Sunday, September 29, 2013

Fall Knitwear Trends

Jury Duty at the Federal District Court has been an interesting exercise.  We're not allowed electronics of any kind, so no internet surfing.  And they've been very clear - no knitting needles.  (Apparently juries have been known to resort to violence!)

When I'm not in court, I'm at the new house getting work done.  There's no end of yard work.  The previous owners neglected the exterior for years.  Working in the yard for hours each day trying to make the property safe and ready for when the snow flies is making slow progress.

When all of that is finished, I come home to my daughter and manage regular life.  Dinner, laundry, housework, groceries, and managing her Asperger's Syndrome take up all remaining energy.  I've been sleeping like a baby!  But I usually go to bed around 9:00 these days, due to plain exhaustion. 

During my hiatus from knitting, I constantly notice knitwear as I move around Buffalo.  It's like when you get a new car, and suddenly notice those cars everywhere!  Right now I'm seeing many pastel sweaters warn over clothes in fall colors.  The mornings are very chilly (in the 40's) and I'm seeing a wide variety of caps and tams that seem to come in only two categories - lacy and sporty.  What happened to funky, or chunky, or novelty?  Lastly, scarves are in major evidence, on men and on women.  All are light weight, and simple color patterns or intricate stitch patterns are the order of the day.  I know some of this is the season, but there does seem to be a definite emphasis towards lighter knits in fall fashion in Buffalo.  What are you seeing?

Monday, September 23, 2013

Knitting for the Greater Good

This news story caught my attention. Students Knit for a Cause  Knitting is a great community activity, and these students have taken that concept to a higher level.  Are you looking for ways to knit for your community?  Talk to your local knit shops for charities that work in your community.  Hospitals, churches, and homeless shelters are also good, and if they don't take donations directly, they will tell you who accepts on their behalf. 

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Jury Duty

Dear Friends:

I was empanelled on a Federal jury on Friday.  The judge indicates that the trial will last around three weeks.  This will slow down the blog posts, and for that I am very sorry.  I'll do my best to bring you good content in the meantime!  Thanks for understanding.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

What to Knit Holiday 2013 1 - Blankets

Dishcloths Make Great Blanket Squares
 Up Up and Away cloth as knit/photographed
 by neothecat on Ravelry

If you're afraid you won't finish a blanket in time for the holidays but you really want to try, you're in luck!  Dishcloths make great blanket squares. If you finish enough to sew together for a blanket, huzzah!  If not, wrap those handmade, 100% cotton cloths around some fancy soap and give the cloths themselves as a gift.  Pick one or two cloths with a theme your recipient will love, and make several of them.  Then make some plain squares (much faster to knit!) for the rest of the blanket.  The pattern squares make a fun accent!  Check (you'll have to join) and Knitting on the Net for hundreds of dishcloths and blanket squares to get you started.

Baby Blanket in a Snap
Bunny Hop Moon and Stars
Crystal Palace Yarns offers the Bunny Hop Moon and Stars blanket.  It's a simple knit, and can be made in any solid color.  Pick a color in coordination with the rest of the baby's bedding, or any color that you love.  This particular pattern doesn't have open work for tiny fingers and toes to get tangled in!  It's a quick knit in knit and purl only.  Most of the major yarn manufacturers offer dozens to hundreds of free patterns featuring their yarns, so if you're in need of ideas, visit the website of your favorite yarn company, and browse through their patterns. 
Afghans and Lap Robes

Lacy Waves Afghan
Most of us saw handmade afghans and lap robes growing up, over the back of the couch, on Grandma's favorite chair, or across the end of the bed in the guest room.  They saw a lot of action, too.  Drafty nights, bouts of the flu, and games of "tent" with the cousins at holidays were just a few of the things making these blankets a family essential.  If you're looking to add one to your family, consider some of the classic designs.  The Lacy Waves Afghan comes from Bernat Yarn Studios.  It's a lovely variation on the classic striped feather and fan lace afghan.  It's a quick and simple knit in big yarn with big needles. 

