Sometimes. Not often. But every once in a while, I screw up. I’m just kidding. If you know anything about me, you’d know that I’m kind of a disaster but I don’t like to focus on my faults and, when it comes to knitting, I’m pretty good at making a stumble look like a dance. Usually, I don’t screw up in a big way so I can gloss over it. Nobody has to know. But sometimes I just get myself into a mess and I make mistakes.
Coming off of a knitting high of some recent knit-related ass kicking, I dove right into the BT Men’s lookbook, ready for a new challenge. Like I said, I was immediately itching to make a Timberline for Jon before the release day was over, I’d ordered a box full of Shelter. Since the sweater was for Jon, I asked him to help me pick out a color. I want to make sure he wears this damn thing. He liked the color of the Slade cardigan so I ordered Cast Iron. (I really thought he’d want a cream colored cardigan but he wasn’t excited about that anymore. Boys, always changing their minds!)
The yarn came in two days! I never order just one skein and swatch until I like the yarn and then get the rest later. I am all about instant gratification. I want to swatch for a maximum of 15 minutes and then I want to GET KNITTING. I can’t wait. I am not patient. Knitting is not for the patient! So I ordered 15 skeins.
I started getting into the pattern. It’s 24 pages long (a full page of construction notes, three pages of charts, two pages of cast on instructions, etc). To say the very least, it’s intimidating. I’m not sure why but looking over the charts made me feel dizzy and tired and then laugh maniacally.
But I’m very confident. I can knit anything. I’ve never doubted myself when it comes to following a pattern. I’ve certainly ripped out and messed up before but I can’t remember the last time I looked at a pattern and thought, “I can’t do this.” So I dove right in.
I swatched a little bit and I started working up the sleeve and then my worst fears came true. Two things happened: I screwed up some of the cables and I hated the color. I was prepared to frog the piece. It’s not like I haven’t ripped out two days of work before. (We’ve all been there, right?)
So I decided I’d go back and do a bigger swatch to really get a good feeling of the cables. I was really breaking a sweat doing these cables. It was certainly a knitting work out. But the whole time I was looking at the piece thinking that I just wasn’t happy. I know this feeling. I can’t knit a whole sweater with this feeling. The yarn was just too dark to show off the details. It was nice but it wasn’t stunning. I don’t want to put in days and days of work and not get stunning as a result. I won’t even be motivated to finish it.
Last week I decided to exchange the yarn. I’m impatient so it’s super frustrating to have to wait even longer to begin but I think it’s for the best. I’m going to go with Long Johns. I think it would be a better color way, still masculine but bright enough for the cables to really shine. I think it’s the right thing to do.
I made a mistake. Luckily, it’s easy to fix but it’s still a bummer that I have to wait longer before I can get started on this sweater. It’s probably for the best. I have a few projects with loose ends that need tying up (pun intended) before I jump into a big commitment. And, besides, maybe next time I’ll be more careful before I jump in, do more research and really get a feel for the yarn before making a big purchase. And, as always, I need to trust my gut. Jon really liked the dark grey but I knew deep down that it wouldn’t be what I wanted. I’ve got to trust myself!
Do you like to admit your knitting mistakes?
Have you picked up a copy of the fall issue of Knitscene? If you did and you read all of the wonderful articles and knit all of the pretty patterns, spoiler alert: you might find a picture of yours truly at the end!
Editor Amy Palmer was nice enough to interview me for the magazine’s first Blog Spotting feature!
I’m so honored to be part of the magazine! I’m really excited that Amy is introducing her readers to different blogs. It’s a really cool idea that is a great intersection of print meets digital! I hope to discover some bloggers myself!
What do you think?!
Did you see the new men’s collection from Brooklyn Tweed? Every time a BT collection is released, there’s certainly a lot of oohing and ahhing. But this one really got us into a frenzy. There was a lot of discussion around the blogosphere about men’s knits and it was really exciting!
Aside from swooning over the models and debates about whether sweater-wearing boys look better with beards or clean-shaven (I think my vote is with beards), there was a ton of talk about menswear, shape, taste, and knitwear design. Men’s silhouettes make for a very different canvas. I love how the BT Men collection plays with classic menswear themes (elbow patches, shawl collars, shoulder details).
There was a lot of excitement about new menswear patterns. Aside from a few books dedicated to the subject and some new Rowan patterns and a smattering of older Brooklyn Tweed selections, there just isn’t enough out there in terms of patterns for men. Even male designers are designing for women. Obviously this is because of the demand. I think we can all agree that it wouldn’t be profitable to design more menswear patterns than women’s. So there’s a bit of a drought there. I think that a lot of the menswear patterns I’ve encountered are not classic enough that I’d want to make them. They’re weird and experimental which is cool but (stereotype here) not something that a lot of guys want to wear. And there’s nothing like a dude in a simple raglan sweater.
