Alright, ladies and gents. If you were psyched about the Katniss cowl discussion, I have a treat for you. Lolly commented earlier in the week with her pattern for the cowl and I just had to share it with you.
I really love the look of Lolly’s cowl. It’s probably the closest I could imagine coming to the real thing considering that the original isn’t knit. I haven’t had a chance to take a look at the pattern yet but I’m loving the herringbone stitch and thick yarn. If you got started now, you could probably have one ready in time for the premiere later this month!
The pattern is available on Ravelry for free!
Occasions like these make me so excited to be a blogger! Talking to the knitting hive-mind can get you information in the blink of an eye. From Jess’s research on the cowl’s original designer to, just a few days later, Lolly’s pattern for her version of the piece, I’m reminded that the knitting community is absolutely amazing. Without the magic of the internet, we all may have just said, “That’s a nice cowl” and left it at that but check out the resources we have now!
Will you be knitting a Katniss cowl?
I’m afraid to talk about perfectionism and knitting. Because it involves me admitting that I’m not a perfectionist in other aspects of my life. I feel like it’s not good to go around telling people that you don’t care about getting things absolutely right, it makes you sound lazy. But perfectionists can be insufferable micromanagers. So maybe it’s ok to not be one. Either way, I suppose it’s time that I come clean. I am not a perfectionist.
When it comes to crafting, though, I’ve had a tough time deciding whether or not I’m a perfectionist. I always used to think that I was one. I mean, making is my raison d’être. I’ve ripped out days and days of work on sweaters and agonized over finding the perfect shade of yellow merino. But then again, how many times have I picked up however many neckline stitches that I wanted or allowed my stripes to jog in the round? How often have I said, “It has some ease so it’ll be fine” or “Blocking will fix that weird part” or “I’m just going to do it this way and I’m sure no one will notice”?
Despite these things that I let slide, I don’t think that the quality of work is lacking. While I believe that hand-made garments turn out as good if not better than their store bought counterparts, I don’t expect my work to be spot on all of the time. And I’m ok with that. I’m not a machine so there are bound to be little things here and there that are not right. So maybe I’m not a perfectionist?
I used to think that getting things absolutely right would be more important to me as I got better at knitting (we all tell beginners not to worry about making something gorgeous) but I haven’t found that to be true. For me, knitting is a balance of doing things well and letting things slide. I’ve definitely been working on precision when it comes designing (thank goodness for tech editors) but at the same time, sometimes you have to just move forward and trust that everything will come together in the end.
Do perfectionists make better knitters because they are exacting? Or does perfectionism make knitting harder because, well, we’re only human? Can you be detail-oriented without being a perfectionist? Are you a perfectionist?
Alright, I’ve held out on you long enough. It’s time to show you what I snagged at Rhinebeck!
I was a really good girl this year. I think that looking my stash directly in the face (that’s for another post) the week before Rhinebeck along with the pressure of numerous deadlines really helped me put things into perspective. I really love yarn. But I seriously need to be careful about what I’m purchasing lest things get more out of hand. (I’d also had my hopes that I was getting a big bonus at work the Friday before but that got postponed so my budget was a little tighter. Probably for the best! Custom couches don’t just pay for themselves, you know.) On top of it all, I felt like I was chatting and catching up so much on Saturday that I hardly had time to shop. Shopping was not the goal for the weekend, as I mentioned before, I felt super pumped after spending the day with all of my friends. I was literally still browsing through what was left at Into the Whirled when they announced that the fairgrounds were closed and I didn’t have to go home but I couldn’t shop for more yarn here. So I only bought two skeins of yarn for myself!
Within my first fifteen minutes, I’d already gotten a lovely compliment on my sweater (oh, Rhinebeck, you always know how to make a girl happy) and fallen deeply in love with this skein of DK BFL dyed by Jan Marek Raczkowski. It’s a gorgeous pink with just a little bit of red. I didn’t want to buy anything until I’d made my rounds so I waited until the end of the day to pick this up but I was thinking about it all day. It’s soft and squishy and the color has me swooning. I’m planning on making the Hierro mitts from Pom Pom’s Autumn 2013 issue and I had my eye out for the right yarn. This is it.