You don't have to match the yarn type, brand, or fiber in these blankets.  Make what works for you.  If you need it to be washable, try superwash wool or acrylic.  If you want it to be hypo-allergenic, baby alpaca, cotton, and most synthetics will work.  Just match the yarn weight and needle size and you'll be fine.  Slight variations in gauge aren't so important here, as fit isn't a concern.

More of a Challenge

Argyle Cable Knit Afghan
Ready to show off your best needlework?  Then try Spinrite's Argyle Cable Knit Afghan.  Intarsia, cables, duplicate stitch and finishing skills are all on display on this beautiful blanket.  Varying the colors will make it perfect for any man, woman, or children on your list.  Make it as vibrant or subtle as you like. 

The Over the Rainbow Blanket from Drops Design will also present a challenge, and though it looks harder than it is, it will definitely impress.  It's made with color-pooling variegated yarns like Classic Elite's Liberty Wool, Universal Poems, or the various Noro offerings.  Check with the staff at your Local Yarn Shop to confirm if your yarn choice will work for the rainbow effect.

What are you making this year?

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Yarn Bombing

Moscow Yarn Bomb
Yarn bombing is becoming more and more popular.  What is it?  Why is it gaining popularity?  Who organizes these things?  How does it fit into the definition of "art"?

Copenhagen, Denmark

Outside Cleveland, OH City Hall, 2008
A yarn bombing is an installation of knit or crochet work in a public place.  Some yarn bombings are done with permission, others without.  It is done for a variety of reasons.  In the Moscow bombing, it's done to advertise a knit and crochet shop.  (Follow link to article.)  In the photo of the tank, a more political motive is involved, to contrast the inhumanity of war against the humanity and comfort of handcrafts.  It was installed as a protest against international participation in the recent/current Iraq war.  The project was organized by Marianne Jorgensen, and knit and crocheted by crafters around the world.  Still others are done to promote a charity, or as art for the sake of art.

London Phone Booth
The London Phone Booth was done by Knit the City, a knitting collective that exists for the sole purpose of installing "Knit Graffiti". They have been prolific in their short existence, and their installations are joyful.  Their art encourages viewers to see their world in a humorous way.

Is yarn bombing here to stay?  Sure.  It's street art.  Graffiti, chalk art, Lego art, and yarn bombing are the visual art cousins of street performers who sing, dance, make living statues, and more.  Every way that people find to express themselves makes its way into a public venue.  Graffiti dates back to cave paintings.  Protest songs were documented in medieval times.  It's not going anywhere.

"Lego" Bridge, Germany 2012 by MGEX

This Lego bridge in Germany was painted with permission from city officials, and took almost 4 weeks to complete. 

The city of London has allowed installation of Lego Underground maps at 5 subway stations.

Lego Map, London Underground

So is it art?  Art has always been in the eye of the beholder.  That said, many well known artists began their public careers as "guerrilla" artists.  Keith Haring and Shepard Fairey immediately come to mind. 

Keith Haring - Brooklyn Subway Art
Other artists, like Christo, Picasso, and many more, begin their careers indoors, and move to outdoor installations after they've made a name for themselves.

We are witnessing the birth of a new form of public expression.  Some of these artists are already receiving invitations and commissions to install their art by invitation. 
Mural by Shepard Fairey

If you see some yarn bombing, snap a photo.  Post it on your Facebook page.  Share the experience!  Organize a yarn bombing of your own.  Or scan Twitter and Tumblr for artists who are looking for support for a planned yarn bomb.  Join in!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Breast Cancer Awareness Month

After a quick poll of friends, relatives, and acquaintances, I was unable to locate a single person who had not either had breast cancer or had a close friend or relative with it.  It is a pervasive issue that touches lives in ways as unique as the women and men who contract the disease, but it is always painful and disruptive.

I've never done this before, but this year I'm devoting a post to the various wonderful things you can knit and wear to show support for the fight against this disease.  October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, and pink is the color designated by Susan G. Komen for the Cure as supporting research to cure the disease.  You may want to knit ahead to have something ready as a gift.  If so, these patterns may help.

