Pink Monkey Knits

Using my opposable thumbs to knit up a storm!

Monday, July 31, 2006

Streak Free Shine 

blue windex1

I finished my blue Windex top (aka Orangina), and I think it looks stupendous. The color, sheen and stitch definition of the yarn, SWTC Bamboo, make the lace pattern stand out fabulously. I definitely had moments where I felt that I was slogging through the pattern, as making progress with my size 5 needles (2 sizes up from the recommended size!) was slow. My interest in the project definitely followed a curve pattern: I was very excited when I first started it, lost interest as I got to the middle, then got all excited again when I got to the ribbing. My persistence paid off, especially when I showed the finished product to Cobra and he declared to be one of my best knits to date. I couldn't help but agree.

Overall, I have to say that the yarn made this an enjoyable project. It makes for a comfortable, lightweight summer garment and has a unique, almost waxy hand that will smooth your wooden needles. I would definitely recommend using it, although at a smaller gauge than the suggested one.

I made one small change to my Blue Windex. When I sewed the shoulder seams, I found that the neckline had a weird, rippling effect that particularly looked strange in the back. Instead of sewing straight from the shoulder edge in, I left an inch and a half free on each side, then made the seam. This makes for a cute fluttery sleeve and a better-looking neckline.

Sometimes I'm so excited to finish a project that I gotta dance!

blue windex 2

Note: My friend Catherine made it clear to me that she wants to be kept abreast of all of my appearance-related changes, so I would like to note that my hair has been cut somewhat recently in these photos and I got new glasses.

In other news, I've had the enormous pleasure of spending time with some great local bloggers lately, some who I've hung out with extensively and some who are new friends.

suz and lol

Those of you who I met at Sheep and Wool may remember that Suzanne, on the left, is my neighbor (I couldn't shut up about this fact!). Here she is with the ever lovely Lolly, both with beautiful socks in hand. The three of us got together last weekend at new hotspot Busboys and Poets for a multiple course brunch. Although the three of us had never gotten together before, we ended up hanging out and talking for over five hours! It was a great way to spend a relaxing Saturday afternoon and our conversation covered everything from religion and spirituality to travel plans.

If you're a regular reader of Isel's blog (even if you aren't, you should go check out her beautiful Jaywalkers!), you may have seen that I recently won a contest on her blog for a free issue of the Summer 04 IK. I convinced her that it would be cost effective for her to save on postage by meeting up with me for dinner and giving me the mag in person.

0726061945a.jpg

(See, Isel? You have nothing to worry about. You look beautiful, even in this crappy cameraphone pix). We talked a lot about some of our frustrations of living in this area, future plans, relationships, knitting patterns, all of those big things. She also tempted me with the thought of her cupcakes...mmm....cupcakes.

This past Saturday, I was also lucky to get together with Michael for a tasty lunch and chat. In addition to discussing the ins and outs of knitwear design, I learned that he's someone who's is really searching to improve himself and be more connected to the world. It was a good reminder that I need to nurture those parts of myself. These encounters all demonstrated how engaging, interesting and creative knitting folk are. I'm so lucky to live in any area where I can be friends with so many talented people who provide enriching friendships.

Speaking of enriching, I've decided to participate in this month's Whiplash challenge (sponsored by whipup).

whipup


The theme this month is Wardrobe Surgery. I'm looking to bring out my long-neglected sewing machine and see what I can pull off with some thrift store finds. Hopefully, this experience will help improve my sewing skills, and not end up completely deflating my ego because I can't execute my ideas. We'll see....

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Howdy, Strangers 

Hi Friends!

As you may or may not have noticed, I took a little hiatus from blogging. Mostly, this was because I was just feeling, well, bleh mentally and a bit physically. Sometimes, it's hard to work up that motivation to talk about yourself, even if it's your knitting, when you don't feel like yourself, or anyone that great for that matter.

This is all strange because I did have a lot to talk about: the DC Stitch n Bitch yarn swap (all you need to know is that I came home with more yarn, some of it possum blend!), my two year blogiversary that's come and gone, my boiling over frustration with bloglines that resulted in me switching over to Newsgator (so far, VERY good) and some more awesome books that I got at the library (if anything could make me want to dust off my sewing machine, it's this).

