Lacey Throws, Exotic Dancer

My husband used to joke about a guy I used to work with, whose name, when said aloud, seemed to command the title, “Male Prostitute.” I never knew what the reference was, and I imagine he’s probably forgot it anyway. But one always seems to stumble upon great names that requires another great employment title. Trapper John, MD, is a good example. My best friend grew up in Orange County and knew a “Thomas Thomas”, or Tom Tom, and the inimitable Becky Doubledee, who was also lucky enough to have a giant DD sized set of cans.

In the same fashion, my husband often applies those sorts of titles to the knitting projects I’m working on at any given time. This particular project began with a visit to Seaport Yarns in the financial district, where I used to work and would often spend a quick 20 minutes or so during a slightly slow afternoon, whenever that happened. Seaport Yarns is a great store – lots of selection, and the lady who runs it is incredibly knowledgeable about yarn and gauge and all that crap. For example, I was looking for a Tahki Stacey Charles, and she suggested an alternative yarn, which has since become a favorite with me: Plymouth Yarns. The Baby Alpaca Grand, which is, of course, a chunky yarn, is so soft and delightful and much easier and less essspensive than the TSC, it was an easy choice. Plus, she had lots of nice colors at Seaport, and I selected a pretty dark heather gray, color 403, to make my Lacey Throws. The pattern was found easily and for free on Ravelry as the Happy Birthday Throw, by Emily Ivey, using Lion Brands Thick & Quick…to be continued in the next post.

But for now I give you the Happy Birthday, Lacey Throws, you naughty thing, you’re soft and comfy, and while you do tend to leave some lint on the couch, I like you anyway. You were fast and fun.

The Year of Living Dangerously Super Bulky – 2011 in Review

Emma, 1996 Gwyneth Paltrow“Badly done, Emma!” I have been a poor blogger these many months, but since it is the end of the year, and the last time I updated this blog was roughly a year ago, it seems good to recap the knittings etc.

A new job, with global responsibilities (and thus long plane flights – so far no one has restricted knitting needles, even the Ukraine) has taken a bite out of knitting, but oddly enough, not as much as the last job. If I could find a one-word theme for knitting in 2011, it was “chunky”. Pretty much goes for me too, but mostly on the yarn side.

Why do I like this yarn? It’s intensely satisfying to knit up – so fast, so easy, I actually don’t mind knitting with big needles (all the way up to 19). It’s usually on the softer side, it’s cozy, and I don’t see it as being more expensive per gram or hank or anything (although I don’t do much math when it comes to purchasing). The downside: everything I knit sucks as a finished product, exceptions being scarves, some kinds of hats, and blankets. I would like to graduate beyond that, but if I had a second theme for 2011, it would be the unraveling of finished projects that never went anywhere, that is, projects I either never wore myself or didn’t think worthy to gift to another person. Even now, looking at the posts from 2010 here, I have been in love with super bulky yarn for a long time. First was buying Twinkle‘s books and then her yarn, and I did graduate a bit to bulk/super bulky in Lion Brand Yarn after they opened a cool NYC showroom. I highly recommend shopping there, by the by.

My 2012 knitting resolution: divorce yourself from super bulky! Be not tempted by the quick and easy path! To the dark side! Sorry, it’s Christmastime and my darling husband is out, so I’m watching Star Wars while knitting and drinking.  And, as Jane Austen said, “I am afraid that the pleasantness of an employment does not always evince its propriety.”

In no particular order, the next couple of posts will feature highlights of my Chunky year. And thus, my path to learning finished objects that are *not* chunky begins…you must unlearn what you have learned:

Stash Bustin’

twinkle's weekend knits bookIt’s technically spring (although you wouldn’t know it from the NYC weather we’ve been enjoying), and with a little hint of a temperature close to 50 degrees, I have a hankering for a spring cleanup. This also means spring cleanup of my yarn, which is a Sargasso Sea of crap that I hide behind our couch in the den. It’s like a scene from a horror movie when people come over and accidentally peek behind the couch.  I can’t even post a photo – this is a family blog.

