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Tuesday, January 1, 2008

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Wishing you and yours the very
best of times in the coming year!


Knit Lit's MEME: Best of 2007
1. Your best FO of the year: I'd have to say I was swayed by the color and it's the cotton CeCe in emerald green :) [Why do I feel like I'm cheating on the other FO's !!!]

2. Best FO of the year made by a blog you link to: Mystery Shawl 3 by Melanie from Pink Lemon Twist.

3. Best yarn you tried: Aha! Sheep Shop Wensleydale Longwool

4. Best new book/mag/pattern of 2007: especially loved: "The First Book of Modern Lace Knitting"

5. Best new knitting technique or gadget you tried in 2007: professional steamer I got in a trade with a friend!

6. Top 5 inspirations--what five things inspired you the most over the past year? 1-Corinne and her love of vests & color; 2-Mary McCain and her Joie de Vivre and Amigurumi; 3-Margene, in beautiful Utah, who lives each day to the fullest and spins like an angel!; 4-the elegance long past from historical fashion; 5-my *day job* boss who taught me that Failure is not a four-letter word and made me think it's perhaps the air you step in between the rungs of the ladder of success...

7. Designer who most amazed & inspired you throughout the year: Melanie (from above).

8. Knitting resolutions for 2008--what's next for you and your blog? Try to not pile so much on my plate! It's too much fun to have that new FO in the same season you want to wear it!

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Thursday, January 3, 2008

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As of 5:51 AM CST
at Chicago, Illinois
Clear
Temperature: 0°
Wind chill: -12°
Wind: SW 6 mph

Umph. Something else dropped at midnight on New Year's Eve. Do you see the minus sign in the Wind Chill line? I feel it. People here like to chuckle and say, "Good sleepin' weather, though." Indeed. Does our DNA long for the cave, where we all used to hibernate the cold months away, curled in piles like little cubbie bears?

My alarms' have been set earlier and earlier. The day job shift has moved backwards in the a.m. so I'm getting up in the dark (around 5: 30). I use the phrase getting up very loosely, because I sort of roam around the hut with open eyes but sleepy head until at least 30 minutes into re-entry. My body clock isn't cooperating too well either.

Coupled with Daylight Savings lag, I wake up sometimes at 4am(!) convinced it's 5:30 and time to get a move on. And once I'm up, I'm up!

This calls for extreme measures and very easy knitting.

What else can a person do without waking up the entire building (laundry, nyet, dishwasher, nyet, vacuuming, nyet nyet) but ease into the day gracefully and possibly caffinated.

I've been knitting on the 4th Beryl cardigan: this one is for mwah and is fashioned with some stashed Ram Wools *Selkirk*. This is the same yarn I used for the Ariann model and I have to say I really love this stuff.

Now, I have no skin reactions from wool at all. This is one of those old-fashioned beautiful yarns that isn't processed into oblivion, making it so limp and soft it's like butta.

Well, as you know a little butter can add a lot of flavor but something that's 100% butter doesn't last too long. Hmm.

This yarn has the character AND thus the wearability of classic wool. It softens with washing; some people wash it before knitting to get the effect faster. It softens on wearing, makes a beautiful lightweight fabric, doesn't pill as far as I can tell, and is one of those yarns that resists felting. I love it! [Does anyone know if this is the same as Brigg's & Little Heritage yarn. Cottage Craft?] Couple that with the ulitmate fact that I hardly EVER wear any kind of yarn right next to my skin (oft heard complaint about wool) that isn't cotton, etc. and you have a hands-down winner in the wool sweepstakes. I love it. Did I say that already? and, NAYY...

One of the fave Christmas presents was a DVD box set of HBO's ROME and this Beryl was knit-with. Why did my speed increase so very much every time James Purefoy was on-screen? Stockinette st is great for TV knitting! This has gone on the bus with me, too.

The strategy became to knit in one piece to underarm (check, that's what the pattern sez anyway); finish the left upper bodice (check—still following the pattern); skip ahead to Sleeve #1 (check—feeling really frisky in the St st department); go directly to Sleeve #2 (momentum is pulling you right along!). Left to finish? The Back Upper Bodice and Right Upper Bodice and bands.

