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Moving Day

As you all may have gathered, I’m off to college soon.  On September 3rd, I’ll be moving into my home-away-from-home at WSU.  This is alternately exciting and terrifying.  But… going off to college has made me look at a lot of things and has really rearranged my priorities.  I’ve had to  take a lot of responsibility for making sure things get done (and I’ve spent a lot of time knitting while on hold in the process).

While cleaning my room in preparation for packing (there are boxes in my room.  I still can’t get over this), I ran across my old journals and started reading.  It was amusing and interesting to look back and see how much I’ve grown – see how I’ve matured, see what’s changed.  It’s funny, seeing the things that I thought were so terribly important, and realizing now that they’re not, really.

With all this change, I thought it wouldn’t be too terrible to have one more.  Ravelry has finally started accepting my LiveJournal feeds; thanks to that, I’ve decided to make LJ my permanent blogging home.  This site will no longer be updated, though it will still be kept active for the pages, links, and archives.

It’s been fun, for the most part (though uploading pictures was a royal pain), but toggling back and forth between two blogs just wasn’t working for me.  LJ seems much more intuitive to me, and a bit more user-friendly.  The book reviews will continue, as will the knitting (of course), and I hope you’ll all follow me over to my new den.

Thank you to all the people who supported me, who laughed at my reviews, who praised my knitting.  You are all my friends, and I am grateful.

~Lady Temeraire

Hi there, I’m back.

I hit the library again yesterday, looking for Gorgeous Knitted Afghans.  I didn’t find it, but I did find three others that looked promising.  Hello, book reviews.

Note: Links take you to the Amazon site; please support your local bookstore.

BOOK #1
Knit So Fine: Designs with Skinny Yarn by Lisa R. Myers, Laura Grutzeck, and Carol Sulcoski.  Published by Interweave Press.

Interweave has some excellent books out there, and this is no exception.  After reading Julie’s Vogue Knitting reviews I started noticing what she noticed: that bulky yarn and bulky knits are being pushed forward as fashionable, when really they’re just unflattering.  If you’re slender, you look dwarfed by the garment.  If you’re plus-sized, you’ve just added extra width you don’t want or need.  There are numerous other advantages to fine-gauge knitting as well, all outlined and detailed in the first few pages.  After that: patterns.  21 of them, and every single one is extremely wearable.

The patterns are split up into four sections: Simplicity, Speed, Style, Shine – each one a perk of fine-gauge knitting.  I want to make at least half of them, if not more.  Which means this book is going on my list.  (That’s a good thing.)  The patterns also vary from scarves and hats to sweaters to a wrap dress.  There’s even a pretty lace stole in there, which would be prettier if it wasn’t knit in Reactor Coolant Lime Green (not an actual colorway).  The yarns are all appropriate for the projects, in terms of material and drape, so bonus points there.  The instructions in the back are mercifully brief and specific to what is mentioned.  (There’s even tips for picking up stitches and sewing in a zipper.  Kudos!)

All in all, an excellent book, and one I hope to get soon.

Stardragon’s rating: 10 out of 10 butterscotch candies

BOOK #2
Luxury Knits: Simple and Stylish Projects for the Most Desirable Knitwear by Amanda Griffiths.

I’ll be honest.  When I first saw the title, my reaction was “Uh huh.”  Because, well.  Luxury =/= simple, in my mind, and the whole thing just seemed too… Vogue Knitting-esque.  But then I opened it up, and was pleasantly surprised.

The projects start off simple: drawstring bags, a pillow/blanket set, a hat and scarf set, bed socks.  They then move up into cardis and sweaters with lovely details such as beads and lace that complement the yarn.  All the patterns have multiple photos (including detail shots); the schematics are all put together in the back; and once again, the techniques included are mostly finishing techniques.  Glancing at the patterns, I see that roughly half of them have some kind of waist shaping; but the lack thereof on the others easy enough to fix, if you’re an intermediate to skilled knitter.

Here’s the thing: these are all luxury yarns.  “Luxury” generally is a knitter’s euphemism for “expensive” (cashmere, angora, mohair, silk, and blends thereof), and these projects are no exception.  For instance, if you really want to make that lace sweater in Kidsilk Haze, it’ll put you out $203 for the smallest size.  (And even if it is a silk-mohair blend, I have to wonder how warm a lace sweater would really be.  And wouldn’t you have to wear something underneath because of the holes?)

So.  Good patterns, for the most part; expensive fibers, but if you could substitute (or save up a lot, I guess), that’s okay too.  Buy it? Yeah, probably.

Stardragon’s rating: 8.5 out of 10 butterscotch candies.

BOOK #3
Classic Knits: 15 Timeless Designs to Knit and Keep Forever by Erika Knight.

