Monday, July 27, 2009

Last Minute gifting

Have you ever had one of those moments when you decide something seemingly simple, only to discover that it impacts several other things in a (sometimes) less than desirable way? Umm, yeah. I did that.
I decided to give the Fountain Pen Shawl to a co-worker of mine. It is exactly her style, and I know she will love it to death. Cool. good. fine. Right?
No. Not so much.
See, my co-worker is the woman that directs a lot of the shows I design for ECA. I like her very much. BUT, if I give her an "opening night gift" for our show that Opens Aug. 1, I kind of have to give a gift to the other woman I work with, as they are of equal standing. The lady getting the shawl is the director, and my artistic collaborator, but the other woman is my boss, and the artistic director of the program. It's like office politics, but without the offices.
We all know where this is going, right? Costumechick has to knit a "something" for the other person, so as not to upset the local artistic ecosystem that is required for Costumechick to keep getting design gigs.
Really, I don't mind, as she is also knit worthy. I have no doubt she will adore, fawn over, and otherwise make a Big Deal over what ever I give her, but i have to select the knit gift wisely. (Just like Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, but with out the mummification and exploding dust thing) I decided on this:

Name: Silk Fountain Hood from Luxury Yarn One-Skein Wonders: 101 Small Indulgences
Yarn: Berroco Ultra Alpaca, left overs from a sweater - 2 skeins-ish
Needles: Knit Picks Options, wood, size US5
Notes:It took me almost all night to decide on a pattern. I knew I didn't have time to knit another shawl, unless it was a shawlette. A shawlette, next to a full size shawl would be kind of insulting - like getting second prize. I felt the same way about a lace scarf. (Oh, you. Here's the less time and effort gift for you.) I doesn't matter that she isn't really a shawl or lace scarf type. It's all about appearances.
Hat and gloves? meh. Purse? I've never seen her with a purse. (and my track record for actually finishing purses is slim. Anyone remember the Via Diagionale 18 month project?) Socks? I have no idea what shoe size she is. A Crab from the Summer Knitty? haha! Apropos, but not a good idea. I finally settled on a neck warmer/hood because it was very functional; girly, but not something you have to 'deal with' when you wear it; quick; and could be made from fancy yarn, thereby making it 'better'.

I love the yarn as much now as I loved it when I knit the sweater from it. It's so soft and easy to knit. Lurvvvve. It really shows the lace work well, which is always a plus, and won't be too hot to wear, since it is lace. Win win!
I hope she likes it as much as I enjoyed knitting it. The pattern is dead simple, and not the dreaded Feather and Fan, but not at all boring to knit. It is also quick! I cast on on Wednesday night, knit for about an hour, worked on it for a few hours at SnB on Thursday, and finished it up on Friday evening. I could have probably cranked it out in one day if i didn't have to work or anything.

The results are very cute, if I do say so myself. I think it is a great gift!!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Madame Defarge

Socktopia had a great theme this month:Madame Defarge. How could I resist knitting a pair if socks dedicated to the main villain in Charles Dickens's, "A Tale of Two Cities"? In case you are unfamiliar with the book or the character, here is a quote form Wikipedia:
"Madame Thérèse Defarge is a fictional character in the book A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. She is a tricoteuse, a tireless worker for the French Revolution and the wife of Ernest Defarge.
She is arguably the main villain of the book, and ruthlessly seeks revenge against the Evrèmondes, including Charles Darnay, his wife Lucie Manette and their child for crimes a prior generation of the Evrèmonde family had committed. These crimes include the deaths of her sister, father, and brother-in-law. Eventually, her quest for vengeance results in her downfall and death.
Defarge represents one aspect of the Fates. She knits, and her knitting secretly encodes the names of those people she will have killed. The Fates used yarn to measure out the life of a man, and cut it to end it."
So I knit a pair of socks in honor of an awesome villainous!

