Thursday, April 24, 2008

Normally, getting a packet of oh-so-pretty yarn would make me happy - but when that yarn arrives in an office that is over 90 degrees, even looking at the unopened package made me a little lightheaded. And, opening it up at home, I was still antsy about touching the wooly wool - you see, the airconditioning system is not working at my office - but the heat is working just fine. We're all sitting in the dark, and individual air conditioning units are in the hallways, blowing hot air around, since we can't open the windows. Yesterday someone passed out; the day before someone went home with heart palpatations. And, it's going to be this way until Tuesday.

So, while I know that deep down I'm really really excited about my next Starmore project - the above Roscalie Vest that I ordered from Virtual Yarns, and arrived at my swelting doorstep within a week and a half, I can barely touch the yarn - or any yarn for that matter. Knitting, due to unbearable weather conditions, is at a halt.
After a day at the office, all I want is Rita's Waterice, not Shetland, or Manos, or a mukluks, or any other project I have in the queue.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Weekend Progress Report

So . . . it's, um, an interesting interpretation of the original,yes? I mean, really, if you were going to repaint the Mona Lisa, wouldn't you spruce her up a bit? Maybe give her a red dress?
Mine is definitely more . . . pink. The purples are pinker, the lights are lighter, the overall tone is more jeweltoned, as opposed to classic Thoroughbred horsey colors.

The preparation for the knitting was definitely more difficult than the knitting itself. There's a five stitch motif that's repeated twenty-two times on each side of the star thing in the center. I spent alot of pre-knitting time with the chart -- changing the legend over and over as I changed which Spindrift's would substitute for which J&S's. So the chart, which at first seemed to be as incomprehensible with it's 17 different color symbols as a Greek menu, became as easy to read as a newspaper. You can see above I have a lot of markers in - this is completely unnecessary if you are capable of counting to five, but I like them - it makes the knitting even more machinelike, completely nonchart dependent. I think of the star in the middle as like a gymnastic tumbling pass - one long stretch of 47 stitches. Sometimes, as I'm going across that part of the chart, I even have a commentary running in my mind accompanying it - yes! she stuck that landing! Lot's of little things going on in my head that make this an entertaining knit.

And, anyone who thinks you can't do fair isle if you can't knit with yarn in both your hands, think again. Above is one repeat of the 32 row pattern, plus a little bit of the second repeat. I started it last Wednesday - I'd say I'm motoring along with my one-handed, pick and throw, work. I can actually carry the yarn in both hands, but, surprisingly, I just find this way works better for me - especially in the Kaffe, when you're managing three colors per row.

Below, I pondered whether my Kaffe was really still a Kaffe, and Lisa dubbed it "Kaffier than Kaffe." I'm not sure what I'm supposed to call this thing - now that I've switched up the colors, indeed, it's not really close to the original at all at this point. A Starmore, if you go by the designer's intent - is a marriage of pattern, color and yarn - and I've only got one of the three. Maybe it's now a Starmore*, with fine print reminding the blog reader that's it not quite an authentic Starmore - kind of a Starmore knockoff.

If anyone is interested in knitting a true, honest to goodness Starmore, Virtual Yarns is supposedly updating their website sometime this week, and many of the kits that were sold out should be restocked. If you aren't so much into authenticity, and are willing to pick your own colors, check out your local libraries. Philadelphia County unfortunately doesn't have any of the fair isle books - but there are four copies of The Art of Fair Isle in Bucks County - my dad checked one out for me over the weekend, so I should be able to peruse it over Passover. And, of course, there's ebay - this pattern is in Vogue, Fall 1989, and I think you can still get all of the original J&S colors, I just chose to work with what we had a Rosie's.

And those colors that I bought at Rosie's that didn't find a home here - I think they'll end up in that Eunny Jang vest, I forget what it's called. Although, I'm not sure if I'll ever find a home for that neon purple Aubrelita.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Starmore, Take 2!

Armed with my color photos from Ravelry of finished Thoroughbreds, I reassessed my assault on the Shetland yarn at Rosie's. Out went Pistachio, Aubrelita, Shetland Black, Old Gold, Pine Forest, Scotch Broom and Sandalwood, in -
Dusk, Bramble, a Rowan Scottish 4 Ply in Magenta, Peat, Thistledown, Turf, Mint, Mooskit, Willow, Dog Rose, Sand, Lemon, Amber, a Drops Alpaca in a burnt orange, Sunrise and Scarlet.

And here is the newest incarnation of Thorougbreds. I'm much happier with the Magenta.

