Tuesday, November 29, 2011

'Tis (almost) the season

This photo might lead you to believe that my Christmas decorations are up already, but you would be mistaken...


pattern: Christmas Rudolph Reindeer by Loly Fuertes
yarn: Patons Classic Wool in Taupe (plus miscellaneous worsteds in white & red)
needles: 2.75 mm
misc: button eyes and a ribbon around his neck

Well, what can I say? It's RUDOLPH, and y'all know I have a fawn collection right? (well, I tend to bust those fawns out over the holidays more for some reason...) but still. I simply could.not.resist this knit and he turned out super adorable.

I know I always say "I'm not a toy knitter" but a couple of them manage to find their way into the queue every year for one reason or another it seems. And when I started this little guy a couple weeks back it was one of those gray November Sundays where I refused to change out of my P.Js for the entire day (and subsequently managed to finish him in one day as well).

It always seems to be the little knits that languish in my queue for like 2 or 3 years and then when I finally get around to it and bust it out in one day I wonder why I put it off for so long.

You can check out my project page on Ravelry for more notes on this little dude, but suffice to say the pattern is at times a bit vague. I think something is possibly lost in the translation, it's another of those patterns that uses the word "knit" in a very general way..."knit this"-- apparently interchangeable with "make this"...not unlike an Amy Sedaris sweater pattern wherein the "pattern" simply states: "Instructions: knit a sweater" (heh).

Still I fear the process of focusing on this one fiddly little thing for such a concentrated period of time has put me down for the count for the forseeable future as I have not knit a stitch since. In fact I think something about those small needles rubbing up against the sides of my fingers has given me some fresh new hell of repetitive strain (no doubt exacerbated by the fact that I am on a computer all day long...) so I am having to force myself to take a bit of a break and let my fingers re-coup. (Yes this seems unbelieveable with Xmas less than a month away, but for the most part all of that knitting is done at least).

But if nothing else this unexpected knitting sabbatical has allowed me time to turn my attention toward my latest obsession: Papercraft!

And to that I can only say "where the hell have I been???" There are SO many cute FREE downloadable/printable PDFs out there that allow you to make the most awesome stuff!

Case in point:

This Calendar of the month club from Curiosity Group.

People, there's a record player! A RECORD PLAYER!

Now granted, these are all from a 2011 calendar, but one can assume there will be some more good ones coming for 2012 as well. right? right.

Perhaps something more festive?

fawn from Strumpets Crumpets

Santa from Ataque Mutante

And lots more of these on the Canon website.

Or if wasting tons of coloured ink in your printer is not really your bag, you can use some colour copy paper instead...

I made a handful of these last night...they look great hanging on your tree, you can do up the giant one and turn it into a ceiling lamp, or just pile them all in a bowl like I did, super cute and super fun.

Who knew?! (Not me, obviously) The world of paper craft is massive it seems and you can find that ball pattern at How About Orange. In fact that's a great blog to get you started because she links to all sorts of fun paper crafts elsewhere in addition to her own.

I could post a million pictures of all the super cute papercraft patterns I've been looking at lately, but that might be overkill. Just go sharpen your scissors and fire up the printer!

But make sure you don't abandon you knitting altogether...

Friday, November 11, 2011

giant knit alert

At last...

kiki mariko rug (after)

pattern: Kiki Mariko rug from Mason Dixon Knitting: Outside the lines
yarn: Cascade 220 and Patons Classic Wool (many, many different colours...)
needles: 10mm

Done, and totally a fun knit!

I made this bigger than the pattern called for, casting on 154 stitches, and knit with both those yarns double-stranded.

This started out as a stash-busting project (yes, I know I am ALL ABOUT those lately) --I promise to stop saying the words "stash-busting" quite as much from here on in. (You should just assume that is pretty much always happening). I will alert the media if I ever use it all up. I started out with all those random colours I had leftover from the Missoni-inspired blanket but that plan quickly fell through when I pretty much ran out of all of them and had to go out and buy more anyway.

Honestly, why did I think I would have enough? I was doing a giant felted rug that I was making bigger than the pattern called for in the first place! Hmmm, I believe we call that knitting on a wing and a prayer or something.

Soooo, had I been smart enough to actually realize this I probably would have started with some completely different colours from the get-go, but I wasn't and I didn't. I plunged ahead without a care for colour placement. If one purple ran out I'd just start a different one, or maybe a pink. Things actually start to look a little more cohesive by the second half of the rug because that is when I actually bought new yarn and managed to keep things more consistent. Even still, I wasn't about to tear back. If things turned out kind of crazy-looking, I was okay with that.