I’m really excited to start those mitts and I’m already thinking that I want to get more yarn from Jan Marek Raczkowski. Apparently he only sells at shows, nothing online! Although a little birdie did tell me that I could email him to order. I’ll definitely be thinking about that!
The other skein I bought is by Into the Whirled. Now, I was a little bad. After going through my stash, I realized that I have enough sock yarn to last me a hundred winters (possible slight exaggeration but it’s serious). I’ve said again and again that I love buying sock yarn because it’s a great way to purchase yarn without worrying about having the right quantity for a random project- one skein of sock yarn is enough for a pair of socks. I love knitting socks! But, alas, I’ve seemed to have followed my own advice a little too closely and now I have a billion skeins and zero minutes to cast on socks. Then Lisa showed me these yarns and there was just no turning back.
But when I saw this color way, I just really couldn’t say no. It’s Inara and it’s in the SW merino/nylon base. It’s just so pretty. I might make socks for Jon with it. I think that is what I say every time I buy a skein of sock yarn. And he only has one pair of socks that I ever knit him. Poor thing.
The more I think about it, the more I’m regretting not also picking up a skein of Bigger on the Inside because the colors are just gorgeous and who doesn’t want Doctor Who-themed socks?! Maybe next time. I really was trying to be good!
Did I do good? Or should I have really broken the bank this time? What did you buy?
ps. Happy Halloween! I’ve been so busy, I’ve forgotten to be festive. Last year I wrote this Halloween poem so check that out.
Want to talk furniture again?
This whole table thing is actually ending up easier than I’d expected. But there’s a real ongoing theme of not knowing what we’re doing slash not bothering to plan anything ahead of time. It’s a blast. Don’t do it that way. In case you were like, “Hm. I too would like a trendy reclaimed wood table” but weren’t sure about what to do after purchasing said reclaimed wood, well, I’m here to help.
At the lumber yard, they were able to scrape down the wood to get most of the major gunk off. That helped a lot. The guy recommended that we don’t do too much sanding lest we strip the patina right off. Once we got it home, we gave it a good scrub. First, we mixed some Mrs. Meyers dish soap (I like lavender) with warm water. After that, and probably more importantly, we washed it again with a cup or two of borax in warm water. The borax was really difficult to find for some reason but I found it at Target. This second wash kills any bugs and other gross things that I don’t want to think about living in my kitchen table.
After the table was dry, we decided we really needed to do a light sanding. Things were kind of treacherous without. I was going to rent a sander but did you know that they sell little sanders for $30? I have a sander now but not that many things to sand. Anyway, Jon removed the gigantic rusty nails that were sticking out using lots of elbow grease while I got to use the power tools. I went over once with 160 grit and once with 280. Did the trick perfectly.
Next was sealing. Staining was something we toyed with briefly (after we went to the hardware store and bought everything but stain) but we thought that it was best to leave the wood as close to the way we got it. A lot of people in my brief research suggested not sealing the table at all and letting all of the spills and dings and scratches become part of the weathered look. That sounds lovely but I’d really rather keep the wood stuff in the table and everything else out. I’ve had butcher block tables before and this just isn’t quite the same since it’s a bit bumpy and everything. We used a polyacrylic sealer (instead of polyurethane) with a satin finish. It dried super fast and really kind of woke up the wood and made it look fresh and happy.
So that’s just about where we’re at. It’s not very exciting to look at but one day, this little door will grow up to be a real table! Next step is the legs and, well, maybe that’s it!
How much patina is just right for you?
Hunger Games: Catching Fire comes out next month which means a big dose of one of my favorite things: Jennifer Lawrence! While my love for JLaw and the Hunger Games books is no secret, something new has caught my eye and I know I’m not alone. Lots to cover so let’s dive right in and talk about this fantastic cowl.
