Wednesday, December 29, 2010


I've been spinning my hand-dyed pink and orange (porange, I'm thinking of it) silk/merino fiber into sock yarn. Up until now it was going swimmngly; half is done and one sock started on, I've got a few grams of fiber left to spin into a single, then chain-ply the second sock's worth of yarn.

So I sat down tonight, intending to finish that up, and about half an hour into the spinning, the single quit winding onto the bobbin.

Very annoying.

Well, I'm not the husbeast, but I don't totally suck at mechanics, so I started prodding at one thing and then another, trying to figure out what's going on. Everything seemed fine, but the damn bobbin wouldn't turn independently of the whorl. It took way too long to figure out, but eventually it dawned on me: THE DAMN BOBBIN BROKE. That's right, WHILE it was on my wheel! The end nearest the whorl separated from the shaft of the bobbin, and the singles on it pushed the end outward to press against the whorl. So thanks to friction, the whorl and the bobbin are all one piece. I'm pretty sure I can glue the damn thing back together, but first I have to figure out what in hell to do with the single on there. Ply it as is and forget that last couple bits of wool? Wind the whole four hundred yards (ish) onto another damn bobbin and take it from there? I think those are my only two options. If they are, I'll ply as is.

Seriously, who has this happen to them? Nobody but us weirdos, that's who.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Update: Still alive.

It's been a crappy couple weeks, but not that crappy. Some of you are concerned, so. Here you go. :)

My brother is out of the hospital. He kicked the pneumonia, woke up, and felt as close to fine as it's possible to feel in that situation. He checked himself out after a week in rehab, which is just like him. He was out of the hospital for three weeks before I found out. No one bothered to call me. I went over to the hospital to visit and he wasn't there, so I called his son (his wife never answers the phone), and got the word. Went by his house, and he was cooking breakfast for everyone. Stood around and chatted with me and the Husbeast while he cooked. So I guess he's fine, or close enough.

Then I got to be the one to tell the rest of the family that he was fine because no one had bothered to call them, either. I'm pretty sure my brother's wife lied to my aunt and cousins to get money out of them while my brother was unconscious, and she couldn't bother to call them either.

I'm pretty much at a loss as to where to go with the whole thing, or what to do about it. Or even if anything COULD be done. I think a lot about my mother ranting at the two of them for years, over how they need to do the right thing. I've vowed not to turn into my mother, but... at a loss.

Mom's birthday was yesterday, I'm kinda down over that. And my dad died a year ago in December and I'm trying not to obsess about it.

Which makes for a pretty dismal blog post, so I haven't done any posting. I'm hoping to start the new year off with a new series of posts on knitting, and doing more on colors. For now I'm just laying low and digging in. I'm not horribly depressed or anything, but I'm not tap-dancing, either.

Let's look at the things going right, instead, hmm? Finish out a post this holiday season with a little more style. How about some pictures?

I hand-dyed, hand-spun, and knit a pair of socks. They're merino/silk blend and ungodly bright. Very comfy and warm. Those are garter-stitch toes, from Cat Bordhi. Absolutely brilliant, though not too good for wearing inside shoes.

I've already started on yarn for another pair:

And I finished up the Optim lace-weight. I think I need to do a fiber review of Optim and the company that produces all the hand-spinning Optim I know of, Louet. There's a definite love/hate thing going on.

The big news? We bought furniture! Furniture I don't have to worry about getting from Hawaii to the mainland, or anywhere else for that matter. I wanted a Mission/Arts and Crafts sort of thing, but I know some of it is uncomfortable to sit in. So I went for overstuffed where appropriate:

The couches are not the same color; the larger one is khaki, the smaller is olive. Visual interest. Also, I hate having everything all the same.

I got real book shelves!

They're extremely sturdy and big enough to hold the majority of my non-fiction section. I'm still unpacking books and hauling them upstairs; it's a long process, but I'm enjoying it.

