Forecast Finished

Ze Sweater

Took me a while to get a picture, but I've been loving and wearing it for the past month. After a huge and undocumented manhunt for the perfect buttons, I finally found these glorious vintage glass Czech babies. They really make the sweater pop and are absolutely perfect for what I wanted.

Oh, the Cunning Mrs. Darcy

A quick scan through the Craft blog last night turned up this gem of a pattern: Mrs. Darcy Cardigan.

The pattern comes from Ramblings of a Knitting Obsessive, a three-month old blog that I've already added to my RSS feeds. Despite the fact that the cardigan is only sized for a 34" bust (tiny!), I'm adding this to my tentative to-knit list. I'm thinking it'd be lovely—and affordable—in Knit Picks Shamrock, or Cascade 220 Tweed. Or maybe I can find something soft and slightly fuzzy, like a baby alpaca.

I probably would have bought yarn for it last night if I didn't already have, oh, my entire Knit List 2007 to tear through. And I can't forget all the yarn I already have for the following projects outside of my resolutions: the two-tone shrug from Fitted Knits (using left-over yarn), a U-vest also from Fitted Knits, the Union Square Market Pullover from Interweave Knits Fall 2005, and the Elfin Bride.

Eep! That's a lot of knitting!

Fitted Knits

Maybe a week or two back, I joined the Fitted Knits Along. Despite never having done a blog knit-a-long before, it was a natural step since I've recently become crafty sensei Stefanie Japel's newest fangirl. I just can't get enough of her awesome patterns! And her book is seriously the first book I've ever knit a pattern from, let alone multiple. I'm pretty sure I'll end up knitting at least 80% of the patterns before the book falls apart from the countless times I've poured over its pages and licked each picture.

I've been working on her Airy Wrap-Around since early April, using Lane Cervinia's "Softer" in a lilac color. It's the same yarn the pattern calls for, and I believe it's also the same color shown on the model. The price is very reasonable, but I would probably look for a substitute if I had known how much "shedage" this yarn would produce. I actually had a woman stop me in the post office a week or two back who wanted to commiserate on how the weather here is so bad when it comes to dogs shedding their coats. I was dumbfounded for a moment, as my dog doesn't shed, until I realized my coat was covered in fine strands of mohair fiber.

Wrap Edge

I'm hoping to have this puppy done by this weekend, just in time for the sunny weather predicted for Saturday. I've already picked up the front stitches and am well on my way through the second 50" wrap, but the picture above is the first wrap. I made a few mistakes with the end, which you can read more about on my Fitted Knits Along post, The Errata is Your Friend. The post title says it all.

The Giftee and Gift

The Manflesh Mother and Scarf

And here's The Manflesh Mother wearing her new scarf. She seems to love it—wore it as soon as she opened the package Saturday night, and all day Sunday. It only took me about a month to block it after it was finished, and then another two weeks to give it to her. Good thing it's made from silk and serves as a nice Spring scarf.

It's also quite sturdy for a silk scarf. I think it would make a perfect weapon for any unplanned attacks. You know—in the event that you need to stave off a swarm of enemy ninja or defend your houseboat against marauding rum runners.

The Masochistic Knitter

Hey, that would make a good book name. Mine! No stealing!

Here's a riddle for ya: What does a craft ninja do when said craft ninja has a boring non-craft-related job that consists of sitting at a blank computer screen and willing her coworkers to give her work? Answer: Read craft blogs! Lots of them! Especially ones pertaining to knitting!

During the many knitting blogs I read while bored at work, it came to my attention that a certain cover pattern from the most recent Vogue Knitting (Winter 2006) has been giving knitters a lot of headache. A lot of headache. Did I mention the headache involved with this capecho? No, there's some honest-to-god headache here. Some people have managed to tame it, while others merely worry . But the headache is there, hiding under the surface, whether they admit it or not. This ninja knows. Oh, this ninja knows.

And of course, once I saw two people mention their problems, I went and searched deeper and deeper into the Google depths, drinking up the horror stories like the latest high cholesterol episode of Desperate Housewives. Hell, I even went beyond Google and straight to Flickr and Craftster for my gluttonous desires.

