My Last Hand Knit?

Kiba-LightArghhh! I have carpal tunnel issues no doubt aggravated by my avid knitting! One handed typing is pretty slow, so this will be a very short post. I do love this vest by Marianne Isager. Both the shape and the color just make me smiled wish for fall weather. The kit came from Tutto, based in Santa Fe, who had a booth at the recent Interweave yarn fest here in Colorado. The yummy Alpaca and Silk Mohair yarns are held together throughout the piece.Kiba-Light_8

The pattern is a little unusual in that Isager has you count rows for length rather than knit for so many inches, claiming that it will all work out in the blocking. After doing a bit of math it seemed my vest was coming up way too short, so I decided to knit to the calculated length. This seemed to work well for me, but I had to keep an eye on all stitch counts after that. Let’s just say this pattern isn’t a good choice for a beginning knitter unless they get gauge in width and height. Intermediate knitters wouldn’t have a problem making adjustments. Isn’t the back pretty?Kiba-Light_7

Physical therapy starts in a week! I have finished sewing two tops so there will be sewing project posts soon….

Fred

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My dad Fred pretending to play a mirrored art saxophone in his home. Yes you can see where my love of pattern and color came from!

When a parent’s health begins to fail it takes physical time to help them, but even more consuming is the mental time needed to process the changes. That is the place I have been in for the last 6 months or so. My dad passed away two weeks ago, and it took more energy out of me than I cared to admit.

Fred was what people describe as “a character” which meant that most people found him absolutely charming, but at times his only child struggled with his craziness. He could be great fun,  creative, and loved me, his little girl. While he was 89, a large part of him still wanted to party and he was pretty darn angry these last 6 months that he couldn’t go out to wine and dine a pretty woman! As I ponder this loss, one thing I can truly say is I’m happy to have his spunk, spirit and creativity in me. He loved my sewing, and was very proud of my artistic side so he would say, “it’s time to get back to it”!

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I’ve done a little sewing in the last few months. I made another pair of my self-drafted pants that came out well, however when stress hits knitting is a must. It just calms my nerves when the project is easy and repetitive like this tunic length sweater pattern, Truss from Shibui Knits. Their patterns are simple, but have an understated elegance and a nice fit.Shibui-Truss_2

Cascade Eco-Duo in Hazelnut made for a warm top that I wore over a turtleneck before the spring weather hit. The stripes were a BIG surprise, but luckily I found the subtle pattern very attractive. It’s a great pattern, and I may splurge on the recommended Shibui Knits yarn next time.

Shibui-Truss_3I will be sharing some spring sewing on my next blog. It’s time to welcome the warm weather!

Adventures in Italy and France with my BSF: Part 2 Paris

The second two weeks of our trip were in Paris. Of course, this was before the terrorist attacks. Paris was colorful, lively and simply a delightful place and we are all hoping for a return to it’s former self soon.

We wandered the first day and caught up on a little sleep before taking a cooking class the second night. The food in Paris is great everywhere, from small café, to street vendor to restaurant. There was a lot of walking on our tour, which was a good balance with lots of eating and wine!

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Monkfish on a bed of ratatouille at our cooking class

Marcy and Katherine Tilton were knowledgable and fun guides who planned an inside tour for our group. The very first afternoon we had an introduction to their friend Dominique who brought in examples from her exquisite collection of little black dresses.

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Dominique, Katherine and Marcy at our introduction meeting.

There is no way to cover all of our experiences in a post, but a few of the highlights were the couture flower maker…

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Each Petal is hand dyed then hand formed with heat and wax with special tools.

 

the Korea Now! exhibit at the Musée Les Arts Decoratifs-Mode et Textile…

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Contemporary gown with a traditional Korean influence

 

the Alber Elbaz-Lanvin exhibit…

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Sweater knit by me, upstaged by some fabulous draping on the mannequins

Giverny in the fall…

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Monet’s pond at Giverny

and then Monet’s water lily rooms at the Musée de l’Orangerie…

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We’re wearing the clothes we made!

and of course SHOPPING! both window and…

real!

This is just some of the purchases. My cat doesn’t want me to sew the scrumptious silk velvet.

The best thing? Being greeted with a beautiful bouquet of roses and a hug when I walked into my door!Welcom-Back-Roses

Random Poncho

Random-poncho_3I finished my first accessory for fall travel to Rome and Italy! Taking my chosen color swatches I went to The Loopy Ewe and picked out four skeins of yarn. Three are Hedgehog fibers sock yarn and the gold is ShibuiKnits Pebble. I wanted to make a shawl or poncho, but I just couldn’t decide. Making a swatch of the knitted fabric didn’t help solve the question. A shawl that would have good dimensions as a poncho was the temporary answer and as you see the poncho won out in the end. Ponchos can be worn as a scarf but are also cozy and easy to keep track of during travel.