The one end of the room is set up for my fiber-head-ness:

Eventually I want a bench for at the spinning whee and a chair that MATCHES for knitting in. But we'd spent enough on everything else and I intend to get pretty picky over those, so they can wait a bit. Need some lamps that go, too. Again, it can take a while. No rush.

See the table in those last photos? It's an antique that belonged to the husbeast's great-great aunt. I absolutely love it.

It's already stuffed with yarn and knitting gear and wrenches. It's not Mission Style, and I'm totally and completely okay with that. It's so fabulous, matching isn't an issue. It matches ANYTHING.

In the entry we've got a table the husbeast's grandfather made, with a cute little lamp.

I think this table arrangement is BEGGING for a doily. One knit on quadruple zeros and insane-looking.

Sekhmet, that fucker, is crapping little green bits of artificial Christmas tree; I thought I'd spare all of you a photo of THAT.

There, I think that's a much more cheerful end to things. Happy holidays, if I lose my mind and don't post before the 25th.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010


Live carpet beetle just discovered on a ball of NEW spinning fiber. It was next to a box from South Carolina. We're HOPING the little bastards followed us and aren't through this house. It's the first sign of them I've seen here, so it's likely they're just (JUST! motherfucker...) in the stuff we brought with us.


Busting out the plastic bags and inspecting everything from that area in direct sunlight.

Oooooh, my holiday just needed this.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Vogue Knitting, Holiday 2010

As usual, VK contains a few really great patterns, a great many average but okay patterns, and a few that leave me scratching my head wondering WTF. Much like any knitting magazine, but most knitting magazines don't pronounce "IT'S ALL ABOUT GLAMOUR! KNIT'S TAKE ON A NEW ALLURE" on the cover in big, bold black letters.Which, you know, leaves you expecting glamour when you open it up. At least that's what I assume is inside a magazine that does that. All photos from the VK web site unless stated otherwise. I scanned a few photos from the magazine, and there are a few comparison shots in here that are obviously not VK. Stuff in quotes is from the magazine, the rest is mine. Blah, blah, blah.

Editorial content that was probably paid for, advertising pretending to be editorial, editorial pretending to be advertising. The letter from the editor flogs the new "Vogue Knitting LIVE!" convention taking place in New York in January. They've realized a good source of revenue is work shops, sort of like, who is it, Knitters Magazine and the Stitches conventions. Late to the party, but, you know, whatever. After the year's complete goat-fucks in the convention department (the Hands-On event in Chicago that was outright fraud, the the week long knit camp in Scotland that no one is sure what happened, even now) the knitting world can use a few more decent conventions run by people who have the sense to do it right. I'm hoping Vogue pulls it off. Sincerely. We don't need any more fiascoes.

Mohair is being pushed hard this issue. South African farmers have a few ads, VK is sponsoring a design competition to win a trip to - gasp - South Africa, but oddly, I don't recall any actual DESIGNS containing mohair. I'll take a closer look as I do the review.

The showcased yarns are "the new eccentric". No fucking idea what that's supposed to mean. Pet peeve here. IF EVERYONE IN THE VK OFFICE SUPPOSEDLY KNITS, WHY CAN'T SOMEONE PICK UP SOME NEEDLES AND KNIT SOME DAMN SWATCHES? If I want to look at pictures of balls of yarn I can do that all freaking day on various web sites. TELL ME SOMETHING NEW. SHOW ME WHAT THE DAMN STUFF LOOKS LIKE KNIT UP. Gods. Balls of yarn. Geeeeezopete. LAZY MUCH?

Book reviews. Seven reviews, two of books published by VK's press, "Sixth and Spring". That's their addy in Manhattan. Innit cute?

Meg Swansen has another article discussing EPS and ways to tweak it for your own ideas. This time, entrelac and making it 'fit' with regular, unbiased stockinette. If you aspire to design, this is probably worth the cost of the magazine.

Nicky Epstein embellishes a kleenex box - no, wait, it's an evening bag.

