29 October 2015

Sock of Unknown Origin

I've been happily knitting away on yet another pair of 3 x 1 ribbed socks. In my opinion, this is the best way to handle handpaints and variegates with dramatic colour changes. The problem I am having with this particular sock is that I've no idea what I'm knitting with.

This yarn has been in my stash since 2012 when I won it at one of the last Knitty Yarn Roundtables. For those of you not lucky enough to attend one of these famous yarn tastings, let me explain that at the end of each evening, Amy Singer would do random draws and when your number was called you got to choose from a large selection of prizes. The choices were knitting books and products companies had given to Amy in hopes of a review, as well as skeins from the evening's samplings. 

On the night in question, mine was one of the last numbers drawn and only all the chopped up skeins were left. I had enjoyed knitting with this sock yarn so chose the pieces of the skein. I spit-joined them back together on the streetcar ride home. Knitty had kept the ball band to reference for the magazine column but I wrote down the info. Naturally, I lost the paper. I've gone back through the Knitty archives but can't find anything that looks like this yarn. Perhaps it never made it to the column? It was definitely a smaller brand that I had never heard of before. I seem to remember that there is some silk in here. It certainly feels like the strength of blended wool and silk. Unfortunately that's all I have to go on. 

Oh well, I guess my Ravelry entry will be incomplete.

22 October 2015

Slow Fashion October

I have been following with interest, all the blog post about Slow Fashion October. Initially, I believed I was just a spectator. I couldn't possibly have anything to contribute among all these talented makers and bloggers! Then I shook myself. Come on girl! Get in there! I'm not the first to observe that sometimes social media can be aspiration focused to the point of intimidation. The sheer beauty of the work being produced and the photography can make one's own fashion and lifestyle choices seem small and unimportant. Yet, I have not survived a half century on this planet without forming some opinions on the subject and they are worth sharing.

I am a lover of all things slow. I cycle, take transit, shop local, avoid big box stores and I do-it-myself whenever possible. When it comes to clothing, I am particularly small. Now, I don't "sew" in the traditional sense and that's not for lack of trying. Twice I've tried to learn - in high school and then again in theatre school - but sewing machines and I do not get along. They instantly malfunction when they see me coming to avoid my clumsy fingers and foul language. So, no cute McCall's dresses for me. Yes, I knit and happily so. My knitwear is the sum total of items made completely by me.

But October 19-25 of the project is mine!

WORN is the theme and it is described as: second-hand / mending / caring for things / laundering for longevity / design for longevity and bucking trends.

I learned long ago what looks good on me and shop accordingly. I also shop primarily second hand for major items and outerwear (underwear is excepted). At first this was out of economic necessity. Then I began to appreciate the plus side of browsing a store that has only one of everything (So much choice! No cookie cutter fits!) along with the joy of finding that perfect thing that only you can love properly. I also feel pretty good about not contributing directly to sweat shop abuses nor being part of the never ending demand for new.

When I find that perfect thing, a rare occasion indeed, I care for it fastidiously. I hand wash and hand mend. If a dress is beautiful now, it will always be beautiful if you care for it. "To hell with trends!", I say. Recently someone glowingly complimented me on a dress that I've owned for over 20 years!

Now when I say I don't sew, I mean I don't sew properly. For a long time I thought this meant I was faking it but now I am comfortable knowing that alterations I make by instinct work and they are no less valid than those made by expert tailors. I turn up hems on 80"s dresses using iron-on tape, cut off ugly fabric belts and wear beautiful leather ones instead, change buttons and fold up sleeves. Once I put darts in the waist band of a pair of pants then sewed on big decorative buttons over the badly sewn darts. It looked great.

A few people have told me that I have a unique sense of style and I'm always proud to hear it. I'm not rich but I manage, without damaging the environment, to feel good about the way I look when I leave the house.

My birthday outfit. The dress cost $10 second hand.
The sleeves were too tight so I notched them at the armpits and then I wore a great belt to give it shape. The shoes I bought at my neighbour's yard sale for 50 cents.

17 October 2015

Yard Sale!

It's hard to believe I don't own most of this stuff anymore. Even harder is that I owned it all in the first place.

Last weekend, on a beautiful Thanksgiving holiday, I hauled my belongings onto the front lawn to be viewed and pawed and (hopefully) bought by passers by. This isn't even all of it! I sold a bunch before I thought to take a photograph.

Notice the large amount of what I call "pretty but useless". So much china, shiny glass, cute collectible and antique pieces. Some of these were my parent's and grandparents'. Much more of it I gathered myself along the way. I thought long and hard about letting it go. When my marriage ended seven years ago and I got my first single place, it was very important to me to create a pleasing, comfortable space. I filled my apartment, somewhat unconsciously, with pretty girly things. Being surrounded by so much that is visually pleasing and entirely my own, has made me feel safe and comfortable for many years. Now that I've grown and am moving on, I've decided that I don't need to be defined by my stuff anymore. Time to downsize.

Of course I still have my favourite pieces - a lamp, a plate, a clock. I'll never fully renounce my love of all things rose-covered. And though I sold the bulk of my doll collection, most of which is not pictured, making many little girls happy in the process, I did take the four Beautiful Crissy series dolls seen below, back into the house. I decided no one can love them as much as I do. I intend to knit them all new dresses.

06 October 2015

Knee High

I've been knitting knee socks! I know!
The last time I knit a pair, they turned out beautifully. Once they were done. Which took forever.

This pair is going along much more quickly. The foot is just 48 stitches around and is flying along. The pattern is from Classic Elite and calls for their worsted weight Mountaintop Vista. Vista is a lovely yarn but I am knitting my socks in Elann Esprit (a Cascade Fixation knock off) because
a) I have no Vista nor any cash to buy some
b) I've knit socks in this elastic/cotton blend before with good results. With the inclusion of elastic, the socks stay up - an especially desirable feature in knee length hosiery.

In the original yarn, the socks look very earthy and natural. Knit in Esprit, they are more nubbly and fun looking. The effect is not intentional but it suits me fine.

I love, love, love this cuff! How can something so simple to knit turn out looking so cool and intriguing? 

01 October 2015

Found Another Fashion Sweater

The Daughter and I were clipping fashion mags yesterday and making awesome paper doll clothes. We both stopped and gasped when we saw this stunning ad for a Brooks Brothers pullover. Yet another example of knitwear being current and fabulous. We both agreed that we would wear this. Just look at that cowl neck.

Though this was likely machine knit, the actual knitting here doesn't look that difficult to do by hand. The arms and body pieces look relatively straight & the stitch pattern is consistent. I love the ombre affect. It reminds me of Noro's Natural colourway. I wonder if there is a comparable soft wool brand in this colour?