Archive for January 2012

I’ve been walking behind you since you’ve able to see

January 28, 2012

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Pattern: Tutorial for Fully Lined Tab Top Drapes by Shelley Denton
Fabric: Climbing Vines by Kathy Ireland

After my dry run on the bedroom curtains turned out so well, I felt ready to take on bigger game. Namely, the even rattier drapes covering the sliding glass doors leading into our backyard. Oh, these were bad. The kids had stepped on them and pulled them and ripped them so much that the hem was partially ripped off. We had opened and closed and forced them through the double-rod channel so much that they were almost impossible to move and the hardware was bent from our tugs on the cord. Even beyond their colorless beige heavy awfulness, they were broken. An affront to my self-esteem every time I saw that ripped hem dragging on the ground or contemplated trying to get them open.

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Twice as long, these are. Twice as difficult to cut straight and get maneuvered over my ironing board. Which, by the way, is in sad shape, the pad all worn out and the drawstring all frayed and the cover constantly coming off while I’m pulling miles of drapery over it. A new one is on the way, and I wouldn’t dare start a full-sized project before it arrives. Plus, because the print is centered on the fabric width, and the liner is not as wide, and therefore the fabric needs to be cut down, I had to think about making sure that was symmetrical. Something new every project, even the ones that are repeats.

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I had my dad here to help me install the hardware when it was time to hang them. Good thing, too, since on my won I might not have bothered patching the wall where the old rod came down. There were lots of holes and chipped spots in the paint job. We still have unsanded spackle spots above the drapes, but those are one step closer to a nice wall, rather than one step back the way holes and rips are.

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One more set of legacy curtains gone. One more room lighter, newer, more customized. Think I’ll cover some pillows before I try to figure out how to handle curtains for the super-wide bay window in the front room. That’s going to take some doing.

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Clear my eyes, make me wise

January 21, 2012

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Pattern: Raspberry Layers by Carol Feller (Rav link)
Yarn: Misti Alpaca Chunky (100% baby alpaca), colorway 42 Red
Needles: U.S. 11 Harmony wood Options 36″ circulars (knit flat)

Everything about this sweater was fated.

For the last six months, ever since I set up my wall cube unit to hold my yarn stash, I’ve periodically brushed up against the softest yarn I own, this bulky alpaca. It felt like spun silk, like cotton candy. It was light as a cloud. It was stacked in the front of the bulky yarn shelf, and so every time I squeezed past it to grab a circular cable off the wall or to work on my Singer Featherweight, a hank or two fell softly to the ground, with the barest, snowlike “thwmp.”

While I was digging out my Blackstone Tweed to start work on the DROPS waistcoat, I knocked it over again. And when I picked it up, I made a promise to myself: That’s next.

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Now to find a pattern. Originally I had earmarked this yarn for a large wrap, but such a thing didn’t seem particularly practical with the winter as mild as it had been. I advanced-pattern-searched through pages and pages of patterns for bulky yarn that take less than 750 yards. The “bulky” part seemed destined to defeat me. As much as I am attracted to the big scale of chunky knits, I am not a petite person, and I dreaded adding bulky to my already generously proportioned torso.

And then I saw a pattern that didn’t look bulky at all. A vest with cap sleeves, lengthened past the hips and gently flaring at the edge. I examined the sizing and the yardage, and realized that I had plenty of yarn. Short-sleeved sweaters had worked out very well for me in my last few outings, and it seemed like the perfect solution for this not-very-cold season. The capper? Although the pattern cost money, it turned out I had already saved it to my Ravelry library at some earlier date when it was free. Clearly, this was meant to be.

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The construction is so clever that I had to tamp down my urge to understand what part I was knitting and just trust the designer to lead me right. It’s knit sideways starting at the center back and right front edge and going to the right armscye, then folded over at the shoulder and seamed up to the underarm. Then undo the provisional cast-on at the back and start there and at the left front, going toward the left armscye before folding the front down to seam up the left side. A few short rows to shape the sleeve caps, a minimal collar to be picked up and knit, and you’re done. The front bands, including the buttonholes, are integrated as you begin each side and proceed toward the side seams.

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But what makes this such a surprisingly flattering piece is the sweep and length. Short rows create graceful flares on both back and front panels. Nothing about the way it hangs or clings says “bulky”; only the size of the stitches gives it away.

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Fate brought us together. I can’t imagine loving it more.

I’m counting on you to throw more than shapes

January 3, 2012

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Pattern: Waistcoat in “Alaska” with raglan and cables on yoke by DROPS Design
Yarn: Berroco Blackstone Tweed (65% wool, 25% mohair, 10% angora), colorway Steamers
Needle: U.S. 6 and 8 Harmony wood 36″ circulars (knit flat)

In Ravelry circles, January is known as the month of selfish knitting. November and December are presumed to be devoted to making gifts, churning out scarves and hats and gloves that you’ll wear once to take a picture and then wrap up for somebody else. So in January, knitters everyone release all their pent-up garment lust and make something for themselves. It’s all about me.

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I started my selfish knitting a little early, I confess. A couple of weeks before the holidays, when Craftin’ for CASA was finally over and all the charity knitting I had done for that project at last behind me, I decided there would be no Christmas knitting this year. I scoured my stash for sweater quantities and my favorites list for a pattern that had recently caught my fancy.

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One of my most beloved sweaters is Helleborus Yoke. Not only does it fit beautifully, but the style is so versatile. Short sleeves, fits great under a heavy coat, but warm at the core. A perfect layering piece. So much so that my selfish self wanted another version. Less boldly colored, more rustic. But tailored and sophisticated.

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The knitting was easy, even the chart — nothing but two-over-two cables in various combinations. It’s amazing how complicated they look when you put them all together. Small t-shaped seams to sew under each arm, seven buttons, and a gentle blocking are all the finishing that’s required. I’ve used this yarn before to make fingerless mitts, and the cables don’t pop like they would in a smooth, tightly twisted wool or plant fiber; they are hazy, almost foggy, and might even go flat if stretched too aggressively. But that gives a different mood to the beautiful yoke on this vest. The cables emerge so gently from their tweedy reverse-stockinette background, and twine gracefully like a worn bas-relief sculpture.

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The description may be similar to Helleborus Yoke: short-sleeved cardi with cabled circular yoke. But the details feel completely different. The bottom hits mid-hip; the waist tapers in. The worsted-weight yarn is surprisingly light, creating a drapey fabric rather than the substantial cushion of Helleborus’s bulky weight. Button it up or down, a few or all the way, and the sweater hangs in a myriad graceful ways. Two weeks of selfish knitting yields one perfect creation. All for me.