We all want to see more patterns like these and we want to design more patterns like these but it’s just not really there right now. I’m not sure what would change that…I guess more men who want to knit for themselves? Maybe that’s just the way things are, that women own a greater variety of clothing. But I’d like to see more menswear. I just really love boys in sweaters!
Anyway, I wanted to talk about my favorite piece from the collection which is the Timberline sweater (above). It’s crazy gorgeous. And, if you’re a long time reader you’d know, it is almost exactly what I was looking for to make Jon a Don Draper cardigan. Oh yes! Finally a cream-colored, shawl-collared cabled sweater for him! Every time a new collection comes out with cabled menswear pieces, I’m looking for something that is close to the sweater from season 5’s finale. Now I’ve found it! It’s more modern and intricate and a bit bulkier but I think it’s exactly Jon’s taste. My search can finally end!
That being said, the Timberline sweater reminds me of Michelle Wang’s Exeter from BT’s Spring Thaw collection. (I actually thought for a moment about making Jon that sweater since it seemed big enough. I’m glad I didn’t do it because I probably would’ve been really disappointed.) Obviously, Timberline is different from Exeter. Timberline fits a man’s frame well, the cabling is different while Exeter is double breasted with a folded cuff.
I really like seeing both sweaters side by side. And I’m really tempted to make myself an Exeter to match Jon’s soon-to-be Timberline but I am generally against intentional matching. I’m not sure it’s a good idea since we always end up dressing similarly (“Oh, we’re both wearing striped t-shirts today? Cool.”) since I like to wear menswear-inspired outfits (read: most days I wear boys’ t-shirts with jeans because getting dressed is hard). And I need another cardigan like I need another ten pounds.
But I can dream…
Do you love menswear knits? Do you think more designers will be inspired to produce these patterns? Do you think Jon and I can wear matching sweaters and still be cool?
A lot of people are dissing the gown Maggie Gyllenhaal wore to the White House Down premiere. They are wrong. THIS IS THE BEST DRESS I’VE EVER SEEN!
Gyllenhaal wore this Christian Dior dress to the New York premiere. It’s got a cabled skirt with a crocheted peplum. It’s chic and crazy and I don’t think that anyone else could ever pull it off. In fact, Maggie looks psyched about it. High five, girl! Black and white knits are so in. It’s a great piece of knitwear that showcases a lot of different stitches and shows the versatility of knitted fabric
Here it is on the runway for the Fall 2013 collection.
I’m pretty sure the bottom is navy while the top and peplum are black. I’m not sure how I feel about that but I just can’t hate anything about it. This is a thing that I wish I’d made. It’s outrageous in the best way possible. What have I been doing with my life? I quit knitting forever.
What do you think? Do you love it or hate it?
photos via Tom and Lorenzo
Remember how Kate Middleton was looking for knitting tips when she picked up her new hobby? Perhaps she can look down under for some advice! Australia’s MP Julia Gillard is an avid knitter who is reportedly making a little stuffed kangaroo for the royal baby that’s due any day now!
Gillard, the first female Prime Minister, was photographed for The Australian Women’s Weekly with needles in her hands, surrounded by yarn! She says that she likes to knit for babies since she doesn’t have much time to complete big projects. It’s hard enough for me to squeeze in a few hours of stitching after work, I can’t imagine doing the same while running a country!
I’ve read some criticism of the spread, some speculate that the photographs were meant to draw in female voters while others go so far as to blame them for the results of last month’s election. There seems to be a lot of opinions on this and it makes me sad that there is controversy here. I won’t pretend that I’m up on Australian politics (I read her Wikipedia page) so I can’t say whether or not I could support Gillard (I mean, there’s definitely points for knitting. I’d be lying if I said that didn’t sway me). But I think it’s absolutely great that she is knitting and that she is open about that.
You have to be kind of a badass lady to help found Emily’s List Australia, lead the Labor Party and become the first female Prime Minister while being an unmarried, childless atheist. Showing that she is a yarnsmith makes her even more courageous. Because a lot of people saw those photos and balked at the idea of a woman knitting baby sweaters being their Prime Minister. The domestic arts have such a stigma, it’s really frustrating. Why should knitting be anything less than fishing or playing football or drinking beer? I doubt there would be so much criticism if she said she liked to take time off and play a few rounds of golf. Maybe the photos did cost her the election but I’m glad she wasn’t afraid to be herself or challenge stereotypes about women in so many ways.
