crafts · fashion · knitting · Life · wedding

80s progress, shoes, and a meme!

I’ve been making decent progress on my 80s sweater, and I’m almost finished with the front piece.

It’s been pretty smooth sailing so far.  The directions for the patterned lines on the top are pretty bad and of the (Rows 3, 5, 14, 56: knit) variety, leading to me ripping once and then writing them out so that it wasn’t so confusing.  But… so far I love it!  The Glace is really not bad to work with once I got used to the qualities of the ribbon yarn.  I like the textured fabric it is producing.

I must be in an 80s mood, because I found these shoes online, and now I must be off to the mall to snag myself some.

Yes, Jelly shoes.  I miss them so!  I must have the blue ones I think, or maybe the clear.

I’m also looking for wedding shoes (tomorrow we pick up my dress) so I’ve been thinking about what I’d like.  My dress is tea length, so everyone will see my shoes.  I like this style a lot.

Of course, I’ve never met a pair of Steve Madden shoes that weren’t horribly uncomfortable.  I really want something vaguely retro and with a round toe.  I could go with sandals if I found the right ones, but definitely no peep toes.  I look horrible in peep toes, and it seems as though every shoe this season has them!

Finally, I’ve been tagged with the 7 things meme a few times in the past day or two, and the 8 things meme once.  I’ll combine them since I think they’re pretty much the same.  I am so bad at these, but I will try!  So… 7 things about me.

1.  I have not voluntarily worn athletic shoes since elementary school.  When I was 10 I talked my cool aunt into buying me a pair of heels, and there’s been no looking back!  I do have some flats this year since they’re in style, and it freaks my friends out when I wear them.

2.  My favorite city I’ve visited is Prague, where I spent a long weekend 2 summers ago.  I’m hoping to take Marc there on our honeymoon (which won’t be for a year)

3. I’m terrified of airplanes, but I love to travel, leading to some rather ugly incidents in airport waiting areas.

4. If I have a daughter I want to name her Anya.  Yes, after the Buffy character.  I know, I am sad.

5. I lived in Indiana for four years, and my experiences there left me with a serious aversion to the state.  I don’t even like driving through it to get other places (sorry to any Hoosiers – I’m sure all hoosier knitters are lovely, it was just a bad time in my life!)

6. I love Basset Hounds.  If I ever get a dog (unlikely; Marc only loves cats) it will be a Basset.  I love their sweet wrinkly faces!

7. I’ve always been very shy.  I hate parties and big groups of noisy people, and usually have to be bribed into attending anything resembling a party.  Yarn works pretty well for that purpose.

8. Someday I would like to run my own voice/piano studio.  Don’t get me wrong; I love my job and the people I work with, and I’m not planning to quit… but someday.

I tag… you, if you haven’t been tagged (and you want to do this meme.)  It’s pretty fun once you get started!

crafts · knitting · Life

New interweave

I had to go out to pick up all the bridesmaid dresses today, and while I was out I stopped by Borders for the new Interweave.  And I have to confess… I was a little bit disappointed.

The Good: I love several of the designs, such as the ogee lace shirt, the josephine top, and the summertime tunic.  I think I would even be tempted by that little lace skirt thing.  And the sea silk scarf?  I’m definitely making that.  I’m all about 1 skein scarves.  I still like the redesign well enough, although this issue seems a little cluttered.

The Bad: I’m going to go ahead and say it… the sizing.  Three of the designs I really like (the josephine top, the ogee blouse, and the cover sweater) do not come in sizes small enough for me.  It’s not like I’m asking the world – while I really would like a 32″ size, I could be happy with a 34.  Don’t the Interweave editors know how many people knit the 34″ size?   It’s not just this issue… I have this problem a lot with Interweave designs, both in the magazines and in their books.  I really hope this is something that changes under the new editorship, because it’s been a consistent problem for me, and I know I’m not the only one.   The josephine top and the lace blouse are my favorites, and now I can’t knit them without rewriting the pattern.  Boo.

I am planning the summertime tunic already (I want to use up some shine sport!) and the scarf, so it isn’t a bust… and I think I could rewrite the Josephone top at least to fit me (I’d like a 34 in that, so that it has a bit of ease but not too much.)

Now that I’ve been all negative, I’ll talk about the projects I’m working on.  I cast on for the ribbing of the 80s berroco sweater, and it’s going well.