So, in addition to taking stock of current yarn and tossing some crap I can’t remember purchasing, let alone remembering why I purchased it, I took a look at some old finished projects I abhor and never wear. One was a huge sweater from Twinkle’s Weekend Knits, a great book with lovely items made for tiny, skinny women. Every time I don a super bulky sweater made with yarn of the same, the effect is sausage-like. So, I undid an old sweater made from a couple of hanks of Twinkle’s super bulky and figured I’d knit up some accessories right quick. That is a huge benefit of bulky yarn – for people without patience, it’s a godsend.

So, with hanks of Twinkle’s Soft Chunky (bulky weight) in Icy Blue and Kelly Green (which doesn’t appear available on the Classic Elite yarns website, oddly), I made two hats and a cowl, I guess it’s a cowl?

broccoli shroom hat
Broccoli Shroom Hat

The first hat was from a pattern in Knitty called the Shroom hat, ostensibly due to the close comparison to a mushroom. They were careful to men

tion a particular kind of bulky yarn, but I threw caution to the wind and used Twinkle. The result is pretty cute, but the bright green made it seem more broccoli than mushroom. Either way, if you don’t think specifically about broccoli, it’s an okay/wearable hat.

Second up, on Ravelry I saw a cool cowl made with bulky yarn in a nice acid greeny/yellow, called the wham bam thank you ma’am neckwarmer, I believe because it’s made quite quickly. I made it with the icy blue chunky yarn. It’s warm, bodering on hot, when you’re wearing it but hey, it does get cold around here sometimes. I bet it’s probably

chunky cowl
Chunky cowl in icy blue

pretty good for skiing. It’s currently being modeled on my cupcake plate! One problem to solve for the future, I didn’t do a great job of hiding the knots where I needed to join pieces of yarn together. Hmm.

Lastly, I just threw together yet another version of the Urchin hat from Twinkle’s Weekend Knits. It’s cute and floppy, but beret-like so it looks fairly polished for work. The green is a nice bold energetic color and I think it works. I wore a version I made in a very light gray for most of this past winter. And now, I’ve gotten rid of all my green and a big portion of the blue. A small victory in stash busting.

urchin beret
Urchin beret in kelly green

…and I in my (1897) cap

I came home from a long day’s work to find my fabulous husband not only cleaned our house (and took out the trash), but bought a Christmas tree, decorated it, and strung lights on our non-working fireplace. He is a prince among men, truly. So it’s fitting that I  finished the hat that I did tonight, as we watch Avatar on our tv under the glow of multicolored lights and the afterglow of Zinfandel. I completed my 1897 cap.

tree happy 2010
O Tannenbaum

I say the 1897 cap because it is reminiscent of this very cool version of Twas the Night Before Christmas that my parents always read me on Christmas Eve. I can’t find the illustration, but the “mama in her kerchief, and I in my cap, had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap…” had this old guy with a long, trippy cap and an actual nightgown.

Unfortunately for me, I was trying to make a beret. On Ravelry, I found this cool All Day Beret pattern, and the left and right diagonal stitches are quite nice. I cast on 54 stitches (you need a multiple of 4 for the pattern), and while that was fine from a gauge perspective, I didn’t use the larger needles once I finished the ribbed brim, and thus it never really ballooned out quite the way a beret should.

1897 hat
All-Day Beret that is actually an 1897 hat

So, next time I’m going to increase the brim to 58, and way increase the beginning of the actual hat, like to maybe 80 or something. By the by, I’m using a lovely Plymouth Yarn called Paca Tweed in color #100. It’s sort of an oatmeal color with flecks of charcoal and caramel. I doubled the yarn to get gauge and it was still pretty soft. Greg is nicely modeling it in this photo here, he liked it even though it was an 1897 hat vs. the expected beret.

