Queue


I’ve cast on something new. My poor second sock and Fisherman’s Sweater sigh collectively in their relegation to the bench. Sorry guys – I got distracted by a couple of balls of yarn in my stash, and I gave in to the ADD.

Speaking of. I can’t focus on telling you about my new project until I post a few pics that have recently grabbed my (fleeting, fickle) attention in the way of inspiring future knitting or sewing ventures.

The other day I was driving along and saw a billboard with a super-cute cowlneck sweater – didn’t get a great look, but long enough of one that I saw it was a Gap ad. Here’s what I saw, revealed again to me in more detail later online:

Cowlneck pullover, at Gap

Cowlneck pullover, at Gap

Completely cute.  I’m such a sucker for cowls, I really really am.  I want everything to be available in a cowlneck.  So cozy, and so cool-looking.  This one is cotton knit, available in the color shown (“terrain”), charcoal, and heather gray.

“Cool-looking” is a bit vague (as well as juvenile, but there you go) – let me be more specific.  It looks sophisticated, to my eye; the way the fabric gracefully swirls into an artful arrangment, tossing light around, managing to look classy without trying too hard.  This Gap version is especially casual-looking with the i-cords and the short sleeves, paired with a striped long-sleeved tee.

 
If I were to knit this, I may want longer sleeves.  It’s a fine-gauge knit, which makes it even nicer-looking, but alas, more daunting to knit, which makes it less likely to happen.
 
I’m not saying I’m going to run out to the Gap to buy one ($34 isn’t hugely expensive, but…I’d rather get it on sale).  However.  They do have these available in Tall sizes, which is just so awesome, regardless of the fact that the sleeves aren’t actually long, such as to require a Tall size to make them longer for monkey arms.  The long torso would be fully covered, though – no inadvertent belly shots.  I feel like I should patronize Gap and Banana Republic more than my once-a-year average so that they keep the Talls in their portfolio.
 
Hmmm.  Maybe I need to buy one just for research purposes.  In case I get around to making a knock-off of my own, like in 30 years’ time.  Hmmmm.
 
All that joyful day-dreaming, just from one glance at a billboard.
 
In the not-quite-the-same-but-close category, the two designs below ended up under my gaze a few weeks ago via a banner on MSN.com.  Normally I don’t click on these things (I’m not usually that ga-ga about being fashion-forward), but what can I say?  I did.  These are definitely just eye candy for me as well:  the pretty little pictures clicked me through to Neiman Marcus, where my pocketbook doesn’t normally allow me to tread.  Anyhoodie:
 
 
Hooded cardigan, at Neiman-Marcus

Hooded cardigan, at Neiman Marcus

Sweater coat, at Neiman-Marcus.

Sweater coat, at Neiman Marcus.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Did someone say hoodie?  The first one, on the left, looks soooo cozy.  You can barely tell it has a hoodie from the front; not that there’s anything wrong with looking like you have a hoodie.  What I mean is that it has a very clean, simple look with straight yet soft lines on the front.  I like the hoodie-in-the-back part because it keeps the sweater from taking itself too seriously.  This kind of feels like a “business in the front, party in the back” cardigan – you know, like a mullet.  Except much, much, much less scary.
 
The price tag to obtain this look, however, at least from Neiman Marcus, is a wee bit steeper than a mullet.  This was priced at a few hundred bucks…cashmere blend, you see. 
 
The price of the sweater coat on the right was approaching two thousand dollars (not in Monopoly money, either).  I didn’t bother to take specific note for a wish list of any kind because I’m a normal person and I wouldn’t go spending 2 Gs on a sweater coat, no matter how pretty it is.
 
But since very few of us are actually going to go out and buy it, let’s just skip ahead to talking about how pretty it is indeed, because that part is free.  I know what you’re saying:  another cowlneck?  Well, that’s what I thought at first, hence the initial draw.  But the item description said it’s an “attached scarf”, which I can see, upon closer inspection.  This too, is knit in cashmere.  I don’t care if it’s cashmere or not (although if I had the money to burn – I’ll take the cashmere) – I just really really like the design.  In a more durable fiber, this would be a great go-to, wear-it-all-the-time staple.  I love the look, and it would be fairly easy to construct something similar on the fly, I think. 
  
The last design that caught my eye recently is one would be in the sewing vein.
 Tweed dress, at Neiman-Marcus

Tweed dress, at Neiman Marcus

 
Tell me, is this not the cutest little dress you ever did see? 
 
Not so much in a garden-party summer dress kind of way, but more in a polished, I’m-feeling-quite-pulled-together-today kind of way.  Now I’m not a size 0, which I’m sure is the size the model is sporting (my booty can only occasionally squeeze into a single-digit size…well, maybe less than occasionally; in theory, I guess it could, like if I quit eating for a couple of weeks), but I think this could be a flattering size on anyone.  Almost anyone.  The shoulders would have to be a bit broader than average to accomodate my frame, especially with the cap sleeves (which very often on me look like a mistake, perhaps the result of a good shrinking in the dryer).  But.  If I were to embark on, say, a sewing project (bringing my machine out of the hibernation it’s been in for the last year or so), I could make it to fit.
 