So, from the bottom to the top - On the bottom is Dusk - which in the original was Blueberry - but I only have 1 skein of Blueberry and the pattern calls for 2 of that color - so I'll have to live with Dusk. Next - Pistashio, a sage green, has turned into Willow, a pale, minty green. The blueberry/purple Aubrelita is now the Rowan 4 Ply Magenta, paired with DogRose, which in the 1st take was Thistledown. Next is a pairing of Peat and Lemon, which was Shetland Black and Scotch Broom. Now here's where I may have messed up again, but I think I'm going to live with it - I have a Rowan 4 Ply walnutty color and Amber - I forget what it was before - Amber and something. I think this Amber may be too dark - the next progression is Sunrise, is a rusty color - and at knitting circle we lined up all the colors, along with the colors that will be on the side, and everything seems to read well. So, here's where it's going to look significantly different than the original, but I'm going to go with it. Unlike that blueberry/purple color that was so wrong yesterday - I don't hate the amber, and I like the Sunrise - not pictured above. So I'm sure Alice would have a cow, but this is a Wendy production.

And for Marissa - thanks so much for the use of your pastry gadgets - here's the racetrack cake we made for Mr. Tall's Grandpop's birthday -

It's a chocolate cake, covered in traditional white icing. The "track" is crushed oreos, the grass, green sugar. The street markings are white Good n Plentys, and the white rim - that's the pastry tubing - yum!

And the cars - chocolate cars from Naked Chocolate, the most decadent place in all of Philadelphia - you really could get naked, and dive right into the personal chocolate fondues. Mr. Tall and I went to the Film Festival on Monday night, and beforehand, we went to Naked Chocolate for dessert. Four different sipping chocolates (classic, milk chocolate, Aztec and Spicy), a counterfull of chocolate pastries, and of course, the fondue, served with fruit, cookies, marshmellows, and rice crispie treats - YUMMMMMMM!!!!!!!!! Don't plan to go following a meal - it's way too rich - plan on making it THE meal, and don't skimp - if you're going to go there, forget about the calories, because that would just be silly - there's nothing appropriate for Weight Watchers in this sea of chocolate, peanut butter, carmel, nuts and honey.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008


The wait is over - I cast on the Starmore.

All of the excitement - winding the yarn, casting on 320 stitches, getting it joined in the round, and then . . . splat! My bubble burst, my balloon popped, my heart sank. And the culprit behind my malaise - THIS SKEIN.

I think I mentioned in a previous post that I've been substituting Jamieson and Smith colors for Jamieson Spindrift colors. Did I mention I was doing it without a color card? When I photographed my final picks, and compared them to Thoroughbred stashes on Ravelry, I kind of patted myself, and Courtney, on the back for what a good job we did. Can I tell you - that was a premature pat, that's for sure. Because here's what we did:


That purpley blue thing is just hideous!!! The color called for in the pattern is "Aubergine." I substituted with a color called "Aubrelita." It really is much more purple in person - but the fact that the camera is picking up so much blue tells you what hue of purple it is - and it's awful. I guess one person's Eggplant is another person's Blueberry.
So, it's back to the old color palette - that particular color, when looking at finished Thoroughbred's on Ravelry, seems to be a purply magenta. There's other tweaking to be done as well. The orange needs to be more orange, rather than the pinky orange that's in there (Sandalwood). Coming up is something called "Wood Heather" that I substituted with Pine Forest. But, looking at finished T's - it's too dark; it needs to be a more of a blue green. Ah well - I'd rather tweek now on the ribbing than in the actual pattern. What about swatching, you ask - good, reasonable question, or course. I did swatch, shocking, but I only swatched in two colors, because I didn't want to break my yarn - I got the last skein of many of these colors, and I swatched in two colors that I know Rosie's has back stock.
Icky icky poo - drat drat drat!
Ok, enough of that rant - here are a few pics of those fantastic bottlecap buttons --

It is only knitting after all - good to end a rant on a high note - the buttons are great, and looking at them almost makes me forget the Starmore pain.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Martha Bottlecap

Can I cast on something new yet???? All of this finishing is killing me!

So, here's Martha, from Rowan Studio, in the new Manos Silk Blend. I call her Martha Bottlecap because the buttons remind me of bottlecaps - love them! If I hadn't used them on this little cardigan, I may have built a project around them.
This was an easy knit, and a not so easy finish - blocking was a bitch. Thanks for that schematic Rowan - not!

The schematic had all of two measurements - width and height. Last time I looked, that made a rectangle. Hmm - there's an armhole there people. So, I did the best I could. Sewing in the cap sleeve was no fun. Kind of like putting a square peg in a round hole. I messed up the buttonholes - thanks again Rowan for writing instructions like "begin front neck shaping 39 rows from the beginning of neck shaping of back." I guess my row gauge was off, because when I followed the instructions for the buttonholes - p54, make button hole - I ended up with a buttonhole on the lower half of the garment. Oopsy. So, I sewed that hole up, and went with 2 buttons on the top half, and since they're pretty big, showy buttons, it worked out ok.

