Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Totally Red Hot

Am I same person who recently blogged they I don't usually purchase pattern books?!? Uhhh... Maybe I should restate it. Ordinarily, if and when I purchase patterns, they are e-patterns, but I'm in the midst of realization. In the  cases when I buy print patterns, they're frequently Tahki Stacy Charles.  I was happily surprised that an LYS, that I was told, closed, actually moved a few towns away.  When I found them, I had to cruise the shop.  While there, I purchased

a few balls of Sade yarn, which I didn't need, but couldn't resist the discount 

a Bryspun Fix It Tool

some larger-than-what-I-already-have yarn needles

the TSC Fall/Winter pattern book Red Hot

As soon as I saw the cover in the TSC newsletter to which I subscribe, and have for several years, I had read about this pattern book.  As soon as I saw the cover sweater, I knew was going to have to make it.  RED HOT contains 26 patterns, primarily sweaters, but some accessories.   The TSC yarns called for are:

Diana Color

These are the designs that appeal to me the most

the Karolina Scarf and the Karlie Shawl

the Sasha Cowl and the Samantha Jacket

the Selita Jacket and the Anne Cowl

the Marloes Cowl and the Doutzen Jacket

I also really like the Lily Cardigan and the Adriana Top.

All that said, the first of these designs that I will make is the cover sweater, which is called the Cara Pullover.  I love it.   I adore the colorway in which it was knit - which is unusual for me.  I'm a black/gray/silver lover but I'm thinking I may use some bolder, more surprising palette.  We'll see.  The problem is that with my wrist still not fully recovered (if it ever will be) from its pulverized fracture last February, I'll be thrilled if my few current WIPs are completed by the end of the year.  That takes a bit of the wind out of my sails and  squelches my mojo if I think about it for  too long.   

In looking over the purchased pattern books I have, I just came to the realization that the Tahki Stacy Charles aesthetic really resonates with me.  That isn't to dis any other designers. There are plenty I admire.  But when it comes to actually plunking down my cash, TSC rules the day. I think, the aesthetics that draw me over and over again are texture and innovation.  Whether it is the edgy angles of the Cara Pullover or the fresh designs in any of their previous books, they always call my name.   I'm glad I answered last week.  

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Stitch Dictionary with a Twist

Since I was away from blogging for so long, I am not exactly "current" with all things fiber and wax.  So, let me try to do a little back-peddling:

Kathy Elkins at Webs is frequently the culprit I frequently blame when I add books or tools to my collection. Her interviews with authors and other Kniteratti are always just what I need to stoke my salivary glands and send me browsing said bait on my iPad.  Such was the case with the recently published book by Wendy Bloom, called Up, Down, All-Around Stitch Dictionary, published by STC Craft (ISBN: 1-61769-099-6).   

I don't buy a lot of pattern books - I'm a process junkie.  I do buy some patterns and magazines, but what stimulates my imagination is the way something is knit (or crocheted) as much as the FO  (finished object.)

Wendy has done a spectacular job.  I'm pretty good at altering stitch patterns from flat to in the round, unless it gets complicated.  Then I usually abandon ship. Well, this book takes the hassle out of it.  There are over  150 stitch patterns with instructions for knitting them flat or in the round.  If the pattern cannot be knitted from the top down and bottom up in the exact same way, those instructions are there, too.  It's enough to make you say, "Where has this book been all my life?!"   Have I mentioned that there are written instructions as well as charts for every stitch pattern? Double "Where has this book been all my life?!"

Chapters are:
  • Knits and Purls
  • Ribs
  • Textured, Slipped and Fancy
  • Yarnovers and Eyelets
  • Cables
  • Lace
  • Colorwork
  • Hems and Edgings
  • Projects
Of course there is an intro and a beautifully firm admonition to swatch, with all the justification any holdout needs.

The projects are a cowl, a watch cap, socks, a bolero, a vest, a pullover, mitts, a scarf, and designing from scratch a stole, slouch cap and mittens.  All of the projects are fresh and interesting.

The Appendix contains such topics as Designing from Scratch, Abbreviations, Special Techniques, Key and  Stitch Multiples Index.  

The book has been  gorgeously photographed by Thayer Allyson Gowdy. Fabulous job!  You can almost feel the texture of the swatches and projects.

I was only disappointed by two aspects of this tome:  

First and foremost, I couldn't buy an ebook.  I live in teeny teeny teeny space and I love love love my iPad - so ebooks, emagazines and esheet music are always my first choice. So, that was a small bummer.  It's a sizable book - not made for toting around.   (On the plus side, the binding is excellent: covered spiral. It lays flat and doesn't catch on anything.)

This second thing, I hesitate to mention.  I'll qualify it with maybe it's me, but the choice of pink yarn in the Ribs chapter doesn't seem to show quite as much clear stitch definition as the other colors chosen for the other chapters.  It's definitely not the photography. I think it's the yarn.  It's not terrible, but I think another color may have been a better choice. 

Would I recommend this 288 page reference book?  What do you think?  It's well worth the full list price, but there are several outlets that discount it. 

Thanks, Wendy.  I'll refer to this book over and over. 

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Hip To Be Square

No, I'm not trying to rip off the book title from a few years ago.  I'm writing about knitting needles! 

[I haven't posted anything since March 2, over 5 months ago.  I fractured my wrist and the recovery has been slow and I'm nowhere near fully recovered - but that's another story.  My long absence was due to the wrist and all the attendant life adjustments it caused.  I hope to resume a somewhat usual blogging schedule with this post.]