My tip for working with Glace?  Putting the ball in a ziploc bag, nearly closing it, and feeding the yarn out a bit at a time.  This keeps the ribbon from twisting and makes the stitches nice and even.

And the shoulderette is going nicely.  The color was more true in yesterday’s photo, and I think it is growing on me.   Now we’ll see if I actually wear it when it’s finished!

Coming  soon: my reviews of “Runway style” and “Knitting lingerie style”

crafts · Crochet · knitting · patterns · Vintage patterns · yarn

Day of randomness

I’m trapped on the other side of a door from my knitting – There’s a wasp in that room, and I’m leaving it until Marc gets home.  Possibly I have a phobia.  So… it seems like a good day to post about my progress on some random progress.  First up is the Boteh scarf.  I’ve been using it as my carrying project.  It’s perfect because it takes me about 30 minutes to finished one motif, and that’s exactly the length of any breaks I have at work.  I’ve finished eight so far.

I’ve also started a new project, the Victorian Shoulderette by Sivia Harding.  The yarn I’m using is Fleece Artist merino in Moss.  I’m not in general a huge fan of variegated yarns for lace, so I’m not sure about it yet.  This pattern is mostly garter stitch though, so I’m thinking it may work out.  I already like it better in this photo than I thought I would.  I was looking for a quick lacy project, and this fit the bill nicely.

I swatch for an Orangina, but I don’t think I’m ready to start that yet.  I’m worried that I might be short on yardage a bit, and I don’t want to get started only to run out of yarn.  The stitch pattern is fun!

And finally, today in the mail I received the yarn for what I’m calling the “80s Sweater project.”  The yarn is Berroco Glace, 100% rayon that I got for a song on clearance.  It’s also the same yarn called for in the 1985 pattern.  I can’t wait to get started – I think this will be my next sweater.  I may leave off the bobbles… or maybe not.

crafts · finished objects · knitting

FO: A-line tank

Pattern: A-line tank, Knitsimple Spring/summer 07

Yarn: Berroco Nostalgia, 4.5 balls to make the smallest size

Needles: US 8

Notes: I’ve been pretty quiet about finishing this tank, mostly because the back and front are so similar that they didn’t make for interesting pictures. This was a super fast knit (I’ve actually been finished for 2 days, but I was waiting for a nice day for photos) and I’m pleased with the results. I was not, however, pleased by the yarn. It was so easy to snag that it really drove me nuts, and it didn’t slide off the needles very easily either. I would not use it again – there are too many nice cotton blends on the market to bother with an annoying one! I knit the ribbing on this tank in combined knitting, which really does seem to have helped out my stitches. I would not use it all the time because it’s too slow, and because I don’t have tension problems in stockinette, but I love it for knitting ribbing flat. I used garter stitch seaming to sew up the sides, and it really blends in nicely with the reverse stockinette. I’m not thrilled with the arm or neck edging, because the garter stitch there doesn’t seem to blend well with the stitches, but oh well. I can wear it without a tank, but I think I prefer the security of wearing something tight under such a loose garment. The yarn is a heavy worsted, which does seem a bit odd for a summer sweater, but the heaviness allows the tank to hold its shape. The picture below on the left shows the swinginess. I’m a bit worried about this being so different from my usual style, but overall I think it’s a super cute trendy item, and one that didn’t take forever – so who cares if it goes out of style next year? I would definitely recommend knitting this. If you decide to make this sweater, I would try to stick with a size that has a bit of negative ease in the bust – I made a size with 2″ negative ease, and it really helps to keep the blousiness from getting out of hand.

crafts · Crochet · knitting · patterns · yarn

Got vintage patterns?

Because I have!

Does the shrug pattern in the picture on the right look familiar? How about now? Yes, I bought an entire ginormous lot of knitting patterns just in order to get my hands on the original (the one in the link is the update from vintage styles for today… but I like the original better. No weird gaping armholes.) There are a ton of books here – mostly women’s fashions from the 1950s, but there are also a few wonderful crochet books and a few for children, plus maybe one book of men’s sweaters. I’m not keeping all of these – I have one that is a duplicate, and there are several that I know I will never use. The 50s aren’t my favorite style era – that would be the 1940s (which I also have books of knitting patterns from)- but they are close. A lot of these patterns are for “bulky knits,” which for reasons I don’t understand seems to mean up to 6 st/in, but that’s ok. The patterns that are edging towards the 60s are lacking in the shaping department. That’s why I don’t love 60s design, it’s all too straight. That doesn’t work for me, I just look like I’m wearing a sack and gained 15 lbs.

