My current work in progress:

Seaforth designed by Alice Starmore, knit in British Breeds 5-ply Guernsey Wool on US 3 needles.


Archives for August 2013

Fashion Crochet

No, I am not abandoning my knitting to take up crochet full time! While I am able to work some rudimentary crochet, I am very much an amateur and likely to remain that way.

But when I was offered a copy of this book for review, I snapped it up:


This is Fashion Crochet by Claire Montgomerie, a new book due out next week. It was the subtitle that had me intrigued: “30 Crochet Projects Inspired by the Runway.”

This book features 30 patterns and each one is accompanied by a photo of the haute couture piece that inspired it. A very cool idea, I think!

The patterns include skirts, tops, shawls, scarves, accessories, and bags. Each section opens with a nice spread that includes photos and sketches:


Here is a design for a fun necklace:



And here is the photo of the runway piece that inspired it:



In some cases, I like the patterns created here better than the original. Like this cute top:



Here is its inspiration:



I don’t know beans about crochet, but it looks like there is a little bit of everything here, and the patterns are very cute.

I am happy to pass this book along to one of you crocheters. Who’d like it?

To be entered in the drawing to win this book, leave a comment on this post by noon on Sunday, September 1, 2013. The Random Number Generator will then select a winner.

Current Knitting

Since I finished my last Camp Loopy project, Pomme de Pin, I have returned to knitting on Maidenhair, and that is close to completion. I am on the last piece — a side front — and as you can see, I do not much have much left to do on it.


I’ve got just a few inches remaining to knit, then I’ll need to put it together and knit the collar. I’d be done by now, but a certain little someone has been distracting me.


When Loki climbs into my lap and wants to be petted or to play, I am putty in his paws. Knitting is cast aside and the kitty toys come out!

Loki sez:


“I’ve done a good job of training my new momma!”


Pomme de Pin

This morning I steam-pressed the last sleeve of Pomme de Pin (which I finished on Wednesday) and sewed it into the body. I am done!


I am more or less pleased with the sweater. I used five skeins of Madelinetosh Pashmina in the Stovepipe colorway and made my sweater oversized. I completely re-engineered the sleeves and the armholes and they turned out the way I wanted: like normal sleeves rather than skinny tubes. In retrospect, I wish I had worked the back of the neck like a normal sweater. As written, there is an odd extension of the body that rides up the back of the neck and does nothing for me, apart from wrinkle in an unattractive manner. I suppose if you had a swan-like neck, this would look better.

Still, the yarn is lovely and soft so I don’t mind it too much. I’ll still wear the sweater in cold weather and will likely be pleased to have extra fabric in the back of the neck. But hopefully I’ve learned my lesson: stick with traditional-looking cardigans.

Loki was a big help in the finishing of this piece. See how pleased he looks?


He has headed off into his little tent to rest after all his hard work!


One Sleeve to Go

I did complete the first sleeve for my Pomme de Pin cardigan, and as I discussed a couple of blog entries ago, it is radically different from the way the pattern directs you to knit it.

I sort of fudged it together based on other patterns and tweaked as I knit, and I am pleased to report that it worked beautifully and fits in the (also tweaked) armhole nicely. Ta da!


I also got around to sewing on the buttons as you can see.


The second sleeve is in progress and this project should be done tomorrow. So my Camp Loopy Project Three will be completed by the deadline.

Once this is done, I will go back to work on my Maidenhair Cardigan, which has been patiently waiting in the wings. I have one side front left to knit for that project, then the finishing work and collar, and then I’ll have another nice cardi to add to the pile I am collecting to (hopefully) wear this winter.

Book Giveaway

Thanks to everyone who entered the giveaway for my review copy of  Iris Schreier’s Reversible Knits: Creative Techniques for Knitting Both Sides Right. The winner is “knittingdancer,” who has been emailed.

Blocking Lace?

Thanks also for all interesting ideas for how to block lace with a new kitty in the house. I wasn’t looking for suggestions, but there were certainly some creative ideas in the comments. Since I won’t be making any structural changes to my condo (probably prohibited by the condo board anyway) or purchasing large screen doors or what-not that I don’t have space to store, I am sticking to my original plan of knitting projects other than lace for a while. I’m all about making life as easy as possible. I do have foam squares and I do have blocking mats so I do have the ability to block and hide away if I find myself absolutely compelled to knit lace. More likely, I would go elsewhere to block. I do know someone who has floor space and no Thunder Kitties.

Loki sez:


“I don’t know what you are talking about!”

Reversible Knits

I have another book to review . . .


This is Iris Schreier’s Reversible Knits: Creative Techniques for Knitting Both Sides Right, due out on September 3.

From the publisher’s blurb:

Using knit/purl, two-color, double knitting, cable, lace, and modular knitting methods, Iris creates beautiful shrugs, shawls, scarves, throws, hats, socks, and more.  Some of the items actually have different looks on the front and back while others simply show the same clean, finished fabric throughout.  Iris walks novices through all the essentials, then shares modern adaptations of classic stitches, illuminated by photos of hand-knitted swatches.  As a bonus, there’s a super-handy yarn substitution chart and an appendix with extra variations for advanced knitters.

