Sunday, October 29

Four months in the making.


Pattern: Brocade by Kaffe Fassett, from Rowan magazine 38
Yarn: Rowan Yorkshire Tweed DK in Skip and Rowdy (6 balls each)
Needles: Clover bamboo circs (size 7) and Inox circs (size 6) for the ribbing
Ends woven in: definitely nearing 1000
Started: June 7th-ish
Completed: October 21st

Before I get into my a critique of my work, some positives: I am really quite proud of myself for getting through this project that I was probably a little crazy to take on. It's a gorgeous pattern, and I feel like I did it well, judiciously cutting new lengths of yarn for each section and spit-splicing my little heart out (which got me a few strange looks at the office). It was a joy to knit, not a headache.

Brocade motif
outside/inside... I'll never complain about ends again!
Brocade - inside

And the yarn? I could sing its praises all day. If I hadn't blown all that money at Rhinebeck, I'd buy a bag or two just to have around. In fact, I still might.

bird's eye view?
I got a little "creative" in some of these shots... ahem.

There was a fair amount of talk about Brocade when the magazine came out - how they must have pinned it for the photo shoot because there was no waist shaping, talk of knitting it in the round and converting it to raglan sleeves. Fair points all around. It would be pretty easy to add waist shaping by shaving a few blocks off the sides of the chart. And while it might be possible to knit it as fair isle, I would never want to. The sweater would be doubly thick (DK yarn, remember?) and you'd have to use twice as much of it (Rowan, remember?) and, most importantly, doing intarsia on this scale is just. plain. thrilling.

Not exactly Rowan material.
Not exactly Rowan material.

Am I thrilled with the fit? No, I am not. But that has less to do with the design of the sweater (rather boxy, drop sleeves) and more to do with the fact that the thing is too damn big. And when I found that out, it was too late for me to do anything about it. The back was 40 inches across... and I had already woven all the ends in. What could I do? It's halfway decent in the bust, but it hangs off me otherwise. And in the interest of full disclosure: in some of these shots, some excess fabric is held back with a big clip. Yup! I'm a deceiver.

Ugly face!
Ugly face in this one.

Maybe one day I will get ambitious with a sewing machine and take it in a little bit on the sides. My seaming was rushed (yes, I am guilty of in-car finishing) and the turtleneck could stand to be a little bit longer - that's something I can fix right away.

Another thing (and if you noticed this in person but didn't point it out, you're a saint):

Why I can never look at this sweater again.

Fucking. Dyelots. I didn't notice until I was seaming... somehow the first ball of Skip I used was a different dyelot, less green than the rest. My last ball was a different dyelot as well, but I knew that going in. Seeing it for the first time, though, seeing EXACTLY where it happened on the FIRST piece that I knit, sort of made me want to tear my heart out? A sweater I put months of work into, countless hours bent over it with my crochet hook (I'd get a certain look on my face, Brian calls it "the knitting face" but really it was reserved only for Brocade), and I thought it looked like a joke. I almost didn't finish it, I'm serious.

Sick of looking at this sweater yet?

I'm glad I did, though. Towards the end I really started to doubt myself, questioned whether I should wear it to Rhinebeck, etc etc etc. But none of that matters, really. Because all of your reactions and comments smacked the stupid right out of me. Seriously, I love you guys. My Brocade is not perfect, but overall it's still a knockout.

I'm not sure what's next for me, besides perpetual socks and Christmas knitting (hats all around!) I might pick up the USMP again, if I can make myself stop worrying about the fit and just go with it. It'll fit me at some point in my life, right? There's a certain knitalong on the horizon. Also, I'm on the lookout for a new lace project, so throw your fave patterns my way.

(P.S.: I'll post the contest results on Wednesday, there's still plenty of time to "enter"! Interesting results so far... my WIP sidebar could be a bit of a giveaway, but I haven't updated it in a looong time.)

Saturday, October 28

My first contest!

So, um:

Turns out the Brocade post might not happen today. Unless you want to see it soaking wet. Hope for a bit of sun tomorrow?

Instead, today will be a spinning day (and a dyeing day, too - I'm overdyeing that BFL I fouled up a while ago).

Now! On to my little contest. Since I feel bad about still not getting the Brocade post up. I just finished a couple of projects that have been on the needles waaaaay too long (i.e. before I started Brocade). Any guesses? If you can name the two projects I finished this week, I'll send you a chunk of the yarn that one of the projects was knit with. Don't worry, it's not total crap :) If more than one of you gets it, I'll draw a name from a hat.