You know, after watching all of this drama, I just can't refuse. Forget the fact that I have two Christmas gifts to finish for the Manflesh Mother. Forget the fact that--while close--I still haven't finished the Manflesh Mother's birthday present. Forget the fact that just last weekend I ordered yarn for knitting Forecast, the Airy Wrap-Around from Fitted Knits, and the American Beauty Rose Capelet from Knitting Over the Edge (originally for a friend's wedding). Hell, forget the fact that I have a screenplay draft to finish, a trip to Rome to save for, three short stories to write, and a dog to feed. In my current drunken stupor, I'm gonna buy the yarn for this headache right now! soon as I figure out what yarn to buy....

Just one more reason why having a boring full-time job is a bad thing: too much money, and too much time to think about spending that money.

Cast On, Cast Off

Melon Stitch

See that thing up there? That's my melon stitch scarf from Victorian Lace Today, as inspired by Grumperina. I just cast that sucker off. And as you may or may not know, casting off means only one thing: Completion nearing. Huzzah! I can't even begin to describe how long it's taken to make this wee little scarf. Small needles, thin yarn, and all those dainty stitches sure are time consuming. Though I suppose that's obvious.

Icky Cast-On

Now a little bit about that strange blue blob at the bottom of the scarf. That's the cast-on method I chose. To be more precise, it's the "waste-yarn cast-on" from page 166 of the book. I wanted to give it a try out of curiosity more than function. The instructions merely said to cast-on with waste yarn, knit for four rows, switch to the main yarn, and then remove. Not very specific. And with the pull of the stitches when I did actually remove (thank the ninja gods I waited until the end), I wonder if I did it correctly.

Lace Bind-Off

Now for the bind-off/cast-off, which I really do find quite clever. I found a "lace cast off" from Elann. It's very tidy, but loose enough for knitting-on a border. My normal cast-offs tend to be quite tight unless I put forth great effort to make sure they're looser. And even then, the stitches still aren't loose enough to match all that effort. I'll definitely use this cast-off method again.

Seaslik Scarf

Sea Silk Lace

Oi, back again to that 2007 knitting resolutions post.

A Seasilk in Progress

That's the progress shot of my Grumperina melon scarf—a modified version of the melon shawl from Victorian Lace Today, by Jane Sowerby. Being busy (and highly lazy), I mostly copied her modifications, including the Sea Silk from Hand Maiden Fine Yarn (in the "sangria" colorway). The one difference, though, is that I did 70 repeats per the books original instructions. I also think I will add a border to the ends, rather than around the entire scarf. I do think if one were to follow her modifications word-for-word, the lace pattern, yarn, and Grumperina's hard work make for a very special scarf that is incredibly easy and rewarding—perfect for someone who's busy and lazy (like me!).

And let me tell you, it's absolutely stunning in person. Even more so when the low winter sun streams through the bus windows and catches the sheen and variegated colors.

Melon Stitch

The original intent was to make this much later from now—maybe in Fall 2007. It was to be a Christmas present for the manflesh's mother. However, that blasted Backyard Leaves Scarf that was to be her belated 2006 Christmas present requires hella concentration. Hella. And after the whole birthday fiasco, which also included a surprise party that fell flat on it's rumpled ass, I decided it was time to spoil the manflesh mother and lavish her with both scarves and a pair of gloves that I have been ignoring for the past 12 months. Because this scarf does not require hella concentration, I've been tackling it more successfully.

That book, Victorian Lace Today, by the way, is simply amazing. If it weren't for Grumperina's review, I wouldn't have bought it sight-unseen. The original plan was to browse through either a library copy or a copy at a bookstore/yarn store. However, it has been consistently sold out from all the local bookstores and knitting stores, not to mention has 359 holds at the library. After a few weeks of hunting it down locally, I finally whipped out my credit card and purchased it from Amazon. Even the giant online bookstore of doom and destruction had a hard time getting my copy—it took them a mere 3 weeks to ship with 3-5 day shipping.

Dave's Hipster Scarf

I had finished this hipster/emo/indie rocker scarf a few weeks ago, but I set it aside and didn't finish weaving in the ends. And then I purposefully put off weaving in the ends because once I wove in the ends, I knew I had to give it to my friend whom I didn't want to take possession of the scarf because I hadn't taken a picture, and I knew that if I gave it to him without taking a picture it would end up in a pile of dog shit and running through the wash whereupon it would be ruined just like his hipster/emo/indie rocker gloves I made a few years back.