With knitted flowers and swarovski crystals. Golly. Never seen that before.

John Brinegar (?) discusses knitting cuff-to-cuff and different welts, short rows, and stripe effects. Also very useful if you're interested in design.

Carol Sucoski discusses the 'hand' of yarns (soft, squooshy, etc) and the good and bad points of each. This article and the other two from Meg Swansen and John Brinegar are really worth the cost of the magazine.

This reminds me of Navy guys saying they only buy Playboy for the articles.


Section one: "Rhapsody in Red. It paints the town. It stops traffic." It's all red. Gosh. VK hasn't done an all red section since, um, Fall 2009. Very startling in its originality. The photo shoot seems to be done in an old warehouse full of ratty furniture, falling apart luggage, and, uh, antlers. ?? Oh, and someone stuck silk flowers on the models, calling to mind the Chanel style of a hundred years ago. Cutting edge like a bowling ball, yes indeedy.

1. Lace pullover by Shirley Paden.

Three sizes from 36 to 47 inches/92 to 119 cm. I'm not quite sure how that collar is supposed to work if you actually move your arms, but the line of the texture pattern itself, and the drape of the fabric are really nice. It's something you could legitimately wear when dressed up, and flattering to a reasonable range of body types. Pretty.

2. Rain Drops Dress by Mari Tobita.

Three sizes from 34 to 40 inches/86 to 101 cm. Knit in Cashsoft DK, which is wool, microfiber, and cashmere. I don't think that's a wise choice for a knit dress; without some nylon, wool dresses tend to stretch out and leave baggy butts unless they're fully lined, and lining a dress is a pain in the, well, baggy butt. Still, with the vertical lines, it's flattering as these things go. If you're going to make this, be damn sure the waist hits you at the waist. That'll be tricky; they didn't quite pull it off on this one, but then the designer had no idea who would be wearing the final product so it's not their fault. I do think the color's an unfortunate choice. The red 'rain drops' actually remind me of this:

VK should have skipped all the red and let the designer go with a blue. Rain drops, yes. Sealing wax, not so much.

3. Drape Front Jacket by Laura Bryant.

Five sizes from 36 to 48 inches/91 to 122cm. $165 USD to knit the medium size. Eh. It's a jacket. Not too fitted, so not too flattering. But comfortable and pretty. They're claiming this is day-to-night, but only if your nights are kinda casual.

4. Cap Sleeve Jacket by Josh Bennett

Four sizes from 36 to 40 inches/86 to 101 cm. Cute. I think they photographed it like this because the closures in the front are kinda wonky, but they're easily fixed. It's got a nice, delineated empire waist. With careful knitting to make sure it fits properly - it's rather tailored - this would make a flattering jacket. Not sure I'd rely on it to keep me warm in the depths of winter, but for spring or fall it'd be perfect.

5. Cabled Jacket by Pat Olski.

Three sizes from 34 to 44 inches/86 to 111cm. More photography fun from VK. You see, there are facings knit into the front edges of this jacket. THEN the front edges overlap. So all told, there are FOUR layers of knitting buttoned together, slap down the front of this thing between the model's boobs. Of course they photograph around it. There's a different view in the magazine:

See that big wad of fabric down the center? Yeeeeeah. Also? Front bottom edge is pinned to keep it from rolling outward. It's possible to fix all that, but I'm not sure it's worth the bother. Up to you.

(By the way; I got a new printer-copier-scanner, and I know how to use it. Look out! Mayhem on the way!)

6. Cabled Swing Poncho by Michelle Wang.

Two sizes, measured at lower edge: 84 and 92 inches/213 and 233 cm. Knit with a wool/possum/cashmere blend, $240 USD for the SMALLER size. I'm betting you can find a substitute yarn that wasn't paid for by the manufacturer. This is a cute poncho. I like it. But it's not glamour at the art gallery opening fare, it's, well, uh, hang around an abandoned apartment with old furniture and steamer trunks of manky old furs. (That's the photo shoot; doesn't show too well in the web site photos.)