Random-poncho

The pattern is my own and completely random! I’m kind of a math geek and love the idea of randomness. You almost have to put your brain outside of the project and just knit. I started out and knitted the rust color until I was bored with it. Then I divided the piece into 3 sections and knit with the main colors. At that point the knitting looked a little bland so I started a stripe of yellow. The four colors were getting all tangled up so I stopped the yellow as it became a square. That gave me the yellow square motifs.
Random-poncho_2The other bit of randomness are the tassels. I had a million (I tend to exaggerate) ends to weave in, and thought why do we always have to weave them in? Aren’t there other options? Yes some of them are tassels! Randomly placed of course.

A girlfriend and I are going to Anderson Ranch for art classes this week. I’m looking forward to the cool days in Snowmass Village, Colorado. I might even try to blog with my iPad if I find a few minutes. I need to start practicing for my Europe trip with the Tilton sisters.

You did it again Marcy!

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I didn’t get much sewing done this week, but I did have one sewing afternoon with my BSF. This is my first pair of sewn pants in years! With all the nice heavy stretch knits available, making a well-fitting elastic waist pant is easy. Or perhaps (definitely) they fit because the designer did a great job with the pattern. I used Marcy Tilton’s close-fitting pants pattern Vogue 8859. Many of my fellow bloggers have made these pants with success and I can see why. While easy to put together they have a few extra details like the knee pleats and a back waist yoke that make these look stylish.Tilton-Slim-Pants_4

The poncho I put on Roxanne is a couple of years old, but an absolute favorite. It’s just a 25” x 50” rectangle sewn together on the long side except for a neck opening. If you don’t have one, get to your needles now! I wear it almost every morning before I warm up for the day, and just decided to put it on Roxy at the last-minute. Looks good with the pants!

The story of the $1300 Poncho

$1300-Poncho_3Snoop shopping is fantastic in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Long gone are the days of coyotes with bandanas! Designer labels and art-to-wear where abundant when my husband and I were there last Thanksgiving. At Santa Fe Dry Goods, I had great fun trying on Issey Miyake jackets. Then I discovered Sophi Hong who uses mud dyed silk for her luscious coats and jackets. I used a few of her little details on my recent black shirt like the stitches on the placket indicating snap locations.

My generous husband bought me a number of fabulous things at some of the other stores (I guess I’m not going on a ready-to-wear fast anytime soon). Then at one store I spotted a big pile of knitting on a lower shelf and pulled it out. It was a soft, squishy, lovely, yummy big armful of yarn that turned out to be a big poncho with a pouch pocket. I was in love, and slipped it on…more in love. Cashmere I asked? No, it was 50% alpaca and 50% merino and it was hand knit AND 1300 dollars! I eyed it up for a minute and folded it back up. I can make that I thought to myself.

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How often we say that and don’t ever take the project on, but when I got home I started planning. I decided that Blue Sky Bulky Alpaca Naturals was the identical yarn. I bought one skein locally to swatch and plan the pattern. This yarn is a super bulky and I finally went with #17 needles and about 7 stitches for 4”.

$1300-Poncho

After planning and swatching, I ordered 23 skeins just to be safe. It took 20 for the poncho I made, and took about 30 hours of knitting. Those stitches were pretty hard on my hands and I managed to knit about 5” per 2-hour movie.

I tell all of this because it is interesting to note that $1300 is not an inappropriate price. The wholesale price for a $1300 piece of clothing can be calculated to at least half of retail at $650. I received a bulk discount at yarns.com, however the yarn still cost $217.50 (I’m sure a designer can get this yarn for even less). Then I knit for 30 hours. Even at $10.00 an hour that would be $300 and at $20 an hour we are way over the wholesale target. I’m not even including designer showroom and rep costs or shipping.

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Wow, it’s no wonder hand knits are so expensive. I’m going to go hug my poncho…yummy!

Araucania Panguipulli

Design-Nine-SweaterThis week features a little cardigan I knit with yarn purchased in Bandon Oregon this last summer. It was an easy knit, and I think I will enjoy having something cute to just throw on as the days get a bit cooler. We are having a delightful fall with cool air in the morning and evening.

The yarn is Araucania Panguipulli (what a mouthful!) in shade 8. The pattern is Design Nine. Design-Nine-Sweater_3I followed the pattern with the exception of making the back longer than the front, similar to my Snowpiercer Sweater. My spell checker is going crazy on this post with all of these unusual names.

