Saturday, February 27, 2010

Please excuse the mess... (and an awesome band review)

I am currently reconfiguring some things around here -- the demise of Haloscan has created the need for some serious housecleaning on this site, as well as reworking the comments. At the moment, I have all of the old comments saved in a file, but the new comment system I'm using, Disqus, does not currently support imports from Haloscan. Frustrating, but I've put in a request, and I'm hoping that they can add that feature to the site. In the meantime, please feel free to comment and play around with the new features in Disqus. It includes ways to add video commenting, linking up to your Facebook profile, and more. Sounds like fun!

(Side note: yes I do have a profile on Facebook, but I prefer to keep it private and only accept requests from "real life" friends -- it's the only place online where I can let my hair down a little and not worry so much about safety and such if I limit my "friends". So please don't be offended if I ignore a request from you -- it's not personal! I'll still be your friend online! Just not on FB.)

Since my head is currently crammed full of more HTML than I can shake a stick at, here's Greg, guest posting about a recent show that we attended in Austin:

Nico Vega!

Most people who've known me for more than three seconds know that I like to go to shows and that I have made it my life's mission to find out about new bands every single day (which, for the most part I accomplish with little effort). One such band I found sometime last year, and Faith and I had the pleasure of seeing live at Emo's last Saturday was Nico Vega. Now I've been to a LOT of shows in my life and seen a lot of really incredible bands, but it has been a long time since I've had my face rocked off as hard as I did while standing on the front row of a Nico Vega set. This three-piece, L.A.-based, female-fronted power house plays a unique style of rock that is a bit hard to describe. I definitely haven't heard anyone else doing quite what they do, but I guess if you put Sleater-Kinney, Joan Jett, The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Janis Joplin, and a splash of Tina Turner all in a blender it'd come close to describing this genre-defining group. Front woman, Aja Volkman can bring her voice from a gentle whisper to a full-out rock snarl like she was born for it. Drummer, Dan Epand beats his skins like he literally wants to kill something. And guitarist, Rich Koehler has a set-up so complex he actually plays through three different amps at once to achieve their distinctive sound. Their lyrics, though occasionally leaning slightly toward the unwholesome, are nonetheless centered around love and a passion for social justice. And from a performance standpoint these three put on a show that should never be missed. It was unquestionably an experience that I will never forget.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Givin' me hives...

Colorway "Soapstone" from Fabulous Yarn

...Because I must not be the only one powerless to resist charming advertising/labeling.

And yes, it really is just as cushy and squeezable as it looks. I'm so glad I splurged.

This has already grown up to be a thick, happy, warm hat. Sadly though, my face is currently covered in hives (unknown allergen?), so, as attractive as that is, I'll will put off modeling it for you. Fun stuff. Swollen eyes, YAY!!

Hey look! It's a half-done Green Tea Cardi!

Well maybe not HALF done, but pretty close.

So far I've only worked through one massive 500 yard skein. I'm not sure I'll have to break into the 3rd one at all. Maybe I'll knit a tiny look-alike one for Daisy? We'll see.

Right now, I'm loving the rippled bands on the yoke.

Such a happy little detail.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

On short-rows and other modifications

Thanks for voting and helping me with my pattern decision. I love it how polls pull all of the so-called "lurkers" out of hiding. Clicking buttons on a poll is kind of fun, don't you think? :)

Yesterday, as I was knitting short-rows to raise the back neckline of my Green Tea Cardi (based on the collar short rows for Black Friday), I started thinking about improvising.

For a line-by-line of how I did this, check my Ravelry notes.

I like directions. I like following them exactly. I don't always even know why I'm doing what I'm doing -- I just place my complete faith in the designer, trusting that I'll have a properly shaped sweater in the end. However, the more I knit sweaters, the more I understand them.

Socks are something that I now understand pretty thoroughly, but when I first started knitting them, I followed patterns explicitly, line for line, knitting blindly through pair after pair until one day, I finally "got" it. A sock is a sock; there are certain structural details that are important, and beyond that, there is a heck of a lot of room for improvising.

