19 February 2007

It's all just peachy

Back in September I wrote about a Rowan swatch and how it reminded me of a forever ago flea market find from New Orleans.

So what a shock, when, on the eve of Mardi Gras, just as I’m working through a design that is way more girly than my usual efforts, I find that very garment sitting in the back of the strange fibre section of the STASH room (aka studio).

Sad to say that the sleeve is literally in tatters and that 20 some years on the garment looks a but more flea market than find but it brings back good memories and reinforces some of the ultra feminine inspirations that have been calling out for a design whirl.

While it is a bit unlikely that I'll spend much of this year's limited design time playing with the original Rowan discontinued stuff that brought this little blast from my post to mind, here's a look see of the swatch and the dressing gown together.

The topic of alternate fibres and such recently came up on one of the lists where I lurk and since that one of the places where I tend to play, I not only delurked but was also inspired to search the strange stash section of the studio and do a bit of swatching since I found that, as much as I had worked with it, I really didn’t know the answer to the question of whether pine paper yarn softens up over time.

So here’s a 20 stitch swatch I’ve torqued a bit (to show why I love this stuff for sculptural purposes) that I plan to torture with repeated laundering and such to get an answer to that question.

I’ve used lots, given away lots and unless there’s a secret cache hiding with the Noro Ganpi Abaka in colour 102 that I could have sworn I had more of, I may actually finally need some more of this stuff. Good thing that a road trip to SWest is in my near future. Meanwhile, here’s hoping that a slightly different colour way of the Noro will be a reasonable substitute for one of my favourite Ralph’s checkers’ chequebook cover.

Last Tuesday, while still in recent recovery mode from the cold/bug/crud, I took a mini walkabout and stopped in at one of my fave thrifts and found some just peachy glove dryers in an original wonderfully cheesy plastic container.

The fine gold script assures me that these Glove Dryers by Handiform are recommended by leading glove manufacturers. There were 3 in the box which seems a bit odd. Maybe originally there were two boxes of two and one dryer went off on its own.

Something about the hand feel of the unblocked pine paper lazy lace project and the glove dryers reminded me of some other long ago memories of exploring my grandmother’s glove and scarf drawer. That drawer, with its silk scarves and ultra feminine gloves (lots of lace) and the scent of lavender totally fascinated me. I’m seeing paper lace gloves in my future.

Also at the thrift were these hand dandy handles in search of a bag. I'm not sure whether these will be a knit project or not but for less than two dollars they were so coming home with me.
I'm just finishing off the short row shaping of the 3rd sleeve for the pentagon sleeve project and I've been winding yarn for a couple of variations on the theme.

On Sunday and again today, I tested my idea that the sleeve worked well for a wide range of sizes. Today's volunteer/victim admits to being a US women's size 22
or 2x and amazingly enough the same sleeve that fits me also fits her with only some minor adjustments. As it sits, at that size and above, there isn't a real option to choose a 3/4 length sleeve without a major custom rework of the pattern and the central design motif sits lower on the arm to account for the larger upper arm diameter required.

I hope to have this puppy done in time to at least sashay a bit round Santa Clara this weekend.

12 February 2007

Life's ironies & sleeveless in San Diego

Weight loss realities -- the first person to notice that you're approaching your goals will be someone who makes you skin crawl and not in any good way.

Studio straightening realities -- you can spend an entire day reorganising and working on the room and, to the casual observer, it will still look like total chaos.

Heather's headache realities -- on any day when all I really need is sleep, peace and quiet there will be a work crew in a location where the noise is inescapable.

I had every good intention of making it down to The Bonita Knitting Store yesterday for their Sunday social knit and a chance to catch up with Tania and perhaps get a bit of advice on the pentagon sleeves project.

Making that plan even more attractive is the proximity of the shop to Da Kine's South Bay and some take away pig, kalua. Great plan but the cold put the kibosh on it. This cold is decidedly not something I'd care to share with others so I just stayed home, knit and napped.

The cold is still winning and Kali's sympathetic noises are borderline enough to make me want to strangle her. I do not do sick well.

When the noise of the work crew made me give up hope of sleep, I took water, aspirin and a stoic spirit to the long over due studio straightening task. I'm tackling one room at a time in the hopes restoring something that approaches order (or at least controlled chaos) so anyone crazy enough to check in on Kali while I'm out of town will come back a 2nd day.

I "finished" the body of the pentagon sleeves project last night. I finally decided on a nice wide neckline that I'm still deciding how to finish.

I'm leaning toward my original roll neck solution but I'm not wed to it. I did a 3-needle bind off of the shoulders.

I finished it, tried it on, put it on a hanger and hung it in the hallway so I could study it as I walked by.

The blending makes it looks a bit corrugated but I'm confident that it will even out once laundered.

Just as is, it reminds me of a very well loved cotton shell I had many years ago so I'm pleased with the basic shape. I know that I'll like the fit even better when I'm smaller but I'm really quite well pleased with the thing.

I bit the bullet and frogged back the top inch or so of each of the sleeves and blended the two dye lots.

I think I can live with leaving both the polygons and the short row shaping in a single dye lot but since I'm considering binding off the live sleeve stitches through the body front & back, I felt that blending would be a more harmonious choice.

More on the sleeves. One totally rocks my world. It does everything I want it to do, I know exactly how to extend it, to size it, to change it out for the "for publication" options -- it is just the bomb. The other one wants a little more work/thought and now I find myself back to wondering if I want asymmetrical sleeves or if my conventional streak (and frankly, practical side) is asserting itself to suggest that symmetrical might be a good first out option.

