Saturday, January 15, 2011

Ignite Craft Boston

So that was pretty full of awesome.

I attended tonight's Ignite Craft Boston event, hosted and arranged by Guido of the Common Cod Fiber Guild, and although I expected it would be fun (as all the Guild events I've attended have been) I wasn't quite prepared for the degree of awesomeness. Let me define the awesomeness: lots of enthusiasm, knowledge, and a healthy dose of humor with every presentation. This was completely fun show & tell for adults, but with all the discovery and enthusiasm of kindergarten. And I mean that in the best possible way. As another couple of friends put it, 'this gave me new faith in events like these!' - granted, they'd been burned out by attending too many business (read sales/networky/markety) conference events, and I could well relate to how fried they'd become. This, let me reassure you, was far from that type of experience.

It was also a great relief after a solid work-week after a stupid blizzard that dumped more than 2 feet of snow on us and made finding a parking space and driving in the city something of a drag. Also, cookies were provided.

I was very pleased to see that all kinds of connections to and definitions of the 'Craft' theme were addressed; one woman gave a great talk about the importance of concrete, fun, hands-on exploration for the classroom - even/especially for adult students (yay! yes yes yes!); another person stood up and talked about craft beers - the appreciation thereof, and how much we're missing out on if we weren't already aware of the great and tasty variety of beverages that await our palates. I already follow him on twitter and agree wholeheartedly. Everyone meant what they had to say - and yet were all humble about their knowledge - and we all had a great time. Every talk was punctuated by guffaws and hoots of laughter, cheering, and enthusiastic applause. There were people talking about how they used craft to support a good cause or two, and others who were simply sharing their experiences with problem-solving and curiousity about how things work, and how to fix/hack/mod them. {Lady speaker with the rock as a hammer - I sense a kindred spirit in you. Maybe next time my presentation will be about how to go camping and chop firewood without any sharp implements...}
I've called out a couple favorite speakers, but really - they were all great. Their presentations (both slides & audio as well as I believe a video of selections) will be available soon via the Common Cod or the Ignite site - not sure which but I'll update with a link once that happens. they were all well-worth your time to tune in & enjoy.

On an only-marginally-related note, while I was knitting during these talks (and got about half-finished with a new cotton wash cloth that I've been wanting...) I noticed that the people who didn't bring knitting like me, were all fidgeting with their hands as though they wanted to get hands-on with something.

I'm glad that Guido made noises to the effect that we'll get to do another of these events - there clearly is plenty of enthusiasm and interest both in terms of presenters and material, and audience / participants.
{If you're reading this and you're not in Mass., do check out the Ignite website for what their scene is about and the use of their name, and if you're interested in setting up an event like this in your city, consult the Common Cod site for more particulars. It was great, I recommend it, and with a little organization & preparation, you're going to have a great time like we did!}


Sunday, September 5, 2010

With apologies to Paul Klee, a Bathrobe

Yes, a chenille bathrobe.

Let me back up a step here.

I discovered, in with some fabric I was gifted, a whole slough of tangled thick cotton chenille in blue, grey, black, and a grey-green.

Aside from the challenge of untangling it and skeining it up, what should I do with it?!

I have been looking at old paintingsby Paul Klee lately, particularly the ones that are essentially color studies, squares, geometry. I particularly favor the cityscape called 'Domes'.

Also, chenille is cotton, and I want a new bathrobe/kimono.

Now, perhaps you see where I'm going with this. A kimono in particular is a good match with the style of geometric patterns I want to derive from the Klee study, and the colors, although different because I'm not hand-dying anything, but instead relying on what I serendipitously found myself in possession of, but also what's available to buy in order to fill out the pallette... And thanks to a 50% off sale at the (about to move) Woolpack in Littleton, I'm all set now.

Also, thanks to the large needle size involved, it should move along pretty quickly too. Yay!

- Posted from my iPhone...

Monday, January 18, 2010

Baby sweaters abound

So I've started a couple baby sweaters- not as though I need more projects or anything, but these are small and fun and cute. The first one is underway and it's from a Sublime Baby pattern book -" girly matelot" - except their version has horizontal stripes that I'm just not going for. I'm using some of that Elsbeth Lavold Silky Wool - it knits up so well and the fabric has such a good 'fall' to it. For whatever reason, ravelry's picture upload app is not cooperating just now but apparently I can stiill post photos from the phone, so here are a couple.

Posted from my iPhone...

Saturday, January 9, 2010

More projects...

So, instead of going to finercamp over on the Arsenal Center for the Arts, I went down the street to get coffee and kept going on to one of my local yarn stores, Wild&Woolly. I wanted to paw some possible candidate yarns for some baby sweaters I plan to make for a few new parents I know.

