Friday, December 17, 2010

Boutique Belgique

If you haven't already noticed, this blog changes direction often. At one point I wanted it to be something more organized, but I've decided it should be where my brain comes to de-clutter because writing helps. I hope you're riding this roller coaster with me. If there's anything you want to hear more about or see more pictures of, leave a comment!

I really enjoy for inspiration. I'm always looking for new ways to wear the clothes I have. It makes my closet look a lot more interesting than it is. But my favorite reason to look at lookbook is to find out how people are wearing their knits. There are tons of variations on a theme (sheer tights with jean shorts is the things this winter), but sometimes I find something that really intrigues me.

Today, it's this:

 I'm such a tights girl and I loved these immediately when I saw them. She says she got them here:
Boutique Belgique

It's kind of an adorable boutique from what I see in the pictures. The blog is pretty new and the boutique is quite new in Köln.

From the look of the mannequins

Boutique Belgique
and the people in the shop

Boutique Belgique

there's kind of a relaxed, "sporty" style to this boutique. Very comfy and cozy and a little rustic, but in a chic way.
Boutique Belgique

Has anyone else noticed that pallet furniture is kind of in vogue right now? I found some really cute pallet furniture online. I decided not to write a post about it because people have already, but if you do a Google search, you can find some really inexpensive, do-able ideas that actually look right at home in a space that needs a little rustic charm.

It's right up my style alley. I'm not really a girl-y girl, so I like to take a girl-y concepts and pair them with something a little masculine. Pink with brown, skirts with work/hiking boots, "boyfriend" cardigan and jeans with rolled up cuffs and heels, a lace slip with a tailored jacket. - Summerbreeze

I found that outfit AFTER I listed those things but it was actually tougher to find than I was expecting. I should probably take more pictures of me. In any case, that's all for now. Off to think really hard about decorating some more for Christmas.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Pringle of Scotland: Check it Out

Dear and lovely readers,

I'd like to start with a sincere apology for the number of times I said "check (it) out" - five or six times, I think. I know plenty more ways to say, "Hey, why don't you look at this?" besides "check it out" and I promise I won't use it this post at all after this paragraph. Thank you for bearing with me. On to your irregularly scheduled program.

I thought I might go into some more depth about some of the stores I mentioned in yesterday's post. By more depth, I mean MORE PICTURES! Hurray!!! Especially since yesterday was really word-heavy. So today's topic is Pringle of Scotland.

Pringle of Scotland
 I love Pringle because Pringle loves knitwear. The company began in 1815 and became iconic for cashmere knit sweaters, argyle, and the "twinset" - a matching cardigan and sweater set. There is a photo chronology on their website that briefly outlines some of the history of Pringle of Scotland. Get this:

Pringle of Scotland - Argyle
If you look closely, you'll see that's the original knitter's graph paper that someone colored in by hand in the 1920's to create the argyle pattern that we know so well today. If you go through the timeline a bit, you'll see some fun things like 'The Pringle Bar', where Pringle sold their twinsets,

The Pringle Bar

a very dashing young Richard Gere wearing Pringle on the cover of Men's Vogue,

Richard Gere on Men's Vogue

and one of the best animated brand films I've seen, though I'll admit I haven't seen many.

(sorry if there's something wonky about that. I was messing with adjusting the sizing).

In any case, at least that pub isn't this:

Horrible, horrible thing about magical creatures stalking you and tattling to Santa since he's too busy to stalk you himself. How frightening. I saw this on tv and I was literally scared. My heart started racing and I was too afraid to go to the website at the end to find out what the heck it was. I saw it again at Borders and complained about how creepy it is and a very kind lady in front of me told me about it. Does anyone else find this scary or is it just me?

Merry Christmas?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The North Circular

I'm sure I'm late on this one, but I'm kind of excited about The North Circular. Do check it out!
Lily Cole is heading a group of models and knitters in a really interesting, if not a bit nostalgic, business collaboration.