Good luck! And stay dry.

Thursday, October 26


I know a full post on Brocade was supposed to come next, but it's going to have to wait until the weekend - by the time I get home from work there's no natural light to take pictures :( The post itself is written so it'll be up after I take the pictures on Saturday.

And anyway, I have news... As a few of you know, last spring I took a leave of absence from BU. I was very unhappy with my major and the school, to the point that it was affecting everything else in my life. I needed some time to figure out how to proceed with my studies (I was only about 10 classes aways from a degree at BU and could have finished in another year, but would have been severely depressed doing so). Late in the summer I decided that I wanted to transfer to UMass Amherst for the spring semester and change majors. It feels like a really awesome plan for us - Brian and I both love the area (he grew up there) and I'm so excited to get this old brain working again.

I found out this morning that I was accepted! Not too much of a surprise, really, but a HUGE relief. Huge. We can finally start seriously planning for the move. We can finally have a place to live with DOORS! I can leave this job and go back to being a student, and really make the most of it this time.

Knitting content returns Saturday :)

Monday, October 23

The Rhinebeck post

Rhinebeck was a total blast, more than worth the trip. The weather was perfect, the animals were adorable (if I could have walked off with an armful of rabbits, I would have), and the people were A+++. I got to meet a bunch of awesome blog-friends in person (and still managed to miss a few, d'oh!) and many I'd met before. I didn't bring my camera (double d'oh) buuuut you can always check out Flickr photos tagged with "Rhinebeck."

If you saw me at there, you know that I finished Brocade and actually wore it! I'll make a more exhaustive post about Brocade tomorrow(ish), but here's a preview:

Brocade - done!

Please excuse the overflowing trash can in the background. And a picture of it in action, yanked from Ariel's blog:

Me and Ariel at Rhinebeck

Fun fact: Ariel and I made Conwy socks in the same exact yarn!

Now, for my fiber haul:
my Rhinebeck haul!

No yarn whatsoever, as you can see! Had stock up on fiber. Going clockwise from the top left, we have: a Blue Moon Fiber Arts Sheep 2 Shoe kit, 1/2 lb of merino from Pleasant Home Woolen Co., a blended batt from Grafton Fibers, merino and corriedale from The Sheep Shed, an alpaca/merino blend from Little Barn (I also picked up some undyed superwash merino from them), and a big blob of green something-or-other from Wool 'N Quilts. My mom picked up a sweater's-worth of Brooks Farm Harmony in some pretty greens/blues.

It was soooo great seeing all of you - Jessica, Veronique, Lisa and the other Spiders, Laura, Adrian, Ariel, Monica, anyone who had me on their Blogger Bingo card, etc etc - if we met and I've forgotten to mention you, do say hi!

Monday, October 16

Tired of pictureless posts yet?

Brocade update the second: Sleeve #1 is blocking, and I'm 30ish rows into sleeve #2. The end is in sight!!! Let's just hope the sucker fits.


I'm a square!!!

That's right, I'm a Rhinebeck Blogger Bingo square (got in at the last minute!) for Saturday. Considering how the knitting is going, I should be ridiculously easy to spot.

I'm going to save the finished Brocade photos for after Rhinebeck, so sit tight everyone.

We're watching Todd Field's In the Bedroom tonight on IFC - I'm interested to see it, with all the buzz (+ and -) that Little Children is getting.

Sunday, October 15

D.O.A.P., et al.

Brocade update: front is blocked, about 40 rows to go on sleeve #1 (then weaving, blocking).

I thought I'd throw up some quick reviews before I start knitting this morning. We've been watching season 1 of The Wire this weekend... We're 6 or 7 episodes in and I'm still waiting for it to get good, I guess. It's passably entertaining and undeniably realistic, but it doesn't rank among my other favorite HBO dramas.

Last night Brian and I got to see the highly controversial new faux-documentary Death of a President (or D.O.A.P.) Recently a few theater chains here in the US have said they won't show the film (it'll be interesting to see how that pans out, though I doubt there's a mainstream audience for it anyway). Anyway. I think our main reason for wanting to see it was James Urbaniak, a household favorite who plays an FBI forensic expert. He was excellent, but the film? Pretty pointless. It's all premise and no insight. (Premise Beach, anyone?) Sure, it's what could have happened - the aftermath is especially plausible - but playing it out on film is pretty futile. It won the FIPRESCI Prize at Toronto for "the audacity with which it distorts reality to reveal a larger truth," but I don't think that the "larger truth" they're talking about is all that hidden.