And, I'm so glad I took this picture outside - what's up with my crazy two-toned hair!?! I immediately made an appointment for a color - friends - how did you let me walk around like this??? Can I just whine for a moment - something has happened to my hair. It's not growing. Well, it must be, since you can clearly see the color line in the above pictures. But, where is it going? I don't have a lot of breakage at the bottom. I thought that perhaps it was just curling up, and curling up, but when I blow it dry, it's not significantly longer (see pics with Tangled Yoke). I have the amazing disappearing hair. I guess what goes around comes around - I've spent a lifetime with thick, curly hair - and all I've ever wanted was straight hair. When I would clean out the drain in my shower after washing my hair, I would secretly, and evilly, chuckle at my bald male friends - if they only new how much hair I had to spare! And now . . . ok, I'm not going bald, but I've definitely reached one of those age milestones where you're body changes in a not so good way.

I'm ok with turning 40 (not this summer, next summer - we'll see how ok I am then). I'm ok with the lines appearing on my face. I'm ok with feeling tired and a little sore after playing tennis on Wii. I'm ok with my metabolism slowing down, and not being able to drop five pounds by simply upping my water intake, and chopping out alcohol and sweets. But my hair! Sigh. It's all downhill, I know it - I might as well go to the wigmaker now.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008


So, here's the Kaffe, or is it? I mean, what makes this a Kaffe Fassett design at this point?
Have I followed any color theory whatsoever? I certainly didn't pick a motif in nature in order to emulate the colors. I didn't pick a work of a great master, and paint his/her canvas with my yarn. The Kaffe Little Circles has 11 colors, I have at least 17, I'm not sure. The original pattern had a chart with a progression of colors, but frankly, it was nearly impossible to follow the progression because when I started I hadn't picked all of my colors yet, and I didn't predetermine what color was going to be which designated letter to correspond to the progression chart. So, from the beginning, I tossed the pattern aside, and began the dizzying experience of trying to come up with three color combinations that worked together, and when that was too exhausting, I just started grabbing balls from the bag. I wouldn't say I employed any kind of theory, unless randomness qualifies as a theory of madness. This piece is definitely more Jackson Pollock than Kaffe Fassett.

The original Little Circles is knit flat, in two pieces. Obviously, I'm knitting in the round, and I've just put the steek in for the v-neck.

Little Circles does have a v-neck, but I'm starting my V much lower, so it'll be much deeper. Oh, the original was nice enough, it's not that I'm dying for a plunging neckline or anything, but I had the tube off the needles, and shimmied my way into it - and it is SMALL!!!! The snug, undulated little circles over my love handles are hardly attractive. I started out on gauge, when the project just had DK weight yarns. But, having fallen in love with the Rowan 4-ply Tweed, I kept throwing it in, along with a few other fingering weights, and I went from 6 stitches to the inch, at the bottom, where you can see Whiskey, Felted Tweed, and a doubled Misti Alpaca, to 8 to the inch, about a quarter of the way up, when I stopped doubling the alpaca, and was really using a Whiskey or a Felted Tweed, and 2 fingering weights per row. Oopsy. So, I'm hoping with the low v-neck, I'll have a bigger playground for my boobs to run around in, and perhaps with blocking, I'll get another inch or so, and it won't be horrendous. And, if it's horrendous on me, it'll be a great gift for my skinny sister-in-law. It's just way too late to rip and start over now. So, with Courtney's math help, I started the v-neck lower, and have abandoned the original shaping of Kaffe's Little Circles.

So what's left of Kaffe? The color palette - gone. Method of knitting - changed. Shaping - altered. All that's really left is the simple Little Circle stranded pattern. I guess that's enough - I mean it's not really mine, I didn't design anything. It's not really Courtney's - she just did the math for the v-neck. It's kind of a mishmash. Whatever it is, though, its Krazy.

And, here's that Krazy thingy hanging out of my new knitting bag. I love my new bag, it's big, it's roomie, and I've been coveting it for a long time. Everyday I walk little Dexter down Pine Street, and we pass this cute little store, Omoi, that sells kitschy Japanese stuff. The tote bags are on a rack in the window.
This past weekend, I had to teach at a CLE, that lasted from 3:00 p.m. Friday, through 3:00 p.m. Sunday, uch! Each day started at 8:00 a.m., and went on and on and on. I definitely needed a treat. Normally, a treat would be casting on - but, a ha! I circumvented that urge (even though I did get the Autumn Rose pattern finally, to go with the yarn I already have, and I do have that Starmore calling my name), but promising myself that knitting bag in the window.

Look how much room it has!

And this, another little bag! All of the girls at Knitting Circle are ga ga over Piddleloop's project bag. This isn't one of them - they're always sold out. So, I orderd one from ZigZag Stitches, who also makes bags from Japanese fabrics. I haven't done a comparative analysis of the two bags, but mine came with a little needle case as well, seems sturdy enough, and is an excellent addition to my new knitting bag.

And Madness Manos Blanket? 13 blocks to go. There's no way I'm not going to cast on the Starmore any second, but I will finish Martha first. I have the back, a front, a sleeve, and 3/4's of the second front done, and probably if I hadn't strayed to the Kaffe for the past couple of days, it would be done. Probably over the weekend. And, with Tangled Yoke in the can, Martha out of the way, and Kaffe making signficant progress, I think I've done enough penance to finally cast on - the Starmore!