Women can lean in and wear pant suits and run the world. But I think it’s important that while doing these things, we aren’t ashamed or afraid of being women. So we knit and we sew and we cook? In the western world, those things are considered feminine and things that are feminine are silly and undervalued and down-right disrespected. It’s time the world saw that some ass kicking and being a lady goes hand in hand.
Enjoy that stuffed animal, royal baby! It’s truly a special gift!
Would you do a knitting photo shoot if you were running for office? But seriously, what would you knit for the royal baby?
If you were raised on British television as a certain blogger was, then you were surely familiar with the antics of Wallace and Gromit before Nick Park’s feature film Curse of the Were-Rabbit. Maybe you didn’t have HBO but you wanted HBO because you wanted to watch Clueless because you LOVE Clueless even though you’ve never seen it before. So instead you tuned in to channel thriteen to catch broadcasts of BBC shows like Keeping up Appearances.
After hanging out with my Aunt Sherry last weekend and then watching 2008’s A Matter of Loaf and Death last night (as grown ups do, right?), I was reminded of the many times I visited her and asked to watch The Wrong Trousers with me after making me a blueberry soda. But while the toy train chase scene will always be one of the top ten moments in film history (don’t even, it won an Oscar!), the real best when it comes to W&G is A Close Shave.
Oh, Gromit! Oh, lawn gnome! Oh, PBS fundraiser marathons!
Now, if you are a knitter (or just a regular human being) and you have not seen this short film, you need to correct this situation and do so immediately. Gather up your children or your neighbors children or just a pet (it really makes no difference to me) and watch it.
Here are a few reasons that A Close Shave is amazing: It stars a sheep named Shaun who is adorable. In fact, it stars many sheep. It stars a dog that knits. He knits, guys! It’s a thrilling mystery that revolves almost entirely around yarn! And it’s stop motion animation. If you don’t love stop motion animation, you might as well hate Christmas or ice cream or blowing bubbles and listening to toddlers giggle. Stop motion animation is magical and require patience beyond any reasonable imagination and that is why you should love it.
I demand that you watch this movie! While you’re at it, you ought to be brushing up on Creature Comforts, too. What are you waiting for?
ps. Enjoy your 4th of July! I’m taking the rest of the week off to make friendship bracelets and eat guacamole but I’ll be back next week!
I’d planned a knitting post for today but yesterday was just so overwhelming with awesome that it’s going to have to wait. I couldn’t be happier and I just want to bask in that a little bit longer!
When I heard the news about DOMA yesterday, I wished I was in DC waving a rainbow flag on the steps of the Supreme Court. I’m sick of my “where were you when…” stories ending with “at my desk, I read it on Twitter.” So when my friend Max asked if I wanted to go to the Stonewall Inn with him after work, I was so excited.
I happen to work just a short stroll from Stonewall which is so bizarre to me. New York is weird like that. The city has changed so much since the riots happened 44 years ago and, aside a few recent news articles about hate crimes against gays in the village, it’s an incredibly diverse and welcoming place. It’s strange to think that a place I pass by on the way to grab a sandwich is the site of a catalyst for the pride movement.
When we arrived, Cher was blasting and all of Christopher Street from 7th to Waverly was blocked off. People were handing out flags and stickers and everyone was hugging and smiling. Edie Windsor gave a speech, saying how proud her late wife Thea would have been and my eyes just filled with tears. I was watching history. It felt like a long time coming but finally, it was here. It was hot and the speakers were too loud but I was just so happy to be there, celebrating with all of these other people. I was proud to be an ally and to have supported in the ways that I could. And I was just elated that my friends and family could be treated as they deserved and that justice was served as it so seldom is. It was really magical.
At the same time, I knew that there was more to be done. Chris Christie still vows to veto any gay marriage bills that may pass again in my home state of New Jersey (sounds like he could use a hug from Corey Booker). Some state constitutions define marriage as only heterosexual which may prevent same sex couples living in those states to receive these new benefits. There is still a long way to go. I was raised to be keenly aware that injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. And if you’ve been following the news this week, you’ll see that there is still a lot of injustice being doled out by the same people who made this decision. So we can’t give up fighting. There’s still a lot to fix in this world but I think we all deserve a break to dance in the street, to celebrate these victories!
