FO: Umbre Lovre

Hi, all!  Did you miss me?  I had to take an impromptu break from the blog for my own sanity and yours.  The stress level around here has just been skyrocketing, and not just because the wedding is in *glup* five weeks.  I did not tell you when it happened because it all happened so fast, but I got a promotion at work.  I have been a full time employee in one department for a few weeks and I've got to say that I have not gotten nearly as much knitting done as I did when I was a part-time employee for three.  But I did finish something this week, and so I have scurried back to give you all pictures and the gory gory details.

Right up front I want to say that Allyson Dykhuizen is an excellent pattern writer and that Umbre Lovre was a joy to knit.  Any temper-tantrum that I threw during the knitting of this sweater was completely due to user error -- I can say that now that I know it is still wearable.

If you know of this pattern then you have seen the beautifully stylized photos from Holla Knits.  The model looks smashing in her white pants and tastefully oversized top.  In reality, this is how it looks on me:

I knew going in to this that I'm not a big fan of positive ease.  I like sweater dresses and tunics, but they are usually zero ease or have some waist shaping to them.  When I first finished knitting, I threw on the top in a fit of enthusiasm only to realize that I looked like I was wearing a nicely knitted potato sack.  At this point I may have had a slight explosion.  Ok, maybe not so slight.  I ended up yelling at Chris about something completely ridiculous and then sat mournfully staring at my knitting, trying not to cry.  I actually tweeted Allyson who reminded me that blocking makes fabric look so much better, and she, of course, was totally right.

I am actually surprised that this ended up such a lovely garment.  See, I knit the size 36, which is 6 inches of positive ease on top of that 36 inch bust.  Well, and this might not be ladylike to divulge, when last I measured I am a 35.  And it seems like that one extra inch may have made a significant difference.  Now that I know this, if I was to ever knit this again I would knit the size 32 and just have less blousy top.

Another mistake I made was to start the armholes way too early.  Like halfway through the garment early.  This may have accounted for most of the yelling and crying about how I was going to wear this on my honeymoon and I spent so much time knitting it and why doesn't anything turn out right anymore?  But after blocking I took some yarn and seamed them up to a more suitable depth.  This created some interesting pleats on the side, but with a belt you can barely even tell.

On the whole I am really proud of this top.  It is the first striped garment I have ever knit and I did enjoy pulling out multiple balls of yarn to shock the guys at work.  I am still planning to take it on the honeymoon, but it has also become top contender for rehearsal dinner outfit.  I think belted with a black skirt and flats it will look really nice.  The jeans obviously did not work out so well, but I also think it would make a great hippy-esque outfit with some leggings for days when I just cannot bear to wear another tshirt.

For more FOs, go check out the group over at Tami's Amis!


Geektastic Thursday: Synthetica

I do not claim to have any great understanding of music.  I mostly listen to what I enjoy, and if it happens to be on the radio, I'm not hipster enough to really care.  Like a lot of people I found Metric when it was announced that they would write the music for The Clash at Demonhead in Scott Pilgrim vs the World.  They won me over with their single "Black Sheep", and I've been an avid fan ever since.

Last Tuesday their album Synthetica was released with much anticipation, and it does not disappoint.  I honestly have not stopped listening to it.  The songs are in the style of their last album, Fantasies, but they again demonstrate a wide range within that style.  My personal favorite at the moment is "Lost Kitten", which I would not be surprised to hear at some point in the next season of Gossip Girl (If they still have the same style.  The whole Dan/Blair thing caused me to stop caring).  But the album is wonderful as a whole.  Their video for "Youth Without Youth" just came out and is awesome as always.

In many respects, Metric reminds me a lot of Garbage.  They stay edgy and fresh without getting truly strange.  Their music is often more like poetry.  The more I understand the lyrics the deeper I get into the song.  Unlike a lot of bands on which I have overdosed and then had to step back, I've never had to take a break from Metric.  I think the personality that Emily Haines presents is part adorable, part inspiring.  And even though she is the primary voice, the voice of the band as a whole is never lost.

