Pink Monkey Knits

Using my opposable thumbs to knit up a storm!

Friday, October 28, 2005

I've Done A Lot 

This week, I've been pretty busy and I've done a lot of things. It all started on Sunday afternoon when I made my way down to the National Mall to take part in the festivities for the Knit Out.

knitouttent

I fought my way through the crowd in the bursting promotion tent to get free patterns for such gorgeous items as knit camo drawstring pants. I decided to avoid the potential assault on style going on in the fashion show tent and instead hung out with some lovely members of DC Stitch 'n' Bitch.

snbers

I'd like to note that tourists were photographing and filming us like we were some weird, freakish tourist attraction. What, haven't you ever seen knitters taking over our national green space before?

I did also pet this adorable dog named Abbie, companion of SnBer Kelly.

abbie

She wasn't quite so cute after she rolled in something stinky, but she can't help her doggily instincts!!

On Tuesday, I braved the cold and rain to meet Stitcher Eric in Dupont Circle to take in the Annual High Heel Race aka the Drag Races. As always, the weather was crappy but the contestants were fabulous. At the race, I did rub elbows with some pretty famous ladies.


barbrabettie
Left: Barbra sings to us about needing people. Right: Bettie Page strikes a signature pose.

Left: The world champion female body builder. Right: Shaking hands with a revived Princess Diana!
bodybuilderdiana

This year, the winner of the race was none other than a nun! This race has become probably my favorite holiday tradition in this city, and is great to see that all the uptight people here can loosen up enough for one night to enjoy some pure fun.

On Wednesday, I spent most of my work day tabling at a fair, so I did cast on for a new project. I used the lovely light pink Paton's Divine that darling Anne Marie sent me a while back to start the Spiderweb capelet from Stitch 'n' Bitch Nation.

spiderweb

This is the closest I'll ever come to knitting with cotton candy. When it's finished, I hope that it's not so furry that you can't see the pattern. Or that strangers (or Cobra, for that matter) try to eat it.

With all these things I did, you may see that there's a glaring omission. One thing that I didn't do this week.

I didn't finish my Cutaway cardi!

Here's what happened: I finished most of the seaming and was starting to attach one of the sleeves to the body. So far, so good until I got about 60% finished. I noticed that there was an excess of fabric in the sleeve cap. I tried to fudge it away as much as possible; I tried to seam two sleeve stitches for every body stitch, one sleeve stitch for each half body stitch. I restarted at different parts of the sleeve hole and considered gathering and backstitching part of the sleeve. It all looked like crap. I realized that, by having to go up two needle sizes from the recommendation on the ball band, my row gauge was totally different from the pattern. Thus, a portion of the sleeve cap must be reknit. Alas! Forsooth! I'm so close I can taste it!

Just know this: work continues and completion will be soon.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Cutaway Techniques 

I've been working hard and fast on my Cutaway Cardi. I was pleased to find that the more I knit of her, the faster the process seemed to be going - I finished the right front in about 3 days! This was gratifying, not just because I'm excited to be nearing the finished product, but because it makes me feel like I'm gaining proficiency with the yarn and the pattern, and finding the stockinette to be fluid (My friend Susanne made a comment at Stich n Bitch the other night about how I'm a very productive knitter, which made me wonder if I'm too product-focused...or if I need to read Margene more often...I'll have to address that later).

This sense of new skills came because I've done some techniques with this sweater that I've never done before. Cable cast-on, which I've practiced in the past but not really used, is called for to make the curves on the fronts. My attempts at it on the left front went badly - I kept thinking that I cast on the right amount, but the numbers never matched. Finally, I ripped and used the single cast-on. I decided to use the proper technique for the right front, and when I looked closely at my directions, I saw that I was supposed to turn my work to do it correctly on the other side. Woops. At least the second one came out perfectly.

Both of the cast-ons provided a challenge for my next technique - picking up a button band. I've successfully picked up stitches before, but the cast-on's created little holes in the fabric that made it more difficult.

hole

When I tried to pick up straight through the cast-on loop, it simply pulled the hole, ensuring that even the tight ribbing that would be knitting on it wouldn't pull it in.

pickupin hole

So, I picked up two stitches for each hole, pulling the yarn through the two stitches at its top and bottom.

pickupright

Clearly, it makes a much cleaner line.

pickedup

The holes could still be seen a bit when the picking up was finished, but are fairly invisible in the finished piece. That said, it's not the neatest job ever, but I'm hoping it will even out with blocking and time and, you know, wishing.

front

Close-up, yo!