It’s summer so it’s more than officially CSA season, guys! I’m obsessed with my CSA and I love hearing about new people joining up with ones in their neighborhoods so I just want to preach about it today. I like to relate everything back to knitting but I think that people who make things care about where things come from and in this case, we’re talking about food. Everybody cares about where food comes from. Otherwise there wouldn’t be a Food Network.
CSA means community supported agriculture. It’s a form of a food co-op (that’s how I present it to people without getting into the long explanation) but it’s not like a grocery store. Members of the CSA buy a share in a local farm before the season, an investment that allows the farmer to have some capital before there is produce to sell. Once the food is harvested it’s divided amongst the members evenly (or however the division is agreed upon) and you get a great return on your investment. There are CSAs for everything you might want to eat: vegetables, fruits, meat, milk, eggs, yogurt, maple syrup, honey. (There’s even a yarn CSA!)
Long story short, it’s a great and impressively cheap way to get huge amounts local, fresh, organic produce to your home. I’ll be completely transparent: Jon and I pay about $40/week from May to Thanksgiving for pick ups every two weeks of veggies, fruit, and a whole chicken. And it’s a LOT of food. (Imagine spending $40/week in a New York City Whole Foods. You’d starve.)
I’m always bragging about my membership to anyone that will listen. Eating local and organic are trendy and I think a lot of people think I’m snobby or elitist or whatever (I live in Brooklyn so, surprise! those stereotypes are true and I’m ok with it) because I want to put things into my body that aren’t poison. I hate thinking of it in terms of what’s en vogue and what’s not. We should all want those things and we should all want them for as little money as possible. Foodies come in all shapes and sizes, you’d be surprised!
It’s important to me that I’m doing something good for my body and the environment and my community (my required volunteer work is baking a dessert from leftover fruits for a soup kitchen). I love the trust that I have in a farmer that is willing to put food directly into my hands instead of putting a big corporate label on it. I love that I can have fresh produce although I live in a huge city. I also love that I don’t have to make trips to the farmers’ market (we pick up all of the goods at a bar two blocks from our apartment) and that I am saving money because there is no middle man. Why should I not want to brag about that? And how could I stop myself from recruiting friends?
While I happen to think that it’s all too good to be true, lots of people I talk to have hang ups about joining CSAs. (Being honest again: I took a year off after the first season I did. My lifestyle wasn’t ready yet. I had roommates and a kitchen I didn’t like spending time in.) You get a lot of food so you either have to do a lot of cooking and canning or split your share with someone (this year we’re doing a half share, hence our every-other-week pick ups and it’s taken a lot of the burden off). It’s intimidating, yes. The first CSA we participated in left us drowning in plums and kale. The refrigerator we shared with a roommate was packed to the gils with leafy greens and purple beans. But I’ve learned that sometimes you have to pick around the moldy cherries and keep the good ones. Don’t worry, Mom, I’m not saying that I’m a freegan eating out of dented cans (sorry, freegans! I know that’s a harsh stereotype that isn’t true at all). I just know how to produce less garbage.
Some people don’t like that you have to take home beets and radishes even if you don’t eat beets and radishes. But I’ve learned to eat weird vegetables that I’ve never heard of before. That’s valuable, too! I pride myself in the variety of foods that I now crave when I grew up eating hot dogs, peanut butter sandwiches, and Twizzlers. And, when all else fails, I’m more than happy to share with my family and friends. Besides, it gets them talking about the whole thing!
And, lastly, some people just don’t want to cook. This is something that I care about deeply because just a few years ago the only thing I knew how to cook were Totinos pizza rolls. I ate gummy bears for dinner with cups of coffee made light with artificially flavored creamers (and I didn’t even know how to make coffee until I was 20). I was broke and I was lucky enough to have roommates that knew how to take care of me and gigs that at least provided a disappointing pizza lunch. I hardly slept during college so I was lucky enough to not gain weight but I’m surprised I’m still alive. I wanted to eat food that was good for me but I didn’t know how to make any of it taste good nor did I take the time to do so. Fast forward a few years and I won’t say I’m Julia Child but I know how to put together a meal. I’ve taken a couple of classes to learn very basic things (knife skills, how to butcher a chicken, and how to mix cocktails because that’s important, too) and knowing those things has given me confidence. (It also doesn’t hurt to have a food documentarian boyfriend who is obsessed with molecular gastronomy but I think that I have more staple dinner recipes than he does.) That’s something that delights me. Just like making a sweater, I can make something that is good to eat.