In the end I had an enormous, crazy-coloured, knit tube:


and when you flipped it over --- this crazy checkerboard strip that was to become my first steeks:

and then into a hot bath it went:

I felted it once, then cut my steek (I realized later that I didn’t cut in a very straight line…so when all was said and done I wound up trimming off more of the steeks on either side again to make it more even) then pulled it out to see how it looked.

I was happy with the size, but attempted to just felt the ends a bit more to try and get that “ruffly” edge shrunk up a bit more. I did this as suggested by someone else--I folded it in half and then dangled the edges into the washing machine (I had to cram my pinky into the door mechanism in order to get the machine to agitate with the lid up) but then finally I just got tired of standing there the entire time and threw the whole thing in for the final rinse cycle again. So really it got felted twice when all was said and done.

I pinned it out and let it dry for about 48 hours, then blanket-stitched the edge (double-stranded) instead of whip-stitching cuz I thought it looked a little tidier. I combed it with a sweater comb to get the fuzz off and it’s nice and soft under-foot now.

And there you have it. Final measurements gave me a rug that was about 4X3 feet.

And then after all my recently H-U-G-E knits the idea of doing some sweaters is starting to seem small and jiffy-quick, so a couple of those may be on the sticks very soon.

But nothing was a jiffy quick as these:

hand knit dishcloths

I am feeling very on top of gift-knitting this year (for once)...

There are about 6 different dishcloth patterns in that pile, so have a look on Ravelry if you'd like to know which patterns I used.

xo Cara

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Swallowtail shawl

So I have finally managed to get on the Swallowtail bus (seriously over 9000 people on Ravelry have now knit this thing) and I must say, I've got the bug!

pattern: Swallowtail shawl by Evelyn Clark
yarn: Elizabeth Lavold's Hempathy --just over three balls (but I had so many ends from frogging a project for the yarn that I think you could do it in three if you were starting fresh)
needles: 4.5mm

the mister said it looks like I'm wearing a "spiderweb", just in time for Halloween I suppose.

It's been a while since I did a lace project like this....lace is fun (or at least this project was) but also frustrating. There were several bouts of "unknitting" at times when I wasn't paying attention. Though I *was* smart enough to put in some lifelines for once, but I think too lazy to do it often enough to be of any real help.

As usual with any lace project, the beauty comes when it is finally pinned out:


Husband woke up in the morning to find it pinned to the floor and was quite surprised I think..."this is what you've been swearing about?" realization now dawning as to why I wasn't able to knit and watch a movie without a million expletives.

Still it went up fast and I can totally see myself making another.

My only issue came on the last row (TG for youtube knitting tutorials) because I must have re-read that line ten times and still couldn't figure out what it was asking me to do. I re-wrote it in my own Cara-speak though (you can see my ravelry details if you are interested in that) and then it all made sense.

I frogged the yarn from this shrug (plus the remainder of one ball still in my stash) for it. Naturally I RAN OUT OF YARN with two rows left to go…grrrrrrr. So off I went to buy one more ball (three years after buying the original yarn with no hope of even knowing what my dye lot was) and will now have virtually a whole ball of the same yarn left in my stash again, thus making my stash exactly the same as when I began this project.

lace detail

Still, the shawl in this yarn/colour is gorgeous and will get a lot more wear than it ever did in it’s previous incarnation as a shrug. Surely everyone knows by now how much I love MUSTARD. And fortunately for me it's actually on trend this year!

My gigantic, enormous Kiki Mariko rug is also nearing the finish line. Can't wait to see how that turns out once all the felting is done. Could be amazing, could be crap.

And on another note I have taken the Pinterest plunge, so follow me there if you have want to do so.

Pinterest seriously appeals to my lazy (and easily distracted) internet nerd within!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Phildar love...

been a while since I've done a Phildar post (and please note, in no way am I compensated for gushing about their patterns --though I would definitely not be adverse to that if I'm being completely honest and if it were to happen!) free patterns? God yes. But I do like to peridoically check in with them and see what's new. Can't beat the French for subtle styling tips...

One of their newer pattern books has a whole Mad Men theme happening:
(and N.B the following images are all from the same book, Fall #59, sorry French only so far for this one)

There are lots of fabulous reto-styled patterns like the one pictured above.

And while I am definitely a vintage lover pre-Mad Men *and* a lover of Mad Men itself (seriously it must be one of the most well-written shows on TV to date). I find myself even more enamoured of some of the other knits in the same book:




(always a sucker for hearts...it's like a sickness I have) and bows. and ruffles. Could that admission be any girlier?