Thick and Skinny
Long Shot

And today, I finally wove in the ends and took pictures.

I figured I had no other choice as I had been withholding this scarf from Dave for a number of weeks now. And really, even the most merciless of ninjas can't continue to withhold something after telling someone they're holding it for ransom until that someone agrees to go out to sushi. Of course, if Dave decides not to go out to sushi tonight, I won't be held responsible for continuing to withhold this scarf....

Dave's Hipster Specialty

2007 Knit List

If you're a freaky-deak knitter like me (or if you're even worse than me), you end up with tons of web links, knitting patterns from books and magazines, and sketches that just pile and pile and pile until you have such a huge library of things you want to knit, but haven't even attempted. In the case of my "purgatory of knitting dreams and desires," some of the items span back to the year 2000. So this year, I'm going to try something new. Instead of just adding more items to my wish list, I'm going to attempt to tackle what I do have. Of course, that doesn't mean I won't add more items. As any crafty ninja knows, the more you look at magazines and blogs, the more you add to your list.

The 2007 Knitting
(Compiled from the Land of Knit Purgatory)

Well, that's it for now. I'm afraid if I add any more, I'll feel overwhelmed and slack off.

Updated 5/10/2007

Knitting With a Dash of Crochet

My personal preference has always leaned towards the fabrics that knit and purl stitches create, rather than the thicker and knottier stitches of crochet. Now that I have learned basic crochet and have spent time experimenting with the types of stitches (and fabrics) available to the form, I feel comfortable in saying that my personal preference still leans towards the fabrics that knitting creates.

However, that's not to say that I don't see the potential crochet stitches offer. Amigurimi (stuffed animals) being just one of the many things crochet excels in above knitting. And lately, I've been toying with the idea of using crochet motifs and flowers mixed with basic knit stitches for scarves. Crochet offers the ease of building out motifs and shapes by the simple fact that you can shape whatever and wherever you want—just insert the crochet hook and make a stitch. To create wildly complex shapes in knitting is a much more complicated task, and often lacks the streamlined finished product of a crocheted motif.

I'll save the extensive critique of crotchet versus knitting for another time. Today, I wanted to share some particularly awesome and free patterns for crocheted flowers I stumbled across:

I currently have no plans for using the Picot Flower, though it's so lovely that I would love to build a project around it. I am, however, currently in the (slow) process of using Bam Boo, to make the Crochet Flowers. I plan on using these to embellish a scarf knitted in the very lovely Byzanz, in violet.

By the way, I highly recommend both Bam Boo and Byzanz. Aside from it's incredible softness and luster, the eco-friendly nature of Bam Boo has secured it's place as one of my favorite yarns. Byzanz, on the other hand, makes a wonderful splurge yarn for an easy project. The yarn is flat and thick, with a cord of metallic thread running through the middle. It knits quickly and seems to shine more with very basic stitches. But because it requires US size 15 needles, I'm reluctant to recommend it for a beginner's scarf—I always recommend size 8 for those just learning.

Anna Update

It's been slow-going, and in place of a picture, I shall give you words:

The sock is a gloriously deep rust color, fit for the gloriously beautiful female ninja who oversees this blog. The lace stitch is more of an "eyelet" stitch, and will form a stunning thick fishnet-esque fabric for any craft ninja needing to take on the forces of evil during the winter season. Currently, the sock is five inches long—approximately from knee to just below knee.

It'd be much, much longer, but I tried knitting while very sleepy at a friend's house over the weekend. Sleepy lace knitting is not a good idea, especially when surrounded by people carving pumpkins, eating sugar, drinking beer, and screaming shrilly at the porn shop across the alley.

Anna Socks

Project: Anna Socks from Rowan Knitting & Crochet Magazine, Issue 40
Materials: Rowan 4 ply Soft (merino), "Teak"

This is my first time knitting socks, despite having been a knitter since the age of 11. The reason for my sock avoidance is that I'm just not a sock person. The second I come home, off come the shoes and socks. The only time I ever wore socks indoors would have been when living in the dorms (never know what you'll step on, even in your room), and when I lived in a drafty apartment with cracked hardwood floors.

So, you know this pattern must have really impressed me, being socks and all. I have high hopes for these socks. High hopes.

Lems' Arm Warmers Update

My customer, "Lemonade", snapped a shot of her in the arm warmers.