I have enough of the 1st dye lot yarn to do a 2nd "the bomb" sleeve and I'm really thinking about putting that on the needles and retaining the "needs work" sleeve to worry the design a bit more.

Speaking of worrying, once upon a time a long time ago, I had the task of indexing a couple of periodicals that had never been indexed. It wasn't all that fun and it was also in the pre-computer dark ages but I still believe that indexes are a very important part of any book.

So when I found that Nicky Epstein's Knitting on the Edge and Knitting Over the Edge books and the Vogue Stitchionary series didn't have indexes it bothered me. It bothered me enough to at least start to compile the same sort of spreadsheet that an early days Knitlister did of the Barbara Walker Treasuries. It isn't finished yet and if anyone want to compare notes and or help with the project, I'm open.

Since I've used Nicky's books most, right now I have the names, page numbers and which of the two books (On & Over) the pattern appears in. I'm working on adding the number of stitches, rows and direction of the knitting . It is slow going but even in its incomplete stage it has helped me figure out which book I saw something in.

I've been swatching the angel wings scallop edging from page 159 of knitting on the edge and I'm not sure whether I'm interpreting the pattern instruction correctly or not. It says to pick up and knit the 9th stitch of the previous scallop and I'm trying to figure out which stitch the 9th stitch is. The stitch count starts at 12 and grows to 42. My inclination is that I should be counting from left to right but I'm not 100% confident about that.

06 February 2007

Angelina? Or a virgin vintage romantic inspiration piece

There's a funky little vintage shop on 5th Avenue between The Loft and Hash House A Go Go called Virgin Vintage. Walking by a few weeks back, I noticed a garment in the window display that reminded me of Joan M-M's (aka White Lies Designs) Angelina sweater design.
Frankly, Joan's design is more refined and when I looked more closely the display isn't as close to either Angelina or her inspiration piece but I think the basic look is very Joan M-M style.

Joan's got a book coming out soon that builds on her lacy lingerie background.

I usually describe Hillcrest, my neighbourhood, as 50% gay and 50% every_bloody_thing else. Lately it has been a construction zone with older single family homes and other buildings disappearing to be replaced with high density high price tag condos, condo conversions and other joys of urban life.

Mostly it is a safe place but of late some incidents/attacks have made the news and upset the community. Besides the nekkid driver who decided to lead the police on a merry chase the other morning, there have been some robberies (more in North park than in Hillcrest), assaults, the murder at Extraordinary Desserts (technically Banker's Hill BTW) and a stabbing in broad daylight at the CVS on Washington & 3rd on the Sunday.

Some of the comments that have hit the media about recent events have me ready to rant a bit. I'm not quite bubbling over but the next time I hear someone on the news saying that their reaction to a daylight event will curtail their evening activities I may just erupt -- fair warning.

04 February 2007

The week what were time warps and design decisions

I'm developing a pattern of at least leaving draft/placeholders for blog entries so I've at least got a bit of space to write rather than do mondo mind numbing over long blog entries.

When I left this place marker my plan was to write about knitting at the Whistlestop -- small turn out BTW whether due to "the big game" or the gorgeous weather -- choices on the pentagon sleeves project, and more including the prior week's unsettling news about the deaths of Father Robert Drinan (an elegant and wonderful man) and Molly Ivins and how out of touch I felt when others seemed consumed with the "passing" of race horse Barbaro. What can I say? I'm just not a popular culture junkie. Now that I'm writing it, I'm home fighting a chest cold and it's all Anna Nicole which, I'm sure, is a relief for the folks at NASA.

Now back to the knitting. This incarnation of the pentagon sleeves project will be a year old in May. My optimistic choice to make the body of the sweater smaller than I was at the time has paid off as I'm 15 pounds nearer my preferred weight than I was last year.

As a template for this project, I used a commercially made sweater that fits me reasonably well. At each major step along the way, I've laid out the template and the project to see what's next and whether it is working as expected. The blended dye lot body pieces had reached about12 inches (30 cm) when I laid it out and stewed a bit about the what's next.

The easiest course would be to simply proceed with a drop shoulder sweater. They are easy to size up and easy to size down and while I look fine in drop shoulder sweaters, because of blended dye lots, the weight loss and other stuff, while this sweater is the basis for a "for publication" project, the decisions I'm making on this one are for my fit, my body and not for the standard sizing of normal designs.

Usually I can knit a sweater inside of two weeks so I plan to take the lessons learned on this garment and apply them to a "normal" design. With a bit of luck, this journey can also be the basis for some discussion about how to take a stock design and change it to fit your body.

If I'm designing for me, I'm designing for a short waisted, fairly flat chested woman with relatively broad shoulders and while that's a pretty significant percentage of the population, it isn't the standard that things are designed to. Understanding how you, the knitter, deviate from that "standard" goes a long way toward making garments that fit and suit you.

Ultimately, I decided that the "for publication" version will probably be a drop shoulder but this one will taper in from the generous armhole up to the shoulder. Since I'm changing yarn every row, I decided to always decrease with the same dye lot so my planned decrease rate is every 4 rows and it seems to be working (fingers crossed). I'm still dithering over the neckline and find myself wondering if I shouldn't frog back at least the last few inches of the sleeves to blend the dye lots through the short row shaping.