Now before anyone emails me asking me to make.copies.of.all.these.patterns for them (seriously this happens a lot) I need to be clear that I do not own this book. (yet). I am debating on waiting to see if they are coming out with an English version of it. Phildar often does this though it's kind of hit and miss. I will likely order it in French (once it goes on sale heh).

Also that said, please don't email me wanting me to translate a pattern for you. I have done this once or twice but will likely never do it again.

Geez, was that way too crabby? While we're on the topic, what are everyone's thoughts on pattern-sharing?

I don't usually have an issue with it if I deem it is a pattern this is not readily available. For example, if you are emailing me asking me to scan you a copy of a Vogue Knitting pattern that is still available on newstands, I will probably take issue with that. I mean, are you just too lazy to walk to the corner store? If your excuse is that you "can't afford it" then you likely can't afford the yarn for it either so why bother? (but I am clearly being overly-judgemental here to make my point, I suppose you could easily have lots of free yarn in your stash as well!).

You would also be surprised what knitting books (and magazines) you can find at your local library, and as a result I have pretty much stopped purchasing said knitting books. Is that legit? I hope so, cuz the idea of spending 40 bucks on a book that I will only knit one pattern out of makes me feel even more overwhelmed by the amount of already useless crap on my bookshelves.

But if it's something old or out of print that I have at my disposal I will usually be happy to do it (I hope I haven't made anyone afraid to email me now!). I find there is a fine line between knowing when that is ok or not, and the more you get entrenched in the online knitting community, the more some of these people become your friends that you want to look out for, so if it's a PDF that is readily available, please spend the three bucks (or whatever) and help that knittah out.

Just sayin'.

And while I am now completely off the rails in terms of topic, can I also just add that I have gotten several requests from people asking me to knit them the Missoni-inspired blanket. I am somewhat speechless about that (tho flattered)--clearly these people are not knitters which I can appreciate, but huh? What would I even charge for my time on something that size? I am obviously not going to do this (tho have often thought about selling knits via etsy at some point) but that blanket? I am tempted to ask 2 grand for it and see if anyone goes for it (if they do I will definitely knit it for them! ;) Still waiting to see if anyone pays 31 grand for those rubber boots on ebay that I bought for myself for 30 bucks (disclaimer: *I* did not post those boots for 31 grand, I just have the same ones...) people are obviously still Missoni CRAZY.

But by far the thing that I probably get emailed about the most is the Twinkle Biker vest. Seriously I knit that thing almost 4 years ago when I was a relatively new knitter and had a heinous time of it. I scrawled a few notes about it and then bam! I feel like every person who has ever attempted that pattern has contacted me about it. Aye yi yi. Sisters, I feel your pain on that one, but I definitely no longer remember the finer nuances of how it even got knit!

So anyway, after that looooong digression (as usual) time to get back to our regularly scheduled Phildar cuteness:


C'est si bon!

C'est super-fantastique!

and a little something for you to put on in the background while you peruse the Phildar website...
Brigitte Bardot singing Harley Davidson, a long time fave.
(I wish I was smart enough to know how to directly embed that video)

Monday, October 03, 2011

Stash Monster

People of earth: I have not abandonned you for Tumbler, I promise. Upon further reflection I decided that Tumblr was the lazy-man's way out and have chosen to renew my commitment to this here tried-and-true blog. I mean who am I kidding, I can ramble on about nothing with the best of folk. Just photos?! But then who would hear about all my pithy knitting-related musings? Oh right, just my husband and he DOES NOT want that... (seriously I think I need to find some real-life friends that are knitters, my bench is not very deep as they say).

Blogging about knitting would obviously be a lot less overwhelming for me if I didn't let the F.O's pile up to the point that they become a daunting Tsunami of things to talk about. (I know I know, better an F.O than a U.F.O at least--whoa knitter-speak whaaa?), so with that in mind I am going to do something I haven't done in a while and post about some current projects.

If you've been here before you know I am always talking about stash-busting, but the reality is that compared to most knitters, my stash is pretty small. At this point I can fit it all into one large rubbermaid container. Just one! That's pretty good I'd venture, but I have this dream about having NONE. I want to have none.

Does that make me weird? I know that this is likely an impossibility. There will always be scraps kicking around, and I am definitely someone who has been known to throw out yarn that I am just plain sick of looking at. (gasp!). But I still envision it all being gone one day and then being able to buy only new (or new-to-me) (and glorious) yarns for projects as they arise on a need-to-knit-asap basis.