After scoring big time on the first one, I was hoping to get lucky again with this book.  Well… Looks like my luck kinda ran out.

The introduction is surprisingly brief (but printed in size 32 font, so it takes up two pages).  It claims that “classic is a contemporary collection… considered, crafted, and constructed to enhance and flatter the female form.”  Okay, this I can work with.  Makes sense, right?  We want our clothes to be attractive, yes?  This is the kind of stuff women are desperate to hear.

So, I beg of you, WTF is up with the patterns?

A casual sweater, knit in bulky-weight wool; 3 sts/inch.  A wraparound jacket, knit in super-bulky wool; 2.25 sts/inch.  A tank top, knit in super-bulky wool (???); 4.5 sts/inch using size 17 needles.  A boatneck sweater, knit in super-bulky wool; 3.5 sts/inch.  Did we not just discuss that bulky knits are not flattering to any figure and will approximately double your weight?  Also (and this was gleaned from Knit So Fine), “classic” knits – the twinsets from the fifties, nipped and tucked sweaters from even earlier – achieve their delicate, classy look from fine gauge and shaping to flatter women’s bodies.  There is no shaping whatsoever on these designs, and I fail to see how a superbulky jacket is at all “classic”.

Also, how in hell is a messenger bag knit out of kitchen twine “timeless”?  Cotton or hemp, I could see; and that’s what I thought it was, when I saw the picture.  But kitchen twine?!  HUH?!

Another thing.  15 patterns; all but four use some kind of Rowan yarn.  I’m not saying, I’m just saying.  (And is it me, or does the model look like Kiera Knightly?)  Also, there are no schematics for the garments.  At all.

Don’t get me wrong; there are some wearable things in there.  Lace camisoles, a cardi or two, and a cute little bolero.  The scarf and gloves are okay, but you could find better on Knitty or Ravelry.  All these are knit at appropriate, sane gauges and would look rather nice with a bit of effort and some good yarn.  But buy the whole book for four or five patterns?  Pass.

Stardragon’s rating: 5 out of 10 butterscotch candies.

That’s it for now.  I should be back in a few days to post some FO’s.

Quickie

I’ve been packing like a madwoman, getting ready for the missions trip, and just took a moment to poke around the blog.  Turns out a lot of the information on my pages is outdated.  That’s been fixed now; a lot of junk taken out and edited in the past half hour.  I plan to redo the page on the knitting bag.  Y’know, with actual pictures.  I’m planning to show different bags I have, their pros and cons, and give a brief idea of what should be in your walkaround knitting bag.

That’s it for now, I think

Just a quick post to let you know what I’m up to.

First: my grandma recently sent me six skeins of Bernat Kabuki, a silk/acrylic blend, in a tweedy-heathery blue.  And I know what I’m doing with it.

Kabuki1

The color’s fairly accurate on my monitor.  Anyway – I’m going to get some similar yarn (a silk blend of some kind, since Kabuki is discontinued) in a matching solid color and knit myself some kind of awesome kimono thing, using the solid for the body and the Kabuki for accents on the sleeves.  I’m leaning toward this for the solid, in “Aries Teal”.  Will probably need two.

I plan to get this book to help with the design before I do anything (and to give me an idea on yardage).  While I wait, though, I charted up a hem design and test-knit it, using the Stained Glass color combination.

Kimono Test

On size 10 needles and 4 repeats, it’s about 20 inches around.  That’s bigger than what I want, but Kabuki is thin and I’ll probably use US 5 or 6 needles.  Also, see how the little one-stitch columns get sucked into the black?  I’m thinking I’ll duplicate-stitch those on instead.

Second: I’m also working on a prayer shawl for a family friend.  After working on US 2 and 3 needles for quite a while, the US 13’s I’m using feel like telephone poles.  Also, I’m used to one ball turning out a pair of socks, or 2/3 of a scarf.  So it’s a bit startling to see this:

Prayer Shawl Yarn

get turned into this:

Prayer Shawl1

Sorry for the blurriness; gremlins reset my camera.  That’s my hand in the last one, for scale.  Prayer shawls are easy; you cast on enough stitches to get you approximately two feet of width, then knit your chosen stitch pattern until it’s the length of your wingspan.  At the moment, unblocked, it’s roughly square-ish.  The yarn I’m using is Lion Brand Homespun in “Colonial”, and I purchased three skeins.  I’ll use up probably 2.5 skeins on the shawl, then the rest of the last one on fringing and maybe an edging to make it look nice.  And I want to get some charms – an angel for one corner, and a cross for the other.  (The woman it’s for is my brother’s godmother and my mum’s best friend.  She recently lost her father to prostate cancer, and since she lives several states away, I’m sending this in lieu of myself.)