Name: Madame Defarge Socks
Pattern: My own, top down
Yarn: Socks That Rock Medium weight in Tanzentite
Needles: US2, Knit Picks classic circs
Notes: For some time now I've been boiling an idea in my head to knit a pair of socks consisting of two different patterns, but using the same yarn. For example, knit one "Monkey" and one "Zokni". They would be the same color, but different patterns, and therefore, no SSS! This would be especially good for socks that you realize half way through the leg on #1 that you are going to dread #2. Oh, and as a bonus, it would be like wearing mismatched socks, except nobody else would realize they were mismatched, unless they really looked. I finally implemented the plan this time!
These socks are inspired by Madame Defarge, but I couldn't stand the idea of knitting peoples names into my socks that I didn't like, although the idea of forcing a few choice people to "smell my feet" or walking on them all day was appealing. Instead, I chose to knit her name into my socks 5 different ways.

Sock #1 has Madame Defarge written in "binary" down the center front,

and her initials on the underside of the foot.

Sock #2 has her name written in braille at the top,

"Madame Defarge" written with purl stitches running down the front,

and her name in Morse code on the sole of the foot.
I did use the same ribbing at the cuff, and on the foot, although, since I was making it up as I went, sock #2 has angled ribbing on the foot. "Derfarge" has 7 letters, so my last 'E" ended up below the ribbing line. It's a design feature.

Overall, I love these socks. I gave up my STR cherry on these, and I don't regret it. I am in LOVE with STR. I now understand the big deal. It's even better that they are one of a kind, unique to me, (who else would want a pair of mismatched socks dedicated to a villainous) and totally cool pair of socks.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The shawl from hell is finished!!

I suppose it isn't fair to call it the "shawl from hell". It isn't hard, and it is well written. There are no mistakes, and even the yarn was nice to work with, but MAN oh MAN! This thing was BORING. Holy Crap. I almost fell asleep while knitting it every time I picked it up - and not from sleepiness. That said, the person I decided to give it to will love it!

Name: Fountain Pen shawl from IK spring 2009
Yarn: JoJoland Harmony
Needles: size 5 glass needles from
Notes: Have I said "boring"? It is my fault though. I knew it would be boring, I just wasn't prepared for the extent of the dullness. I wanted something "easy" for a car trip. I got "easy". I should have taken something with a *tad* more meat on it, I now realize. I guess the real problem is that it isn't soooo easy that you can just go on auto pilot, and not hard enough to feel like you are really creating a work of art. The FPS lives in the ether between these two states of knitting. It isn't difficult, but you have to pay attention to most of the rows since some of them intuitively line up, and some of them don't.

I think it is the same problem I have with feather and fan. I have to count every. damn. row. I cannot do it intuitively. (For what it's Worth, I seem to be the only person that HATES F&F.) Anyway, if I hadn't purposely distracted myself with other knitting it would have been a relatively fast knit. As it stands, it took me 5 weeks. It might not sound it, but that is slow for me and this kind of shawl.

Another part of my ennui towards this project was the yarn. It was ok to knit with, but compared to the angel fart, pure silk yarn I had used on the shawl previous, it was like bailing twine. Maybe it is like Gilbert and Sullivan's "Ruddygore". The Mikado was a HUGE hit for G&S, and it didn't matter what came out next, the fans were going to hate it because Mikado was so fucking awesome! My biggest complaint about it is the colorway. I thought I loved it. It looked like 'beach in a ball' on the shelf. Then I started to knit with it. It went from beach to dirty river. Yerg.

Looking at the completed and blocked FO, it isn't as bad. It is too stripey for my taste, but I thought of a gift recipient that will love it for that very reason. I don't care for the really light, almost white, stripe right in the middle. I have another at the edge, but it is such a long series of rows, it isn't as noticeable. If that white bit wasn't there, I'd go from "eh" to "ok" on the project love scale.

PS. I'm working on the Dahlia sweater again! do a 'no rash' chant for me!

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Little Black Cat Hat

I guess putting all that WIP/UFO crap on the blog yesterday inspired me to finish something. I blog-shamed myself!

Name: Kat's Hat by Diana Foster
Yarn: Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino - 2 skeins
Needles: US 4 vintage DPNs
Notes: This hat has a crap ton of ends to weave in. And black yarn sucks for weaving in on the right side of the hat. I had to sit under a spot light to see the stitches so I could get a nice hidden yarn tail. Sheesh. That said, it is soooooo cute!

