Wednesday, January 30, 2013


I got a new toy over the weekend: IntwinedStudio. It's a lovely (and very reasonably priced) little chart maker program that works on a Mac. I've usually just sketched my charts on graph paper but that's pretty time-consuming and, in the event that I would actually want to publish a design, hard to reproduce. So I've been on the lookout for a basic tool to play with and this one seems pretty great. Unfortunately, it can't solve the problem of my stitch count. I have to do that myself. I keep hoping that inspiration will hit and my fabulous cable idea will magically center itself on my 68-stitch wide 2x2 garter ribbed piece. Since it hasn't happened yet, I'm going to let things percolate in my head for a bit and see if I come up with a brilliant solution (or a new cable design). In lieu of my terribly clever cable, you get this post.

Sometime last spring, I whipped up this quick sketch:

I really love the idea of a ribbed skirt flowing into a knotted cable. The basic design concept seemed perfect for this skein of Briar Rose Legend (sadly, it looks like this yarn is no longer available on Chris's website) that I had picked up at the Michigan Sheep & Wool festival the summer before.

Fast forward to this month when I finally realized that the purple sweater I had been knitting for Tadpole just wasn't working out.

(Yes, that's the cable pattern from Guilder. No, it's not the same purple yarn - this is Miss Babs Yowza. And I know, I do buy a lot of purple yarn for Tadpole Knits).

So I frogged the Guilder dress and quickly sketched out this idea:

Look familiar? Oddly enough, the sketch with sleeves goes with the yarn with significantly less yardage. I seriously doubt there will be sleeves on this one.

Well, maybe tiny little cap sleeves. But a sleeveless jumper is much more likely. If I can ever make this chart work. Maybe I should go back to the basket-weave/smocking idea. That could be a better fit for my stitch count. I'll just have to go play with the chart and see.

And what about the Briar Rose skein? Lately I've been thinking that it would look lovely in this.

Sunday, January 27, 2013


My tomten has a zipper! I'm so delighted by this, I can hardly contain myself. It took two weekends to sew in - one to baste the zipper into place and the other to actually do the backstitch seams to secure the zipper to the sweater. But it's done! And, I didn't give in and use buttons when my initial installation attempts were less than successful.

I must have looked at five or six different zipper tutorials before diving in. First, I thought the stitch marker idea sounded best: you attach the fronts with stitch markers, then pin the zipper in place, then sew it. The stitch markers (i.e., paperclips, since that's what I use) didn't hold particularly well and pinning the zipper to garter stitch was an exercise in poking tiny holes in my fingers, not attaching a zipper. Then I realized that I really should baste the fronts together. It took a while but seemed to work swimmingly.

Then came time to attach the zipper to the sweater prior to sewing it in. Pins were clearly out at this point and I was very tempted by Brenda's suggestion to use a glue stick. But somehow I couldn't quite bring myself to touch glue to fabric. So I ended up whipstitching the edge of the zipper to the garment, eyeballing the placement and pushing here and there to make sure everything lined up just right. It was the perfect technique for this project. At that point, it was really just a matter of sewing the seams.

I certainly can't complain about the result! This Tomten gets the tadpole seal of approval - she wore it pretty much all day long. Even the hood (and that is saying something).

Monday, January 21, 2013


I'm always amazed by people who can create fashion sketches. I really admire their ability to capture the essence of a design with just a few strokes. I am not one of those people, but I have a lovely little iPad app that lets me pretend that I am. For example, I saw this pattern on ravelry several months ago and was taken by the subtle cable pattern on the body. I had a single skein of pale blue Dream in Color Smooshy - a gift from a good friend - that would look lovely in that pattern. So I jotted down this little sketch:

There was, indeed, not enough yarn for sleeves. If I remember correctly, I bound off the edging with inches to spare. A vest it is!

Little buttons at one shoulder help to ease the piece over disproportionately large toddler heads.

And the stretchiness of the knitted fabric allows for room to grow. That was June, this is early September:

And late September:

They really are a fetching pair, aren't they?

Sadly, the little vest had a close encounter with some red pasta sauce (and is likely too small now anyway). But I have another sketch - and the knitting to go with it - still to share.

Sunday, January 6, 2013


Happy New Year!

It's been a little while (ok, a long while) since I've blogged here and I really meant to kick off the new year with a post outlining my goals and resolutions for the new year. I still intend to do that, just not today. Life happened and somehow my goal from last weekend of "finally come up with actual goals for 2013 and blog about them to hold yourself accountable" stretched to be this weekend's goal and then morphed into "write a blog post because you've been meaning to do that for a month."

Blog post it is.

In honor of the season, here are the last FO of 2012 and the first FO of 2013:

(Yes, I did hand my daughter an iPhone to see if that would help her sit still long enough for me to snap a non-action shot. We haven't quite gotten the hang of modeling for the camera yet.)

The last FO from 2012 is Rossbeg from Carol Feller's book Contemporary Irish Knits. The pattern is clear and well written and, most importantly, the book is available as a Kindle edition! This is great for me since I rarely use paper patterns anymore but usually have a device with a Kindle app nearby.

I had some gauge issues but that's not the fault of the designer or the yarn (Malabrigo Twist - lovely, lovely stuff). I (cough, cough) didn't bother swatching (the pattern is quite forgiving and lets you get away with this as long as you are shooting for the general ballpark of small ambulatory person). But tadpole is much bigger than I think she is so what I thought would be an enormous tent of a sweater actually fit reasonably well - not too big. And it fits even better now since we're pretty sure she had another growth spurt over Christmas.

And the first FO from 2013 is Aviatrix v.4 (yarn, etc. details on my Rav page). I can't express how much I love this pattern. Quick and fun to knit, fits like a dream, and it stays on! Yes, she can pull it off by herself now but she has to work at it. A bit. But still, this was by far the best baby hat pattern I tried and I highly recommend it.

Short rows shape each of the hat sections for a fabulous fit.

And crayons keep my model occupied.

(Look, Daddy, a hat!)

Right now I'm trying to finish up a Tomten Jacket for tadpole. I'm especially excited about this project since it's going to involve my first zipper! I'm planning to hand sew it because, frankly, I'm a bit scared about using a sewing machine on knitted fabric. And, if we're being perfectly honest, hand sewing is my only option right now since my sewing machine broke this afternoon.

The sewing bug bit me over Christmas when I whipped up several project bags for my various knitting projects. Things were going swimmingly as I put the finishing touches on a couple of the bags until the needle clamp fell right off the machine. Google tells me this is a repair shop job and, much to my surprise, there doesn't appear to be a good repair shop option in the city. More googling later, I'm eyeing this. And wondering how easy it would be for me to make it to a 6-10pm sewing class a week from Wednesday. Not very, I'm guessing, but a girl can hope.