As I'm finishing up, I'm also pondering the best blocking method for this sweater. It will need a fairly thorough blocking to make the fronts lay flat around the curves. I also want the fabric to bloom and grow a bit since I made the sweater at a size smaller than I would have preferred. This would naturally make me thing a wet block would be the way to go. After reading Loop-d-loop and the goddess Teva's unequivocal words against wet-blocking, however, I started to reconsider. The cotton content of the yarn, need for the fronts to be shaped pretty intensely, and short timeline I'm working under (see below) make me lean towards a good steaming. Should I do a preliminary steam, then wet-block later? Should I wait and see?

Now, I'm working on the final sleeve, yay! I'm hoping to finish it, do all of the seaming and block it so that I can wear it to the Knit Out tomorrow on the Mall (BTW, I'm pretty sure that's a picture of Lolly on the Knit Out page - top right. I'm sad that she's too busy being in Hawaii to come and celebrate our real life meeting anniversary :)). Is this a realistic goal? Will I be able to rock my new cardi downtown? Stayed tuned and find out...

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

My Capitalist Moment 

I'm proud to say that I've never been someone that's wanted a lot of stuff. I've never been a big shopper and I make an effort to content myself with the things that I have. This applies to my knitting as well: I have a pretty small stash because I'd like to think that I could complete all of the projects I have yarn for within the next few months.

In addition to being part of my personality, this outlook also stems from my political beliefs . Buying a lot of stuff uses up resources that may be limited and are probably quickly diminishing. Most new items that we can purchase in stores today are made under conditions that exploit workers and the environment. On a deeper level, I think that our society's focus on consumerism distracts us from seeing social inequities and thinking about real problems that we face as individuals. I discuss this stance with others; Lolly and I have talked about it (and she alludes to her feelings about it in this post) and my brother and I tend to agree strongly on this issue. He may be the only religious Jew who's a big fan of Adbusters.

Well, that is my very principled position. I think sometimes we all have moments where, um, we mostly forget about our principles. I've found lately that getting my job and having a bit of extra money, after having to watch every penny at the beginning of the year and save save saving last year to go on my India trip, has gotten me really excited to BUY STUFF. Because stuff is new and fun and pretty!! And I want it! Now!!

Take last week. I had this really bad dentist's appointment that involved lots and lots of drilling. Being that it was Rosh Hashana, one of the most important holidays of the year, I should have been reflecting and introspecting and thinking sweet thoughts for the New Year. Instead, I told myself I needed something to cheer me up after all of that infernal drilling.

loop

I headed over to Stitch DC and got myself a copy of Loop-d-Loop. It was a totally worthwhile purchase and a true joy to read. Not only are Teva's (who I keep wanting to call Tevya, woops!) designs totally unique and inspirational and I want to make them all (why is it that the ones I really like are the advanced level ones?), but she puts knitting into a cultural and spiritual context that makes you feel really special for taking up the craft. And dammit, I am!

On top of the book, you'll notice an array of buttons I bought at a fabric store around the corner from me that, sadly, is going out of business. I had to buy them right away because otherwise I'd never be able to find them again, and that would be a true tragedy.

On Saturday, I went to Baltimore to hang out with my friend who goes to Hopkins. We had an absolutely kick ass brunch and took some time to stroll around "The Avenue" in the Hampden neighborhood.


Hampden Shops

Cute, eh? So being that there were lots of cute boutiques and vintage stores there, and everything was cheaper than it would be in DC, I just had to partake.


boots

Das Boot from Sugar Shoes. These are so comfy and I love them, even though they don't show off handknit socks. I got these at a store that only sells two things: shoes and chocolate. Does human brilliance never cease?


new_coat

My old winter coat is literally falling apart at the seams, so when I saw this vintage, camel-colored beauty that was not only 100% cashmere, but was also under $50, it was really a no-brainer. Won't this color be a perfect neutral canvas for brightly-colored handknit scarves? I'll probably change the buttons, maybe for some tortoise shell ones.


books_and_broch

I'm not totally crazy, those books were actually free, officially making them the bargain of the day. Yes, you can go to Baltimore and get all the free books you want, which in my opinion makes it a sort of earthly paradise. And yes, I really, really like John Irving. I have a friend who thinks he's a bit of a silver fox, but I don't take it that far. The brooch up front was not free, but was really a good price for being vintage and possibly a celluloid collector's item.