I'm simply ecstatic that they fit so well. Making something special for another person and having it turn out so well is one of the greatest feelings!

Mittens for Minerva

Mittens for Minerva
Mitten for Minerva

Custom Arm Warmers

My first pair of custom arm warmers made for a person much smaller than myself. It's always so easy when the customer's measurements are close to my own, allowing me to check for fit while making the pattern up as I go. I always check gauge, but this required a lot of blind faith. I'll be interested in seeing if they fit the customer perfectly or not.

Lems' Arm Warmers
Lems' Arm Warmers
Lems' Arm Warmers

Also worth noting: they're made from super-soft organic cotton that is not dyed. Go go ninja knitting skillz!

Rasin Gloves

Raisin Gloves

Remember that awesome custom "raisin yarn" from These were knitted from it.

Neck Warmers Attack

I'm finally starting to list the mass of neck warmers I have stacked up... Looking at all of these, I can't help but feel a little bored with them. I have some much more awesome goodies in the works, I just need the time to finish them.

Buttered Popcorn Neck Warmer
Pink Elephants on Parade Neck Warmer
Fall's Cocoa Neck Warmer

Asymmetrical Jive Cymbal Necklace

Asymmetrical Jive Cymbal Necklace
Asymmetrical Jive Cymbal Necklace

Project: Learn to Crochet, Part II

Happy Hooker

When Debbie Stoller's Stich 'N Bitch first came out, I snapped it up for a friend who had expressed an interest in trying to learn to knit. Said friend came over to my apartment a few times to knit with me, and was doing quite well at learning. However, she seemed frustrated with her misshapen scarf.

I knew nothing of this book, nor how popular it would be soon after its release. All I knew was that I was looking for Christmas presents, my friend was trying to learn to knit, the University Bookstore was having a major one-day-sale for students, and the title was hilarious. A quick scan of the book showed detailed diagrams of stitches and how to execute them, light-hearted and interesting writing, and some fun beginner projects that might help ease my friend's frustration.

I'd love to tell you that this very book helped inspire my friend and coach her to learn knitting, but I don't think she's picked up a pair of needles since she scrapped her misshapen scarf over three years ago. However, this book wouldn't be so damn popular if it hasn't helped numerous others learn. If I had learned to knit when this book was around, I would been one of those others. Instead, I taught myself at the tender age of ten using the much less fun Knitter's Handbook, which I checked out from my local library for over two months before buying.

This weekend, I once again turned to Debbie Stoller and bought The Happy Hooker. This time, the recipient of this crochet manual was me. After a number of frustrating hours teaching myself to crochet with a hook in hand and a laptop on my stomach, I decided I not only wanted something that held my hand a little more in describing the movements of each stitch, but I also wanted something I could turn to with beginner projects. I'm a learn-as-I-go person, not content to do swatch after swatch before moving onto a project. And yes, sometimes this bites me in the butt. However, my interest is peaked more when working towards an actual project. Stoller's book fits the needs of both swatch-by-swatch learners and people like me, who tend to run straight off the cliff.

And in case you know nothing of Stoller's books and couldn't tell from the title, "The Happy Hooker" is quite snappy in delivery. Think of it as learning from your youngest aunt, who has more than one tattoo, rides a Harley, plays bass in a rock band, has a Ph.D in Early American Literature, and owns a closet full of merino yarn.

This book is an indisputable reference for the beginner at crochet. No prior knitting knowledge is required. Stoller includes a thorough section about types of yarns and how they relate to the art of crochet, diagrams of how to execute each stitch, pictures of stitch swatches so you can easily see if you're doing it right the first time around, and a section on how to read patterns.

And of course, the patterns themselves account for more than half the book. The patterns are designed with fun, fresh fashion in mind. No granny afghans or bulky, form-hiding sweaters here. There's a few funky scarves to start on, a pair of lacy fingerless gloves, a shawl, a caplet, a slew of hats, purses purses purses, flower pins, iPod cozies, and more yarn-intensive sweaters and a blanket or two. While the book is obviously aimed towards women, a few men's patterns are also included. You know; for your manflesh. The Happy Hooker alone will certainly guide the crochet beginner on through intermediate status with the numerous fresh projects and their varying degrees of challenge.