If you have are a survivor, or have a friend, relative or acquaintance who is a survivor, consider knitting one of these patterns.  If your friend is a knitter, you could also consider building a personalized kit for your friend to make their own project.  These are not fund raising patterns; they just show support for the fight.  If you wish to make a donation, please use the link above to contact the SGK Foundation directly. 

First up, the Pink Ribbon Hat from Carissa Knits.  Make it in a variety of fibers to match the needs of the recipient.

Pink Ribbon Mittens, from Nancy's  They're made in colorwork on small needles, and will definitely be a labor of love.  Beautiful, aren't they?

For the sock people, Pink Ribbons, socks from the agile mind of Lisa Lloyd.  Again, I see these in a variety of fibers and heights to meet the needs of the end-user.

Any of these three patterns can be made in any of the support ribbon colors to suit the needs of your family or loved ones.  For color options, please click here.

This last one is a godsend to those who choose not to have reconstructive surgery, and want the option of a comfortable prosthetic.  It's called "Tit Bits", and it has received consistently amazing reviews.  It was designed by Beryl Tsang, and thoughtfully made available in


Saturday, September 7, 2013

A Change in the Weatther

The weather here in Buffalo NY is right on schedule.  Labor Day weekend brought daytime highs in the 60's F/low 20's C and lows in the 40s/single digits.  This tends to make two things happen in my mind: I crave heavier knitting projects and delight in the wools and tweeds that suddenly populate the knit shops, and I am thrilled with the sales!

It's a tough choice.  I tend to go stash diving at this time of year, and pull out some orphan yarn or some un-realized pattern, and then scour the shops looking for the answer to make these things whole.  Maybe my skein of mohair will mesh beautifully with some new silk/merino blend and become decadent gloves.  Maybe the pattern I can't get gauge on is just the thing for the linen yarn that's now on sale.  Maybe not.  The point is, I go in with a purpose or two, and find the process less overwhelming.  Otherwise, I want to take everything home. 

Another thing I find myself doing every year at this time is going through all my project bags and passing sentence: knit, purgatory (rarely), or rip.  I like to free up my needles.  Projects are no longer abandoned, but just gone.  Clearing the backlog feels good, no matter what the resolution.

I sort my needles, and make sure they're properly labeled and stored.  I sort my stash, and update and reorganize the labeling.  On rare occasions, I even update my inventories on Ravelry.  They are wonderful tools. 

This change in the weather is inspiring.  All of a sudden I have quite a bit of work to do!  If you need me, I'll be buried under my stash.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

3 Bags Full

The kids are back in school, which means the Lovely and Intrepid Colleen, Assistant Extraordinaire, is available to get back to work on what's important - paying attention to my knitting needs!  We met up at our usual Starbucks location, delighted to have no children in tow, and fewer limits on knitting and design time.

As I was packing up for this meeting, I collected no fewer than three bags full of Mountain Colors Yarn for us to discuss, and swatches for future designs.  Because my head is conclusively up my butt, I did not consider this strange at all.  I just walked into Starbucks, ordered, and then spread yarn across a large table for four.  There were only the two of us, but it was a lot of yarn.

The yarn attracted lots of attention.  People wanted to touch it, look at it, talk about knitting with it, learn where to buy it, learn when the patterns I'm designing will be available and where, etc.  The first woman visited with us for 20 minutes before mentioning that she had left her husband on the other side of the cafĂ©, waiting for her.  One woman was in the process of conducting a job interview (I am not making this up) and abandoned her job candidate for the better part of ten minutes just to visit the yarn!

I took the yarn home and went on with my day yarn-free.  Sincerely, if I ever decide to run for office, I think I'll bring it with me everywhere I go.  It draws a relaxed and happy crowd.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Holiday Knitting Quickie - Stockings!

Spindleknitter's Stockings by Kristen Hall are my first must knit rave of the 2013 holiday season.  Knit 'em up.  The pattern is free, and it's really good.  I've read it through and these are definitely on my holiday list.  Add 'em to yours!