Published on Monday February 16th, 2009

Did you ever see an amaryllis bloom like this? Each of the three bulbs has put up about ten flowers, including the ones that aren’t open yet. The window seat gets the best light in the house, so I put the plant right here on the cushions and it just went to town. Thanks, Mom and Dad, for this riot of red! Some red tulips came, too. They’re only little nubbin shoots just now, but they’ve come to sit on a plate on the cushion beside the amaryllis, so they’ll have something to aspire to. (I wonder if the heat vent directly below is playing a role, too? The dear bulbs think they’re in the tropics, perhaps?) It’s all very appropriately timed for Valentine’s Day, anyhow.

Jen and I ditched our gentlemen for the 14th and spent the day pursuing knitterly delights together at Madrona. Jen took Cat Bordhi’s sock class while I dug into the finer points of color for fair isle with Janine Bajus. Next time I’ll have more about the process–I’ll even reveal my little speed swatch, which Janine told us should be very ugly indeed. Mine is not hideous; I flatter myself it looks a little like a Kiki Mariko rug shrunk to the scale of a bathmat or a small lap blanket for Toad Hall, and doesn’t that rug look like just the sort of thing Mr. Toad would like? It would set off his Harris Tweed suits so beautifully. But the swatch doesn’t yet look like anything you’d want to make into a sweater, or even a hat, and it’s not supposed to. Next comes editing. More on that later, though.

I thought it was time to prove the Confectionary Vest had progressed beyond its own initial swatch, which was the reason for taking the picture with the amaryllises in the first place. The profusion of ends has been dealt with, and it’s acquired armhole ribbing on the right side. I need to wind up another ball of the grey STR, but I’m very close! And it fits, apart from a slightly wonky patch at each hip that reveals how I need to do a little more calculating and a little less guessing in the department of waist shaping. (Note to self: begin decreases sooner, as in directly after the hem ribbing.)

Something is woolen in the State of Denmark

Published on Sunday October 26th, 2008

Friends, the Danes have been holding out on us. They’ve been smugly sitting on one of the nicest yarns on the planet, just hoarding it all, apparently. But the secret is out, and now that we Americans can buy Marianne Isager’s Alpaca 2 without traveling to Europe (which this American loves the excuse to do, but there’s this teensy problem with the economy just now), my life may never be the same. Sweet heavenly saints, people, I don’t know where this stuff has been all my knitting days. I saw. I touched. I read the ridiculously reasonable price tag. I bought. I knit, immediately.

As you can see, I couldn’t resist whipping some some stranded colorwork. I’d already been salivating over Kate Gagnon’s beautiful Selbu Modern beret on Ravelry for a week or so. Now, I love me a beret, but I’d just made one and didn’t think a fine, drapey, alpaca fabric would be exactly suited for the tam shape anyway. So I improvised: I started the brim like a sweater hem (with a purl turning round in the contrast color); then threw in a couple of tuck rows (so easy with a contrast color involved: work a round in it, then knit some rows – five, in my case – in the main color, then on the next round reach down the backside of the work, lift the top of the CC stitch onto the left needle tip, knit it together with the next regular stitch; repeat all the way around); worked a tier of pretty berry sprigs, a classic Selbu motif seen on mitten cuffs; added another tuck round; increased a bit to get my stitch count up to a multiple of 24; then began Kate’s colorwork chart. I omitted one repetition both horizontally and vertically to account for my desired clochey shape, but otherwise the rest of the hat is just as Kate wrote it.

I just love those tuck rows. They’re so simple, and they add a lot of shape and style, don’t you think? I may have to put them on all my hats. I’ve already worn this one five or six times. It fits under my bike helmet (which looks totally weird, but keeps my head warm), and I can wear it with my dressier jackets or, as seen here, with my dog park duds. Love the versatility. (And also the mild fall weather we’ve been having.)

Go knit one now! You won’t be sorry. And you can tell your Danish friends you’re onto them.

I’ve also been working on my Confectionary vest experiment. It may be too small. It may also be bulletproof. But the color changes are so seductive that I’m just gonna keep on knitting…

P.S. I’m naming my firstborn Marianne Isager. (Okay, maybe just Isager if it’s a boy.)


Published on Thursday May 8th, 2008

I told you I couldn’t resist swatching all that sock yarn, once I had the idea to make a Confectionary Vest rather than a Confectionary Tank, remember?

I thought this stitch pattern might be a chore, with those extended-slipped-crossed stitches, but it turns out it’s addictive. (Hence my swatch is twice as tall as it needs to be.) I’m still playing with the arrangement of the colors, but it feels like painting, and it’s extraordinarily satisfying. Can you picture it as a vest, with some 2-color corrugated ribbing for trim? I think it might be just the thing for next fall.

I won’t start knitting it before then, unfortunately. I’m creeping up on the completion of my secret Shibui project, and the Ivy stole will be finished in ten days if I have to stay up nights to do it, but then it’s going to be full steam ahead with my secret Popknits project and the Indigo Ripples Skirt. I really should take a swing at finishing my three-year-old Frost Flowers pullover, and then there’s that bag of Cashcotton 4-Ply in the stash suddenly begging to be an Apres-Surf Hoodie. Not to mention all the babies hitting the ground in August and needing little sweaters for the fall. What’s a girl to do, especially when she’s got sewing projects tempting her, too? Resist buying yellow and white and gray and black fabric for this (thanks a lot, Alison) or this (it was the embroidered bicycles that sent me over the edge), for starters.

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!