Thursday, September 30, 2010

First of the Last Thursdays

So, I've decided to try setting up shop at the lovely, insane anarchy that is Last Thursday on Alberta. (For non-Portlanders this is kind of like a monthly street fair, but with no rules and regulations, lots of random "vendors," wierdly shaped bikes, impromptu performances, drunk people and hipster posturing).

This isn't really the first time I've tried selling wares at Last Thursday. Five or six years ago I went up there with a folding tray table and 6 pairs of randomly designed handwarmers. There were no signs or price tags or anything. I must of looked sad and rather adorable staring at the handwarmers on the table, laid out in front of me like some sort of strange solitaire game. I didn't sell anything, but I did manage to do a few trades with some of the other crafty vendors there.

Honestly, I don't know if I will fare any better this time around, but I do feel more prepared.
I'll still have a few pairs of handwarmers, of course...

But I'll also have some headbands, hats, cowls, scarves and even one or two little knitting kits I made up:

They come in cute little lamb bags. (After printing him a few dozen times, I've decided the lamb's name is Herb)

 And I will also have lovely printed copies of all my knitting patterns. Given that 6 years ago during my handwarmer phase I  just barely knew how to read a pattern, let along write one, I'm feeling particularly proud of my pattern pups. Oh little knitting self, how you grow up so fast.

If any Portland readers feel like heading out on a lovely, summery fall night, please come and find me. I'll be the one playing solitaire with knitted goods.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Balustrade Cowl

Let's have a little chat about lace. Not the kind of lace in doilies or the fancy see-through kind adorning a lot of black dresses this fall, but knitted lace patterns. The kinds with names like "winding trail," "passionflower" or "snowdrops," the kind of lace that wraps any hat, sweater or shawl into it's complicated web and turns it into a prized heirloom. I don't think I could ever have enough knitted lace, and a pretty lace triangle shawl is about the best it gets. Almost. Lately, I've been having trouble with my beloved triangle scarves. It's not just the logistics of keeping one wrapped securely around my neck - the ocean wind almost stole a lovely swallowtail shawl from me once on a Seattle ferry.
 It's just that sometimes I crave something a little less sweet and quaint, and a little more modern.

 So, me and my lacey, shawly self got together and decided on a compromise. The result is a long, wide cowl knit seamlessly in the round. Bands of simple, geometric lace are separated by slightly gathered garter strips that create a nice, full drape when wrapped around your neck. I designed it imagining I'd wear it this way, wrapped double so it looks like a pretty, perfectly tousled scarf with no ends, or shifting, or fiddling needed. But, actually, it turns out to be a more versatile little piece of lace than I thought...

I named this pattern Balustrade, which is a fancy architectural word for a railing on a staircase or porch. I named it this partly because the lace reminded me of the geometric shapes and patterns often found on railings or windows, but also because the cowl reminded me of the word itself - a bit of lovely, pretty fluff for something that is, at its heart, utterly functional.

If you find yourself craving a bit of lace, please check out the Balustrade pattern on Ravelry here or on Etsy here.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


I do believe I have a new favorite color.

Lest you think favorites come easily to me, I assure you - they do not. I'm the type of indecisive person that when usually faced with the question - "What's your favorite color?" - will hem and haw before answering - "The first half of the rainbow." What can I say? I love colors. We get along famously. Picking a favorite is like asking me to name the best movie or author or - gasp! - food.  My love (and gluttony) are too big for favorites.

But then this color came along....It started with these handwarmers I made for my friend Andrea...

It was one of those knitting experiences where I had to stop every few rows just to examine the lovely glow of the yarn. And then when I was writing up the pattern, I looked at the label and noticed the name of the color....Butterscotch. Oh my.

The cotton/cashmere yarn was quite buttery indeed. I turned the remainders into this headband and discovered the color was actually flattering on me too. Since then, I've been drawn to this color everywhere....In my new fabulously amazing  shoes...

Even in puppy dogs...