And I feel about cooking much the way that I do about knitting: it can secretly be super simple. You don’t have to know cables or colorwork to put together a sweater that is warm and fashionable. People are still impressed that you made something that is, at it’s heart, just knit and purl stitches. It’s the same with cooking. It might look impressive because it’s wrapped in a parchment bag or roasted with herbs but the simplest techniques make delicious meals. I don’t need a fancy Michelin-starred plate. It isn’t always beautiful or complex (any vegetable roasted with olive oil is so delicious it feels like cheating) but it’s a home cooked meal.
So I say more of us should give this a try. It takes some getting used to but the amount of awesome you’ll feel when you’re sitting down to a meal you made yourself with produce that’s sustainable and organic, that didn’t break the bank, will make the craziness of offloading three pounds of peaches into a pie totally worth it.
To find a CSA near you, check out Just Food!
Have you participated in a CSA? Did you love it?
So I’m usually not so bad at getting photos of a FO. Most sweaters I finish and I immediately want to get them photographed. (Can I tell you a secret? I plan photo shoots long before my knits are finished! My neighborhood has so many spots that I can’t wait to use for backdrops.) This time I totally slacked off so I’ve had the Poolside test knit finished for a couple of months. I even wore it for my appearance on Nora Meets the Maker. But there are real legitimate photos now.
I’m actually glad that I waited to post photos. Since I’ve worn this garment a number of times since completing it, I’ve been able to get a feel for what I like and dislike. Especially since I was trying out something new by knitting with cotton. I now have a full report!
First off, this pattern is gorgeous. The lace is so beautiful. I still love looking at it and I get lots of compliments. Isabell Kraemer’s pattern was a breeze to knit up. It was great travel knitting even though a few times I lost track of my lace and messed up a some spots while I was trying to keep myself from having a panic attack on the plane but I can’t even tell where that happened anymore. I’d love to make another one in a different fiber just to see how it turns out.
I’m also really psyched about this color. It’s kind of purple but not really purple but also kind of grey. Not a color I’d normally choose for myself (really the only color I wear is blue and I’m trying to change that). I’m proud that I switched it up a lot with this project.
Now, to get onto the stuff that I’m not crazy about.
The cotton was a great challenge for me but I’m still not really sold. Sorry, cotton, I just don’t think that plant fibers are really my thing. (That being said, the Blue Sky Alpacas is probably the nicest cotton yarn I’ve felt.) I love that this garment is summery but it’s still heavy and feels like it’s slowly stretching out the more that I wear it. Also, the stitches are still super pronounced and I should definitely have followed the rules and joined new skeins at the beginnings of rows instead of right in the middle of the chest. I learned my lesson there.
I also thought that I was being smart and knit the sleeve edges in reverse stockinette stitch in the round (purling every row) instead of doing faux garter stitch in the round (alternating between knit and purl stitches) as the pattern called for. That was stupid. The reverse stockinette doesn’t look neat and flat like the bottom of the sweater, it is all rolled and bothers the crap out of me. You can really see it in the photo below. I could’ve gone back and ripped it out but I didn’t and probably never will because I tend to never look back. Call me lazy or stubborn, I will pretend it’s some kind of life philosophy.
All in all, I’m super happy with the garment as a comfy, loose spring piece. It’s feminine and cute but it lends itself to my anti-fussy, easy-to-wear wardrobe perfectly. Some of the fitting issues that I have with it, I think, are really in my head. Seeing photos of the garment, it looks nice and not baggy or stretched out. Does that ever happen to you?
So, what’s your verdict? Will you ever love knitting with cotton? What fiber would you use for this sweater?
How perfect is it that this video came out over Father’s Day weekend? My dad is a biker and a big fan of Steve McQueen so I’m obsessed with this animation by Ruth Herring and the Baker-bunch. The scene, re-creating the climactic moment of the film, was made in honor of the 50th anniversary of the film’s release. The bike chase scene was allegedly added to the film in order to appease Steve McQueen when when he refused to swap costumes with James Garner (you can read more about it in the video’s description).
Knitted stop motion animation is something that I’ve always wanted to try and what better way to do it than paying homage a classic cinematic moment. (As an aside, stop motion is the most tedious thing I’ve ever attempted. Big props to anyone who’s successfully animated anything without jumping off of a building!) I really love the great little set including plastic soldiers and great fair isle German signs.
I forgot how awesome Steve McQueen’s sweatshirt is in the film! (Another something I’d love to make for myself.) I highly recommend you check out this video! And, as I was preaching last week, make sure you like and subscribe to the K1P1 youtube channel!
And while we’re on the subject, Eddie Izzard on The Great Escape. Back to the cooler!
ps. Dad, I can’t knit you a motorcycle right now. I know you were thinking it!