Metric may not be for everyone, but I love them.  And that's the point of Geektastic Thursdays.  To tell you about something that I'm geeking out over.  So for now I'll leave you with the song that, for me, started it all. Enjoy!


This is Not a Post About the Olympics

In case you have been living in a happy place for the past seven hours, you may not have heard that the US Olympic Committee has decided to go the way of French skating judges.  They have decided that the Ravelympics, and knitting by extension, denegrate the accomplishments of the athletes and infringe upon the rights of corporate sponsors.  I am not going to rehash the details (you can read all about it here), and instead will move on to happier things.

I am was a huge fan of the Olympics, but in the past several years I have found it harder and harder to appreciate the community aspect when there is so much corporate craziness.  Now that we as knitters are relieved of this obligation on our time, I present to you my top ten things to do instead of watching the olympics:

1) Learn to cook and cook well.  For two weeks you could focus all that time you would spend sitting and watching on cooking properly.  If you live in the northern hemisphere, check out a farmers market.  If you live in the southern, maybe make some hearty soups.  Either way you will be eating better than McDonalds (official sponsor).

2) Take up a new fiber craft.  Spending a small amount of time every day on learning to spin, crochet, or needle felt will be in the olympic spirit of practice and determination -- particularly if you are like me and are decidedly uncoordinated.

3) Go to the movies.  No one will be there because they will be too busy watching table tennis, so you can even take your Ravelympic project.  Bring your headlamp and enjoy the latest block buster while working on an intricate cable detail.

4) Spend time outside.  Ever notice that so many olympic events are held outside and they all require physical exertion, yet to enjoy them you have to sit indoors.  Take that spinning wheel out to the park.  Clip your sock-in-progress to your belt and take a walk around the neighborhood.  You'll be getting much needed fresh air and physical activity that you would have missed out on.

5) Finally finish that book you have been meaning to read.  You know, that one you have had on your shelf forever and keep meaning to get to?  Get it out, go to the pool, and enjoy.

6) Knit for charity.  So you are no longer allowed to affiliate your sock knitting with your olympic viewing?  Challenge yourself to knit a pair for the homeless shelter.  Or for a friend you know is in need.  Knit hats for chemo patients, or washcloths for soldiers.  I guarantee that this will be a more fulfilling community experience than watching beach volleyball.

7) Spend time with your family with the tv off.  Play a board game, go for a hike, or just hang out and laugh.  You will make a greater impact on those you love than any professional athlete, no matter how celebrated.

8) Volunteer.  So many soup kitchens and charitable organizations need help every day of the year.  What better way to celebrate the ideals of the olympic spirit than to help those in need rather than watching tv?

9) Organize your own "olympics".  If you live with children, organize an outdoor day of crazy events that are all about having fun with no concern for getting dirty.  Have a tournament for your favorite card game.  Get your buddies together and have a long-distance relay.  Whatever it is you love to do, do it.  Do it with others and do it to have fun.

10) Knit.  Despite what the USOC may think, knitters are a serious force of good in this world.  Do not, I repeat, do not let anyone make you think you are worth less because of it.  I have great respect for the athletes and participants in the Olympics.  I have watched and loved them for as long as I can remember.  But there is no way I believe that I am "denigrating" the accomplishments of any athlete by knitting while I cheer them on.

As for me?  I'm going to try to knit a shawl for Team Feministy and stop being concerned that I scheduled my wedding during one of my favorite events of the year.

ETA (06.21.12):  The USOC has released an apology to the Ravelry community for the use of "insensitive terms".  Thank you Mr. Sandusky.  I probably will still not watch much of the Olympics this year, but we fiber artists are classy people and an apology was all we really wanted.  I will enjoy whatever we will now call our knitting event.