Everything else I’m knitting is either a Christmas gift or boring; I’ll spare you the pictures.  For now.

I’m done.  Gonna hit “Publish” on this and try to work on mum’s Christmas gift while she naps.

PSA: I will be incommunicado for 10 days starting July 30th.  I’m going on a missions trip to the middle of nowhere and will not have any kind of contact with the outside world.  Please keep that in mind.

Yes, I finally finished something!

FO #1: Hobswyllin socks.  You have no idea how much it thrills me to have these done.

Hobswyllin Socks5

Hobswyllin Socks4

US 3 and 5 needles, sport-weight yarn.  Ravelled here.

FO #2: Leyburn socks.  My happiness is because these turned out so nicely, not because they were obnoxious and I wanted them done like the above.

Leyburn Socks4

Leyburn Socks3

Leyburn Socks2

US 3 needles, sock-weight yarn.  Ravelled here.  Pictures taken in the kitchen.

FO #3: River Rapids, toe-up version.  Ditto to the comment on Leyburn.

River Rapids Socks1

River Rapids Socks2

River Rapids Socks3

The color is most accurate in that last one.  US 2 needles, sock-weight yarn.  Ravelled here.

That’s it, for now!  PSA: I will be incommunicado for 10 days starting July 30th, thanks to a missions trip out to Arizona.

So today was a fairly lazy day, full of writing thank-you notes and browsing the web.  This afternoon, though, I headed down to the library for the first time in ages.  (Incidentally, if you haven’t heard about the Ohio library system getting screwed over by Governor Strickland, go look it up.  It’s pretty infuriating.)  I got three books, all knitting, and thought “Hey, why not stick them up in the Den?”  So here we go.

Note: Links in the book titles take you to the Amazon page for that book.  Don’t just buy it from Amazon if you can get it at your local bookstore, though.

BOOK #1
Knit with Beads: Beautiful Gifts, Easy Techniques, 18 Beautiful Designs by Scarlet Taylor

I recall picking this book up sometime last year, leafing through it, and then doing nothing with it.  Now, though, I’ve seriously looked at it, and it is an excellent book.  The techniques are indeed easy (trust me, there are cable and lace patterns FAR more complex than this), and all the designs are gorgeous.  She also covers when it is and isn’t appropriate to use beads and what kinds of beads are best for various applications.

The beading techniques fall into two categories: pre-strung, and hook.  (She also includes beaded fringe, but to me that’s embellishment, not knitting.)  Everything within the pre-strung category is just what you do with the stitch before you move the bead.  Then, after teaching you the technique – with lots of pictures – she gives you patterns that apply the method.  Pretty much everything is covered, up to and including the “bead knitting” that was so popular in the Victorian era.  Yeah, the ones where you knit with beads on every stitch and row of the pattern, so you only see beads, not knit fabric.  Very time consuming, with lovely results.  But instead of saying “And here’s a vintage clutch pattern to use with this technique!” (which is a personal pet peeve; I mean, does anyone use those?), she comes up with three adorable clutch purses with wooden beads and handles that smack of the tropics.  There’s also a pair of socks that look like Leyburn socks with beads at the points, a set of bridal gauntlets with pearls that would be a lovely gift, and a little vintage lace cap with beads hanging from the points.  (I’m definitely making this one for myself.)

This book is an excellent teacher; it assumes that you’re smart but just don’t know anything about this topic.  (I hate books that “dumb it down”.)  The patterns are all, if not astounding, all knittable, excellent applications of beading rather than just slapping beads where they don’t belong.  Definitely going on my book list.  (And look, there’s another one!  Stunning Shawls and Wraps.)

Stardragon’s rating: 10 out of 10 butterscotch candies

BOOK #2
Saturday Sweaters: Easy to Knit, Easy to Wear by Doreen L. Marquart

This was another one I’ve browsed through in the past, and, to be honest, it didn’t really grab me the second time around.  Don’t get me wrong: the dozen-odd sweaters in there are all wearable, if not extremely grabbing.  They would fall into what I call “mindless knitting” – the kind where you just go and go and measure occasionally to see if you’re at the proper length yet.  My favorites of the bunch are the  Lazy Day tunic (knit seamless in the round after the flaps), the Moss Rib Stitch pullover, and the Faux Heart Cardigan.  As for the others… they’re decent, and fairly flattering, and she makes good use of the yarn’s quirks.  However, the patterns are all fairly simple, and appear to be the same basic sweater with a different stitch pattern jammed on it.  (The last few patterns are actually just the same sweater shown in a different weight yarn, which to me is just insulting and lazy.)  Also, there’s absolutely no shaping thrown in, though that’s easy enough to fix; and I have a preference for seamless stuff, which is also easy enough to fix.