I think I fell into that "new knitter" trap several years ago...where you are just buying yarn wherever/whenever you can in a desperate attempt to have.a.stash. And as such, that very stash is what I still appear to be left with to this day...mostly workhorse yarns or one-off skeins that I bought that I couldn't afford in "whole-sweater" amounts. You find yourself wanting a piece of the glory, but then you are stuck with a stash full of random incompleteness.

There has been the odd new-yarn here or there, but new yarn is only bought with an immediate project in mind, so it generally gets used up right away.

And I may have stumbled upon my most epic stash-eater to date: the Kiki-Mariko felted rug.

I cast-on additional stitches (I think it calls for maybe 118 and I did 154?) and off I went.

In no time I had blown through all of the remaining Cascade 220 I had leftover from the Missoni-Inspired blanket as well as most of the Patons Classic I had in my stash and I wasn't even half done!

I tried desperately not to care about my colour flow and pressed on grabbing whatever random colours I had available (it is more difficult to make "old gold" work with other colours than you would think --why did I buy 5 balls of that?! oh right--because it was discontinued that's why, and my love of seventies mustard colours is totally irrational). But then I stopped to actually take a look at what I was doing and knew I couldn't go any further.

I like to think I am somebody who can "just let it go" if there's a boo-boo or something I don't like, but the sad reality is: I am not that person. My colour combos looked like ass together. (those are conveniently not pictured here)

So I tore back and then yesterday went out and bought.more.yarn. Not only that, but more workhorse yarns (i.e the Cascade and Patons that I was TRYING TO PURGE IN THE FIRST PLACE). And in the same colours that I also would have never chosen in the first place if I was starting this project "new". GAH.

So, that in a nutshell is my current saga.

But I refuse to lose sight of my ultimate de-stashing goal, even though I am clearly the problem in this whole situation.

Another example of this: I knit a project and don't like the finished result. Instead of just donating the offensive garment to someone else that might actually appreciate it, back into the stash it goes. I need to learn to just get rid of these things and be done with them, regardless of whether I have additional amounts of leftover yarn to go with it.

and that is SO NOT what I did here:

swallowtail shawl

(yes, more mustard --but I can't be faulted for knitting with mustard in the FALL right? right?!). Still I am actually excited about this knit, it's been a while since I've tried my hand at a lace project, and 9000 other knitters can't be wrong about the Swallowtail shawl so it's time I joined that club anyway.

Also from the DEPTHS of my stash:

HOT pink boot toppers

Why yes that is the hottest-retina-melting-pink that you have ever seen.
Honestly, was this a thing I was into for a while? HOT pink? I think this was another situation where Rowan-yarn-was-being-discontinued-at-my-lys-so-I'd-better-buy-(only)two-balls-for-some-stupid-reason!

Guess it's a good thing neon has kind of come around again.

Also from deep stash:

I bought all that grey DK merino when Knit 2 together was a revolutionary new book from Tracey Ullman and I just had-to-have that shrug in there stat!

Now here we are 6 years later and you pretty much couldn't PAY me to knit anything in that book yet I still have all the original yarn to show for it. But wait a minute, those are some too-harsh words...it's actually a great book, just you know, much like the yarn presently in my stash-- I am totally bored with it.

So I'm thinking about using up said yarn for this November sweater. Yes, even though I know I VERY RECENTLY OPINED: "no more sweaters".

What can I say, I'm an enigma.
(and also apparently, a liar)

Saturday, September 17, 2011

go small and stay home?

Soooooo, after the magnitude that was my Missoni-inspired blanket and the madness that was Missoni-for-Target...----wait, whaaaaa? you hadn't heard about this? Alex does a great re-cap about the shopping meldown that happened at Target this past week: HERE, so I won't re-hash it all for you, other than to say that "why yes I did get my butt across the border to my nearest Target" and managed to pick myself up a few of said pieces.

And while there were definitely some jerk-y lookin' dudes there filling their carts with items that they clearly planned to immediately flood ebay with, I at least didn't have to say, wrestle Bethenny Frankel for a pillow or anything. Phew! small wonders...in some ways I wish I had bought more stuff, but in reality I am sure I have more.than.enough. zig-zags in my life right now.

My love of obnoxious sixties fashions aside, it was simply fortuitous timing that I even made that blanket, and all week I have been watching the "favourites" of that knit sky-rocket on my raverly page. Cascade 220 in "lime"...who knew?