7. Corded Cropped Cardi by Fayla Reiss.

Four sizes from 36 to 47 inches/91 to 119 cm. $190 USD for the medium size.

Sorry. All I can think of.

8. Cable Yoke Pullover by Norah Gaughan.

SIX sizes from 32 to 50 inches/81 to 127 cm. As always, Norah delivers a solid design in a wide range of sizes. This is probably the pick of the issue. I'd like to see it hanging normally instead of on a model with her boobs stuck out, but it looks like a solid design. I'd take off the turtleneck and put on long sleeves, but that's entirely personal preference and quite easily done. Very, very nice.

Next section,"Tone and Texture; Knit layers add new levels of chic to a winter wardrobe." More old warehouse photography; this is all done against a distressed brick wall with a stack of architectural odds and ends (pillars and columns). Strange.

9. Woven Braid Cowl by Vladmir Teriokhin.

One size, 27x29 inches/68x73 cm. Several folks over on Ravelry said this would make a great skirt. They were right. As it is, uh, what? She looks like she's got a mini-skirt around her neck.

10. Cropped Top by Vladmir Teriokhin.

Aha! The mohair! Two sizes, 35 and 40 inches/89 and 101 cm. Uses only 450 yards of yarn, so it's a great option for some of those lightweight mohair yarns that we're not sure what to do with. On the other hand, mohair can make your skin crawl - I can't wear it next to my skin. Personal taste, though. It's a really cute layering piece if you can fit into it.

11. Scoop Neck Top by Susan Haviland.

Four sizes from 29 to 42 inches/75 to 106 cm. The Gibson Girl styling on this is cracking me up. So very, very not new. Anyway. This is just a circular tube with some neck shaping. There's not really any allowance made for the arms or shoulders. Here, look at the photo in the magazine:

See how the arm holes are horizontal slits in the fabric, with no fitting? The instant you raise your arms in that sweater, it will ride up to just under your boobs, leaving your stomach hanging out. Not too flattering, and damn cold for winter. Arms would help hold down the shoulders of this thing, but as it is, see how the model's holding it down with her hand on her hip?

Section Three, "Natural Woman. Sometimes the simplest juxtaposition of knits and purls creates the most dramatic effects. Welted knits in earth-toned yarns are breathtakingly rough-hewn." Rough-hewn? Uh huh. This section is all by designer John Brinegar.

12. Welted Pullover.

Four sizes from 32 to 44 inches/81 to 113 cm. Knit cuff to cuff in Baby Alpaca Chunky from Cascade. Other than the Woolly Mammoth Effect you get from fuzzy brown chunky weight yarns, you're gonna have a growth problem. This thing is a square with slightly less than square sleeves. Alpaca has no tensile strength, so it will relax and grow and grow and grow as it is worn. It'll also be damn hot, which would be a good thing, depending. At least 'damn hot' is appropriate for winter.

13. Welted Circle Vest.

Two sizes, 38 and 40 inches/96 to 101 cm at the bust, wrapped, it says. Every. Single. Image. has the model holding the jacket shut or holding on to the front edges in some way. Magazine, web site, even Vogue 360. So I've gotta ask: WHY? I'm guessing it drapes strangely. These circular things can be tricky.

14. Welted Cowl.

Yep. That's what it is. It weighs a pound/400g.

Section next, "Golden Girls; When the occasion calls for the glamour of glimmer, starry designs knit in gorgeous metallics light up the night." How often do they do a metallic section? Yearly? More than that? Feh. I'm not looking it up, but it hasn't been long.

15. Pleat Collar Jacket by Lidia Karabinech.

Six sizes from 36 to 54 inches/91 137 cm. Knit with two types of beaded MOHAIR! yarn. $342 USD to knit the 42in/106cm size. Seriously?