Hip to be square....that's me.  When my OT told me to pick up my knitting for therapy (one of the dozen or so types of movements and exercises involved in rehabilitating a musician's shattered radius) I quickly found that my Cubics needles, made by Knitter's Pride and purchased from Webs were much more comfortable to work with than my other needles.  Of course I couldn't and still can't knit for as long periods as I'd like and my gauge is a bit wonky because purling puts a lot of strain on my wrist, but the Cubics were markedly less fatiguing.  

Do you get attached to your needlework tools?  Like especially attached to your knitting needles and crochet hooks?  Well, for me, they are kind of like an instrument, and I become quite attached to my guitars.  It was the same for my ordinary knitting needles. Never the less, I did something I never thought I would or could do.  I sold them!!! 

It was a killer.  I put up 2 Ebay auctions. One was for all my Knitter's Pride  DPNs and Interchangeable circulars (from both Knit Picks and Webs.)   The other was for my single point Pony Pearls.  It was harder than I thought it would be to part with them, but I used the proceeds to beef up my collection of square needles. I did get a very nice Ravelry (where I'm sealed4ever) message from the person who purchased the Knitter's Pride needles.  She was so happy and that lessened the feel of loss for me.  I know they're going to make lots of beautiful things.  

I had 2 sets plus a couple of other interchangeable  wood Cubics tips but I also wanted the nickel ones (Nova Cubics).  I also found some very small sized fixed circulars from Kollage.  Some pink ones by Kollage were made  for Pattern Works and were being discontinued.  I like to make socks 2 at a time on 2 circs, so having 2 different color or length needles is usually how I  roll.  I spent more that the selling price of the 2 lots of needles. I'm on a tight budget, but between my low spirits and that I want to knit, even if for limited periods of time, with less distress, we considered my expenditure more like a necessity than an indulgence.  

Right now, I'm working on a KAL  from Edie Eckman.  If you have read this blog for any amount of time, you know, I love Edie Eckman.   I'm doing the just-manageable CreativeBug Knit Your Cables Afghan.  (If you don't want to do the KAL, you can pick up each week's square on Red Heart's web site.) Knitting a cable square a week is about what I can do.  The non-cable squares in the pattern are bias garter - which is good for me right now -- NO PURLING.   The other WIPs I had when I fractured my wrist are still WIPs.  I'm hoping to be able to spend longer and longer periods knitting and crocheting as time goes on.  (An account about the yarn I'm using for the afghan will be in a subsequent post.)

Oh, yes... I did also get one pair of single point Nova Cubics.  I use circulars exclusively, but thought I have to have at least 1 pair of straight single point needles, just in case

But those poor single points are starting to look awfully lonely.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

On the DL

Last week, the 20th of February...  a day I will regret for a long, long, long time.  I had an appointment that I was looking forward to keeping, that Thursday morning.  The weather, here in the NY metro area, has been riddled with deep snowfall, mixed precipitation, some rain, re-freezes etc.  I was being attentive to the icy coating on the sidewalk in front of our apartment building, so I walked in the driveway, which looked pristine.   Boy, was I wrong.   I slipped, fell and broke my LEFT WRIST in 3 places.   Of course I didn't know that, at the time.  All I knew was that it was deformed and my hand was in the shape of a weird claw that I couldn't open. The first thing I did was to pull my wedding ring off, because I've seen too many TV scenes in which the rings on swelling fingers have to be cut off and seriously endanger the health of the finger in question.  Ugh.

I wasn't the only one who fell that day.   The ER waiting room held no less than 25, but probably more than 30 people waiting to be seen. One did not have an obvious injury from falling on ice that morning but the rest were cradling arms, wrists, shoulder, had extended leg or head injuries.  

The ER glut resulted in a 4/4.5 hour visit.  When I left it, my wrist had been X-rayed, diagnosed as being triple fractured, numbed, reset, splint casted extremely tightly and  X-rayed  again after the resetting and  splint casting.  I was sent home with a sling, a prescription for a narcotic pain reliever and was told that if the bones shift, I will need surgery and if they remain aligned as they were in the post-compression X-ray, I would not need surgery.

This past Tuesday, I had a series of follow up X-rays and saw the orthopedic hand/wrist specialist on Wednesday.  So far, so good.  The bones are still aligned.  More X-rays will be taken Wednesday and I will see the orthopedist on  Friday. The big effort, now, is to get the fingers moving and reduce the swelling.

My left arm is at a 45ยบ angle because the splint cast goes over and around my elbow and covers everything to just short of where my fingers begin.  As uncomfortable as I am, I will gladly trade all this misery for the full use of my wrist and hand when this is all over.  That, remains to be seen.  Of late, I have taken to "fingering" scales in the air, just to keep my fingers moving (such as they can move) and "sight reading" fingering and playing by ear in my mind. (I'm a guitarist - or, at least, I was one)  I don't know how far into occupational therapy, I will be able to tax the wrist to the extent that playing requires - or if I ever will.  

I have been trying to grasp yarn and a large crochet motif with my swollen, restricted fingers, in hopes that I can make something soon.  To date, I have been unsuccessful. My yarn crafting doesn't require the same kind of extreme torque and force in the wrist, as playing guitar, so I expect to fully regain my  knitting and crochet chops.  It's frustrating to be so uncomfortable and limited.  

Tomorrow is a No Drama Crafters evening at Panera. I will go to commiserate with my friends, whether I can wield a crochet hook/knitting needle or not.

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