Although I've felt bored and uninspired in much of the rest of my life, I've been knitting through it and the process, the knitting goddess, whatever you want to call it, has given back to me.

inspiring projects

Here you see Bebe modeling the boobholder I made and restarted to correct, 3 skeins of Noro Kureyon in colorway 100, and 1 skein of baby blue Karabella lace mohair. Originally, with the boobholder (made in my most beloved and recommend Tess Designer Yarns Superwash Merino), I was going to add some stitch pattern to the part below the bust that complemented the garter stitch edging and gave some interest. I was totally sold on any stitch pattern, however, and I'm not thrilled with how the puffy sleeves look. So, this baby's going to the frog pond and will be reincarnated in another, more inspired form, later on.

The Noro will then become a Boobholder, because every gal's got to have one. I got that mohair at the above-mentioned yarn swap, and knew that making some lacey shawl or scarf wouldn't really be my style. Fortunately, right afterwards, I received the latest issue of Bust magazine in the mail, and it's focus this time is on fashion. A photo of the stage costume of one band have planted a design idea in my head that I hope works out!

I'm really excited for these projects and want to start them all right.now but I know they will only turn out well with focus. So, they will wait until the fall. Keeping my mind active with the possibility of creating my own designs has really improved my mood, so I'll be thrilled to share them with the community of readers out there.

In the meantime, I'm continuing to progress with Project Spectrum. Of course, throughout the month, my eyes have been looking for those little touches of purple around me. My landlady planted these beautiful bright violet flowers on the walkway leading down to our apartment.

violet flowers

Most of the tiny buds are now gone.

My knitting has fallen along PS shades as well.

PSJulyProjects

On the left is the Newsboy cap from SnB Nation made in Blue Sky Alpacas Cotton. I've completed all of the knitting and just need to weave in ends and find a piece of plastic to stiffen the brim. This hat is for my sister-in-law, who chooses to cover all of her hair as a married woman, so I added a bit of extra length in the body to accommodate. I'll be sure to get a completed shot, as this hat is way cute! I have enough yarn left to make another, yay!

The sock is from the kool aid-dyed yarn I showed last time, in the pattern of the Falling Leaves socks from Knitty. I changed them to try out an afterthought heel per these directions. I'm actually not wild about how these look, less and less so the more I think about it, so I'm going to rip them out and restart with a ribbed pattern.

While lacking enthusiasm for the socks, I decided to start another project to get me out of the slump. I was hesitant to look ahead to August, but the guru gave me permission...

Carla start

I started on Carla from the Rowan It's a Tape Thing book. Fun, fun, fun. It'll be worked on during PS Neutrals months - that's the important part, right?

Lastly, I need to give a shout out to some awesome knit bloggers who have sent me some special items.

mailtreats

On the left is Mama E's C*Eye*Ber Fiber Sock yarn that I won as a consolation prize in her yarn naming contest. It is everything a sock yarn should be: soft, squishy, superwash and beautifully dyed! Thank you so much, Mama! The colors remind me of my favorite colors as a little girl and My Little Ponies, so I hope to find a whimsical sock pattern to use it with.

Next to it is a pack of the cutest tissues with monkeys on them. The fabulous Heather sent to me and I'm pleased that she thought of me when she saw them. I hope I get a cold soon so that I can use them (or not).

Next time, a wonderful finished project and some adventures with local bloggers....

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Marking the Occasion 

Cobra and I had a lovely pajama and cleaning day today. Lots of watching PBS and even scrubbing the bathroom. Overall, very relaxing.

But don't think it was all chill. There are big events going on in DC tonight.

That's right, I'm talking about the celebration of day four of Project Spectrum Purple month!

There was no better way for me to inaugurate the month on Saturday than with a little purple Kool-Aid dyeing. I've actually done this kind of dyeing before at a fun party for it at my friend Eric's house (but I didn't blog about it, woops). During that party, I attempted to do some tonal dying of two skeins of alpaca sportweight I received in trade with Laura. It, uh, didn't turn out super well.




Here, you can see that the color really only came into about half of the skeins and probably would have looked strange knitted up. It was like a lightbulb went off in my brain when I realized that I could overdye the yarn and get the effect I desired!











I mixed about 1 1/2 large packets of purple and some of a pack of tropical punch to add an extra tone to the color. After I got it cooking up, I added extra water, put the yarn in, and added more to cover.





