This book originally came out in hardcover in 2009, I believe — this is the paperback version. I believe some patterns may have been added to this new version as only 23 patterns are listed in Ravelry for the hardcover book.

The book has 24 patterns and it is divided into sections for the different knitting techniques used: one-yarn knit/purl, multi-yarn knit/purl, lace, cables, double knitting, or modular knitting. In addition, there is a chapter on “more techniques to explore” as well basic information about tools, yarns, abbreviations, and general knitting techniques.

The patterns are mostly for wraps, scarves, collars, and hats, as well as one afghan pattern, a wrister/neckwarmer set, and a belt pattern and a headband pattern — a lot of nice variety. And a lot of items that would make very nice holiday gifts.

At the beginning of each of the 6 chapters of projects, the unique techniques used for that chapter are detailed, with lots of clear photos and charts and step-by-step instructions.

The patterns themselves are a nice assortment, ranging from easy beginner knits to more challenging pieces. There is a little something for everyone. Some of my favorites:

The Riff Belt:


La Parisienne Collar:


Courtyard Drape:



Ribbon Candy Scarf:


And the Aegean Wave Afghan:


Who would like my review copy?

To be entered in the drawing to win this book, leave a comment on this post by noon on Wednesday, August 21, 2013. The Random Number Generator will then select a winner.

The Sparkle Factory Giveaway

The winner of my review copy of The Sparkle Factory by Tarina Tarantino is Patti, who has been emailed.

Knitting Update

I have finished the body of Pomme de Pin. Here it is, thrown hastily over the dress form:


And I have the first sleeve near completion:


More About Loki

There have been a few questions about my new little friend Loki in the comments. For starters, will his color darken with age?

Loki is a lilac point Ragdoll, which is described as follows:

Body color is frosty white. Points are a pale dove grey with pinkish tones to a warmer deep lavender, the dilute pigment permitting the flesh tones to show through. Paw pads and nose leather lavender pink . Lilac point is the dilute of brown (+ the pointed gene) — therefore the dilute version of chocolate point, which is itself a form of dilution – so lilac is a double dilute. It’s the palest of the 4 (seal, chocolate, blue, lilac). Lilac usually takes the longest of those 4 for the color to come in and they stay the lightest in body color.


In my google research I did see one site that said that lilac is the dilute form of blue, but I’ve seen it stated in more places that it is the dilute of chocolate.

I do think his points will darken a bit more over the next couple of years (he is two years old), and his coat will fill out more. In fact, in the short time I’ve had him, there is a noticeable difference in texture and length — it is getting softer and longer. Loki is a retired stud and he was just neutered a couple of months ago. Apparently when Ragdoll kitties are intact, they tend to lose their plush coats seasonally due to their hormones. So I’m looking forward to his beautiful fur filling out as colder weather approaches.


Because he was a breeder, Loki’s focus used to be romancing the girl kitties, so human interaction is less familiar to him. I’m told that retired male breeders can be hard to place as pets because of this. But Loki is adjusting beautifully to his new situation. When I first brought him home, he stayed in “his” room for three days and rarely ventured out. Then there were a few days when I would come home from work and he’d be under the couch, but I could coax him out pretty easily just by talking to him. Now he is waiting by the door for me when I come home from work and is my constant shadow. So much so that every single time I take a shower he sits on the edge of the tub in between the shower curtain and the shower curtain liner and meows at me the whole time. And the last thing I see as I leave home for work in the morning is his desperate little face as I close the front door. But he is getting better about that too — he has learned that I will always come back!


He is still behaving beautifully around my knitting. He always wants to sit next to me instead of in my lap, so that helps. I am careful about not dangling yarn where he will notice it. But I don’t think I can block lace around him. Lucy had been declawed before I adopted her so I had no worries about her clawing my lace. Loki has all his claws and he is very playful. Every night he performs a routine I call “Thunder Kitty” — where he dashes around like a crazed being for fifteen minutes or so. (I’ve experienced this with other kitties so I am sure other pet parents are aware of this phenomenon.) While he is very gentle and does not extend claws when I’m petting or playing with him, all claws are extended and fully functional during Thunder Kitty. I can envision him dashing across a pinned out piece of lace and (unintentionally) ripping it to shreds.

As I mentioned, I have no place with a surface large enough for blocking that I can shut away from an inquisitive kitty. I live in a high-rise condo and while I have a garage, it is a communal garage for the whole building, so garage blocking is out. Someone suggested blocking in the back seat of my car — interesting idea! But I have a Mini Cooper and I have back issues so I’m afraid that is out of the question. So . . . no lace that requires blocking for a while, I think.


The Sparkle Factory

I recently got this very fun-looking book for review in the mail.


This is The Sparkle Factory by Tarina Tarantino. I will confess that before hearing about this book, I had no idea who Tarina Tarantino is. But now I know. She is, according to her Wikipedia article:

an American costume jewelry and accessory designer, based in Los Angeles,California. Known for her flamboyant pink hair, she has been described as having “a pretty cult-like following here in LA” and as “the haute designer of playful jewelry for grown women”.