4AM Insanity

I wanted so badly to write something interesting for you guys today, but there was a very loud car crash outside of my apartment at 4am.  As far as I know no one was hurt and the driver did not hit any of the cars parked on the street.  I'm imagining a magnificent action sequence in which the driver hit by the hit-and-run is actually a Shield agent and drove off to chase down the evil fiend.  There was no way I could turn my brain off after that, so I'm drinking a supremely strong cup of coffee and knitting my afghan square, hoping that work today will only be a minimal amount of crazy.

Isn't that color spectacular?


Cemetery Musings

The other day I did something that I am horribly embarrassed to admit -- I locked my keys in my car.  Fortunately I have a spare and a roommate who is willing to come rescue me when need be.  This left me with half an hour to kill before she rode in, and so I indulged my curiosity and wandered a cemetery.

This is the same cemetery that I wrote about last year.  While it has been reopened, there are still signs of tornado damage.

There's something peaceful about old cemeteries.  The way the stones have been weathered, the inevitable loss of text on each, the mystery as to who is who.

One could almost forget that this was in fact the middle of a city.

But not quite.

There was a wedding going on across the street, so I had great fun watching all of the different outfits that have become popular this season.

I did a little reading and knitting under a tree and enjoyed finding a place that felt so calm in the midst of our chaotic downtown.

It was probably my most peaceful afternoon in a long time.


FO: Kaleidoscope

I have an FO!  A real FO!  Excuse me while I do a little FO dance here

*dance break*

Ok, I'm back.  You've actually already seen this sweater as I finished the knitting back in May, but now it is finally blocked, has its ends woven in, and has had actual pictures.  I'm talking, of course, about my Kaleidoscope, knit out of Three Irish Girls Adorn sock in the You Are My Sunshine colorway for the Stockinette Zombies' Two Ball KAL.

I love this sweater.  It is a flattering color, a flattering cut, and just edgy enough that I would not wear it to work (which seems to be the theme of my garment knitting this season).  I love the fact that it was all stockinette but that I was intrigued enough that I did not get bored.  If I say this is the sweater that made me want to knit sweaters again, would that sound weird?  For a free pattern with surprisingly few directions, it was a wonderful experience.

At the same time, this sweater was a learning experience.  You may notice that the sweater is pulling a bit at the button band.  This is, shockingly, not because I have gained weight from all the stress-eating I have done lately.  It is actually due to the fact that I knit the yarn too loosely.  Let me explain.  I am a tight knitter.  Usually when I knit a sweater I automatically swatch with a size larger.  The Kaleidoscope pattern calls for a US 7, so I ended up using a US 8.  But because I used such a large needle, the fabric seems to have lost more of its stretch than I had anticipated.  It's a great little garment, but if I were to knit it again I'd go down to at least a US 6 and knit the larger size.

I also modified the button band for five buttons instead of six, because I had the perfect shade of purple in my stash (I know, who knew I even had a stash? I sure didn't).  This may also have contributed to the gaping issue, but they are too perfect for me to want to change them now.

The other thing I love about this sweater?  My brother helped me take pictures.  Yes, I got my seventeen year old brother to help take pictures of my knitwear.  He even ran up to his room and put on a scarf and a hat so he'd be more "authentic".  We had a lot of fun in the back yard with me asking "does this look ok?  Are you making me look fat?"  And him saying things like "No, no, you look lovely darling.  Now give me more!  Pretend there is an apple.  No wait, that's too much Megan Fox."

And you know what?  He is the best knitting photographer I've had yet.  There may be a future for him in this.

If you would like to see more FOs, check out Tami's Amis!


Geektastic Thursday: Bunheads

You may have noticed that a particular show was lacking from my summer "to watch" list.  This is not because I was not looking forward to it, but rather because I was truly afraid that I would hate it.  What is more, I could not bear the thought of bringing it to anyone's attention only to have it be a complete disaster.  I am talking, of course, about Bunheads.