This is a good point to pin Sleeve #1 into the armhole to check the fit of the cap, pressing some of the areas to lie smoother first. Check.

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Monday, January 7, 2008

  Monday Morning Mirth  



...one last moment to say SeeYa

Time Magazine's Top Ten
Fashion Must-Haves for 2007

1. Tent Dress

2. White Sunglasses

3. High-Waisted Jeans

4. Day Clutch

5. Ankle Boots

6. Vests

7. Fedoras

8. Bright Tights

9. Red Lipstick

10. Cocktail Rings

Now, I must confess, I loved me some Red Lipstick; I wore the Vest(s) and the Turquoise Tights! I lusted after a particular huge cocktail ring—Aquamarine surrounded by Brown Diamonds (but here's a pair of earrings I got at Sam's Club as a consolation prize) BUT I must also admit I gave a...

BIG thumbs down on the White Sunglasses, Fedora, and High-Waisted Jeans. Methinks those trends went with a West Coast High Life magnetic to the Razzi, as demonstrated by the listings to your left...

Confess your (or other's sins) below...

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Wednesday, January 9, 2008

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... John, I'm only dancing...

Looking at the above, you can see I've been knitting some too.

But these are not ordinary works-in-progress. These are a whooping pile of swatches, false starts, and AWOL ideas.

My favorite is the sleeve at the upper left. It's yarn is now swimming in a gentle lukewarm bath to get pretty before it's back on the needles for a Final Fling! The stitch pattern originally planned for this design just Did Not Work. And sometimes, you do not find these fatal flaws until you are almost at the finish line. You have to choose. Mediocrity? Lack of Symmetry? Or a trip behind the Fiber Woodshed for a good old fashioned Frogging...

I chose to take my licks and do believe in the long run short-term pain is worth long-term regret. [Sort of a marry in haste; repent in leisure, yarn style, but I have to say at this very moment, at 5:18 am, it smarts in a most peculiarly poignant way. I had just finished sewing in both sleeves and held them up to bask in their glow when the FF slapped me sharply upside the head. OMG. I almost fainted.]

Notice the taupe cabling on the left? That was the first Twist front that was just too painful to rip when several discrepancies were found in progress. It was more than lucky that I had just enough yarn to redo that piece without a frog fest.

In the middle is a amethyst duo, a couple of lower body treatments for a design.

I especially adore the 4 skinny pieces towards the bottom: these approach sanity in a way the others can't. They show that at some point it is better to cut bait and row quickly away.

This is, but of course, one of my favorite philosophies. It is like the way a policeman takes control of a potentially hazardous situation on the street that is gathering an audience and he barks, "There's nothin' to look at here. Move along!"

Moving forward. Much more pleasant than wallowing in the dust.

Better go stick my hands in those sudz...

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Friday, January 11, 2008

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Since this new threads Friday was rudely interrupted by a trip behind the Frog Shed, it was only fitting that something else spring from the ashes besides the original project while we waited for the yarn to dry.

My Selkirk Beryl is too big to go on the bus, but what you see on the left is just the right size. It is a pulli, of which I have too few, and it is being knit out of a cotton blend (now this is really moving forward)...

Beryl just needs buttonbands, a neckband and sleeve setting. I do my best finishing on weekend mornings, when the coffee is flowing and the sun is filling the room. During the week, like most toiling Midwesterners, I get up in the dark, and come home in the dark. Weekends are about the only time I really get to enjoy the power of the morning sun.

Since I started this week off musing about last year's trends, I thought I'd finish it off with another type of inventory. Le Chic Knitting Blog is after all, a workshop, a studio, both a palace of works-in-progress, but also those that have gone beyond...

