Sunday, January 29, 2012

Obsessed. I Admit It.

When I get obsessed about something - and it is quite rare because the things I like are usually not what others like - I go all out.

With Pride and Prejudice, it was owning a thrift store copy and acquiring the fancy cloth cover Penguin editon, seeing both versions of the film adaptations (although to be honest, I really do prefer the Kiera Knightely one over Colin Firth - in my defense it was because Matthew MacFayden is an awesome Mr. Darcy), owning the published sequels/alternate versions (I own the Letters from Pemberley Series, the first books in the Mr. Darcy's Daughters and The Pemberley Chronicles Series and Mr. Darcy's Diary) and now I'm reading Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

Seriously. I'm a sewing machine short of re-enacting the Regency. Oh, and let's not forget Jane Austen Knits.

My other obsession these days - which clearly is a demonstration of my increasing/resurging Britain-ophilia (Anglophilia doesn't quite cut it, what with my love for Shetland yarn and Fair Isle) - is Sherlock. I used a clip of an episode in my science class last week.

But we are not here to talk about Pride and Prejudice, or Sherlock (though it may come up especially when Series 2 of Sherlock is on PBS in May). Downton Abbey is what I am talking about.

There are times when I wish I can live in this world - but up to a point. The house is a perk. 

I resisted and resisted - and then over Christmas break I caved. It got me through the rest of my Castle Pullover and I just finished watching Series 1 for the second (or third? I forgot) time today with a friend of mine who is just as obsessed. In fact, she actually told me that when she started watching it, she thought of me because of my obsession love with Pride and Prejudice (I love period fiction).

We have a lively Downton Abbey thread over in the Subway Knits ravelry group - and yes, we can watch the episodes online! I love enabling others and it was really cute to see others realize that we can watch them online - not having cable myself (gasp, I know), and living without a tv for 18 months (in Japan) I got used to having my computer act as a television.

That being said, the obsession is starting to take itself to the next level. For one thing, I have been reading tons of Victorian/Edwardian fiction that is either cheap or free for the Kindle, and I saw The Forsyte Saga on Netflix (and have it for my Kindletoo - that is free). I am also watching The Grand
which is of the Upstairs, Downstairs variety (and I'm trying to watch that too).

And then Lisa and Amy decide to take my obsession even further with all of this:

Thomas & O'Brien (450yd SW75/25 BFL/Nylon)

Matthew (225yd SW Merino Worsted)

Carson (215yd 80/10/10 SW Merino/Cashmere/Nylon DK)

The Dowager Countess (420yd Merino/Silk/Nylon/Silver Sock)

Lavinia (850 yd Baby Alpaca Silk Lace)

Mary (425yd 50/50 Merino Silk Sock)

Sigh. I'll take one of each, but especially Lavinia. What is also fun is that  if you order at one of each colorway you essentially get a sampler of all the bases they have to offer as well. If I remember, I think Lisa and Amy are also busy cooking up the rest of the characters. Looking forward to that! 

PS. The idea of a Downton Abbey-themed swap is not getting out of my head. What say you? 

Stitching the Past: Life Magazine, November 24, 1941

I've decided to keep the column name the same as the knitting history segment of the show, in order to provide more continuity between the show and the blog.

This week's image is the cover of Life Magazine from November 24, 1941. It shows a woman knitting and a feature on how to knit. As I will explain in a future episode in more detail, knitting was one of the many, if simple ways that people back on the home front could help support the war. This was also the same during WWI.

What makes this image interesting is that the feature and photo was  thought out, photographed and written before the United States declared war in December, 1941. Clearly, the United States was doing what it can before they even set boots on the ground in both Europe and Asia - history classes tell us that the United States helped by sending equipment and supplies over, but there was still a need for the basics such as socks and slowly, Americans were gearing up for war themselves.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Eugenie's Got a Brand New Look

Little Sister gave me a Kindle 4 for Christmas.

