Thursday, March 26, 2009

Odds and Ends

A Cure for Knitting Ennui
A few days ago I was flipping through my pattern collection in search of Something Different. At last count, I've been knitting for 58 years (urk!), which means I am abysmally jaded. The old saying "What Goes Around Comes Around" certainly applies. The same sweaters/hats/scarves/dishcloths/tippets have gone around and come around so often that I can point to a picture and recall at least five previous incarnations.

I was grazing through this season's knitting magazine offerings and for the first time I can remember, I bought neither Interweave Knits nor Vogue Knitting. The offerings in the former were tired and the projects in the latter made me laugh.

Fortunately, I have a dear friend in England (Thanks, Jo!) who faithfully traipses to her news agent every month and ships me a lovely package of Across-the-Pond knitting magazines. Although Simply Knitting is for the beginner/intermediate knitter, every issue carries an Alan Dart toy pattern, and I dearly love these. I couldn't resist this one:

It went right to the head of the queue. The yarn is sitting in front of me waiting for me to finish this blog post.

Some brilliant English publishers thoroughly perused American knitting magazines and decided that they could do it better. And they certainly did! My last two care packages included an issue of a brand-new offering entitled The Knitter.

A few sample photos:

Intended for the experienced and adventurous, the two first glossy issues have been inspiring and beautifully laid out--treasures of knitterly eye candy. The only problem with it is that the magazine is not yet available in the US. I hope the publishers will consider overseas distribution, because advanced knitters here will surely snap up every issue. It's apparently available at bookstores and yarn shops in the US and Australia, so go get a copy!

Pattern Obscura
There's a wonderful thread on Ravelry entitled Favorite Obscure Patterns--I cruise through it often (Warning! Big Time Sucker!). Thanks to the diligence of the posters, I've added an embarrassment of items to my queue. The Internet also offers zillions of patterns that never seem to rise to public acclaim, and I want to tweet my kazoo about two of my recent favorites.

The first one is a lace shawl called Something Wicked Comes This Way, designed by Karen Walker. It's stunning! It's unusual! You can purchase it here. Go ahead--you know you want to!

--Photo Courtesy of No Two Snowflakes/Karen Walker (Thanks!)

The second pattern comes from the famous White Lies Designs. However, I haven't seen anyone get excited about this pattern...
....but I think it's eyepopping. And I have sufficient Yubina worsted-weight cashmere to make it. I have asked Harry dye the yarn for me in the requisite luscious shade of crimson, and he's agreed to do it in exchange for our new car and a year's supply of chocolate-covered beetles. A fair trade for him.

Yarn Obscura
Artist's Palette Yarn is one of my favorite Internet stores. Yes yes, she's in England. but the postage isn't punishing and the yarn will make you weep with delight. I've purchased a variety of her offerings--the quality is superb and the dying exquisite. Do give her store a try if you are looking for a little treat. Here are a few of her many types of yarns.

Glisten is a luxurious 2-ply 100% silk yarn, soft as down. I actually bought all four skeins--1200 yards will make a lovely shawl. Sorry, folks.

Damsel is 80% Extra Fine Merino 20% Silk cobweb weight, with 1200 yards per skein. She's currently having a 20% off sale. Don't you hate it when I tell you things like this?

And finally, I want to also report that I have also fallen in love with the yarns from No Two Snowflakes. Her stock isn't extensive and goes quickly, so you'll have to regularly troll her Etsy shop and see what's available. I snagged a skein of Roses and Lilacs cobweb-weight silk:

...and two skeins of Juicy Nectarine cobweb weight 50% silk, 50% wool.

Have fun grazing!

Sunday, March 1, 2009


I have to admit that I started Susan Pandorf's Iris stole with more than a little trepidation. The skeins of Handmaiden Seasilk (Mermaid colorway) looked unpleasantly brown to me and I wondered if the final result would be at all similar to her sample. The answer is yes--and it's quite stunning in person. Alas, the photos can't convey the beauteous shimmering of the silk or the glitter of the lovely beads.

This is not a project for the impatient. There are LOTS of beads in this stole. Worse, the Seasilk is quite heavy and the #8 beads quite tiny. Most of the crochet hooks I tried could not pull the entire yarn through the bead hole.

The first few hooks I tried grabbed only a few plies of the yarn, producing a sort of shredded furry carpet of Seasilk (not quite the effect I was looking for). I finally dug out my mother's Really Old Boye #12, and that hook worked perfectly, although considerable force is required to yank the yarn through the little bead holes).

I compared my set of hooks to my mother's and discovered that hers have a much deeper hook than my newer Boyes. I immediately took myself off to eBay and found an identical backup hook in case the first one broke.

I have several other projects of Susan Pandorf's in the queue, most of which use the same yarn/bead combination. For the next one though, I ordered Delica beads, which have larger holes than the seed beads I used for Iris. The Delicas slide easily onto the Seasilk without a pitched battle.

I am about 3/4's finished with the first half, so this stole won't be completed for a while. Once you get past the intriguing triangular area shown below, the pattern becomes repetitive (and not terribly interesting to knit).

I figure it will be finished around the time it becomes too hot to wear it.