Chic Knits Pattern Releases 2007
1. Nicole (April)

2. ChicKami (May—new sizes & Hard Copy)

3. Ribby Shell (May—new sizes & Hard Copy)

4. Miss Dashwood (August)

5. Ribby Pulli (September—PDF)

6. Beryl (October—PDF & Hard Copy)

7. Twist (October—New Version, PDF & Hard Copy)

8. Scoop du Jour (November—New Version with larger sizing, PDF)

9. Cassidy's Cap (December)

Not in the list are the loads of semi-public-ready items, personal projects, or those AWOL wonders of the last post. They have their listings too, that rides around in my bag, in a wonderful little book I bought in Paris when visiting the lovely Fluffa...

It is filled with to-do's, sketches, timetables, phone numbers, anything not to be forgotten on a timeline. It's so little because there is so little room on the bus to spread out and write. But size, as they say isn't everything.

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Monday, January 14, 2008

  Monday Morning Mirth  



Germany's fastest knitter, Miriam Tegels, busts a move!

I found this SO cheerful but it made me feel so sloooooooow...

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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

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If it wasn't for something called the U.S. Primary Elections (here, let the Brits explain it), this sweater would be done!

Is it luck or a curse to be from the very same State that two of the candidates call(ed) Home? Is it a high sign or the low finger of fate that one must constantly hear and witness the pandering pundits of the political day? I've been spending many waking hours on assignment, recording (and listening).

Everyone has an opinion. Professors, campaign managers, pollsters, and more, are my daily fare on the Beat from now until, hmm, next January!

Although I can't really speak to platforms, I must admit, these are some exciting times! Especially interesting to me is someone named David Axelrod. He was in the Clinton camp a long time ago. Now he is the driving force behind Obama, sometimes called *the Narrator*. Fascinating! One of the most modern of Men of the New Century...

But back to practical real world matters, does anyone understand WHY all this voting always goes on in the winter months? Is that strategic? Isn't it much more feasible that more glad-handing, door-knocking, sidewalk pounding INFO would be generated to provide a turn-out during Better Weather?

Maybe this is Chick Logic. Like Clinton's chick logic: an itty bitty tear might've let me down...

I digress.

The knitting of the Beryl sweater is done! Here it is on the board, having just feasted on a final blast of steam on the buttonbands. You can see the Mongo Steamer I have on the floor—I traded a Scunci SS1000 for it and I want my Scunci back! Scunci come home!

Be Smart, Do Your Part. Vote!

Winning slogan from the 2007 Slogan Contest. Submitted by YNC Karen Bassingthwaite, U.S. Navy, Tampa, Florida.

15 Jan: Michigan primary
19 Jan: Nevada caucuses; South Carolina primary (Rep)
26 Jan: South Carolina primary (Dem)
29 Jan: Florida primary
5 Feb: some 20 states including California, New York, New Jersey

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Thursday, January 17, 2008

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this day in History:
1938: First jazz concert at Carnegie Hall
1949: The first TV sitcom debuts
1820: Anne Bronte is born
1899: New land speed record is set in a automobile...

2008: BB's Beryl hits the catwalk...

Well! No speed records were set in the knitting of this garment, but VOILA! The Selkirk Beryl is finished! And it was FAST! Beryl #3 took a little over 4 weeks to knit; 4 skeins of yarn in Forest Brown and 4 brass buttons, more from my last rendezvous with Tender Buttons.

This sweater is incredibly light; it weighs about 14 oz. which is another plus in my book for the yarn used. Yarns in this gauge group (18/24) can be very heavy and dense. If you compare what we have in hand-knitting with what is out there in the commercial world, you see a big difference in hand and weight. IMHO, the Retail Rack has access to lighter, loftier, softer yarns—discounting the downside to some of the range in quality, of course. (Lots of commercial sweaters use more blended micro-fiber/organic combos, which tend to lighten up the garment as well.) So, I am leaning towards the lightweights! They are easier to knit, finish and wear. Email me any yarn suggestions HERE...

My finishing techniques keep moving towards commercial practices as well. I love using my steam iron to block, lightly pressing the fabric into shape. This is the weekend I go searching for another Scuncii to replace the traded one too. My big 'ole floor model just isn't as easy to use and actually delivers less continuous BLASTS. I think I was seduced by it thinking it was as good as all the ones I've seen in boutiques, you know, you walk in and they're preparing their new shipments for the rack. The garment is on a free-standing device and they are using a stainless steel steamer to *finish* it for sale. My steamer is plastic and wimpy...