Best thing EVER. I have been catching up on my reading, requested so many books (lucky me, I have access to both the Queens and the New York Public Library systems so MORE free books! Now if only I had the time to go to the Bryant Park branch of the NYPL to renew my membership...) and put my knitting patterns on it.

I named it Eugenie - simply because I am on a Victorian/Edwardian kick and I feel that a modern piece of technology should have a fuddy-duddy classic name.

But to get a case for it was a royal pain in the bum. Until I stumbled upon M-Edge's customizer, remembered that Penguin books has those classic orange covers, and behold:
Two of my favorite books, now embracing the keeper of many more. Can't wait for it to arrive!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Update on the Great Gansey Debate

I was debating about the "did they or didn't they" issue with regards to fishermen and the ganseys with a a listener over at the Caithness Craft Collective awhile back, and she linked to an interesting video that provides some information "straight from the horses mouth." What do you think?

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Be Still, My Wool-Loving Heart

It's all Clara Parkes' fault. Since her Wonders of Wool class, the Wool-Loving Monster has been unleashed.

After recieving some lovely handspun Wensleydale from Rachel over at On the Round, I have fallen in love with handspun even further. The slight coarseness, the rustic quality to it, the lovely colors and man, this skein has such a beautiful luster (see that! using my new wool vocabulary!)

I was puttering about on the computer awhile ago when Rachel sent a tweet about Handspun Shetland.

Repeat after me:


I may or may not have ordered these two (ps. 10% off with the code WELCOMEBACK till January 29th!)
Photos from On The Round
Man I REALLY want a wheel now. I just cancelled my monthly yoga membership (no time sadly due to work and school, but I will get a class card to go occasionally) so mayyyybe I can get one by the end of the year? I'll have to do alot of trials at Maryland Sheep and Wool again to make sure a Lendrum is the one for me.

Monday, January 16, 2012

In the Conductor's Booth: An Interview with Clara Parkes

After the Wonders of Wool class at Vogue Knitting Live! I got a chance to sit down with Clara Parkes. She is such a lovely and interesting person to chat with, and I learned alot both in her class and the interview.
My swatch from Wonders of Wool
She is the editor of Knitter's Review and the author of the Knitters Book of Yarn, Wool and Socks.

Several resources for yarn that are mentioned in the episode:

Garthenor Organic Pure Wool - for various types of yarn from specific sheep breeds)
Elsawool - Cormo
Handmaiden Fine Yarn - check out the Swiss Mountain range.
Woolalong with The Knitter's Book of Wool.

Thanks for listening!
Closing Song: "California Rain" by Madeleine Peyroux

Event Photos!

Finally got a chance to upload all of my photos from the Franklin Habit talk at Lion Brand Yarn Studio and Vogue Knitting Live. Here are some of them, but do check out the Flickr albums!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Episode 25: Stitching the Past

On the Needles
The Bella Mitts that I am knitting with Yarn Bee Melody Bulky that I purchased from Hobby Lobby back in South Carolina are 50% done. I finished the thumb of the mitt though it's a bit short. That being said, it has been so cold in NYC lately that while walking to and from VK Live I have been just wearing the one completed mitt in my left hand and sticking my right hand in my pocket. 

The one sad thing though which has stolen my knitting mojo even though I have a three day weekend is that I am missing some knitting. Its really important knitting because its for my partner in a swap I am participating in with my knitting group and its deadline knitting, which I am already behind in because I was first in a deadlock over what to knit and then now I can't find it. I really hope its in my work bag at school.

Stashers Anonymous 
All over twitter there is talk of the stash down and while I am gung ho for it, major knitting events are the exception for me which will be discussed later in the show. But first, Rachel from On the Round sent me a lovely skein of Wensleydale handspun in the colroway Heirloom which is in the neutral range but with hints of pink and green. It's got that rustic quality to it and a small itch factor which is totally fine by me! I am going to knit up the Jo March Mittens by Shalimar yarns in these as Rachel suggested these would make great fingerless mitts.
I also received a skein of yarn from Lisa of Roman Hills - she custom dyed it for my birthday! Its called The Beldon't.
Knitting Finds
Piddleloop Bags - my friend Regina has been raving about these projects bags ever since I met  her. I have always admired them from afar on Etsy and finally took the plunge. A lot of the fabrics that Jen and her sister use are very Marimekko-esque in their style - bright colorful prints that definitely put a smile on your face. They are very high quality as they are seamed and serged so you know they wont fall apart.