Anyway, since I have this bounty of great books, I’m thinking of starting a new feature on the blog. Every so often I’ll type up a pattern from one of the really old books and post it, along with other pictures from the book to peruse. I know I’ve found other blogs that do this to be very helpful, and I think it would be fun (I’m a freak who enjoys typing this up on the computer… probably because I never use the computer at work.)

What do you all think?

Oh! And I also got the Knitpicks yarn I ordered awhile back when they were having their luxury yarn sale. I haven’t ordered from Knitpicks since last fall, but I couldn’t resist Panache for $3.99 a ball (instead of… what? 6.99?) Here’s what I got: (I must be in a blue phase, although they are not as similar as they look here)

Clockwise from top left: Shadow in Jewel Heather, Gloss in Dusk, Panache in dusk.

L to R: Ambrosia in Horizon, Andean Treasure in Lilac.

The Panache is unbelievably soft, and I’m pondering what to make with my 5 balls. Any suggestions? The Gloss is beautiful, with a lovely sheen from the silk, and the lace yarn is just gorgeous. The only color that looks a bit different from the website is the Ambrosia, which looked like a more clear blue, but it’s still lovely. The Andean treasure is softer than the ambrosia, but I can’t lie… they’re all so wonderful that I wish the weather was cold again!

The Jewel heather needs a closeup to show how lovely it actually is.

I have 880 yards… what could I make with that? I prefer stoles over triangle shawls, but I’m flexible…

crafts · knitting

Ribbing woes…

For the past few days I’ve been pondering a knitting problem.  The problem is my uneven ribbing.  When I knit in the round, my ribbing looks decent, as shown by this shot of my fad classic vest’s ribbing (which I’m wearing today – yay!)

Not totally perfect, but good enough.  The problem comes when I knit ribbing flat.  This problem was one of several things which totally doomed my Britannia sweater to the frog pile.  Here’s a pic of the A-line tank, which is going really quickly in the worsted yarn.

I was unhappy with the ribbing up to the bodice details, so I looked online for a solution.  I decided to try a method I found on the Nona knits blog, of wrapping the first purl after a knit stitch the opposite way, then knitting TBL on the following row.  Sort of like combined knitting, only not every stitch.  There are lots of knitbloggers who seem to swear by this method.  Here are my results:

Ignore the sad snagged bit of nylon up there please – I am!  I switched where the big ribbing section begins.  And while it is somewhat better than my usual ribbing, I’m still not thrilled with it.  Does anyone have another suggestion?  I know this will block out quite a bit, but still… I am displeased, and I am now at a loss for what else to do.

crafts · knitting · yarn

So far my plan is working

I finally got tired of swatching and cast on for a new sweater.  I’m making the A-line tank from the current KnitSimple, out of Berroco Nostalgia.

No, that’s not the back side.  This tank is knit in reverse stockinette stitch with knit ribbing details.  I sure am glad that I got all that reverse practice on the $1.50 cardigan!  I’m really pleased with how my stitches look here.  This sweater is wide and swingy at the waist, and decreases to a normal size at the bodice.  I’m quite fond of this style, so I can’t wait to get this knit up!  I bought 5 balls of Nostalgia, and I’ve gotten 5″ of the front out of the first ball.  Hopefully I should have enough, but I think it will be very close!  I’m not too worried, since the sweater will keep getting smaller (and using less yarn) as I knit higher.

I have another swatch today.  It’s Elann’s new Callista yarn – a blend of viscose, cotton, and linen.  This yarn did not wish to behave in stockinette.  I went to the smallest size on the band (it calls for sz 3-5) and I still didn’t like how the stitches were laying.  So I thought “hmm… maybe this yarn wants to be lace…”  and I was right!

The dominant fiber here seems to be the linen.  It also has a slightly “natural” smell, and I wonder if that is the linen .  I’ll be honest, this isn’t my favorite yarn ever, but I am pleased with the swatch above.  I think it would be a nice sub for Euroflax sport (they have approx. the same gauge) and am considering making the Tuxedo top out of the new Interweave in this yarn.   Otherwise, I may make a simple lacy stole out of this, or else destash it to someone who will appreciate its qualities (I think I just don’t like linen.)

crafts · Crochet · knitting · yarn

Not so hard!

I’m proud to announce that I have made a good start on my very first doily!