16. Wrap Vest by Laura Zukaite.

Six sizes from 31 to 53 inches/80 to 134cm. $140 USD. Hippy vest with no shaping; in the magazine they've got the vest cinched in with some I cord and the model still looks like a post:

This'd probably be a hoot, flung over an otherwise plain outfit, but over sequins it looks kinda silly. Plus, I doubt VK is going for humor when they pick their designs. I do, but oh yeah; I'm not glamourous.

17. Chevron Wrap by Grace Anna Farrow.

29x58 inches/73x147 cm. There was some concern over this when VK first came out, because the identical design was first published about a year ago in a booklet called "A Fine Line". It was named "Volt". The good news is, it is from the same designer and NOT NOT NOT plagiarized, stolen, or pirated in any way. SAME DESIGNER. She's getting credit and the pay check. Rest easy. That said, this is a really interesting design, simple to execute yet very striking in appearance. It's also knit in wool, which is appropriate for season and use. Need a wrap? This is a great one.

18. Lace Cowl by Eline Fotedal.

Bottom circumference 51 inches/129 cm. Cowl? Round shawl? Giant collar? I think it would work better treated as a giant collar, attached to a pullover from the same yarn. As it is, all I can think is you either have to wear it all night or royally screw up your hair, putting it on or taking it off.

19. Bow Neck Cardigan by Simona Merchant-Dest.

Four sizes from 34 to 43 inches/88 to 109 cm. It's a little jacket thingie. Now, did the designer mean for this to be worn over an evening gown? Seriously? Because heavy thick knitwear over a light beaded dress looks silly to me. Plus, if it's cold enough for inch-thick ribbed fabric, isn't it cold enough for long sleeves? Mostly, this is an average knit jacket. Then VK got ahold of it. It really pisses me off when stylists in knitting magazines make knitwear look stupid. They're STYLISTS. They should have the skill to make knitting look like the coolest damn thing in the world. Isn't that the point? To get us fired up and buying yarn and magazines? THEN WHY DON'T THEY DO IT?!?!?!


20. Cowl Pullover by Amy Polcyn.

"You can smolder without being revealing." Oh, geez. Five sizes from 36 to 52 inches/101 to 132 cm. $217 USD, but it's cashmere. Smoldering cashmere.

"Make Me Blush" Golly. We haven't had section named "Make Me Blush" done in all pink since, gosh, TWO ISSUES AGO! Good to see VK is really exercising the gray matter, coming up with creative ideas. They're so Vogue. The inevitable pink section is also the inevitable scarf section. I don't have much to say about scarves. They are squares of fabric, many with patterns ripped off from Barbara Walker. Not particularly glamourous, but they are what you make of them. It's probably best I don't know what the designer got paid for these, but most of this is stuff I'd post for free on my blog. Oh wait. I HAVE posted stuff like this for free.

21. Embellished Scarf by Shiri Mor.

4x48 inches/10x122 cm. This is a cute stitch pattern, and fairly original. I like the addition of the flowers and leaves. This would have made a spectacularly cute sweater; this color yarn, with the flowers and leaves around the yoke. As it is, it's a pretty scarf. Knit with two skeins of Buffalo Gold Lux yarn, bison down/cashmere/silk/tencel. It would make a fantastic holiday splurge for yourself (about $100 USD), and the use of the yarn in a scarf would avoid any hard wear on a potentially fragile yarn.

22. Double Leaf Scarf by Jacqueline vanDillen.

13x86 inches/30x218cm. Feh. It's a rectangle of non-reversible Barbara Walker lace. Another splurge yarn, alpaca/silk/cashmere and some silk/mohair held together.

23. Lace Panel Scarf by Lisa Hoffman.

11x60 inches/28x152 cm. Alpaca. Feh.

24. Vine Lace Scarf by Simona Merchant-Dest.

6x83 inches/15x210 cm. Plain old wool. Feh.