Stitching the Past
I posted a blog entry about the Coast and Country: The Gansey podcast and episode about the Gansey in Scotland a few days ago - it was really interesting to hear about howthe Moray Firth Gansey Project is working to preserve their local heritage through the gansey. One of the issues is that the men who the ganseys are knitted for as mentioned in the podcast wear the ganseys when they are buried, so according to the interviews, there are few of them remaining. There was a lovely recorded conversation about knitting the gansey (no pattern!) and what it meant for the people of the area.
Source: Maritime Heritage East Museum, England
However, just even scratching the surface with regards to ganseys brings up a slew of issues and some misconceptions - while in the interview the women discuss how the patterns in the ganseys help identify lost fishermen, but in Scotland?

 Vogue Knitting Live Recap
This weekend was Vogue Knitting Live in Manhattan - at one point I wasn't sure that I was going to go, but in the end I was able to make it and I'm glad I did. Much like how MS&W and Rhinebeck had different goals  my goal for VKL was overall, something different. A different fibre, perhaps something that I have never tried before.

I did find different things: 100% overspun silk from Creatively Dyed,  and the Zealana Rimu yarn from New Zealand - its fingering weight and 60% merino, 40% possum. That's something new. I got it in the colroway shadow for a MC and Kiwicrush, a chartreusy color for a colorwork hat. Apparently, Possum fibre has a bunch of really interesting attributes.

Zealana is also part of the initiative with Woolyarns to support the Kaori Wildlife Sanctuary in the Wellington area of NZ.

The best part of the marketplace was Long Island Livestock Company's booth. What caught my attention was that it was on Long Island which is pretty rare and the people that run it, Christopher and Tabbethia were extremely sweet and knowledable about the llamas and alpacas that are on their farm - they have educational programs which I hope I definitely will be able to attend in the future about the farm.
 On Saturday after our classes, I met up with Amy and Lisa of Roman Hills and our friend Shelley, who was showing her new DellaQ travel knitting needles/notions pouch in Margherita. I liked it so much that even though the market was closing, I ran and was able to snag one at the last minute.

What began as a chat about knitting the Larch Cardigan between Amy and I is now a full fledged, no holds barred, free for all Amy Christoffers Knit-Along. If you have been interested in knitting any of her patterns, join us over in the Sweater Odyssey 2012 group - there will be prizes! A skein of Roman Hills yarn, a row counter from Velvet Hippo, stitch markers from Madam Tootsie, and Amy Christoffers herself is donating a pattern of the winner's choosing. I am really looking forward to this - the KAL is from February 1-March 31 and I think that's enough time to crank out a new sweater for myself.

The second round of the Queue-Along is coming up also on February 1, so if an Amy Christoffers pattern pops up un your queue before the closing date of February 1 go right ahead! The QAL is to encourage us to knit things off our queues and if you want to add anything to it, the last day to do so is February 1. There will be prizes and I will announce those in the next episode or on February 1 on the Ravelry group and blog, depending on if I can squeeze another episode in. I will say though, the prizes are even more amazing and I wish I could have them all for myself.

Thanks for Listening!
 Closing Song: "Super Cool" by Bang Sugar Bang

Sunday, January 8, 2012

This is Me. And Almost Every Other Knitter on Ravelry.

What Happens When You Just Want a Shelf?

You end up THISCLOSE to ordering the armchair and desk of your dreams.

Thanks to a belated wedding gift from family in the Mother Country (mine, not Mel's), I think I will be getting this chair very very soon:
 It is the Cute-As-A-Button Chair from World Market. I have come across this site before and I have to say, they have definitely stepped up their game in the furniture department for this Pottery Barn furniture lover. I looked on the internet for what people have to say and the general consensus is that its a wee bit small but good for small spaces.