The North Circular has rescued some Wensleydales, keep a tally on each garment's tag to let you know how many sheep they've saved, and briefly introduce you to Ernest, the shepherd for those Wensleydales in Yorkshire. The knitters are "...grannies, girls. …and a few strong men..." but I promise, the folks at The North Circular are really mostly focused on the "grannies".

Granted, the focus comes out of a respect for the craft and for the beautiful knit work that Lily's own grandmother has done, as well as including the consumer in essentially every moment of the process from sheep to garment, I still feel a tiny bit left out.

As I knitter, I simultaneously love the concept and hope people buy, as well as knowing I probably won't buy the items myself. I'm hoping people buy hand knits from me, so it seems ironic if I'm buying hand knits. I don't really need to get to know my knitter: I already know mine.

That said, look at the goodies!

Bobble Hat
Skip the 'For Kids' and 'Ready to Wear' sections and just check out the accessories. These are lovely knits for the non-knitter, and lovely pictures for the knitter. Check out the extra thumbnails and you can figure out the construction pretty easily. It's not ground-breaking design, but the concept is fantastic. If you aren't a knitter and you care about the earth, I'd say go for it!

By the by, The North Circular is participating in Prince Charles' Campaign for Wool: a program to support the woolen industry. There are some great companies supporting this initiative like Pringle of Scotland (always a winner), Happy Socks (love love love!), Elizabeth Lau (who designs some knitwear for anthropologie - not a supporter, but they're still fabulous), The Wool Room (lovely lovely woolies for your home - I'll be buying from them soon) just to name a very very very small few.

Check out the Campaign for Wool website - it's aesthetically pleasing and concise - and then check out the brand supporters and make your retail therapy a little bit greener.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Miu Miu Pre-Fall 2010

I love It's the first place I ever found where I could see full collections as they come out. It's an amazing place to see color and style trends straight from the source.

I've been looking back at the Miu Miu and Prada PF2010 Collections since they came out. They took knitting so seriously. Here's some items from Miu Miu that I particularly like:

The mittens, the thigh-high socks and vest are right up my alley for design inspiration. They're all a bit elaborate for my taste, but I love the spirit they're coming from. And if you were wondering what's hiding under the coat in that first picture (and didn't quite get enough from the vest), the lovely folks at Prada...

...made it into a dress. The extravagance is really nice. I wouldn't wear it, but I wouldn't hate if I saw it on someone else. Fun.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Pull and Bear

I was over at lookbook lurking, as I frequently feel inclined to do, when I saw this:

She calls it "Camel From Head to Toe...". As a lover of browns for winter, I am in love with this outfit. As a knitter, I want to be this woman's friend. Look! Just LOOK at that corset. Yeeeessss!!! I hopped over to her personal page to find out where on earth she purchased this wonderful piece of knitterly excellence.

It's from Pull & Bear, which I had never heard of before. Popped over to the site and found these:

These are just two of the photos I saw there that I really loved. Note the knit rug on the floor in the second photo.

These are good. Really really good. There is all sorts of inspiration to be had here.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

On Suicide and Homosexuality

I woke up not too long ago and, against what judgment I still believe myself to possess, hopped on Facebook. After playing around for a few minutes, I noticed I had been invited to participate in this "event". Jump on over. I'll wait. Read some of the comments and then you can return at your own leisure. Trust me, there's plenty there...

Back? Great. Let's talk.

I have noticed that people really like to remember things that make them upset. We're constantly having some "in memory" of wars, deaths, hatred, violence. What happens when you remember those things? You get angry, vengeful, fearful, hateful, and depressed. What happens when people feel those things? Wars, deaths, hatred, and violence. Or, if you don't feel or do any of those things, then you can feel nothing.

What you need to do is STOP giving so much power and attention to all the things that we DON'T WANT! Have an event in memory of a life, not a death. Be more vocal about resources for teens, gay or otherwise, so that they don't think their only option is to commit suicide. Spread the word that they are loved, no matter what some people think.