I caught a glimpse of this cowl months ago when the teaser came out and I knew this was going to be a big deal. Now that the trailer is here, I’m basically just drooling over this gorgeous piece. I love the rustic tweed. It reminds me of Roman Hills’ Winters Bone color way! (Winters Bone, Jennifer Lawrence, IT’S MEANT TO BE!) While it’s kind of earthy and has that hand-crafted look, it’s got a fantastically futuristic shape. I love knits that are minimal and trendy and I’ve found that it’s really really hard to pull off knits that are cool in a modern way instead of a comfy cozy camping kind of way. But this piece finds a way to straddle both looks perfectly. I’m really in awe.
When Jess and I were tweeting about the cowl earlier in the week, we started doing some research. The cowl, featured in Capitol Couture’s profile of Katniss, was designed by Maria Dora. I’m now completely obsessed with her work. Her pieces are being worn by celebrities right now and it looks like she only has more interesting things to come.
This stunning photo really shows off the details and amazing construction of the cowl! A cowl with an arm hole, YES PLEASE.
Jess reached out to the designer and Maria was nice enough to tell us that the cowl is woven not knit. (Doesn’t stop my imagination from running wild!) But! She said that they are developing a knitting pattern and would keep us posted.
This aspect really excited me. I’ve been looking forward to writing about the cowl and saying, as I always do, “Oh, I’d love to figure out how to make my own.” But I’m crazy about that idea of a couture/high street designer sharing their brand with people who couldn’t afford it (or maybe just wouldn’t be interested) off the hanger. If you’ve been keeping up with knitting news, you know that Fred Perry tried and failed to do something similar but I hope other designers put some genuine thought into it. It’s a really interesting way to create conversation between makers that work on completely different scales (without, in my opinion at least, devaluing their brand). I do feel a little sad when I want to rip off designs that I see in stores and there are tons of knitters that don’t have the interest or skills or time to invest in knitting “knock offs” (sorry, I can’t think of a better way to put it but I mean that with love). I’d love to collaborate in this way with mainstream fashion.
Either way, I salute Ms. Dora for her fabulous work. It makes me not only excited to see this movie (the production design is just going to blow the first one out of the water) but excited for the future of knitwear. That’s a pretty big thing to say but I mean it!
What do you think about big brands sharing patterns with knitters? Do you think this cowl is funky in a good way or would you be afraid to wear it? How excited are you for Hunger Games? My weapon of choice is the knitting needle.
ps. Thanks, Jess, for fangirling over this cowl for like three hours with me!
Tags: armhole, braid, capitol couture, catching fire, costume, couture, Cowl, design, fred perry, futuristic, hand knit, hunger games, Jennifer Lawrence, katniss, knit, leather, maria dora, movie, pattern, production design, shaping, witchin in the kitchen, woven
When Meredith at One Sheepish Girl was looking for guest bloggers while she prepares her book (!!!), I raised my hand really high and went “Oo oo oo pick me!” I absolutely love her blog and adorable style.
I wrote up a really fun pattern for a Plant Cozy to share with her readers. You should go check it out (along with the rest of her blog) here!
Do you dress up your plants?
In my ongoing efforts to live my life by the Gospel of Martha Stewart, praised be!, I’m going to build some furniture and it’s going to be adorable.
I don’t really talk about interior decorating because it’s not really something that I have time and money to invest in. But I have big plans. The last apartment that Jon and I lived in remained largely unfinished for the entirety of our stay there (13 months). We painted a few walls but we didn’t hang any pictures or shelves or even the mezuzah which literally required five minutes and a slice of velcro. We moved to the south side of Williamsburg back in February and, while the apartment itself is beautiful and new, we’ve taken a terribly long time to get everything the way we want it. We are about 25% there* which is disappointing but things are finally happening.
First of all, we framed and hung all of the artwork that was sitting in boxes for the past two years. Yay! I’m still in desperate need for more pieces but I’m at a place now where at least it looks like we’re trying. Second, we bought a new grown up person couch. Our last place was only big enough for a little loveseat from IKEA which is not so good for entertaining** and looks odd now that we have room for real furniture. Between you and me, I can go crazy in the IKEA marketplace but I’m way over their furniture. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said, “Oh, you just have to treat their stuff right and it’ll last a while.” I was lying to myself. And I think it’s time to invest in some furniture that’s not going to fall apart. The couch isn’t here yet because it’s being custom made by hand which is pretty awesome! Can’t wait to tell you more about that!