But my old Black & Decker steam iron works pretty darn good, too! The sweater fabric finished to size, shape and behaviour in no time at all...

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Friday, January 18, 2008

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big hat, big shag haircut

OK, I'll admit it.

When I read that it was going to be 7° tomorrow, dayside, I panicked!

What? Single digit weather and nothing to wear?! ;p

So I went stash diving last night and came up with a new super chunky chunky ribbed hat somewhere between the beginning and end of "Eastern Promises"...

It is from some Big Wool that was a big score; I believe it was a lonely ball in a basket at Arcadia, marked 1/2 off when it landed in my hands.

Now it is going to be my totem against this ridiculous temperature range! That and fortification with left-over Christmas chocolate:

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a little Lindt
Chocolate Snowman
does the trick

Let's stay safe out there!
1. Stay Inside (right, I know, Midwesterners will go where they will go!)
2. Drink lots of water.
3. Layer, layer, layer.
4. Cover your head—wear that favorite hat indoors, even if you're not a teenager...
5. Avoid exertion—have a DVD marathon!!!
6. If you have to go outside, be sure to protect your eyes & mouth
7. Stay dry.
8. Cook something yummy yummy so your house smells great!
9. Don't miss that Saturday afternoon nap.
10. Knit Knit Knit...

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Monday, January 21, 2008

  Monday Morning Mirth  

...because it's 10° outside, because I have serious Cabin Fever, because at this time of year Hat Head should take a Holiday but isn't going anywhere, I bring you some make-over madness:

the HairMixer!

Picture 27.png
the First Lady of Justin Timberlake

vs.

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the First Lady of the Land

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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Chic Knits Eyelet Cardi

everything in its place...

Now if desire had its way, there would be a new project for every day of the week. There is nothing like cruising for a pattern, finding the perfect yarn in the perfect color and casting on!

My house would be filled stem to stern with piles, mounds, indeed, Mountains of Fibery Promise, and I could run around the rooms picking which ever struck my fancy to craft.

Except who can never leave the house? Even though I probably have enough needles (and some who've seen my studio would say enough yarn) to attempt this, I must keep it down to a dull roar; one must be on the road and mobile at least part of the time :)

But for some days, especially the days of mid-winter and its crushingly low temperatures around these parts, not a lot of traveling is going on if I can help it.

Sightseeing via the DVD highway is much better than traveling in the frosty air of Chicago and here you'll find me enjoying a top-down knit.

This is the Eyelet Cardi I started in early fall. I've since completed the yoke and am several inches into the body of the sweater now and loving everything about it. The bulk of the garment lays on my lap like a blankette, cozy. Comforting.

Too big to go on the road, on the bus, where quick draw knitting is king, it is the perfect project for the couch.

The simplicity of the design makes it as cheerful for me as sock knitting! You go round and round and it is as carefree as one could wish. And in the end, you have a nice little fashionable cardi to show for it (instead of the hidden beauty of the lowly sock).

This is being knit with Rowan Wool/Cotton in a color they call "Grand". Details knit in this fiber blend POP right off the surface of the plain; it reminds me why I liked this to begin with...

Many of you wrote to me requesting this sweater as a top-down and in more sizes and I've had time this winter to completely re-write the pattern. I took the opportunity to add better shaping of the raglan line, neck and body for a better fit & knit.

Here it is shown in Elsebeth Lavold's Silky Wool, color #14. Chic Knits Eyelet Cardi

read stats here...

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Thursday, January 24, 2008

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I'm sitting on top of the world (or at least on top-o-da-Bean)...


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Friday, January 25, 2008

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Being a little slow on the uptake could be blamed on the thermometer, but in this case, it was just personal.

I was one of the latecomers to the Chevron Scarf (still WIP) party going on.

And now, perhaps, I'm just a gate crasher to the Festival of Bootie that is the Baby Ugg!~

What tipped the scales?