Reading those comments, you notice the lack of respect people have for each other and for themselves. Raise your hand if you're surprised that hatred comes from both sides. We will never get rid of all the things we don't want in the world, but so what? Choose your focus. Life is amazing. So much more good happens in this world than we give attention to and we wonder why all we notice is the bad. Statistics (that's real simple math I'm talking about) will tell you that it's a tiny percentage of bad going on out of all the good.

If you want to sit in the 0.0113% of people committing suicide, feel free. I'm gonna sit in my 99.9887% of people who don't commit suicide.

And to answer the question, sure, I'll wear purple. And I'll wear green, and brown and grey and any other color I feel like wearing on any day of the year while I remember how many people are living and help think of ways to keep people happily alive.

The only time you can be happy is any time you decide to be.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Knitting Needles on Planes: A Rant

As my imminent trip nears, I consider all of the things necessary before I depart. Packing, for one, would probably be a good idea at this point.

I intend to bring three bags: 1) the one checked bag that I am allowed, under 50lbs with everything I can manage in it; 2) one carry-on bag (my "purse") with my laptop, a novel (John Steinbeck's East of Eden) and some essential documents; 3) one carry-on with yarn and needles.

Now, that said, I decided to check one more time and make sure the international airlines don't have any restrictions against knitting needles. For a while now, they've been accepted on planes here. I'm flying Lufthansa and they have no issue with knitting needles and say specifically that they are acceptable items to carry on-board.

I was curious, though, to see what else I could find about knitting needles on planes. I came across a thread in which a person asked why knitting needles are accepted on planes, as they are sharp and thus deadly.

This person has clearly never touched a knitting needle before. You have to get pretty small before they get sharp. How sharp? Approximately as sharp as a dull pencil. Most knitting needles small enough to puncture the skin are double pointed (they are equally pointed on both ends), so if you're gonna stab someone with it, you have to push on the opposite sharp end with your hand or a finger. If you give it enough force to puncture someone else, you've given it enough force to puncture yourself and that just seems counter-intuitive.

As a matter of fact, being punctured by something just hurts for a second, it isn't deadly. People have been impaled by huge stuff and walked into the emergency room with it.

In short, people shut up about knitting needles on planes unless you're ready to give up your pens, pencils, styluses, long fingernails, most earrings and lots of other kinds of jewelry, chopsticks, and anything else that's long and slender and "sharp".

End rant.

This is why people think knitting takes patience

Not much to report today. I delivered yesterday's items. I didn't even have to talk to anybody else. It was fantastic.

Yesterday's progress on the sweater is a little disappointing.

I know it looks like a lot from yesterday, but it's less than I wanted. I'm kind of surprised that the relaxed width is SO much smaller than the stretched width. I'm still learning this machine and I don't like to swatch. What I'll likely end up with is a sweater that fits rather than a large jacket. Oh well.

So what you see there is the back, and no, you can't see the fronts yet because I don't feel like taking another picture.

There was quite a bit of knitting on my mom's gloves last night. Result:

Looks almost identical to yesterday. Why? Because I started the thumb gusset and almost finished it when I realized that without the colorwork continuing up the glove, it's coming out too wide. FANtastic. So I ripped back to the colorwork. Actually, I don't rip, I tink, cuz I'd rather take forever going back than try to pick up all those tiny stitches when I get there.

Did anyone notice what I didn't mention? Work. Yes, actual work projects. There are bags and arm warmers and mittens etc to be knit and I have forfeit them for this sweater and maybe that's a bad idea cuz they should really be up before I go... I suppose if I'm shipping them from overseas, I can post them overseas...

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Help! I need somebody. Help!... I suppose it could be anybody...

I finished a cowl and a headband yesterday for two former coworkers.

Cowl is, of course, in Patons Classic Wool in Chestnut Brown. The headband is three different colors of skinny green ribbon. Not ribbon yarn. Just ribbon. Pain in the behind.