On Friday we finally went to see The Departed (in a packed theater) and it was... fucking great. Just go see it. See it twice, even. I loved it, in spite of questionable accents (and haircuts, I'm looking at you Mark).

We caught Factotum sometime last week... Brian loves Bukowski and I do too, if to a lesser degree. I adored Born Into This, it's an incredible documentary (and worthwhile even if you're not a fan). I shouldn't hold Factotum up to that standard, but. Between this and Barfly (which Hank wrote himself) it's become abundantly clear that Bukowski's words don't really translate to film. They lose all their life and power. Factotum was a snoozefest, and worth very little next to reading the book or seeing the man himself in action.

Time to pay attention to The Wire...

Friday, October 13

The loftiest of goals.

Here it is, folks: I'm going to finish Brocade for Rhinebeck. And wear it. I want to do this for a couple of reasons, the main one being that I've been working on this sweater since June and there are so many other projects I want to start. The other reason? You'll be able to spot me more easily at Rhinebeck! Perfect place to show it off.

It's a daunting task, as I've only just started on the first sleeve and the front still isn't blocked. However! I've been bringing the project to work with me. My job is basically just answering phones, so I can weave in ends all day if I'm not busy. I think I'll finish that today, allowing me to block the front over the weekend (and maybe even start seaming?) Then I'll have the weekend and next week to power through the sleeves.

I think it's doable! I just have to stay committed. The spinning will be put on hold for a little while (which is fine, since I'm disappointed with the roving I dyed on Tuesday and need to re-dye it), and the book I'm reading (Oblivion by David Foster Wallace, no great shakes IMO) has already been relegated to my commute.

A quick word about weaving in ends - I know that for most projects it's just a hassle, but it's really essenital for intricate intarsia like this. As with any intarsia there are little holes that get closed up when you weave the ends in, but there are also wonkier sections that you can stabilize and realign, even before blocking. This happens a lot when you have small, single lines of contrasting color running diagonally through larger blocks. It's pretty amazing sometimes - I'll try to do some before and after pictures when I'm on to the sleeves.

Time to put my nose back to the grindstone... Happy 13th everyone! I used to be able to do a vampire smiley face, but I can't remember how :(

Monday, October 9

I wore this all day, and it was over 70 degrees!

Remember what I said about wanting to be able to use what I spin?

Handspun hat

I'm sticking to my word! Or at least I'm starting out that way. This morning I was itching to knit yesterday's yarn (I had about 130 yards, by the way... about worsted weight I think?) The hat is the earflap version of Kim's Hat from Last Minute Knitted Gifts. I used the plied yarn for the hat and the singles (spun earlier on the spindle) for the flaps. LOVE it. And I never ever wear hats (this is only the second one I've ever knit). Even Brian had it on for a little while. It was so quick to knit, I can see a bunch of these being churned out for the holidays.

Last night I spun up some ultra-colorful roving that I'd dyed a few weeks ago - mostly greens with some blue, yellow, and orangey brown. Not too great looking as singles, but I really like the result plied. I think the weight and twist is a lot more uniform on this skein, too. Here it is on the skeinwinder:

Second plied yarn

And skeined up (about 88 yards):

Second plied yarn, skeined

I might try to dye some more roving tonight - I'm running out of stuff to spin! I tried out a little merino this afternoon... it was going okay, but I started spinning it too fine and the pull of the bobbin kept snapping it :( I also have some Finn and South African top to try out. Needless to say, I'm looking forward to Rhinebeck (yes, I'll be there!) and the fiber stash enhancement that awaits!

Sunday, October 8

Best week ever?

On Thursday night we drove over to Adrian's to pick up the wheel:

My wheel!

I don't think I can fully express how totally thrilled I am with this wheel. Aside from how gorgeous it is (the special edition "honey" finish, which I'd never seen before, is perfect) it's already such a joy to spin on. No headaches, no cursing; I can sit down and relax and treadle almost effortlessly. I understand how it works, the bobbin-lead system makes sense to me.