All of this shopping and eating didn't leave me with too much time for knitting, but I did finish the back of my Cutaway.

back

I hope that I can make finishing it, and not shopping, my priority. I'm sure this phase will end as soon as I realize that I don't want to give my first-born to Chase bank.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Recouping 

Thank you all for your encouragement after my little fall. I'm feeling much better now, really almost normal. I still have some pain from my sprained ankle and random things popping up in my back, but I'm on the road to wellville. This was accomplished by taking plenty of time to rest this weekend. I was able to balance out all of that resting with some fun time, too.

On Saturday morning, after a good sleep, I was fortunately able to meet up with the lovely Lolly. We hiked over to DC's multicultural Adams Morgan Neighborhood to grab brunch at my favorite brunch place, Asylum. This place is a real study in contrasts: with its ample motorcycle parking and dragon/dungeon decor, you'd think it was a seedy biker bar. But then, they also make kick ass vegan BLT's and French toast. Who'd have thought?

lolly and jenna
After eating, we headed down to the main event: the Craft Bastards Craft Fair! Last year, this event was held in an abandoned gravel lot, and had probably about 35 vendors. I was so pleased to see that this year's event was in a much nicer venue and had tons and tons of booths! It took us about three hours to see them all! Even though I didn't buy too much, I was really glad to see that the DIY spirit is still alive and well, and that people are gravitating to both old and new crafts to express themselves. We really saw everything there: tampon dolls, pottery, jewelry, silkscreened t-shirts, pottery, aprons, reconstructed clothing, blank books, even a stuffed animal of the ghost of chocolate milk! And what did I get there?


Sock Yarn

Beautiful sock yarn from Woolarina, of course! Deciding amongst their goods was difficult as their color choices and handspuns are all lovely (just ask my friend K who I enabled into buying two skeins of handspun even though she's between gigs right now). I also bought a handmade birthday card for my mom that has pictures of stamps of Old Faithful on it.

Some other inspiring items I saw there? First, I totally loved the clothing at the ReVamp designs booth, particularly the vintage slips that were decorated, hand-dyed and made into beautiful, one of a kind dresses. I couldn't justify the money for it right now but maybe for a special event in the future. Also, at the Stitch DC booth, they had multiple copies of the new book, Alterknits. This book is definitely in the same league as Loop-d-Loop as far as showing new and innovative ways to use knitting and has some really cool patterns for sweaters, lace up gauntlets, a felted bulletin board and even a knitted screen door. It also has exercises and comes with a little notebook for you to create your own unique designs! I'll have to pick up a copy soon.

On Sunday, Cobra and I tried to hit up the Value Village thrift store in Hyattsville, MD but unfortunately, it was closed when we got there. So, in search of other old gear, we headed to the vintage/junk stores of Takoma Park. Luck seemed to be on our side, as there was a street fair going on there in the main part of town. There were the usual T-Park suspects: the old hippies, the super liberals wearing socially-conscious t-shirts and buttons, the young children, etc. I started to think tie dye was in style again. I picked up a lovely item from a fair trade vendor there:

Sconce

This is a sconce that was made in Morocco. It perfectly fills an empty space of wall that needed decoration and casts cool shadows when I light a candle in it. A very satisfying purchase, indeed.

Alright, so after a, like, three week hiatus from talking about my current knitting project, I guess I will finally break my silence. Most of my time has been devoted to my Cutaway cardi and I'm loving every stitch.

Cutaway Front

This front needs a good block and button band. I've also finished one sleeve and I'm about 1/3 of the way finished with the back. I can't wait to finish this sweater, it's going to be so cute and versatile.

Some of the first hints of fall are heading our way, like how the other night, I felt that cold air in my breathing passages for the first time - you know the feeling, the air pierces your body quickly. I know I'll want another more all purpose cover-up in addition to the cardi, so I've been adding a few rows to my shawl here and there.
shawl painted

The yarns I'm using are:
1: Rowan Calmer, color Oatmeal I believe (thanks Lolly!)
2: Plymouth Encore, black
3: Artfibers Harlequin, Color #10 (pink and dark grey).
4: Artfibers Cellini, Color #9 (black and grey).
5: Silver slubby silk (?), gifted from my aunt, a remnant from her weaving day.
6: Fantasy Yarns Cashmere blend Aran (the stuff that you can get at A.C. Moore), black.

It really is starting to feel like it's taking forever and not really growing. I'm slightly worried as my increased are making more of a diamond shape than a triangle, and I worry this is hindering my progress. Will blocking be enough? Anyone have any insights?

L'shanah tovah to all those out there who know what it means :P

P.S. Apologies to those who got to this site by searching for "secret camera," "pink monkey friday night lights," and "fatherfuckers," as I'm sure you didn't find what you were looking for.