MFFO. Avec photo. And the Powder Puff Derby.

Okay, for some reason this never got posted the first time around. I now have vastly shorter hair which is far less blonde, since in the time I originally wrote it to now, I’ve weaned myself off of peroxide in a box hair color and now actually go to a professional. AND I’ve worn these hats about 50 times. AND Mira Nair made a biopic about Amelia Earhart starring Hilary Swank. So, without further ado:

I have traditionally treated digital cameras the same way I treat the $14.99 disposable cameras from CVS – like they’re disposable and stuff. Honestly, I’m on camera #4. Or maybe this one is 5. Either way, I’ve got some FO’s to show off. I’m so excited, they’re MF FO’s though. They deserve some profanity. They’ve been waiting in the wings for so long.

Amelia Earhart Head Hugger
Amelia Earhart Head Hugger

This was from head hugger patterns, I made it from some Sublime Angora Merino I got on sale. It’s a really pretty lavendar, but oddly enough the color is called Clover. I knitted this on a couple of plane flights in July, to and from Chicago and Dallas and the like. Because it’s mohair, little tufts of mohair goodness kept fluffing off and landing usually on the pant leg of some person next to me on the plane. I’m sure they loved me. Here’s a solo shot of the hat:

Did you know? Amelia Earhart was kind of a feminist icon. Her wikipedia entry is insane. And she was gorgeous and fashionable and she had a gap tooth like me!

And then I did it again in another cool sale item, Sahara brand’s worsted weight Camelhair (55%) and Merino (45%). It’s soft and nice, and I knit double up to get gauge, same as the Sublime.

Sahara up close
Sahara up close

Hooray finished objects!

The Barefoot Concetta

The latest project I’ve tackled, nearly finished, and then discarded, is a delightful cardigan I got from Ravelry. Elizabeth Smith’s Concetta Cardigan pattern is lovely, easy and I thought would make a good, wearable sweater.

I’m blaming the yarn on this one. Soft, but wooly, the k2p2 border around the entire sweater (2″, mind you), bunched horribly when finishing, so much so that it brought to mind a child’s sweater…but the bunching made it a child’s sweater for a shar-pei. Hate it. Hate that I spent so much time on it, and now it’s ruined.

Will post pics and update on the new project that I’m double dipping on shortly.

Rumors of my knitting death are greatly exaggerated

I just got a promotion, is all! And my workload blew up. And, I got engaged to the most fabulous man of all time. So, I’ve been working harder than a one armed paper hanger. And I bought a weekend house. So shit’s been cra-zy. The nice part is that when I’m up at my house (in Barryville, NY – the southwest corner of the Catskill mountains) it’s all knitting all the time. There’s vodka, a fireplace, wild turkeys and not much else.

weekend Catskill house.

Here’s a photo of our lovely upstate abode. I met the builder and saw the bones of the house in January, and closed June 1. All in all, a relatively painless process and it’s been incredibly fun since then. It’s small, but with an open floor plan design and tons of windows that really let the outdoors in, it feels huge.

Greg is up there with a bunch of dudes this weekend, which is why I’ve got a free pass here at home, watching Jane Austen movies and drinking sparkling shiraz by myself. Think the dudes are having a good time. No bears just yet, but they’re killing lots of zombies in Left 4 Dead, which is my new favorite Xbox game.

I’ve started the Concetta cardigan, which is an awesomely simple, well-designed shaped cardigan. Two big buttons, slighly belled sleeves and a funnel neck give it a really modern shape, and I re-allocated an ill-devised plan for a wrap sweater’s yarn supply to make it happen; it’s a nice Berroco wool (Peruvia) in a pretty green called Peat Moss. Sounds very Wuthering Heights, which I guess the sweater is too.

I am now watching Emma for the 456th time. Oh, comfort of 19th century Regency. “It sounds as      though he eats a worrisome amount of custard!” Mr. Woodhouse is adorable.