It comes as no surprise to anyone who has a conversation with me for more than five minutes that I am a Gilmore Girls fan.  I have watched the first few seasons so many times that I need to replace my box sets.  The snappy dialogue, the strong female characters, the wealth of pop culture references.  It was a show tailor-made for me.  Which is why when ABC Family announced that they would be airing a new show written by Amy Sherman-Palladino I knew I would have to watch.  I was also very apprehensive.  What if they tried to reinvent the magic of Gilmore Girls?  What if they would not let her write the way she wanted?  What if it is just really really bad?  What if it was even better?  Despite all of these questions I feel it is safe to say, after only a single episode, and with great caution, that I love it.

From the start, the show made me into a complete dork.  I squealed when I saw the name "Amy Sherman-Palladino".  I felt my jaw drop when I realized that Sam Phillips is doing the music.  And I paused to applaud when Kelley Bishop first appeared.  Not to mention that the writing is strong.  It is not the same, but you can definitely tell it is Amy's show in the way I can always identify things done by Jane Espenson.

I am afraid to say that I love it as certain elements gave me pause, but I will definitely be returning for more. I already adore the minor characters who were introduced (Truly is just brilliant), and I have to have to know what happens next.  The main character is no Lorelei Gilmore, but she has great depth.  And I love the set up for multiple generations of women.  That was part of what made Gilmore Girls so great -- the interplay of women at different stages of their lives.  The fact that the ballet students and Fanny already have an established positive relationship is a nice twist.  

At this point I feel the show could go either way.  It could carry on to do its own thing, or it could try to essentially re-do what has been done before.  Either way I will be there to find out.

Plus, anything that involves Kelley Bishop is in my book worth watching.  Particularly if she gets to dance.



So do you remember how last week I titled my WIP post with "nothing much has changed"?  Well this week's might very well be "nothing much is inspiring".  I am at a weird point in my knitting where I love all of the projects I have on the needles, but I don't feel inspired to work on them. Surprisingly I am not suffering from startitis.  Instead, I am slogging along, hoping to hit that inspiration point again soon.

But do not dismay.  There are other works in progress going on here.

I visited my family over the weekend (Sunday and Monday, my version of the weekend.  I kind of want to call it a "smeekend").  My father's birthday was yesterday and I had to do a lot of wedding things that could only be done in person.  Now that the invitations are going out and the flowers are essentially done, we've hit that point when there is not much that can be done until the wedding gets closer.  And oh, boy, is it ever getting closer.

I did manage to finally finish the front of my Umbre Lovre while at home, and am now working my way up the back.  I really want to have it finished to wear on the honeymoon, which means it will probably never get done.

If you are looking for forward progression and inspiring knits, please go check out the lovely group over at Tami's Amis.

PS: On the way back I got caught in an apocalypticly bad storm, turning my 3.5 hour drive into almost six.  And a large part of my time was spent behind this guy:

Why yes, I indeed thought I was going to die.


Geektastic Thursday: The Proof is in the Socks

I finished the first of the Bitchin' Socks last night.  And then, rather than cast on the second, I went to my WIP shelf and grabbed the project bag with my Anywhere But Rio socks (I know I have an entire piece of furniture devoted to my WIPs. We'll discuss that later).  According to Ravelry I started these back in April but then I put them aside because I was torn as to how to do the heel.

As I sat working on them I realized, as if I could have forgotten, just how much my knitting and my geekiness are intertwined.  Both of these socks are themed for strong female characters.  And not just strong female characters, but ones connected to British sci-fi and fantasy media.  Both Molly Weasley and Amy Pond are stellar examples of why I connect so strongly to geek culture.  They're both *spoiler alert* amazing mothers.  They both protect their own.  And they both have powerful personalities that make them a force in their own right, separate from any of the male characters to which they play supporting roles.

My fondness for these two can probably also be attributed to my age.  I grew up reading about Molly Weasley the mother and am now close in age to Amy Pond, time traveler.  But it also says something about the current state of geek culture.  There is a market for strong female characters, and at least some people are realizing this.  I take the label of "feminist" gladly, and feel fully supported by the geek culture.  We are open to people of all sorts, because the world is made up of all sorts -- there is even room for strong, passionate mothers.

