday and yesterday I spent four and a half hours up to my elbows in luscious yarny goodness, happy as a pig in a slop trough. As if this weren’t enough, the powers that be needed someone to model a gorgeous silk sweater for a quick photoshoot while I was there. For Vogue Knitting. (I assume just for their advertisement in the magazine, but Mr. Garter is getting maximum mileage out of the notion of his wife as a model.)

Still, it gets better. Here’s a teasing peep at a pending addition to the ShibuiKnits pattern line (imagine the green as richer and less yellowy than it insisted on being here, despite my best efforts):


Designed and knit by yours truly. Now excuse me while I go do a little boogie dance. I may be blundering around in the woods nowhere near a career path, but I’m not wholly without ambition, and becoming a designer has been a dream of mine for the last couple of years. Life, though not without its heartaches, is ultimately very invigorating these days.