Off the Rack Inspiration

I saw a sweater that got my attention because of some of it’s design elements.  It was in a catalog.  A retail catalog.  And it wasn’t cheap.  Then I remembered that I knit.  Ha, I never really forgot, but sometimes I do look for the easy way out.  So, I thought: I can’t buy yarn now, so what do I have that might work.  Keep in mind, I do not have the kind of stash that I should be embarassed about, at least I mean by how big it is.  It isn’t.  And what’s in it is quite random. So, I thought I would blog the process (just for you, Margene) from inspiration to design – eeek! – to well, you get the idea.  So here we go.

Scrunch The inspiration sweater is from J.Jill, you know them, really cute, feminine, over-priced flimsies.  This one is called a scrunch-neck sweater.  Now, what I like about it besides the overall fit is, it’s updated features, like the deep ribbing and extra-long sleeves.  Also, if you look closely, part of the effect of the texture besides the boucle yarn is, it’s reverse stockinette on the body.  I like the neck because I like to be warm, and the scrunch neck is a nice change from turtlenecks.  I like th fit because I made and wore baggy, oversized sweaters too long and I don’t have to anymore.

Mvc030f Yarn?
Now, I don’t have any boucle yarn, and the only yarn I have that is interesting enough for a simple design is also really soft and I have been dying to find a pattern for it.  Artful Yarns Jazz, 50/50 wool and alpaca, discontinued, but I have 7 skeins and they are fat yardage.  I won’t need them all.

Mvc033f Pattern?
I also have this book I haven’t used yet and I thought this was a perfect time to break it in.  What’s nice about this book is you just plug in your gauge and your size and it tells you how many stitches to cast on and when to begin armhole shaping etc.  I will need to make some adjustments for the deeper ribbings but other than that, it shouldn’t be too complicated.

Mvc031f Mvc032fGauge?
I also had already knitted a swatch (using US8, recommended for the yarn), so I pulled it out and flipped it over to see if I liked the reverse stockintte.  I think it’ll do.  So now, just have to get started playing around with the sleeves first (much less stiches to have to rip) as I try to determine the depth of the ribbing.  Also, do I have to use a smaller needle for the ribbed cuffs? According to the photo from the catalog, the cuffs do not seem to be tightly knit, and they seem to flow right into the body pattern without a lot of definition.

So, am I in over my head already?  I want a sweater out of this yarn and I haven’t found one till now that I liked enough to commit.  Is this project worth the trouble?

Cardi Party

Eyelets_1 We didn’t make it to Dallas for fear of being stuck on the highway, out of gas, in need of bathrooms, sitting next to exploding buses.  Call us wimps.  I hated missing the concert, but I have seen him before, and we’ll get to Dallas again eventually.  So I went ahead and gave Kandis her birthday present early since I have to work on her birthday again.  Every year since I started working for the agency, the only mandatory weekend for all staff to work is always on her birthday weekend.  This is the eighth year.  I will probably never be able to make it up to her, but she seemed to like her new sweater, The Eyelet Cardi, by Bonne Marie Burns in Cotton-Ease red, her favorite color.  I liked hers so much, I made one for myself in Candy Blue.  I put a button and loop on hers, but since choosing a button caused me such anxiety, I just crocheted ties for mine and attached them, I can add a button if I decide to later, but I rather like the ties.  I have worn this sweater at work several times and it’s extremely comfortable.  Yesterday, however, we couldn’t wait to get out of them, it was 108F!  Really, it set a record.  Oh and the short one in pink is Kandis’ little sister, Abby.  She didn’t have her cardi, but she’s cute.  Me and my girls.  There aren’t that many pictures of us together.

Oh, and did you see Bonne Marie’s new pattern?  I love it and will probably have to make it, fringe and all.

Watching the Sky

Mysky…And watching the news.  Things are looking bad for trying to get to Dallas tomorrow.  The highways are clogged from the coast to Okalahoma.  My mom is begging us not to risk it.  But they haven’t cancelled the concert yet – 4 orchestra center seats – and we can’t get there.  We have stocked the house with water and canned food and battery powered stuff and we’ll be okay, but, well, heck! 

So, here is my sky today.  7:30 this morning.  It should get interesting about daybreak Saturday, so check back.  If we have power, I’ll post what I see.  Sandy wanted to see the sky.  I want to see some Lorna’s Laces.  Sorry, Norma, but we’re talking sock yarn here.

Osw I whipped out a little OSW over the last couple of evenings.  That was pretty fun.  I know they suit younger women much better, but I get cold shoulders too.  I used the leftover Jazz from my sister’s Everyday Cardi.  I have lots of single skeins I didn’t know what to do with.  Problem solved.

Shelter from the Storm

Rita5 They say Rita’s a lot like Carla. That’s Hurricane Carla that hit the Texas coast September 11, 1961at category 4.  The damage was seen through Central Texas and all the way up to Dallas. I was too young to remember, but that’s where I was.  Looks like I’m going back.  The whole family is going for a quickie weekend visit to see family, see John Prine in concert at the Majestic Majestic Theatre and to celebrate Kandis’ birthday.  Then we will rush back to see how the house held up.  I hate to miss a good storm, but I hate to miss this concert more.  I will be securing the compound and packing bags the next couple of days. I know New Orleans is nervous, but in my gut, I don’t see how this storm can miss hitting Texas broadside.  At least the preparations seem a lot more organized and serious with this one.  We are well over 100 miles inland from the coast, but if she hits with the veracity that Katrina did, the winds hitting our area could top 80mph.

I’ll be stocking up on a few things so when we return we are set even if things are bad.  Our rock house should be fine, but if there’s no power, there won’t be any blogging.