It’s going much more quickly than I had imagined.  What I really like about this project is that every round is different, so something interesting is always going on, but it lacks the fearfulness that comes with knitting  (I fear the dropped stitch or mistake in knitting lace, even though I do love how it comes out.)  It looks like the edges are curling in this photo, but they actually don’t.  I was trying to take the photo in a hurry, before the cat could run off with my crochet.

I’m still in mad swatching mode.  I’m really starting to enjoy the act of swatching!

Elann Peruvian Highland Wool


This yarn calls for a size 6 or 7 needle.  This swatch is with size 6 needles, as I thought it wasn’t feeling right on the size 7s.  Before blocking I got 5.25 st/in, and after blocking the wool settled in to 5st/in.  The fabric also softened noticeably after washing, to the point where I was actually suprised.  I felt that it was kind of stiff and hairy before blocking, but now I have totally changed my opinion.  This is a very nice value yarn.  It’s no merino, but I think it would be great for anything you don’t wear right up against your skin (well, I would wear it there, but I’m immune to most itchiness.)  I may try another swatch on 7s, to see if I can get 4.5 st/in easily, or if the yarn really likes 5 st/in.  The color (Mocha cream) has even grown on me.  This is definitely nicer than Knitpicks Wool of the Andes yarn, and it comes in a better selection of colors in my opinion.

I still have a bit more swatching to do, but then I’m going to start either the Kasbah sweater or the A-line tank.  Both projects look promising, and it is getting warmer every day here!  Last night we went for a long walk – it was so nice, I didn’t have church because of the Derby.  I love walking around our neighborhood and looking at the pretty old houses.  Hopefully we can make that a habit!

books · cooking · crafts · Crochet · knitting · Star Trek · yarn


I’ve come into a bunch of vintage crochet books recently, and looking through them has made me really interested in working with crochet thread.  I’ve done quite a bit of crochet with fingering weight yarn and loved it (finer crochet is easier IMHO) so today (while I was avoiding the Derby… I live way too near downtown) I went to the craft store and bought some thread and the tiniest hook you’ve ever seen.

I’m going to make the pattern pictured above first, and if I like it I’ll think about tackling some of the vintage terminology.  I’m really interested in some of the lovely table runners from the 40s as well.  I like the idea of making items that my grandmother made.  In fact, I think that’s one of the things which attracted me to knitting in the first place!

Last night I started another round of mad swatching.  Here are my swatches and reviews of a few yarns (and yes, I make my swatches 4″ wide but not quite that tall… I always get tired.)

Elann Sonata

Sonata knits up really nicely.  It’s a cabled yarn, so it’s impossible to split, and it feels nice in the hands.  I knit rather loosely with cottons, so while this is on the recommended size 6 needles, I’m getting 5st/in instead of 5.5.   This is a mercerized cotton, so it’s not a soft yarn, but it wasn’t straining my hands at all.  Perhaps the secret is to not try and get your stitches as firm as you might with wool?  I had a few people ask me about this yarn, and my recommendation is to go for it.  The color selection is fabulous, and you really can’t beat the price!

Berroco Nostalgia

Knits up at 4.5 st/in on size 8 needles for me.  Recommended gauge is 5 st on 7s, but I can’t see how that would work.  This is a thick feeling yarn, and I would not want to knit it on smaller needles.  The fabric made from this yarn is really pretty – I love the shiny bits from the nylon thread wrapped around the yarn.  The nylon thread is really easy to snag, so that’s something to watch for.  It’s not my favorite cotton yarn ever, but I think the effect of the nylon makes the difficulty worth it.  I’m going to use it as a sub for the Skacel Evita called for in the A-line tank (Knit simple, summer 07)
Classic Elite Classic Silk

I have been desperate to make “Daylight” from the Rowan Kasbah Collection.  Unfortunately, it’s knit in Summer Tweed, which I’ve recently decided I cannot deal with.  I started thinking of subs and thought of Classic Silk.  I made my Ms. Marigold from this yarn, and it has a similar silk/cotton nubby effect.  It has also worn really well, becoming softer with every wash.  The gauge is a bit different, but I thought I could compensate by knitting a larger size.  Imagine my surprise when I swatched and found that I was able to get correct gauge using size 6 needles!  So I will be making this very soon, and hopefully it will be cute!  So anyone looking for a substitute for Summer tweed, this is one to consider.  I think in plain stockinette it might require some math, but in this pattern it measures the same!