Some, when they first meet me, may be surprised to learn I am a geek.  But they really need only check out my knitting.  The proof is in the socks.


Nothing Much Has Changed -- In Knitting

How is it already Wednesday again?  I feel like all that I do is stand around and say "Wow. This wedding is coming up really soon! I need to get stuff done!"  But I do not actually accomplish anything (she says, glancing nervously at the boxes of invitations, poised to strike).  And then to procrastinate I knit.  But as you can see, there has not been much practice made here either.

I'm still knitting along on my Bitchin' Socks out of Gnome Acres sock yarn in the Molly Weasley colorway (hence the name).  I love the way the color is working up in the seed stitch panel.  Because of the way the yarn is dyed, every row has been different, which has been a lot of fun to watch.  Last night I finished the foot and got the first few rows of the toe done during the Pretty Little Liars season premier.  I probably could have accomplished more, but there was yelling and flailing and Toby in a towel.

I am also finally making progress on the Umbre Lovre now that I don't have Kaleidoscope to distract me.  But it is deceptive progress because though I am starting the patterned section at the top, the fact that humans generally have arms means that you have to split the front and back partway through.  So it feels like no progress at all because I know I'll just have to go back and knit up the other half.

So there you have it.  I'm still trying to use knitting to procrastinate and it is still not working.  The black hole of knitting may yet eat my soul if I don't feel any progress soon.

On the bright side, you can find more WIPs over on Tami's Amis, and I'm sure someone there has made progress of which they are proud.


Procrastinated Progress

Thank you to everyone who contacted me following my sock tragedy.  I'm glad to hear that others will learn from my example and avoid the less durable sock yarns for actual socks.  To console myself I have been watching Bones (I know, not on my list -- but season six is finally on Netflix) while working on these.

Clearly I am making a tone of progress because I am already into the third contrast color of my Umbre Lovre.

I love Mondays.  I get so much done when I'm procrastinating.


Tragically Finished

If you are of a weak constitution or prone to nausea, fainting, or horrendous flashbacks at the sight of another's knitting catastrophes, please do not read on.  Instead go find a happier FO post over at Tami's Amis.

Tragedy, dear knitters, has struck our happy home.  On Wednesday an event so distressing occurred that it even made me late for work (yes, you read that right).  For the first time in the three years that I have been knitting socks I suffered a heel blow out.

As you can see, it wasn't just that the heel blew out, it was the back of the heel.  You may recognize these as my Nutkins that I knit not even a year ago out of Madelinetosh sock.  I should have listened to my inner knitter when I bought this yarn.  She's the rational one.  She's the one who knows that I wear socks at least five days a week even in the summer.  She's the one who knows that I love my handknit socks and would prefer to wear them over commercial socks.  And she's the one who knows that a yarn without nylon content, even if it is superwash, does not belong on my feet.

I didn't listen to her.  I ignored her warning with such arguments as "everyone else knits superwash merino socks and is fine" or my personal favorite "there's something very environmental about knitting socks without the synthetic.  I'm being a good person by buying this expensive yarn and putting it on my feet"  Clearly my inner knitter is way smarter than I, for not one year later I pulled on these socks, which I had carefully hand washed for months, only to find a gaping hole right where my shoe meets the back of my foot.

I could use this as a learning opportunity.  I could pull out my leftovers and find a way to darn the one sock and reinforce the heel of the other.  I could, but I won't.  I have a renewed commitment to knitting socks only out of yarns with nylon content, and I don't have the heart to repair these only to have them fall apart on me again. So for now I will put them aside and wait for the pain to lapse.  Then I will pick out the ends, frog them, and use the yarn for something else.  Maybe a new pair of mitts.  Surely my hands can handle 100% merino yarn.