This is great for me because we now have an empty corner in our living room in case this doesn't really fit in the bedroom's nook space. That corner is where our Christmas tree goes, but I can just shove it in the bedroom somewhere during the Christmas season. Cannot WAIT. Just look at hte fabric button closeup! Isn't this a perfect chair for a crafty person? I see it with a small lumbar pillow as well.
And I think I changed my mind about the desk. While I did get knobs for the Hemnes desk in advance, I saw the desk in person and it still seems really big and clunky for our space, though all of the drawers and mini cabinet space is nice. I might just save the knobs for something else in the future, or switch them up with the knobs I currently have on our tv console.

I like how when we got rid of the second desk the bedroom just opened up. Moreover, with our tv unit we still have tons of emtpy shelves - I think the knitting books will go there after all, if anything to clear off another bookshelf in the bedroom. This desk definitely caught my eye (and is way cheaper):
It's the Campaign desk from World Market and is on sale for $200. What I really like about it is the pullouts on the side, much like a teacher desk so I can defo put papers on one side, knitting on the other (there are 2 pullouts and 2 drawers). It's very much a Restoration Hardware look which I do like but totally cannot afford.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

New Column - But Need a Title!

I thought I'd start up a new weekly column - mainly of images of knitting from art and other historical finds.

I'll start with this find from my first go-to place for art: The Metropolitan Museum of Art. I still remember going there in the 5th grade at Christmastime after reading for class From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler (and still own my 5th grade copy). Now as an adult, I enjoy just going there when I can and wandering the familiar halls.  It's really hard to say which gallery is my favorite, though I can say going with my sister (the Art History major) makes it for a fun learning experience.
A Serving Girl Knitting 
This painting is attributed to Andre Bouys and dated between 1656 and 1740. Currently, it is not on display. In her hands is what looks like to be knitting on double pointed needles (or at least that is what it the knitting looks like when it is done on double pointed needles).

The thing is, however, I need a title for this column. I really stink at this. Any ideas? Anybody?

Coast and Country: The Gansey

I stumbled upon this podcast called Coast and Country from BBC 4 - given my penchant for anything UK related these days, I thought it was a great one to subscribe to, and something a wee bit different for this city girl.
Their latest episode talked from December about the gansey from Scotland as a means of "safeguarding Scotland's fishing heritage." There was a lovely recorded conversation about knitting the gansey (no pattern!) and what it meant for the people of the area.

It just makes me wish I could visit Scotland even sooner. Or even Wales - now that the Wales Walking Path (with cycling!) will be completed soon.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Episode 24: Retrospectively Speaking

On the Needles:
I thought I would never say this, but I got suckered into knitting a commissioned item, which is a cabled baby hat.

That is what is currently on and active right now because I have to finish this by the time we get to work on Tuesday. After this, I plan to cast on for some bookmarks as prizes for my students which can be done during the NYE party that Mel and I are planning which is now just a small gathering.

Off the Needles:
I never thought I would say this, but the Castle Pullover is COMPLETE.

In addition, I finished the Snapdragon Tam in Roman Hills Gruber worsted in the colorway Toasted marshmallow. I love how it came out - it looks like a spiral and I finally blocked a tam correctly!!! I used the smaller of my two dinnerplates and it came out nicely and the brim is not all stretched out as well.

Knitting Finds:
Two things of note for this episode: first, Faultline by Gabriella Henry. She is a New Zealand based designer, and designed this beautiful shawl after the February 2011 earthquake in Christchurch, NZ which was her hometown at the time. 25% of pattern sales (for the forseeable future) will be donated to the Red Cross NZ in recognition of the first response aid they have provided to families.

Second is a Etsy shop called On the Round by Rachel Jones from Owls Head, Maine.