Well, I ended up deciding against the Berroco vintage for one project, and chose some elsbeth lavold silky wool instead.

Yeah, seriously that's a charcoal color, by request! I'm tempted, given the parents, to put a little relief-form black flag insignia/pattern into the sweater...I think they'd get a laugh out of it but you'll have to trust me on that one.

Along the way while browsing downstairs I saw this, and am now coveting the idea of a sweater like this. Yeah. Suddenly I am a bigger fan of those crazy variegated Noro yarns. I don't dig zig-zaggy stripes, but this is cool.

- Posted from my iPhone...

To fibercamp?

So I've been following the exploits/tweets of Guido of the Common Cod Fiber Guild - my local org. Apparently he's put together a very cool fibercamp event this weekend- and it's free! If I can summon the will to go out in the cold, I think I'll just have to go. He's been posting pictures and promised to podcast and or stream an event at 2pm today so check the website for all the details or follow @guidos on Twitter!

Now which projects shall I bring...?

- Posted from my iPhone...

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Warm knitting, and just in time, too

Finally finishing some projects - and just in time for the snow, too!

This was based on the Danielle Hood - which to my eyes looks like a cowl! (with all respect to Norah, but I don't do fair isle... I just don't.) Strangely, the Danielle Cowl is actually a funny buttoned or button-adorned scarf-like garment. Never mind. I finished it, and have been happily wearing it ever since. It's quite easy - I just made a tube - I did not do any increases or decreases, and I used the very soft Rowan Cocoon yarn - two skeins is all I needed.

I also finally completed my silly-colored "mibbies" - that's what I called mittens when I was small. Since my fingers tend to get very cold in the winter, mittens are pretty good for daily use for driving and clearing off the car in the morning - if I wear gloves for those jobs, the individual fingers seem to stay cold. Just something I learned. So I used Noro Kureyon for the mittens, and just followed the basic rules for mitten making rather than any specific pattern.

I did, however, discover that I don't like the 'accepted' method of leaving an opening for the thumb - most directions I've read say to just put a couple stitches on a holder for later, but I've found that that method leaves either a tight ring that later pinches your thumb (because it's basically a slit in the pattern) or leaves a washy, wide opening. So I got to the row where I needed to put the thumb-stitches aside on a holder, did that, and then on the next round when I reached the held stitches, instead of closing the round, I simply turned the work, worked the round until I hit the held stitches again, turned, and worked the round back, and then when I reached the held stitches this time, now I closed the loop and continued working in the round. This left a [] box or slot rather than a slit, if you will. A hole, two rows deep/high. I'm happy with the results, and will do that for the next set of mittens I make.

I've also gotten all entrelac-happy. I wish I'd started it before, but for some reason I was having trouble understanding the directions. Now that I've sat down & used up a few stray balls of leftover wool that ... well, not only is it great for using up small leftover skeins, but it looks cool too.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Recent events...

Common Cod talk, originally uploaded by Margo and George.

A quick update.

Among other things, the good side of the rain we've had to endure in my neck of the woods (rain every day for 45 days and counting...) is that I've gotten more knitting done than I normally would. This is a happy thing, given how very very many projects I have running at the moment.

I also *gasp* won schwag, thanks to knitgrrl Shannon Okey opening a new online shop/studio to sell her nifty patterns. I was really pleased to win a free rivulet sweater/cardigan pattern - and now I can't wait to cast on! I never win schwag! Thanks Shannon!

A trip up to Maine with Mum to visit the Aunts and Uncles was lovely, and the sun appeared long enough for us to enjoy an arts & crafts fair in Kennebunk. I met lots of interesting artists, artisans, crafters. I also finished one of my projects while up there, my office jacket (cotton tahki jeans yarn).

And most recently, as depicted in the photo above, I got to see Barbara Parry give a talk at MIT for the last meeting of the Common Cod Fiber Guild - her talk was generally about dying wool and specifically about color inspiration - fun, informative, and lots of wonderful photos from her farm in Shelburne, MA. And there were brownies too. Thanks Guido et al!

More deets in a subsequent post not generated through flickr pictures...