So since we’re being grown ups that will soon have a fancy couch, it’s time to we get our act together with a real table so we don’t ruin this thing. We’re building a dining table (I typed dining room table but that would require another room which does not exist). We checked out some vintage tables and the like on Etsy but I somehow convinced Jon that it would be way more fun and cool to build one from reclaimed wood. Groovy. But there are basically only three places within 50 miles that sell reclaimed wood and only one of which is open on the weekends. Which is how we ended up at Real Antique Wood.
There was so much lumber there, it was kind of incredible. Pieces of all kinds of buildings just outside of the city. They showed us to a room full of doors. It was incredible. Doors from inside and outside houses new and old with all kind of great fixtures and knobs and hinges. It was fun. The door idea was actually pretty smart because not only is it super cool to use doors as tables but it also means that you don’t have to actually put anything together besides the legs.
The lovely people at Real Antique Wood actually picked out the perfect piece for us before we’d even arrived: a hayloft door from an 1800s barn that had just been dismantled in Ohio. The hinges are original and handmade by a blacksmith. I love that because I’m a total nerd for history. And they also gave us a super price.
Once we dragged the thing home (it’s solid oak and about 4×4), we realized that it’s kind of a filthy mess and it’s going to need a huge amount of work. So there is a lot to be done and hopefully we can execute it before the weather turns too cold. But we’re about 25% into the process of making our apartment into a real live grown up place to live. Hopefully we’ll never have to move because that piece of wood is heavy as all goddamn! Can’t wait to share the door-to-table process with you!
Have you worked with reclaimed wood? Have you built any furniture? Do I have any idea what I’m doing?
* The other 75% includes a lovely pipe dream of building custom bookshelves with a custom computer desk, buying a giant photograph of a sleeping woman, hanging a mirror and little key basket by the front door, making a billion kitschy embroideries for the bathroom, figuring out an attractive way to store our shoes, and buying some dining chairs.
** By entertaining I mean the pile of yarn and miscellaneous craft projects that live on the couch with me.
I don’t have big plans for holiday making this year. I know that I just don’t have the time for it. But I did want to make one or two gifts. I mean, come on, what’s the point of being a knitter if you don’t make a gift? I figured a few gifts would be manageable (Christmas is still a few months away, right?) until I found out that Chanukah is the same week as Thanksgiving this year.
So now I’m a little stressed out. Deadlines, deadlines, deadlines!
I feel like hand knit socks are amazing gifts. They’re warm and lovely and they look really complicated like you spent a long time on them but they’re actually pretty quick. Something about giving a gift to keep your toes warm makes me really happy.
Luckily, socks make great car knitting and there will be plenty of opportunities for that in the near future (Rhinebeck!). Also luckily, Jon got me a subscription to Yarnbox for my birthday so last week I received some beautiful of Candy Skein yarn. Everything about this yarn is perfect for socks.
I love solid colored fingering weight yarns! Especially for cables. I was trying to find a pattern slightly more challenging than Hermione yet easy enough that I could put down for a few days and not get lost. Also a big must was doing a pdf or web-based pattern because I need something I can carry around on my phone. I don’t like fumbling around with books while I’m in the car.
When I went over my Ravelry queue, I found the Froot Loop pattern by Kristi Geraci. I can’t believe I haven’t knit this pattern sooner. It’s really really easy without being boring but it looks really gorgeous and the cables are super satisfying. It doesn’t require a cable needle so it’s the best for knitting on the fly. (I’ve knit cabled socks on the subway before. It gets messy.) It’s basically just exactly what you’d want in a sock.
The pattern knits up so quickly, I’m not nervous at all about finishing in time for the holidays. Socks, you are the best! (Sorry, sweaters, nothing personal.) Now I just need to keep my sanity until Thanksgiving.
Have you already started your holiday knitting? Do you have big plans or are you staying small?