Year in Review: 
I came across two great posts covering 2011 in the knitting world by Clara Parkes and Carol of Black Bunny Fibres of the blog Go Knit in your Hat.
1. The Knitting Show: For years there has always been the Sheep and Wool Festivals, but with events like Vogue Knitting Live, Interweave Knitting Lab, Sock Summit and Knit Nation, there is a growing demand for the knitting show itself where it is like a convention or a conference - people take classes, listen to lectures and attend a marketplace all in one centralized location.
2. Yarn and fibre: There was a huge outcry against discontinuing Rowan Calmer, a cotton acrylic blend which is a great alternative for those with knitting allergies. Mission Falls also closed its doors as well as some indie dyer companies, Such as Gaia's Colors and Kitchen Sink Dyeworks and the split of Sanguine Gryphon shortly after Rhinebeck which was a bit of a shocker for me at least and are reforming into The Verdant Gryphon & Cephalopod Yarns.
 That being said, there is some new yarn that I was happy to discover: Cascade 220 is now in Sport Weight yarn and Brooklyn Tweed came out with Loft, which is like Shelter but in fingering weight - mmm colorwork. Lorna's Laces came out with a new yarn called Solemate. Lastly, Martha Stewart introduced her line of yarns at Lion Brand Yarn Studio - interesting, but not for me.

There is an increased interest overall in terms of where we get our yarn, how it is made and where it is made - Jared Flood published a series of blog entries detailing the process of making the Shelter yarn at the mill in Maine and books like Knit Local also highlight where to get yarn made in the USA. In addition, Quince & Co. opened this past year.
 In the UK, there were events such as Wovember which promotes the wearing of 100% wool and appreciation for the term itself - there are alot of items that say they are Wool but in fact they are not, so there is a need to increase awareness about the misuse of the term. The slogan is "Celebrate real wool that comes from Real Sheep."
There is also the Campaign for Wool which was jump started by His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, who had observed that the wool industry was facing enormous and unprecedented challenges.

3. Books, Clubs, Magazines and Knit Alongs: so many good books came out this year:  Vintage Modern Knits, Wendy Knits Lace, Teeny Tiny Mochimochi, Knitted Socks East and West, and The Knitter's Book of Socks. 

In addition, special issues came out this year such as Jane Austen Knits, which demonstrates a trend about looking to the past for inspiration and reinterpreting it for the modern knitter.

There was Little Red in the City which strengthened the connection between print and digital publications - with the purchase of the book you get a scratch off code for a digital copy, and many books and magazines came out with corresponding digitial versions.
 Stephen West came out with the Earth and Sky pattern and corresponding mystery KAL which fired up the Ravelry boards and Cookie A came out with a sock club that also featured cookie recipes as well.

Overall, the knitting community - large as it may be - is growing more aware and sophisticated in what we do with our knitting and even closer to one another what with so many people on twitter talking about knitting and spinning and on Ravelry as well. Shows like VK Live in addition to the fiber festivals help us put faces to the names and gives many of us the opportunity to meet one another whether it be a knitter meeting with a favorite designer, or a bunch of knitters that met up through a common interest group on Ravelry.

I will be attending Vogue Knitting Live this on January 14. I am not sure if there will be some sort of meetup, but I do plan to be there at the Marketplace preview on Friday and hanging out on Saturday before my class.

The first round of our Knit the Queue Along is over and we have winners! Thank you so much for everyone who played along both in the FOs thread and the chat thread and asking questions, which helps iron out alot of the finer details of hosting a larger-scale QAL. Thanks to those who donated prizes:

2 copies Faultline Shawl by Gabriella Henry
Skein of yarn (base TBD) in the colorway our choice from a selection by Apothecary Yarns
Set of Stitch markers by Velvet Hippo
Skein of yarn and corresponding pattern from Creatively Dyed

The winners of the QAL are:
katepricey, teenuh, jazzy-j stitches, lapurplepenguin, and kitty stitches. Congratulations!

Thanks for listening!
Closing Song: "Smile" by Madeleine Peyroux from Half the Perfect World
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