The process of knitting always leads to a few surprises in knitting. I have become fairly adept at deciding what size to knit, but fit and drape are often different than expected. Design-Nine-Sweater_2The other surprise comes with the yarn itself. I always swatch for a sweater by making a small sample. This tells me how the knit will feel in the project, but it’s not enough knitting to tell how the colors will pool when using a multicolor yarn. If one is to use this type of yarn you need to embrace the color changes!Design-Nine-Sweater_4

Snowpiercer Sweater

Gold-Maroon-Sweater_1 I like to name my knitting projects after either the road trip or movie that most made me look down and knit at a fast nervous pace. Besides that, Snowpiercer is a pretty appropriate name for my first winter knit. I will grant that this tale is a fairly original post-apocalyptic vision. Taking place after some serious climate change, some madman populates a train with a stratified class system car by car. It’s too cold to survive outside of the train, which is inexplicably traveling around the globe at high-speed. Look it up if you like dystopian sci-fi, but be warned that some of the scenes are cruel and gross which is when I look down and knit fast.Gold-Maroon-Sweater_3

Back to the sweater… The pattern is Chelsea Morning and I purchased it on Ravelry.com. It is just a big comfy sweater for hanging around in. I love that the back hem is longer than the front. The color change adds a nice detail, and I decided to make the pocket in the contrasting color. I didn’t like the open collar at the neck with such a warm sweater so I made it longer and added a big button.Gold-Maroon-Sweater_2

The yarn I used is Stonhedge Fiber Mill-Shepherd’s Wool Worsted in Berries and Roasted Pumpkin. The yarn is super soft, comfy and very warm. Cool weather I’m ready!

Fabric “Store” and Photo Studio Remodel

Fabric-Storage1

While other people like to spring clean, I went to school for so many years that I’m still hooked on a late summer back to school schedule. When the notebooks and pencils start showing up in the stores I want to straighten out my drawers, closets and work areas. We rearranged some rooms in our house leaving a small windowless “bedroom” that I could use to store my fabrics, yarn and set up some lighting for photography.

Previously my fabric lived in 3 different areas and I had no idea how much I owned! This stash may be too much to some, but I just love looking at those shelves of delicious fabrics in my favorite colors. Fabric-Storage-2The top left shelf has some lovely African batiks that I inherited, along with my silk and metallic fabrics. Sewing and knitting books also have a space here, and there is room to grow! The next shelf two shelves below the books are woven textiles. The shelf to the right is all knits except for more wool on the bottom shelf, and some leather rolled up on the top.

yarn-winder

My yarn stash is not nearly as large, and many of these are leftovers from previous projects. I have a different approach to my knitting than my sewing. As I near the end of a project I usually, I go to ravelry.com and look at patterns that I have favorited (I’m sure this word will be accepted in the dictionary soon.) in the past or research something I want to make, for example a new winter hat. Then I go to my LYS and pick out the yarn.

refashion-stashThe next area in my room is for my refashion stash. These are clothes that I have picked up at resale shops, or items from my closet that I no longer wear, but love the fabric or a detail. The upper left bin is all linen items. The right side box contains cashmere sweaters from my husband, myself and resale shops. Wash and dry them in the machine and they shrink up to a yummy softness. Moth holes virtually disappear, and I can then sew them into a new garment. Lights-and-Backdrop

The photo studio is the last wall in this room. I’m at best a hobbyist at photography, but the new bright lights and pull down backgrounds should help with the post processing that I did previously to make up for low spotty lighting. I haven’t had time to test out the photo area, but I’m currently sewing two new tops that I will photograph for my next blog.

Winners and Losers

Since I have been traveling so much the knitting has increased, and I have finished two projects. The bad news is project two didn’t work out so well, but I’m going to be brave and show you both hoping that someone has a solution before I unravel or just send it to the charity bag!

Smaller projects work best when traveling and I usually stick to one color. I broke that rule in this first shawl/scarf project since the yarn was a small gauge, and it is an easy pattern. 
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I wish you could feel this yummy yarn. I used Blue Sky Alpacas – Blue Sky Metalico in Platinum and Gold Dust Purchased at my LYS The Loopy Ewe. It’s 90 degrees out and I want to wear this!! The pattern is IWO from Berroco purchased on Ravelry.IWO-Scarf

Now for the fail. I really love the look of this pattern the Hope Tank by Tahki yarns.IWO-pattern-photo I didn’t think this was an appropriate pattern to substitute another yarn, so I searched on the internet and ordered it in my favorite color. My first warning should have been the yarn when it arrived. Don’t get me wrong, the yarn is lovely but those thick nubs produce a much warmer fabric than the Summer weight shell pictured.

Second mistake…I always swatch to get the appropriate gauge. How did I not notice the pattern required two swatches, one in garter used at the edges and one for the drop stitch which is the majority of the top. Of course the second one is the one I missed. So here it is: Hope-tank-originalAdmittedly, Roxanne is one size smaller than me, but you get the picture. Here is a try at draping the extra fabric off to the side. Hope-tank3I added a tie on the front and back for this version, but I think the tie should be lower. So viewers is there any hope? Comments or ideas are welcome…Hope-tank2