Tags: cable, candy skein, car knitting, chanukah, fingering weight, froot loop, gift, hermione's everyday sock, holiday, knit, knitty, kristi geraci, sock, sock knitting, sock yarn, travel knitting, yarnbox
I promised last week that I’d share more of that sneak peek I posted. I hope you enjoyed the WIP photos! Suspense is over!
When I was dreaming up something special to make for Jon’s brother and soon-to-be sister-in-law in honor of their upcoming nuptials, I had lots of Judaical themes in mind. I really loved making a piece of art for my friend’s wedding last summer and I wanted to do something like it again. (What can I say, I want to make things for every occasion!) While I originally wanted to do some sort of phrase in Hebrew, I thought that a hamsa would make a really beautiful wall hanging and a perfect gift to give at their Moroccan-style henna bridal shower.
The hamsa is a hand symbol that is meant to protect against the evil eye. It’s popular in Middle Eastern cultures and I love that, since it’s so old, it spans across different religions. Jon’s family is from Israel so the hamsas can be found in just about every room of his parent’s house and now my own apartment. I really liked the idea of giving a gift that was kind of a good luck charm, a symbol to help protect their new life together. Traditionally, hamsas appear with an eye in the palm but I also added the heart. I’m not a superstitious person but I’m pretty sure that love is the key to keeping away any bad energy!
I sketched out a few different hamsa designs before deciding on this one. I wanted something a little modern and simple yet true to the roots of Jewish art. The woven gold parts remind me of the artwork at the temple that my family’s been members of for fifty years. (It’s kind of an earthy, 70s folk arty looking place.) I picked up a fat quarter of some pink fabric from Purl Soho. It was a nice change working on something that isn’t white or beige!
I was also really inspired by this Nepali embroidery tutorial. I was dying to incorporate painting with the embroidery. Adding fabric paint really accentuates the three dimensionality of the stitches and adds even more layers there. It was a fun experiment that I definitely want to try again!
Of course, I also included a lot of chain stitching. Really, it’s my favorite embroidery stitch. It’s just so perfect! I also found that using chain stitch to outline the satin stitching worked best. I’d read that using split stitch would do it but it really wasn’t as big and defined as chain stitch. See, chain stitch is the best.
Since I leave everything until the last minute, I didn’t have a frame when it came time to photograph the piece. You’ll have to forgive any wrinkles, etc. I can assure you, though, it looks really stunning on the wall!
What’s your favorite embroidery stitch? Have you incorporated paint into your embroideries? Do you have any hamsas hanging on your walls?
ps. Have you entered The Crash giveaway yet?
Tags: chain stitch, diamond, embroidery, evil eye, fabric paint, frame, gift, hamsa, handmade, handmade gift, hanging, Jewish, middle eastern, moroccan, nepali, satin stitch, split stitch, symbol, tapestry, wall, wedding, woven
The samples are shown with contrasting shoulders (Lion Brand Superwash Merino Cashmere and Lion Brand Alpine Wool) and in monotone (Unplanned Peacock Studio Superwash Merino Bulky and Unplanned Peacock Studio Superwash Merino Bulky both in Onyx). Like I’ve said before, it’s super extra fierce! It can be worn punky with a black skirt, fishnets, and boots or just spice up a pair of jeans with cute flats for an easy brunch look. I was inspired by those furry vests that never seem to go out of style, faux fur throws that decorate every Scandinavian-style living room, and diva shoulder details. I paired that with a contrasting, conservative diamond pattern to make straightforward menswear meet bold surprises. Go big or go home!
As far as construction, you couldn’t ask for a breezier knit. The sweater is knit flat in six pieces. The shoulder pads are attached before sleeves are set in. Voila!
I have to thank Allyson for embracing the craziness of this design! I love her wild style and so admire her for making Holla Knits all about patterns that are unconventional and downright fun.
Want to knit this serious sweater yourself? Just leave a comment below to be entered to win a copy of The Crash! A winner will be drawn on Friday 9/27!
ps. Double your odds! Check out Unplanned Peacock‘s blog for another chance to win a copy of the pattern!