And indeed after such a giant knit, I found myself needing to make smaller knits, STAT!

and they don't get a lot smaller than this cute 'lil dude:

totes adorbs, yes?

pattern: here

Also small and satisfying,

definitely in love with this hat and the YARN:

The colour just seemed to work up so gorgeous. The yarn is Madeline Tosh Vintage, and the colourway was called "Thunderstorm". I dunno, maybe I am just starved for some nice/new yarns. It really was the first "new" yarn I had purchased in some time (and I don't count "work-horse-type yarns" like Patons Classic or Cascade 220 that I always seem to fall back on for one project or another). This past year I have been hell-bent on stash busting so I think I am just SO tired of looking at the same old stuff (not to mention the same colours I always seem to be drawn to...)

Speaking of "same old yarns":

these are the Daisy stitch handwarmers from the Purl Bee.

Can I just say, I am in looooooooove with these. I don't think I've ever knit myself a pair of gloves/mitts etc. that fit so well. And these will be perfect now that the temperature is starting to cool off around here.

And finally, and ok maybe this isn't actually a small knit since it took about 6 balls of Sublime cashmere/merino/silk DK to make, but it was at least mindless and enjoyable.

The iconic Clapotis.

And yes, I do think the Clapotis has more than attained it's due of "icon status" in the kitting world. Has there ever been an item knit more than this in the modern knitting realm? I think this is my third one. If you haven't knit one before, I think you should, and if you've never heard of this pattern, I can only assume you just fell out of some vortex from another dimension and found this blog post by mistake.


So there you have it, maybe if I updated more often I wouldn't be trying to cram so many knits into one post? I am actually toying with the idea of scrapping this blog and moving over to something like tumbler which will be a little more photo-intensive and less of me rambling on and on.

Oh wait, here's four more small knits that I forgot about:

Details on Ravelry HERE, HERE, HERE and HERE.

Geez, I guess that was "my summer in knits"? I managed to cram a vacation in there somewhere too.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Go big or go home

uh oh--I am almost three months to the day since my last post...and I wish I could give you an amazing reason as to why (but alas, you know how THAT goes!).

So to make it up to you I have come back in a big way.

A big BLANKET-Y way (no I am not talkin' about M.J's kid)

pattern: Missoni inspired blanket by Kelly Kingston
yarn: Cascade 220 (check ravelry for the list of all the colours I used)
needles: 4mm

this picture is a bit of an optical illusion...it was actually laying smooth and flat on the floor when I took it

So, I guess the moral of this story is don't ever let them tell you bigger isn't better? Just kidding. I think. It's definitely more impressive when it's bigger because the reality is this was an easy knit. Straight stockinette that dare I say actually went up FAST. Though I think that has something to do with the mental game you play with yourself when you are switching colours: "ok, just two rows of this black, I'll finish those before I take a break...." "Fours rows of orange? lemme just finish those before I start dinner". And then suddenly it's done.

And also kind of timely because I am pretty amped up about the fact that Missoni is also the next designer line that's been announced for Target this fall. (Almost as excited as I was to hear that Target is finally coming to Canada--tho not until 2014) so looks like I will still be trudging my way to New York state as usual to get my target designer line fix---save me some stuff ok people?

This is definitely the biggest thing I have knit to date (and is kind of making me feel somewhat accomplished after so many previous sweater FAILs). The only real anguish involved was agonizing over the colours. It's definitely a lot louder than something I'd normally knit, and if I had to do it again would probably still tweak some of the more neon-ish colours in it (like that lime or the lilac) for something less obnoxious. Still, I think as a whole it all works, and I will be more than proud to drape it on my bed or couch this winter.

What didn't feel fast to knit (but was smaller and probably even easier to knit) ---this baby blanket:

basketweave blanket

pattern: Basketweave blanket by Classic Elite
yarn: Bamboo Ewe in "Mercury" (4.5 skeins)
needles: 4mm I think?
mods: 160 stitches, seed stitch border instead of garter

Well go figure...endless solid grey-- knit 4, purl 4. Man I was SO glad to finally see the back of this one!

But I must say, I was very happy with how it turned out. The yarn is soft but substantive and easy-care and I didn't want to make it overtly scream "BABY" (even though it was in fact a baby gift). It just seemed a little more versatile in a neutral colour like this in case they wanted to use it as a throw instead.

So for me, blanket appears to be the new black. I am heartily tempted to knit the Missoni one again. The colour combinations and permutations are endless and would probably go a long way towards wiping out some of the colours in my stash that I am less fond of and don't know what the hell to do with. Though god knows I have a long history of saying "I am definitely knitting this again!" and then never following through (there's just too many new things out there to catch my fancy!)

Maybe some matching pillows though? I need to do something with all that leftover lime & lilac!