And so now when I go into yarn stores, I can't resist any yarn that is vaguely this color. I recently picked up this ball of Berocco Peruvia, and I can't decide what to knit with it. Handwarmers? Hat? Cowl? I want it all!!!

The name of this particular colorway is something pedestrian like Orange or Pumpkin. But, I mean, seriously people, is there a better name for a color than Butterscotch? Butter.  Scotch. Particularly when butterscotch pudding, or if you're feeling gluttonous, a butterscotch budino, is pure smooth, soft, caramel heaven?  A color and a food all in one. Sigh. Welcome to my land of favorites, Butterscotch. I hope you stay a while.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Autumn Instructional

I know there have probably been a millon blog posts on this already, and I'm sure everyone is sick of talking about it, but the weather this year has been really frickin' annoying. I've been dealing with it up until now, letting winter, spring and summer move along in their freaky, foreboding, vaguely apocolyptic ways. But now the weather gods have started to mess with autumn, and NOBODY messes with autumn.

Fall has to be one of my favorite things in the entire world. I spend most of the year pining for it, but here it is, September, and honestly, I'm not that excited. Summer in Portland didn't feel like Summer, and so, inevitably, Fall has started to feel, well, not very Fallish at all.

I don't even know if it's the weather's fault anymore. Maybe it's just me. So I've decided to share a little instructional I made, in case you need one too, on how to get into the spirit and fall back in love with fall.

Step #1 - Dress the part. Dig out your favorite fall boots, your cozy patterned tights,  your rustiest colored clothing. When you get dressed in the morning, pretend it is the most perfect fall day out, with crisp, cool air, and red-orange leaves speckling the sky. Don't worry if people think you are crazy wearing a scarf and a hat when it's 80 degrees outside. If you're anything like me, you already look crazy.

Step #2 - Drink tea. Preferably something with cinnamon, or apple or vanilla.

Step #3 - Take a walk. Preferably with a cute dog. Look for signs of fall. Dead grass, leaves turning at the edges? No luck. Look for orange painted houses or brick walls and pretend they are trees.

Step #4 - Come home, curl up in your coziest chair and daydream about all the summer fun you had. It was there, remember? The days swimming in the lake, exploring golden meadows, eating ripe tomatoes peaches. Ahh, that was nice. Now, daydream about all the fall fun ahead - apple pies, corn mazes, pumpkin patches, cozy wool sweaters!

Feeling it yet?
Yeah, me neither. I miss my red ripe tomatoes.
Damn you, weather gods.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Sweet Olivia

I love making baby sweaters.  They should feel totally impractical - spending hours knitting something that will, in short time, be grown out of, covered in spit up, or ruined in a washing machine. But they just have so much else going for them, mostly their killer mini-size cuteness. Every time I knit an adult sweater, I find myself wishing it was for a baby. It would just be so much easier and cuter that way, and I wouldn't have to worry about the sweater being flattering or making my arms look like sausages. Baby arms already look like sausages! Plus, baby sweaters use a small amount of patience and an even smaller amount of yarn. And they provide a good opportunity for trying out new techniques on a quicker, faster project. A lace baby sweater, or pretty fairisle pullover? Maybe it's a little bit much, but they just scream heirloomy love, and warm, fuzzy knitted good will. 

And, indeed, a whole lot of knitty love went into this baby cardigan I designed for my friend's new baby, Olivia. I wanted it to feel special and sweet, but also modern and a little bit bold. Like any great baby sweater, it was a fast knit, with a few challenges thrown in for fun, and a couple of great educational moments (purple and orange are made for each other? who knew!). I got to experiment with designing my own colorwork pattern and doing a partial steek. But what really made this sweater exciting was that it was the first time I've knit a baby sweater and wished I was knitting it in my size instead. I want one of these so badly!

If you know of any hip, modern babies in need of a pretty new something, please check out the pattern on ravelry here or etsy here. It's available in newborn to 2T sizing. However, the moment I started those colorwork leaves, the adult pattern became inevitable, so I'll let you know when that comes out too.