I then took the remainder of the grape packet and sprinkled it randomly over the yarn. This was in hopes of adding some speckles or darker areas of color, increasing the color interest in the yarn. I let the powder sit for a moment, then stirred up the whole rigmarole.




I was half watching some World Cup action and was sad when France beat Brasil.










The yarn simmered, doing its usual amazing feat of soaking up all of the color and leaving clear water behind. It never ceases to amaze me. Since Cobra was working at the time, I pulled out some of the water to show him this amazing trick. I was outside hanging the yarn out to dry when he came home, but he said that the pungent, fake fruit and wet wool smell in the kitchen immediately tipped him off.






After drying, Voila, my finished product! To me, this dye job is the epitome of a Project Spectrum craft because I was trying to being depth, richness and variety of color with the cheapest, simplest medium I could find. As you can see, the tone ranges from dark violet to an almost pink tone and has even maintained a bit of its grey sheen. I'm very pleased with the end result, so I'd mostly say it's a success.



I plan to pick up this yarn later in the month and start some Falling Leaves socks. I also have two other purple projects planned to mark this month: a purple Newsboy Cap from Stitch n Bitch Nation as a gift for my sister-in-law and a wee purple vest for Afghans for Afghans. Of course, I'm now rounding the final stretch on my Blue Windex (on the ribbing, yes!) so that will be finished before I move on to the next.

What's that you say, there's another celebration going on in DC today? An event bigger than Project Spectrum?

I haven't heard a thing about it.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

CityShots 

On Wednesday night, I made my first trip to the Eighteenth Street Lounge. A few years back, this was the most talked about night spot in the whole city; not only did it launch the career of DJ duo Thievery Corporation (who own and run the space), but it also created a whole lounge scene throughout the whole city.
Back when I was a senior in high school in Pittsburgh and had just decided to come to college in DC, I read an article about this club in Spin magazine. A few details of that article stick out in my mind, mainly the image of women wearing clothes held together by dental floss shaking their booties in the crowded, darkly and antiquarian-looking space. This image was a marked changed from anything I'd seen in Pittsburgh, an aging city with little for underage kids to do. I remember thinking "wow, I'm going to live in a city that has its own youth culture and scene. I'm going to be a part of it."
Six or seven years later, I finally make it to this fabled place for a friend's 30th birthday/finishing her PhD coursework party. The club still has the elements of the old house it once was, including some steep stairs, a nice fireplace, little nooks and crannies. We headed out to the back deck, which has some vintage light fixtures hanging periodically overhead, just to give the place a touch of class. Despite all of its rumored pretentiousness, it's actually a fairly chill and comfortable place. A reggae band starts to play and everyone who's outside there starts to sway and move unintentionally. I look around and see people dressed casually and people dressed to the nines, of course with fabulous shoes and bags to match. There are folks in tank tops and some in suits. People of all races are there, and it's fun to look at them and speculate if the dark-haired, olive skinned man is the son of the Argentine ambassador, if the blond with the big hoop earrings is some congressman's daughter, if the singer with the dreads is really from Jamaica. We're all young and we're all dancing to the music, all with various levels of alcohol in us (I just had 1 drink, thanks). I got a warm tug in my chest because it felt like my decisions in coming to this city, staying despite many reservations, has been the right choice because I can be young here, I am urban and living the lifestyle I want and I'm smack dab in the middle of one of the most diverse areas in the country. It's truly the kind of life I envisioned for myself back when I was 18 and it's great that it has come true for me. I was a big cheerleader for my city that night.

Then, on Friday, I was walking to the Metro to head uptown for an appointment. I was prepared to walk down the escalator stairs as I usually do when a couple in front of me stood side by side, blocking my way down. I said excuse me to the man with the traditional military crew cut, and he tried to suck himself over to the left side. I squeezed through and tried to say as nicely as possible "people usually stand on the right here." You know, don't get mad, just try to teach the ignorant tourists, who may have never seen a subway system in their lives, how to be considerate of the others in their midst. I did mutter to myself a bit when I realized BAM it is 4th of July weekend here in our nation's capital and we are filled to the brim with folks from all types of bumblefucks and who feel entitled to take over the space as they like and let their kids do the same. My goodwill drained out faster than you can say "please step to the center of the train car." DC, I will love you again in September

I spent most of the weekend hiding out in my apartment and other non-frequented places. Expect to see knitting and other crafty progress from this soon.