So.  The snaps above have been inspiring me as I think about projects on the horizon.
 
Back to the project I’ve cast on. 
 
I discovered Wendy Bernard’s website, Knit and Tonic, via MLE’s blog (MLE Knits – love Emily – get it?  M-L-E …emmm-elllll-eeeeee).  Wendy is the author of recently-released and already very popular Custom Knits, which MLE reviewed here, and I think looks like a great book.  It’s now on my Amazon Wish List, where all my dreamy pattern books hang out until I can afford to tell the boys over at Amazon to pick it off the shelf and send it – rescuing it for my exclusive perusal.
 
Wendy is great.  She’s got a daughter that’s only a bit older than my niece Maizy.  She calls her daughter Girlfriend, which I love.  Her writing is so much fun to read; you feel like you know her.  She’s fabulous yet not imtimidating.  Her photos of projects are well-considered and creative; often the photo seems more like a potrait being created, it so happens, whilst the model is engaged in some kind of activity fitting with the knit design (à la Rowan – you know what I mean).  Her snapshots make me feel like I’ve been pulled into her movie set.  [Director’s notes in the margin: Gorgeous yet down-to-earth woman enters stage left; she walks gracefully through her lovely, bright, inviting home, adorable daughter in tow.  She moves through to the garden, peering over her shoulder into the camera’s lens as the stunning knitwear she wears catches the glowing light of dusk, the scene thus enhanced by the play of light and shadows.]
 
In other words, she’s hot stuff.  Oh, and did I mention that these knits as featured are of her own design?  Yeah, that’s right.  She also has a few patterns that are free, which I’ll get to in a minute.
 
Needless to say, her blog is quite popular.  There’s a lot to look at.  I started with the links under her Photo Album section in the left sidebar, which drew me in with links called The Winners and The Losers: her buckets for categorizing FOs.
 
The Zephyr Gals, at ZephyrStyle.com

The Zephyr Gals, at ZephyrStyle.com, promoting the 2008 Race for the Cure

I discovered the Zephyr gals while stalking visiting Wendy’s site.  One look and I knew these two were my kind of chicas.  They are the starter-uppers of Zephyr Style, a site through which they offer great original knitting designs (I liked Green Gable, which I’d initially seen on Wendy’s blog). 

The Zephyr Style blog is located here, just in case, like me, you’d like to lurk for a long, long time get to know them.

 
My heavens, I keep getting distracted.
 
Here’s the start of my new project – hopefully off the needles very soon because it was only meant to be a quickie:
 
Beginning of Short Snort Girlfriend Tank, by Wendy Tan (KnitandTonic.com)

Beginning of Short Snort Girlfriend Tank, by Wendy Tan (KnitandTonic.com)

 
It’s Wendy’s Short Snort Girlfriend Tank, available for free on her Knit and Tonic site.
 
Simple pattern, but fun.  Upon seeing it I became inspired to find a loving knit-home for two balls of Louisa Harding Coquette that I’d picked up on clearance a few weeks back.  At 73 yards each, this amount wasn’t going to make much, but the wee sparkles were calling my name at the time.  Or rather, Maizy’s name, since she is the person I thought would enjoy them the most.  
 
I didn’t have quite enough to make the tank completely in Coquette, so I thought perhaps I’d stripe it by mixing in some run-of-the-mill white.  I swatched it and liked what I saw.  Even if it’d be a bit more work, I decided it would be worth it.
 
See how it sparkles?

See how it sparkles?

The gauge was spot-on with the two fibers held together, and pretty darn close with just the white (standard baby-weight acrylic left over from a previous project – the label is long gone).  I decided it would be funky to alternate fairly randomly between white, blue, and both colors combined.   The gauge with the skinny blue-sparkles fiber alone (a.k.a. Coquette) was a little peek-a-boo on my size US 6 needles, but a couple rows here and there seemed to give it a fun texture.  Why not?

So far so good.  I really like it.  The project’s not a major commitment at under 250 yds total, but little things can be fun.  Plus, they look bigger on a pre-schooler.  It may be getting a little cool in Colorado (where Maizy lives) to go around wearing only a tank, but she likes to layer, so she can work this look even through the snowy season.
 

I’d better blog off – time flies.  Especially when you spend a good chunk of your evening drooling all over the Anthropologie website (releasing pent-up desire after a brief and fortunately inexpensive trip there with Sissy B while we were together recently).

During that trip to Anthropologie, we got two of these mugs (on clearance, of course; my aforementioned pocketbook can’t handle that store on a regular basis, either).  The idea was that we could each have a cup, one half of the twin set, from which to sip our tea and think happy thoughts about our visit – later, when we’re miles apart.