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Vanilla Beans

So, I have been wanting a few "plain vanilla" projects to work on in between my more complicated and demanding cable or other projects. Perversely, with a white and orange cat, I still attempt to maintain my preference for black clothing. Yeah, Sisyphus has nothing on me. At least I haven't (yet) developed allergies. Yet. {knocks wood; throws salt over shoulder, etc.}

I've been repeatedly admiring the Everybody Knows cardigan on the recent edition of Knitty, but I don't particularly care for doing *all garter stitch all the time* either, so I decided I'd model my sweater on that pattern, but do seed (a.k.a. moss) stitch to stabilize the curl at the bottom, and then just continue thereafter with stockinette stitch. I left out here nifty stripes of yarn-overs, as I just didn't desire them, and concentrated my efforts on planning my darts (which I will have to make a little more complicated than hers in order to match my body type, oh joy). So far, so good. Since I couldn't make up my mind which yarn to select, I opted for the charcoal grey Pastaza yarn, and for another in the black Eco + bulky, both from Cascade yarns. Happily that bulky comes in 478 yard skeins, which makes it *way* cheaper - huzzah. Given my color choices, and the simple but absurd fact that I chose to make two cardigans... well, it's become my Vanilla Bean project (right color scheme, at least). My BFE (big fat excuse / justification) for this project this late in the season of cold is that by the time I get anywhere close to finishing one of them it'll be camping and beach-walking season, and it's very breezy and chilly at night in Maine, especially on an island, so I think I'm justified. So there.

Now if only I had the time and patience for color work, I'd make the hilarious, crazy fish hats in this month's edition. Dang.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Pakucho, Cascade Pastaza, Berroco Inca Gold

So, the Pakucho arrived, and I've been very excited to get those samples started. At first blush, it feels nice and soft, like an old (favorite) terry cloth bathrobe. For my purposes, this is excellent: the softness of age with the strength of a new fiber. Nice colors, and allegedly they improve upon the first, hot, washing. When I get these finished I'll update with photos.

Cascade Pastaza: color #007, Charcoal
I've had this material for a while, but finally decided which sweater pattern - there were several that I admired. Eventually I decided what I really wanted this season was an all-around, simple but daily use type of garment - like a suit-coat for the office, only in sweater form. The dark charcoal color, flecked with a few white fibers, is perfect for that purpose, and I chose the "Everybody Knows" pattern from the latest edition of I varied the pattern (hm, big surprise there!) - her pattern is intended to be simple, which is fine, but I don't care for the look or feel of all garter stitch, all the time. Plus, it simply uses up way more yarn. Maybe 150% the yarn of stockinette, if you're talking an entire sweater? I ran the numbers, and that's about how it came out. So, I'm going with mostly stockinette, with a few darts inserted to suit my own figure, and some stripes on the sleeves in basketweave stitch.

I got out my #9s to start, and realized I didn't have any lonnnng circulars in that size. Thank you Lucy at Mind's Eye Yarns, who remained open a few minutes longer than usual in spite of the snow (and attendant annoying traffic) the other night, and I was able to solve my immediate needle dilemma.

So, the yarn itself is thick, ~4st/in and 6.5rows/in. It has, from my point of view, a light twist, and it's a little easy to split when knitting, particularly when doing a cable-cast on. Once it's working though, it's great. It yields a nice, thick, opaque, but flexible fabric. Soft to the touch yet still sturdy. Oddly, this particular colorway is hard to find at my usual LYSes and online sources. I got the original stuff at MEY, but at the moment they're out, and only seems to have it; otherwise most LYS indicate I must buy a whole bag of it. Since I already bought 3/4 of what I need...that's a little overkill for me. I'll do a little further investigations on it.

Berroco Inca Gold: so yeah, I had to just try this one. Part of the appeal was its color alone. I love soft, greyish sea greens. I was at Cranberry Fiber Arts in Hamilton, Massachusetts when I saw this stuff; I had stopped in for no other reason than to browse. This one's a worsted / 10 ply (9 wpi), at 122.0 yards per skein. The official colorway is 6418 Verde Azulado, which I admit isn't terribly grey, but there you go. I wanted something like the sea, and I was on my way for a walk on the beach.

I found when I knitted a swatch of this in stockinette stitch, I didn't care for the curling it did. Stiff - soft & squishy, but too springy for something I'd wear. sproing! On the other hand, I tried it in horseshoe lace, and that sample has turned out so well I've kept going... go figure.
So, I'm planning to make a hood out of it, but it would make a great little sweater in that lace too, if I didn't have a zillion other projects going at once…

Monday, January 19, 2009

pakucho samples

So, I've ordered some sample skeins of pakucho.

I've been meaning to for ages.

I forget exactly how I came across this yarn, and started admiring it, but I was totally enamored of the fact that the cotton naturally grows in its own variety of colors - that is, shades of cream, tan, cocoa, and green. These had a really nice gentle sheen to them, as well as being appealing.

I had to find out whether they were as soft as they looked, so I decided to order a couple sample skeins, and at worst they'd turn into basket liners and washcloths for my home.

Further encouraged by my reading, I found this review by the inimitable Clara Parkes on her Knitter's Review site.
After searching around on ravelry, I found a supplier in the States (it's an import from Peru):

More on this later...