I used google eye buttons, and embroidered the rest on with left over sock yarn. The white is Louet Gems Pearl and the pink is Lana Grossa Meilenweit Cotton ringel. It took longer than it looks like it would. ( Not totally because I was stretching it out to avoid the shawl. really.) If I were to knit this again, I'd do the ear flaps first, with a provisional cast on, then cast on the brim, putting the ear flaps in as I went. I wouldn't save me any ends, really, but It would be less stitches to pick up.

The hardest part of this pattern is getting the ears and ear flaps and face straight and centered and even. Holy Crap. Maybe it is easier in a different color. Oddly, this is not what stalled my progress. Even all the finishing isn't what really ground this hat to a halt. The size is what did it.

Ok. I didn't really read the pattern before I started. I thought it was a baby hat. It is not. It is a "child's hat". I kept thinking, "this looks big for a baby" and "knit 6" before shaping the top? really?" But did I rip back? noooooo. I waited until I had the ears and the ear flaps finished before I tried it on. Guess what? It fits my absurdly small head, which is "child size". It's cute, but not my style.

So, last night I finished it up, still not knowing who I am going to give it to. I guess I'll put it in the gift pile!

PS. I did two rows on my shawl too. Progress is progress!

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Blogging about.. well, not much at all

Summer is so weird around the Costumechick blog. I am not at work a whole lot - mostly because I need to use up my Vacation days, and my pirated (yes, still) Internet at home is spotty, at best. But I am trying to post when I am actually at work, and have time, since I have lots 'o crap to do because I'm not here much. It is a vicious cycle.
What I've been up to:
1.The Dahlia Darling sweater. I'm still love it, but am not working on it. I developed a rash. I stopped knitting it, just in case, and a week has gone by. My rash is gone. Could be a coincidence. I am going to finish a few other things, then pick it back up. If the rash comes back, I'll have to take evasive maneuvers.
2. Fountain Pen Shawl.

I pretty much hate it. I dislike the yarn and colorway, but I am on the last repeat, so I am finishing it anyway. It's hard to stay on top of it though. I can find a million better things to do. That said, I'm not frogging it. If I don't like it now, I'm not going to like it better later. Instead, I'll overdye it when I'm done, providing it looks as much like ass as I think it is going to.
3. Little Black Cat Hat. I cast this on in umm.... May? All it needs are eyes and ends woven in. How lame am I? You know, I could avoid the Fountain Shawl tonight and finish this.....
4. Mark's mittens. I forgot I even cast on for these until I looked at my Ravelry WIPS. Sad.
5.Cloverfield Shawl. I cast on for this in the fall for a play at work. We ended up not needing it, so I stopped working on it and put the project in my desk cubby at work. I keep looking at it and thinking "just finish it". At the same time, I know there are errors that I just fudged around since it was just a prop, and i think "rip the fucker out." Really, I'd just like my needles back.
6. Three sweaters of crappity crap. I have three (THREE) sweaters that I need to frog. One is done to the armpits, and I realize it is three sizes too big. One is done, but fits like ass. The last is Evad's mutton chop sleeve sweater of Doom. Seriously. It's been 4 years. Sad Sad Sad
7. Madame Defarge Socks.

Obviously, I have nothing else to knit, so I cast on for my Socktopia, July socks. The details will come later. Just know that it wasn't *all* Fountain Pen avoidance.
Whew. But you know, despite all of that, I did manage to cast on and complete two quick projects last week.

It's a hat and a scarf from some RAK yarn that I think is Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride Bulky. I still have a ball left, so I might make more some more quick hats. I don't know if they are a gift or for charity yet. We'll see!
Oh, and I heard that! I know I had lots of things OTN, but I didn't have any good movie knitting. My dahlia sweater was on Time Out, otherwise the ribbing on the front would have been perfect, I hadn't cast on the socks yet, and the rest are too complicated or involved, in some way, to do at the movies. I am practical, you see.