I've never knit booties before, although I'd like nothing more than to sit with a cup of hot anything this morning (Temperature / -4°; Wind Chill / -16°) and just look at a book full of pictures of booties. They are so adorable they should be considered an art form in themselves. What the heck, it's Friday, let's give them an entire (tiny) wing at the Art Institute. Maybe in the hallway next to the Medieval Armour.

One could see the irony of beginnings and endings in footwear, but I digress.

I LOVE BOOTIES!

When an invitation to a co-worker's shower came in, I had to take the plunge! This fabulous Mom-to-Be is a fashionista of the highest order and folks had nicknamed her sprout "Prada" although bitty baby was also being called "Chanel".

What totally trend bootie popped right into my mind?

The Baby Ugg, but of course...

So I've embarked on a new, and I hope never ending, adventure in Bootie Knitting, going with the original materials and pattern.

First off, since this ribbon *yarn* is notoriously twisty and naughty, I've put it on a server: I stuck a straight knitting needle through the center of the ball and hung it through the hinges of a little basket I had. Now it behaves and I can knit merrily along :)

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Monday, January 28, 2008

  Monday Morning Mirth  

MORE Cabin Fever?!!

In the interests of Science and Slacking, I could not resist taking this quiz (during a commercial break, but of course) because it this element: "What kind of things do you like to write about on your blog? You write about your latest knitting projects..."

Who is Your Ideal TV Boyfriend?

Created by BuddyTV

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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

 

When Nature throws you a curve in the Big Windy, one must just bend and catch it.

First you get unseaonably high temperatures (well for us, that means right around 50-degrees which those of you in warmer cllimes might grin at). We get Spring-Fever-for-a-Day and walk around as much as we can barefoot! Silly. I know.

Emboldened, you put your current crush up on the mannie and see how great it would look a s a short-sleeve model :)

Hmm.

Just a little ribbin' around the bottom and it's done? Just a couple of inches on the sleeves and it's the cat walk?

(I need a Time-Out before I do something dramatic but this sure looks cute as a shortie!)

And it looks like Mother Nature is might help me out. Going from Springlike temps in the 50's yesterday to what only happens Once Every 25 Years(!) is, well, here in the Midwest, Normal :)

Tom Skilling (my favorite Weather Guy) writes: "...none of this season's cold spells has arrived more rapidly or on stronger winds than the arctic blast due to send temperatures into a preciptious dive beginning with a cold front's passage between 3 and 5 p.m. Tuesday...mild upper 40-degree readings...dive...culminating in zero-degree readings by sunrise Wednesday...punishing 50mph winds are expected...

I'm thinking right around 7 p.m. I'm going to be reaching pathetically for whatever heavy long-sleeve sweater is in my range of sight and all that Spring-Talk is going to be gone with the wind...

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Thursday, January 31, 2008

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One of my resolutions for the new year has come true!

Meet my new little friend, Le Shuttle.

This was my *door prize* at at random drawing at the company Xmas party and I have to say, I was one lucky dog. Not only did my hand fish out this iPod from Santa's bag, but it is Green!

And now it is ready to roll on the #66 where I can listen to knitting podcasts whilst I knit and go merrily along.

For some reason, I was reluctant to put casts on my bigger iPod and never did it. So now, hundreds of episodes later, an entire Phenom has almost passed me by!

And although I've enjoyed many a cast at home, it just seems like a grand thing to do on the road so I'm sort of starting from Square one, a renaissance, so to speak.

Lucky for me, the Casters are still going strong and for my little Shuttle's maiden voyage, I picked a few from the iTunes collection:

1—Cast On: Episode 54, Knitting Nature with Norah Gaughan

2—Lime & Violet: Episode 1

3—Stash & Burn: Episode 1

4—Sticks & Strings: Show 1

You can see I'm cheating with the Norah Gaughan episode, but I eventually will work my way back through the archives on many of these casts, and many others! The list on iTunes is huge! {Send me suggestions on don't miss classic episodes of your favorites?}

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