My advice?  If you’re really new to sweaters, you may want to consider this.  It does make a good, basic, bare-bones sweater book.  Me, on the other hand – I would just browse through, take notes about gauge, yardage, sizing, measurements, etc. to get a feel for what a basic sweater should look like, and then make my own from there.  (I nearly choked when I saw the price on the back.  $24.95?  Really?)  If you have a lot of experience with sweaters, I’d pass.

Stardragon’s rating: 6 out of 10 butterscotch candies

BOOK #3
Continuous Cables by Melissa Leapman

I saw the first book by this woman (Cables Untangled) in Barnes & Noble and instantly desired it.  Instantly.  I am nuts about cables, particularly non-traditional traveling motifs.  As I recall, that particular volume was all about long cable panels, such as you might find on Aran sweaters.  Even though I practically drooled over it, it was huge and hardback and far beyond my price range.  (At the time.  If I’d had a gift card I would’ve snatched it up in a heartbeat.)

So when I saw this on the library shelf today, of course I grabbed it.  And, as I hoped, the authoress did not disappoint.  The book starts off with basic instructions, all geared toward cabling.  Specific types of increases, decreases, twists, and “axis cables” (I knew there was a name for them).  None of the “this is how you knit.  This is how you purl” that is so prevalent and insulting in many knitting books.  (If you’re picking up a book chock-full of cable patterns, chances are you already know how to do the basics.)  Next is a short lesson on reading charts and symbols and decoding “knitter-ese”.  Then she moves on to simple projects, gradually going to women’s sweaters, other things, and finally – the best part – a huge stitch dictionary in the back.  Huge.  Like 1/3-1/2 of the book size huge.  I would buy it for the charts alone, never mind the terrific design tips and patterns.

So whereas Cables Untangled was all about vertical panels (don’t quote me on that, I may be wrong), this one was all about “closed-ring cables”.  Meaning cables that have a definite bottom and top that are either curved or pointy, most of which are reminiscent of Celtic motifs.  Like the ones I’m planning for my sweaters.  Oh yeah, this one’s going on my list.  I may renew it a dozen times, or as long as it takes to get to my birthday.  (Assuming the library will let me.)

Here’s the thing: I am practically a self-taught knitter.  I have never thought anything is difficult, mostly because I’ve never had anyone telling me “This is really tough”.  My first cable pattern was a Celtic knot motif going up a pair of knee socks.  So to me, this is absolutely luscious material, perhaps a little tedious, but not neccessarily difficult.  To someone who’s never done cables, or is intimidated by them, or hates charts (the charts are long enough that typing out verbal instructions is not useful), this might not be the best “first cable book” to buy.  For an intermediate, experienced, or greatly daring knitter, heck yeah, buy the book.  And unlike Book #2 in this review, this one is well worth the price.

Stardragon’s rating: 10 out of 10 butterscotch candies

That concludes today’s book review!  Maybe with summer around (and my upcoming wisdom teeth removal next Tuesday) I’ll actually do some more of these things.  (Don’t hold your breath.)

This past week has been all about finishing stuff.

There was stuff that started out okay, then took a fast turn for the craptastic and sucked every moment of the way.  This stuff was a test in endurance, patience, and ingenuity/problem-solving.

Llama Hat1

Llama Hat2

Andean Llama cap for a friend, ravelled here.

There was stuff that looked like it was going to be super easy, but required a bit more thought and care.  Sometimes, despite anyone’s best intentions, this stuff still didn’t turn out the way it was expected.

Hobbswyllin Socks1

 Hobbswyllin Socks2

Hobbswyllin Socks3 

Hobbswyllin socks for me, ravelled here.  The legs have to be reknit on larger needles.

There was stuff that actually was super easy – that absolutely flew along, and I had to remind myself to slow down and enjoy the journey.  I am by and large a “product knitter”, and I occasionally need to remember that the process of getting the finished stuff is just as valuable.

 Leyburn Socks1

Leyburn socks for me, ravelled here.  As you can see, they’re not quite a pair yet.

Oh, and the biggest project I finished?

Commencement1

High school.

Commencement2

Valedictorian of Dayton Christian High School, with a GPA of 4.21.

Commencement3

I haven’t decided how being an alumnus feels yet.

Commencement4

That’s my youth pastor, being a bit nutty in the background.

Like knitting, high school had its ups and downs.  There were times when it sucked fantastically, and other times when it was amazing.  There were times when it dragged on to infinity and beyond, and times when I thought, “Holy crap, where did the time go?”

And like the Leyburn socks, I know that this doesn’t mean I’m done yet.  I still have things to do, little bits that need wrapping up before I move onto the next thing.  But still, a chapter is closed in my life, and moving on is a little bittersweet.

(Also, does the word “stuff”  now look weird to anyone else?)

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