(long, happy sigh)
 

Then Maizy, who upon fervent request and subsquent cautioning took on the task of carrying the bag with my cup in it, took a bit of a spill as we were walking to the car, bless her heart. She’d been multi-tasking: bag in one hand, my wallet in the other, and my phone – in the locked and off position – anchored in the crook of her neck as she carried on a very serious one-sided conversation with an imaginary version of a family friend.

Poor thing.  We had boo-boo scrapes on each hand.  Cup…was kind enough to break her fall. Not so much in one piece anymore, darn it.

Awwwww.  No biggie, I said.  Sissy B was sad.  Really, it’s OK, I said.  Small potatoes!  Sissy B later went back to the store, unbeknownst to me.  She returned with another bag containing another cup, all wrapped up in one piece.

“Some things just have to be remedied, sis.”

(warm smile, then muffled sniffle)

Love you, sis.

Oh, joy – a Monday without work.  At least work work, the kind that involves a commute.  Mostly I’ve had a down-low kind of weekend, and I’ve managed to milk it by keeping the lethargy theme steady throughout today.

This weekend I’ve alternated time between knitting (halfway done with that second sock), looking at knitting patterns, and being cozy with family.  The knitting patterns I focused on yesterday were of the baby blanket variety.  One of my closest friends is due with her second baby late this year, and although I don’t know if the baby is a little he or a little she, I figure it’s time to get poised with at least a pattern, if not the yarn and/or a decision to go with a happy unisex color or colors.

I’ve made a couple of baby blankets, the second and more successful of which I posted about here.  The first one, while very nice to the touch and just lovely when folded, was a little challenged in the way of symmetry. 

Aha!  I've come back to haunt you from 10th grade geometry.

Aha! I've come back to haunt you from 10th grade geometry.

It came out trapezoidal.  That is, in the shape of a trapezoid.

I had decided to knit the Favorite Blue/White Blanket, a Bernat pattern available for free.  This was the third or fourth knitting project I’d ever attempted – the first blanket, and the first thing not to be made on fairly big needles with a fairly bulky fiber.  It was certainly my first baby item, and I was very nervous about the delicateness of it all.  

Favorite Blue/White Blanket

Favorite Blue/White Blanket

The US 7 and US 8 needles to be used seemed teensy weensy to me, and as much as I was determined to make a go of this pattern, I found that the notion of casting on more than 60 stitches made me sweat a little.  I decided not to tempt fate in altering the recommended yarn (it didn’t occur to me then that gauge isn’t quite as important for a blanket as it is for a sweater).  I used Baby Softee as instructed, in, you guessed it, blue and white.   It seemed to me if the pattern is called Favorite Blue/White Blanket, better not to mess with Texas.  Blue and white it was.  Good thing the baby in question was a boy.

The trapezoid FO was the obvious result of nerve-induced too-tight tension on the starting end of the blanket.  The stitch was actually very pretty – nice texture, yielding a lightweight fabric that wasn’t too lacy or fussy – but it took me days to get through the first couple of rows.  This wasn’t because the stitch was difficult, but because I was inadvertently pulling each stitch so tightly that none of them would slide down the needle without a lot of elbow grease.  An obvious fix, you say (duh, stop pulling them so tight), but I just thought that these were the inevitable and wily ways of working with smaller needles. 

With progress, my stitches gradually yet increasingly relaxed.  By the end of the blanket, my stitches were loosey-goosey, happily flying off the needles.  Didn’t really dawn on me until it was done that it was a leetle off from a rectangle.  Even blocking couldn’t bring it back into shape – but oh well, it was done, and the myriad of stitches I’d made were ready to embrace that little newborn, no matter how asthetically imperfect the collective whole of the stitches might have been.

I packed the blanket up and sent it off with love to the adorable Q and his mom, who is one and the same Kimlee I visited in Richmond recently.  She was very gracious about the trapezoidal nature of the blanket, and made me feel good about the uniqueness of my humble handicraft.  It made my heart sing when, during my recent visit, I noticed the Blue/White Trapezoid draped across the rocking chair in the nursery.  I took a few surreptitious snaps while everyone was downstairs, and brushed away a little tear of joy at the sweetness of finding it there.

I know, I’m a sap.

So.  Now I’m looking at patterns for the next blanket up to face the vice-like grip of my needles.  Below are my finalists.  Colors may depend on baby gender…or maybe not.  Suggestions welcome on color or fiber, but it’s the pattern that I need to settle on first.  Help me choose! 

Please drop me a comment below with your favorite pattern, or at least your favorite category: 

  1. Something with cables
  2. Something lacy
  3. Something blocky

 Just click on each pic for a closer look.

 

Something with cables:


Shower of Love
Leisure Arts #3219

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Something lacy:


Summer Blanket
24-25-48, Gosyo Co., Ltd


Blanket with pattern in Alpaca
b13-22


Curlicue Blanket
Skruddevutts stickade

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Something blocky:


Moderne Baby Blanket
Mason-Dixon Knitting

Color Block Baby Blanket
Knit It! Magazine, Spring 2007