In any case, I packaged them all pretty, drove 30minutes out to give them their goods,

and realized I had left them at home. Ugh.

Now that I'm finished with things for other people, I'm working on a jacket to take with me to Germany. So far, I've done the ribbing.

I'll be using some stitch patterns from Katharina Buss' Big Book of Knitting again. I like that one. Updates as it comes along.

In other news, I had been making these headset covers for work (hint: it was a call center).

We have to have our own headphone covers to cushion our ears. I'm sure it's something about germs and stuff. I lost one of mine and didn't want to pay $2 for another pair, so I made one.

Then people started asking for them and in all kinds of crazy colors.

It was getting too tedious keeping up with all the colors I had available and all the colors people wanted, so I just made and packaged a bunch.

Now I have extra and I don't work there anymore and I'm trying to come up with something else to do with them. They're kind of shaped like little doll hats and can flatten to a disk with a lip. I wish I could explain that better. Any suggestions??? Help me out.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Only the kind with fingers

I'm seven days from a trip to Germany/France and I'm pretty excited. I was supposed to be using this week to work on my shop, but so far, I've been working on other things. Here are just a couple of quick pictures of things I have done recently.

This hat was from a pattern on Ravelry. I'll put it in when I find it. Used the usual Patons Classic Wool in Water Chestnut and Dark Grey Mix. Sold. I've done a bunch of hats with this basic shape as a template, and I don't like having the increases all the way around, although the taper seems about right. In any case, I'm going to reformat for my shop hats.

My mom's birthday is also coming up so I started to make some mittens for her:

No pattern. I am using a chart out of Katharina Buss' Big Book of Knitting, though.

This pattern circles the wrist. I need some clever, relevant way to divide this from the hand section. I may try to two-colored braid if I can find a book with those in it. Otherwise, I'll just make stripes.

I'm using Knit Picks Palette in Mist and Lipstick (I think).

I asked my mom last night if she likes mittens. Her reply?

"Yes, but only the kind with fingers."

Good thing I asked.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Hello, thee, blog

Hi, there folks.

I realize it's been a while since I've posted. Ok it's been months and months. Lots has been happening, but the important stuff is....

... just a sneak peak of a few of the first items that will appear in my etsy shop, all witty knitty. Suuuuper excited. Pics of the knits to come soon. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

I think I am crazy

Guess what I'm doing???

Yup you got it. The Yarn Harlot's Knitting Olympics! Hurray! It'll be my first participation in any Olympic knitting and I'm pretty psyched. My challenge? I'd like to finish writing the pattern for the socks I've designed, as well as test-knitting three different sizes. That's three pairs of socks and a pattern NOT including the pair I'm finishing now. That's just the design pair. By the by, I have pics of the first completed sock of the pair:

Heh... I know they don't look exciting. That's some fabulous Paint work to hide the stitch pattern. Ok, I know I'm being overzealous, here, but I'm keeping it on the safe side. I LOVE the color. It's Knit Picks Palette in I forget what color but it's lovely.

I will tell you that the stitch pattern reflects my personality pretty well. It's not really frilly, but it's just lacy enough to be a little feminine. It's got a little directional interest without being swirly and it's a pretty easy stitch pattern without being ridiculously boring or annoyingly fiddly.

May I diverge a moment to have us all take a look at that FANTASTIC short row heel? That's the best one I've done. It's beautiful and the first one I've done to actually fit my heel properly.

Back to the sock. I'll tell you something, Palette starts to pill if you rip too much, but if you're nice and rip gently, it holds up pretty well.

As an(other) aside, yes, that's my foot on the steering wheel of my car. No, I'm not driving that way.