Channel those positive thoughts towards Texas this week.  We already have a lot of extra folks here, now the coastal folks are joining us.  Be safe, keep your knitting dry.

All the way from Germany!

Sockpal_socks Aren’t they gorgeous?  And a perfect fit!  The photo doesn’t even do them justice.  The pattern is wonderful and there is texture and cabling and a perfect short row heel.  I have never done one myself, but I may have to try.  Katje (Kate) did a fantastic job and I have jumbo-sized feet.  I couldn’t have made them fit better myself.  The color is positively joyful.  When I finally put them in my sock drawer it became painfully clear that I have really boring socks.  I must start buying more colorful yarn.  Kate, I absolutely love them and they aren’t too bright.  I think I have a new favorite color.  They actually arrived on Friday, but the husband buried the mail under all his school books, so it wasn’t until Saturday that I discovered them.  I was so excited.  They came from such a long way and they arrived right on time – maybe early.  I would love to know the pattern, even if it’s in German – Tom is taking German in school and might be able to help me translate, if I knew where to find it.

Wishing everybody Sockapal2za socks as delightful as mine.

Surly to Bed, Surly to Rise OR Beware the Koigu Koolaid

I have often wondered about the responses evoked any time someone mentions Koigu.  I have knit with lots of different kinds of sock yarn, some better than others, but I still didn’t get it about Koigu. Well, I finally knit a pair of socks with Koigu KPPPM and here is what I’ve learned:

  • Koigu Koigu is VERY soft, even sporting an impressive twist.
  • Koigu comes in a seemingly endless array of colorways which seem to be episodic in their existence.
  • Koigu skeins are woefully skimpy – for the price paid, I would expect at least 195 yards per skein.
  • Koigu is very pricey.  I spent entirely too much on these two skeins and since they were so light, I needed a 3rd to make the cuff longer.  3 skeins it prohibitive.  I don’t pay that much for jeans.
  • Koigu being 100% merino wool requires hand washing.
  • Koigu did knit up into lovely socks (these are for my daughter’s mother-in-law) and I wouldn’t mind having a pair myself, but I don’t see it any time soon.

There are some very nice sock yarns out there and some are even machine washable, which just makes my life easier. It’s not really an issue with sweaters and other things, but hey, socks need to be washed after being worn.

None of the items above, individually, would be enough to queer the deal between me and Koigu, but when you pile them all together, it’s almost an absurdidty.  I may run after and jump on a bandwagon for a cute pattern, but I will not be fooled into thinking that any one brand of yarn deserves the kind of loyalty that Koigu seems to have insired. It’s cult-like. It’s kind of like the craze for Noro.  Have you felt Noro?  I don’t know, maybe it’s the dye, but I don’t want that stuff anywhere near me.  Yeah, they have some nice colorways, but the prices they are fetching on Ebay alone are enough to convince me that those yarn skeins are being used as some kind of drug smuggling or money laundering operation.

I knit a lot, and I knit on a budget.  It’s not that I don’t recognize or appreciate quality, I have always considered myself a yarn snob.  It’s that there are some products which seem to inspire a somewhat irrational popularity and they tend to be expensive. I think I am just suspicious of hype, especially when there seems to be substantive downsides.  Maybe there are just more knitters out there that are independently wealthy and have more money than good sense OR maybe it’s me.  Am I the only one that can’t see the justification?  I won’t drink the Koigu Koolaid!

*Disclaimer: I am on my 9th day of quitting smoking and I think this tirade may simply be the result of the de-toxification process as I have been feeling really surly lately.

And they call the wind…

Mariah1_1Mariah.
Of course, no wind today, in fact the temp is over 90.  I think I had the sweater on less than 2 minutes for the photo shoot.

I used Patons Classic Merino in Leaf Green.

Lesson learned: When choosing yarn for a zippered sweater, find a zipper first, so you don’t have to custom order it.  If you can’t find a zipper, choose a different color.  However I really like this color.

Mariah2_1Now it can get cold.  I think I need a couple more sweaters before I am covered for the winter, but I can handle the fall for sure.  Oh, and I wear sweaters when the temp drops below 70F. 

Now, anybody hear Clint Eastwood singing?

Need to Help

Katrelief Sometimes we need help.  Sometimes we need TO help.  I have been deeply affected by the images and news reports I have seen on TV and the radio all week.  I am personally limited in what I can do financially.  However, there are other ways to help.  Katrina Refugees are being housed here in Austin and that gives me the opportunity to help a lot easier.  We are combing through our closets for clothes to take and what isn’t needed here, will be sent on to the Houston Astrodome.  I see that the knitbloggers are beginning to organize and put the wheels in motion with some wonderful efforts. Go see Susan and Margene for how you can help.  Today I received some links I think might be of interst to others. 

Katrina Help Wiki – Modeled on the TsunamiHelp wiki site (don’t worry if you don’t know what a wiki is – it’s a great resource):
http://katrinahelp.info/wiki/index.php/Main_Page

Look in "general" and "lost+found":
http://neworleans.craigslist.org/

Look in "Local" and "News" forums:
http://www.nola.com/forums/

In terms of communications in the core of New Orleans, Biloxi, etc.
does anyone know about any efforts to extend solar powered wi-fi
networks <http://www.primidi.com/2005/08/09.html> or at least
networks in shelters with power.

Thanks to Steven Clift at http://dowire.org

I still have some concerns that the federal government response has been a bit anemic, but I don’t want to get into any finger-pointing right now.  Let’s all hope order is restored soon so that these people and the rest of the country can deal with what has happened.