Now excuse me while I go back to my flower scarf. I need to finish learning to crochet so I can teach my manflesh. He was expressing interest in making those hyperbolic shapes.

Project: Learn to Crochet

I had the brilliant idea of mixing crochet motifs with a regular ol' scarf today. Of course, the crochet motifs are the problem. That requires that I actually learn how to crochet.

I originally resisted the art of crochet for a long time, though it's something my mad-knitting cousin moved over to years and years ago. But I was never quite convinced. I never quite liked the projects I saw, the fabric results I saw. I still prefer a basic knitted fabric to a basic crochet fabric, but within this past year I've recently recognized the potential crochet also has—particularly in the form of motifs and lacy fabrics.

I've been using three websites to teach myself. The results are not excellent, but I think I'm figuring everything out. The biggest problem I'm having right now is finding a swatch online of a basic crocheted fabric to compare my results to. I think I'm doing it right, but how do I know?

It seems to me that crocheting is something like knitting's ugly step-sister. At least, when considering the popularity of the two. There are so many more beautiful patterns for knitwear out there, while crochet is still stuck in the dark ages of afghans and unflattering sweaters. Sure, it has its shawls and doilies, but I don't want shawls and doilies, damn it! I want—I dunno. But I don't want doilies, or shawls. Or afghans. God no, no afghans.

While I continue to wade through this new world of crochet, and hack through the remnants of horrid pattern designers who still haven't lost their day-jobs, feel free to browse the links I've been trying to learn on. It ain't easy for someone starting from scratch. If I find an easier way, I'll be sure to let you know. I'll also let you know if I find any awesome patterns that aren't doilies, shawls or afghans.


Cymbal Jewelry

Below is the latest of my cymbal jewelry. I sell them online through Etsy.

Coin Cymbal Necklace
Coin Cymbal Swirl
Pearl Cymbal Necklace

Custom Arm Warmers

These arm warmers were a custom-order from another seller on Etsy, MinervaOrduno. She picked the colors, which were fun to work with but not my typical style.

Acid Arm Warmers
Acid Arm Warmers

Filthy Knitted Dread Sack

For you KoL fans out there, my project ended up how I always envisioned the Filthy Knitted Dread Sack to look like. I blame the thick Manos del Uruguay wool and the varegated colors. But, it's still an awesome hat—in a too-hippie-for-me kinda way.

Completed Filthy Knitted Dread Sack

Pithy Updato


So Pithy!

I decided to participate in a "craft-a-long" through Craftster. I have never before participated in these strange collective efforts, but my understanding is that it's a net-based support group. There's a central pattern or theme, and the interested parties post pics and comments and questions as they work through their projects.

This particular craft-a-long is for "Mary Jane's Pithy Hat". The creator was inspired by and wrote patterns for two different yet similar hats worn by Kristin Dunst in both Spider Man 2 and Elizabethtown. I'm working the open-weave Spider Man 2 hat in a lovely variegated wool from Manos del Uruguay.

My bitchy qualms about the site/pattern: The creator only posts pics of the hats you are supposed to be emulating, but not of the results. I don't quite trust that the finished product is going to look like the movie photos. She does mention that Mary Jane hat from Spider Man 2 will result in a hat with a bias stitch that will not be perfectly straight as the original. Okay, fine. So where's the pic of the results?

Also, for the purist in me, I'm wondering about the choice of using the "purse stitch" for the first hat. It seems to me that there's another stitch that can be used to create that tidy, straight look the open weave in the original possesses. A veil stitch maybe?

I decided that I'm going to work through the pattern as is since I don't mind the purse stitch. Due to an amazing Mother's Day sale at the local yarn store, I did end up purchasing two skeins of the Manos. Depending on whether or not this project takes only one skein (as it's appearing might be the case), I may go back through and re-write the pattern so that it's closer to the original hat.

Seaside Scarf

Project: Seaside Scarf, using the seafoam stitch
Materials: mohair and metalic yarn blend, glass beads

This scarf was inspired by the beaches around Seattle. They're always cold enough to warrant a scarf, even in the summer. Using a crochet hook, I picked up green and coppery glass beads into the stitches at random intervals. The scarf begins and will end with five rows of garter stitch, and the rest of it uses the oh-so-elegant-and-simple seafoam stitch.

Costal Scarf
Coastal Scarf Detail