I've got to find a way to slow my brain down or else get a lot better at sketching my mindstuff because I can't keep up with all of the ideas I have. Or maybe I should just get better about choosing what mindstuff should be

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Snow Day 1 - 2010

The fall and winter came so quickly last year that I was sure we'd have a long, hard winter. There has been a very little bit of frozen precipitation - it snowed some huge, fluffy flakes in mid December and there have been a couple of days of freezing rain. The weather has been a little more extreme than usual. We've always gotten warm spurts in winter (often in the 60s and 70s), but this time, each lasts about 10 days and it's either warm or it's freezing. All of that is to say that today it snowed, so I figured it was a good time to take pictures.

Well, to be totally truthful, it snowed a little last night, and since then, there has been a consistent frozen rain. Really. It hasn't stopped at all and won't until tomorrow. So what we have is about six inches of tiny tiny frozen droplets that are packing together. It's the kind that you walk on top of instead of fall into.

That picture brings me to my next point. Mittens. I used Adrian Bizilia's Generic Norwegian Mittens template. I read that the sizing is meant for a standard sport weight yarn. Instead of swatching (you know where this is going) I decided I would just check yarn labels. I picked out Classic Elite Fresco from my stash, a luscious 60% wool/30% baby alpaca/10% angora blend. The pattern called for 3.25mm (US 3) needles and the yarn called for 3.75mm (US 5) needles, so I figured it would work out. I drew out my pattern on the template and jumped in. What I ended up with was one, beautiful, delicate, soft, squishy mitten...

... that would fit a 5 yr old.

I re-knit it in worsted weight, which of course was too big, but with the colorwork, it worked out reasonably well.

To take it back a couple of months, just before the Harlot caught site of them, I saw the French Press Felted Slippers (do you even NEED that link? I'm sure you know where to find them) and was immediately enamored. I'll put myself in knits from head to toe. These are the only slippers I've seen that are cute (!!!) and that you can wear outdoors, as everyday shoes. I thought I would make dozens of pairs. I've got plenty of Patons wool around and I wanted them in every color. I worked for a few hours the first night I got the pattern and started to hand felt (because I had JUST done laundry) and this is how far I got:

I got through to the felting on one, did almost all the knitting for the other (can't find the other pieces in my UFO box), and haven't looked at them again since. As you can see, I didn't even finish the felting. This isn't complicated or time consuming, but it's easy to get distracted since there's not much that's actually fun about making them. The knitting is boring, the seaming is boring, and the (hand) felting is boring. I will finish these though, because I so want the finished product. If I can delay gratification long enough to work through something tedious (this is an overall affliction of mine), I can get something quite good at the end.

Next up is my Valentine's Day doll. A simple doll made out of Lion Brand Thick and Quick with a small heart out of Patons, layered buttons for eyes and both stuffed with polyfil. I was thinking of making a couple of these to put in some care packages for loved-ones overseas. It's a nice squishy for a baby and is a super quick knit. You can even add your favorite scent and send it to your love who's far away. When they squeeze it, their body heat will release the smell of you. It's very comforting. Oh and he's about 12-14" tall.

I'm working on some things to sell. Progress is slow.

A seed stitch hat and mitten set. Not quite finished and still working out some kinks. I'll let you know how it goes.

Finally, the big one. I heard about Knit Picks' Independent Designer Partnership Program and I thought it would be a great idea to really sit down and write up a good design. I've always just knit things, so technically I've designed, but I never write down a pattern or anything.

I was inspired by a gorgeous snake called the Northern Red-Bellied Snake. LOVE those colors. I decided to do a yoke sweater but the only KP yarn that had the right colors was Palette, a fingering weight. So I bought enough to make a whole sweater --I figured if I didn't have a pattern at the end, I'd at least have a sweater -- and I swatched...

and swatched...

and charted...

and swatched some more...

and I couldn't figure out what the problem was with the colors. I don't like them knit together as much as I like them side-by-side. After weeks of markers and Microsoft Paint and crayons and colored pencils and graph paper I realized something:

The orange and yellow should be on a dark blue background. Duh. Again, I'll let you know.