As soon as I put it together (with no problems) I started to spin the rest of the Mangoes BFL roving. I was able to spin it very fine right away, varying between laceweight and sportweight in the slubbier parts. I finished it up today:

Mangoes BFL singles

Then split it onto two bobbins to ply. I plied it a little too loosely in the beginning but I'm quite satisfied with what I have:

Mangoes - plied

Mangoes - plied

Of course, I have no idea how many yards I have or what weight it is, really. It's drying now, after a nice soak, so I'll swatch with it a little later.

All spinning fun aside, it's been a busy week. Work was a little crazy and it felt like I had a million other things to do. My good friend Alex, who I hadn't seen since freshman year (he goes to Tufts, which sometimes feels like a world away), came over for dinner on Wednesday and it was beyond lovely to see him again. We were very close in high school and it's sooooo great to see him doing so well! Yay Alex!

Then on Friday both of my sisters came into Boston, from NY and NH, to celebrate our birthdays (all of which fall in September and October). We had dinner here on Friday (complete with 3 bottles of wine) and yesterday we went to the MFA for a couple of hours. After that I gave Amy a knitting lesson. Only one problem - she's a lefty! I was teaching her to knit English, like I do, and it looked like she was really struggling, so we switched to Continental. I think that's working out better for her, and now she's on her way to a garter stitch scarf in some blue Valley Yarns Monterey that was sitting in my stash for way too long.

Last night was the topper, though: dinner at Sorellina. What a place! I'd been dying to go there ever since it was reviewed on the Phantom Gourmet, but it would only happen if I found a few hundred bucks on the street. Well, let's just say that my sister is an incredibly generous person, and the three of us had what I think was an unforgettable meal. Sorellina is elegant and lively, the room is striking and modern and the service was very agreeable. But the menu is the star; I started with the tuna tartare (incredible, perfection), Amy had the arancini, and Melissa had the romaine salad (the dressing was too fishy, she said). Then I had the veal, Amy the pork, and Melissa the chicken - we were all quite pleased with our choices, I think. Amy picked some phenomenal red wines (a barolo and a petite syrah) and dessert, well, it was decadent. If you're ever planning an extra-special evening, Sorellina is the place to go.

I'm very glad I have another day to recover from this week! We might try to see The Departed tomorrow. I can't decide whether I want to spin more today or attack the ends on Brocade... or take a nap!

Oh, and a little postscript - you can now visit my blog at!!!! No need to update your links or bookmarks, it's just site-forwarding for now.

Monday, October 2

Nearly knee socks.

Sock Hop socks, done!

All done! Nearly knee socks in Sock Hop handspun, Mustang Sally colorway. They look a little uneven in these photos, but they're not - only a couple rows difference between them. I wore 'em out on Saturday, and sadly, they're slouchy. Still, they were such a joy to knit and they feel great on.

Another picture because it's adorable:

Sock Hop socks, plus Fry

Ah, behind the scenes at Cinemaknits. Thanks to Brian for patiently taking these pictures (and waiting for my ancient flash unit to recharge).

Also, I am very pleased to announce that the front of Brocade is DONE!!! However...

Front of Brocade, ends to be woven in

There's still work to be done. It feels like there are more ends this time around. It might take me a couple nights to get them all woven in, and I have to get them woven in before I start a sleeve (otherwise it'll never happen). I've made a pledge to myself: I'm not allowed to start another major project until I finish Brocade. I started it in June, I think, and I really want to be able to wear it this winter.

Only one thing stands in my way: work! My productivity, in terms of both knitting and blogging, is going way down because of a semi-long term temp job. I'm still adjusting a bit, but things should get back on track soon.

Quickie movie review: last week we watched Rize, David LaChapelle's entrancing documentary about krumping. I wouldn't call Rize paticularly profound, but it's an interesting and important social phenomenon worthy of being documented, and not only for the mind-blowing dancing. And, make no mistake, it is mind-blowing.

from Rize

Rize isn't only about the dancing; it's also about the people and how they've found a way to stay out of gangs and off the streets through dancing. I hope LaChapelle will make another doc - his larger-than-life, wide angle lens style would be well suited to many more subjects.

We also saw The Science of Sleep on Saturday - more on that later, if I get my thoughts together, but if you like Gondry's work (and not just Eternal Sunshine) and if you don't go into it expecting a beautiful romance, you won't be disappointed.

Oh oh oh and and! I ordered my wheel! I chose the Louet S75 special edition. SO EXCITED.