25. Ruffle Scarf by Brooke Nico.

Length at shorter edge, 36 inches/91 cm. It has nupps. CODE RED! WOOT WOOT WOOT! Seriously though, this one's kinda cute though not earth shattering. Knit with alpaca, so it'd be nice and soft and warm.

26. Entrelac scarf by Rosemary Drysdale.

10x69 inches/25x175 cm. With a plug for Drysdale's upcoming book on entrelac, coming from the VK publishing arm. Cute.

I know VK dictates this stuff and the designers can either go along or not get paid. But could they dictate something different once in a while? PLEASE?

Next section, "Bold and Beautiful", where allegedly Big Name Designers offer allegedly stylish patterns.

27. Bobble Scarf by Tom Scott.

4x102 inches/11x259cm. About. There are two sizes with different widths, I assume to fine-tune the fit?!? If there's a fit? It's marked "Very Easy, Very Vogue" to which I say my ass, because bulky yarn and bobbles are NOT easy. $90 USD to knit the smaller size. Know what this looks like?

Elephant nipples. HAVE SOME GLAMOUR.

28. Striped Pullover by Wayne.

Five sizes from 41 to 56 inches/104 to 142 cm. Yum. Horizontal stripes. LOOK HOW WIDE I AM!

Last section, "Hand Paint Heaven". They use hand-painted yarns to make pullovers. Great idea, some nice stuff, but I wish they'd get over this uniformity of color thing. The blue and red color scheme is NOT the best choice; these would look fantastic in more gradual color changes. Earth tones would be lovely. Plus it would make a change from four pages of blue and red. After a while it all looks the same. Isn't glamour about standing out?

29. Rib Lace Pullover by Heather Dixon.

Three sizes from 25 (ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?) to 42 inches/64 to 106 cm. (There's a note here claiming the garment will stretch to fit desired size. YeahSureYouBetcha.) I know many, many knitters who refuse to make garments with chevron patterns because it reminds them of afghans their grandmothers knit.

30. Wrap Neck Pullover by Mari Lynn Patrick.

Five sizes from 31 to 38 inches/79 to 98 cm. This one is really interesting. Unusual without being weird. It's big-butt length, but it's GOT waist shaping, so if you shortened it and left the belt off it, it'd be flattering. I really like it, and would like it more in a different color scheme. Oh, wait. I can't knit one for myself because the largest size is a 38 inch bust. VOGUE, YOU ASSHOLES.

The next two designs are really interesting to compare to each other. They're both done in horizontal stripes. The first is done in a way that's flattering (or at least not UNflattering), and the second is OMFG LOOK HOW WIDE I AM.

31. Striped Pullover by Maie Landra.

Seven (!!!) sizes from 35 to 59 inches/89 to 149 cm. This is a simple design, and SHOULD be available in a large range of sizes, so I'm thrilled to see it IS. Again with the big butt length, but again it's easily shortened. No shaping, but you can put it in. See how the colors blend into each other? So you get visual interest without an insanely obvious striping effect. This is knit with Koigu, so you could get a wide assortment of blendy colors in whatever you liked. If I were going to knit an entire sweater with Koigu, it'd probably look like this. Lovely.

32. Striped Turtleneck by Kaffe Fassett.

Five sizes from 34 to 50 inches/86 to 127 cm. Kaffe Fassett rides on his own coattails and uses the Regia sock yarn he chose 'colourways' for to knit a striped pullover. HEY! LOOK HOW WIDE I AM!

That wraps it up - almost - for this issue. They're getting a little better about sizes. After all the web-based stuff in the last issue, and everyone's annoyance over it, VK has gone back to nearly everything done on paper. Except for the web exclusive:

This left the husbeast muttering about boob jobs done with helium. Everyone on Ravelry was puzzling over it (to put it politely). I'd love to tell you more, but I can't figure out on the web site or in the magazine how to get to the pattern.

Happy knitting? I'm gonna go lay down with a washcloth over my eyes and have a swoon.