So this is not a knitting book, but a book for those of you who are multi-craftual. According to the description of the book on her website:

Fashionistas, aspiring jewelry designers, and DIY lovers will learn how to make 20 of Tarina’s most essential pieces including statement earrings, cocktail rings, hair jewelry, stretch cuff bracelets, embellished spectacles, and more. Fans of Tarina will also learn about her brand history, getting inspired, creating themes and stories, sourcing materials, essential tools and techniques, how to wear and style your jewelry wardrobe, and more. The text is complemented by tips and hundreds of full-color photos throughout.

Now, my style runs more towards large emerald-cut diamonds in Art Deco platinum settings and Jess MaHarry conflict-free diamonds set in rose gold (how’s that for specific?), but I found this book quite fun to thumb through. A long time ago I took some jewelry-making classes and learned how to string beads and knot in-between them, attach clasps, set stones for stud earrings, etc. I enjoyed jewelry-making immensely and was amazed to find how quickly I could rack up a huge bill in a bead store and walk out with a wee tiny bag of purchases. (I see some of you nodding in agreement out there!)


Back to the book: as the description states, there are complete instructions for making 20 different pieces. I was looking at one of the ring designs — the Paris Apartment Cocktail Ring.


Look at the “ingredients” it is made from:


Sculpey clay in several different colors and a crystal or cabochon! Totally do-able! And there are beautifully clear photos that illustrate the step-by-step instructions for making this ring, as there are for each piece in the book.

In addition to the complete instructions for making the pieces, there is a great deal of good information about inspiration, finding raw materials, the tools you need, and how to wear your jewelry.

I am very, very tempted to keep this book, but hesitate to slide back down the rabbit hole of jewelry-making. And, as I said, the pieces are not really my style. I think I need to be younger and hipper to pull off some of the pieces. 😉 Not that I couldn’t use the techniques taught in the book to make things that are more my style . . .

But no, I will be nice and offer this book up to an aspiring jewelry-maker. Who’d like it?

To be entered in the drawing to receive my review copy of The Sparkle Factory by Tarina Tarantino, please leave a comment on this blog post by 11:00 Eastern time this Sunday, August 18, 2013. The Random Number Generator will choose a winner at that time.

The winner will be required to create a one-of-a-kind piece of jewelry for me. (Just kidding! But I am quite taken with the Sugar Skull Stretch Bracelet on page 105 . . . I am quite sure I could pull off wearing that!)

Knitting Modifications

I finished the body of my Pomme de Pin cardigan yesterday. With some mods, of course.

Note that if you are making the largest size of this design, the shoulder shaping on the left and right front pieces do not match — the directions for the right front are wrong. I just noticed this quite by accident but thought I’d point it out. But if you just follow the left front shaping instructions and reverse them you will be fine.

I added some length in the hem to armhole portion of the sweater, and again in the depth of the armhole. For the 5 sizes given for the pattern, the armhole depth varies from 7.75 to 8.75 inches deep. I know from experience that I would fine this vastly uncomfortable: way too tight. Particularly  if I plan to wear the cardi over something with sleeves. I realize that the lace pattern used is stretchy, but I prefer an oversized cardi to one that is straining at the buttonholes when I button it. Tightly-fitted clothing bothers me and makes me feel too warm. Hence my adjustments.

My other issue with this pattern is how the sleeves are designed. You are directed to knit long tubes for the sleeves that have the same diameter at the cuff as at the upper arm. Yeah . . . no.

As I said, I understand that the knitted fabric for this design is stretchy, but I simply do not “get” how the sleeves are designed. For each size, an additional “x” number of stitches is added to the cast-on. For the smallest size, the sleeve is 10″ around, from cuff to armpit. And the largest size is 16.4″ around, from cuff to armpit. That cuff would be flapping in the breeze and the sleeve would be pretty fitted at the upper arm. I find it hard to believe that’s what the designer wanted: such a difference in the look of the sleeve from smallest to largest size.

To make things easy on myself, I did a Ravelry search for free sweater patterns knit at the same gauge as this design, and cobbled together a sleeve pattern from the results. My sleeves will have fewer stitches at the cuff and gradual increases up the arm like a traditional sleeve. This is not what the designer had in mind, clearly, but it’s my sweater. 😉

Last night I started a sleeve.


At some point soon I will join the body fronts to back and pick up for the neckband/front bands. Then I can knit on the bands at home, and keep the sleeve for commuter knitting. I need to be done with this project by the end of August for it to count as my Camp Loopy project, and I’m still on target.

I was a little concerned about timing, what with a new kitty and all. But I can knit fairly successfully in Loki’s presence. I just need to be careful not to flaunt my yarn in front of him. He will from time to time show interest in what I am doing and sniff at the yarn. During these times I hold still and hold my breath. But so far, so good.

I am fairly certain, however, that blocking lace will not be possible in his presence. I do not have a space large enough to block lace that can be shut away from a busy kitty, so I will not be doing any lace knitting for the foreseeable future.

Loki sez:


Who, me?