Now that I've gotten a handful of sweaters under my belt, I am beginning to understand what bits make for a well fitting garment, which details I really enjoy, and how to produce results I am going to love. I'm not saying that I'll ever want to design a sweater (or design a sock from scratch, Cat Bordhi or Cookie A style!), but I am starting to feel like I might be able to wrap my mind around modifications beyond the obvious lengthening or shortening of something.

Based on this line of thought, and your votes, this is what I've decided: I am purchasing the Estelle pattern, but, since I am just so smitten with the shawl collar idea, I'm going to modify the neckline with a bit of a "V" shaping, and then pick up stitches for a wee little shawl collar when I pick up for the button bands at the end. This will remove the danger of "sameness", while still giving me a cardigan with minimal finishing, and that lovely lace detail. I'm armed with a washed and dried swatch, gorgeous yarn, and my favorite wooden KnitPicks circulars, so we'll see what happens. And the adventure begins...

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Sweater, hat and socks!

I'm so tired tonight that I can hardly think straight, so it's anyone's guess if I can actually be relied on to write properly. However, I'm starting to develop quite the backlog of things to show you all, so I'm just going to go for it and hope for the best.

Black Friday Cardi, finished!

For more details and pics, you can visit my Ravelry page.

Marina hat:

I'm not entirely sure this is a good look on me. Maybe it it was a lighter/brighter color...not really solid on it. However, it's warm and squishy and cozy, so at least it's useful. Still, it may end up finding it's way to my sisters, along with most of the other hats I've knit.

I knit this the Rasta length, but if the brim is folded up, it can also be worn as a slouchy beanie:

More details here.

Also, I try to always keep a pair of plain socks on my needles just to pick up and work on any time that I don't want to have to think, or for times when it's not so good to have my head down looking at my knitting the whole time. I cast on for these sometime in early January, and just finished them up last week:

They're for my mom, who keeps requesting that I knit her socks "longer". Well, this is longer. I hope she's happy. (Cold ankles are no fun, it seems.) :)

Ravelry details here.

I've been swatching for two new sweater projects today. The first is for the Tea Leaves Cardigan by Melissa LaBarre:

This yarn is very special -- Chris at Briar Rose Fibers custom dyed it for me as a gift just after I'd given birth to Billy. She's incredibly sweet, and besides her generosity in giving me the yarn, has managed to achieve The Perfect shade of green. I adore it, and have been waiting for just the right pattern to set it off to it's best advantage. I hope that I do it justice!

The second is with Dream In Color Classy, colorway "Vino".

I have gone through several plans with this yarn; it seems happiest knit up at 16 or 17 sts per 4 inches, so I've narrowed it down to two patterns: Drops Designs 104-36 Shawl-Collared Jacket, or Estelle by Linden Heflin. I CAN'T DECIDE.

I love shawl collars, but I've just knit a shawl collared cardigan. Also, this involves a bunch of seaming, which I don't mind, but I had to do quite a bit of it on Black Friday, so I'm sort of done with that at the moment. The flower-lace design around the yoke of Estelle is just incredible, but I already have a round-yoked burgundy-ish Shalom cardigan, and a Bulky Button Me Up pullover in mostly solid burgundy. So what should I do? Vote and give a girl a hand here! (And if you have a different suggestion, I'd love to hear about it in the comments.)

Which cardi should I knit next?
Shawl Collared Jacket
Estelle free polls

Monday, February 08, 2010

Where I've been...

Three things have kept me from blogging as of late.

#1) I have finally joined a gym and have been working out there on the weekday mornings after dropping the boys off at school. (I'm not going to put a hard number on the amount of baby-weight I need to drop, but believe me, there is some serious Firming Up that needs to happen over here. My jeans hold it all in and smooth it all out, but I'm tired of illusions.)

#2) Someone has decided that he no longer needs his afternoon nap.

I beg to differ.

#3) I just can't seem to put my Black Friday down.

Girl Friday sweater. Knitting 2 sleeves at a time, nearly complete with sleeve-cap shaping.

I'm so close, I can smell it. Or see it. Whichever. I've wanted a black sweater for so long now, I am terribly impatient to see this one done!

So if I've seemed absent lately, now you know why. I'll be back though.


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