Today was a good day to visit thrift and craft stores on the far end of the city.  We were invited to a Derby party, but as a native (and an inhabitant of a fairly touristy area) I prefer to hide.  Besides, we had friends over for dinner last night, and I don’t like to socialize two nights in a row (I’m a quiet person, so it takes a lot of energy for me, and I like time to recharge.)  I bought a few nice tops at a thrift, and got the crochet things above, but my favorite thing was actually an ebay purchase that arrived this afternoon.

Oh yeah.  You know you’re jealous of my Star Trek cookbook!  Some sample recipes:

Plomeek Soup a la Neelix

James Doohan’s “Scotty’s Lemon Chicken” (Scotty is my favorite Trek character… I was so sad when James Doohan passed away)

McCoy’s Mint Julep

El Bouche: Klingon Throat Stew

There’s also a section on food props, and one on the drinks from Quark’s bar.  So fun!  Combining two of my favorite things at once!  Now if it only had a chapter like “Deanna Troi’s needlepoint tips” I would be in heaven.

And yes, I’m a dork.

crafts · Crochet · knitting · yarn


Well, I haven’t been busy per se… although I have spent the week rekindling my sad ebay addiction.  I think I really needed to not know you could find so many vintage patterns there.  Ah well… at least soon I will have pretty pictures to look at!

I’ve finished the Berroco sweater I was working on, but I’m not happy with it so far.  I’ll try a few tweaks, but I fear it may be destined for frogging.  I think I am too hourglass shaped for the pattern – it’s way too big in the middle.  I’m trying a few things, we will see!

My destashing sale was a success, which is great.  I have a few skeins left, but I think I will ebay them. It gives me the chance to buy more yarn without actually spending new money (ok, without spending much new money.)  So today I have some new yarn pictures for you.

I finally got my WEBs sale order, which I placed several weeks ago.  I got Classic Elite classic silk to use for the Rowan Kasbah collection top I like (I will make the medium to make up for the smaller gauge) and some Berroco Nostalgia to swatch for the A-line tank from the current KnitSimple.  I’m really happy with both yarns!


I also placed an Elann order, because I was interested in getting some of their more summery yarns.  It’s always difficult placing an order without any opportunity to see or feel yarns in person, but I loved the yarns I bought last time from Elann.  I’m happy with most of what I bought, with maybe one minor exception.


From top left: Baby silk in gentle violet, Callista in Tarragon, Lara in Green tea, Sonata in Admiral blue, Peruvian Highland wool in Oregano and Mocha cream.

Initial thoughts?  I love the Baby Silk.  Last time I ordered I bought a quantity of the Baby Cashmere for a scarf (I’m getting around to it!) but they were out of the silk.  It’s so lovely and soft!  This time I got a sweater’s worth, and I’m hoping to find a suitable pattern in one of my vintage books since the yarn is fingering weight.  Callista is Elann’s newest yarn, and it’s a mixture of Viscose, linen, and cotton.  I’ll admit, I bought it just because I’m obsessed with that color green, but it seems like a nice yarn in the skein.  It’s a little less soft than I was hoping (it has more viscose than anything else) but I’ll have to see how it knits up.  Lara is supposed to sub nicely for Rowan Cotton Glace, and it feels about the same to me.  We will see.  I bought the Sonata because I was questioning my feelings that I can’t knit with 100% cotton yarns.  This is a shiny mercerized cotton, not as stiff as, say, Tahki cotton classic, but by no means soft.  I mean, I have no evidence that I can’t knit with cotton.  I’ve made lots of 100% cotton crochet things without dying, so I know I can use it for that.  I’ve been swatching some Jaeger Siena that I love, and it’s mercerized cotton.

The only yarn that I’m not certain about is the highland wool.  It feels about like Knitpicks Wool of the Andes, and it’s certainly a nice yarn for the price, but I just don’t know about the mocha color.  It’s a little more golden than I was expecting.  I have what could be considered neutral coloring.  I can wear both cool and warm colors (which is obvious based on the above selections) but I try to avoid any colors which might blend with my skintone.  I do have a beige sweater that I love, so maybe I’m just being paranoid.  I was thinking about the lacy cardigan from the current vogue knitting in that yarn, but I fear the sweater is cursed for me (I have tried so many yarns!)

I will try to swatch some of these yarns tonight.  I like to get a feel for them, that way I can consider what to make with them later.  I made a new database of all my yarns this week, and I felt so productive!