Thursday, January 01, 2009

2008 in Review

Wow, I barely posted this year. I knew I hadn't posted much, but I didn't realize I had less than one page. Wow.

But that won't stop me from posting my annual Year In Review!


- started my first dance class

- released my first dance instructional video

- joined ravelry (come say hi: I'm jessdr)


- all dance, all the time

- knitting for babies

- knitting gifts, rather than for myself

- knitting in obsessive spurts: knitting a whole lot, then not at all, then a whole lot, then not at all

- knitting mostly from stash

- updating ravelry but not my blog


- Chicken Viking Hat #3, modeled here by Alex, as part of his Thanksgiving Turkey halloween costume

- Baby Surprise Jacket, for the lovely Margot:


Nada. Zip, zero, zilch.


- Hooded Carrying Bag from Debbie Bliss' Essential Baby in Knitpicks Andean Silk

This is going to be a gift for my cousin's new baby, Thomas. It's such an adorable pattern that my sister (who isn't even planning to have kids any time soon) told me I should start making one for her now! However, it reminded me of why I tend to get grumpy at Madame Bliss. Her patterns often fail to tell you WHY you're doing something. Her instructions often leave you in the dark about why you're doing something. For example, this one tells you to bind off three stitches, seemingly for no reason. It turns out to be for the overlapping portion of a lapped zipper, which is fine, but there is no mention of the lap except hidden in the instructions for sewing on the zipper. And god forbid a book of patterns would include a design schematic...

All that said, it is so cute and such a fun and easy knit that I'm going to have to make another one for my other cousin's new baby, Carter. However, I think I'll do provisional cast-ons for the lower edges of the body and sleeves, and put stitches on stitch holders instead of casting off for the other edges of the body and sleeves. That way, I can do three-needle bind-offs for the lower edge of the body and sleeves, and only have to sew the sides of the body and the zipper.

I just need to block and sew in the zipper.

- Hopeful

I thought it was finished before, but it was just a little too short-waisted, and a short-sleeved alpaca sweater wasn't exactly the smartest choice. So I did the secret-ninja snip, unravel, knit, and graft to add an extra two inches at the waist, and then unravelled the lower end of the sleeves and made them 3/4 length. It looks great, but I still need to tighten up the grafting stitches and block. I think I used a smaller size needle for the midsection, but I'm hoping it won't be too noticeable after blocking. If it is, well, I can always redo the secret-ninja part.

- Clapotis #4 in Knitpicks Andean Silk

A gift for my great-aunt eleanor. Just have to weave in the ends and drop the stitches before I see her for our post-xmas visit this weekend. I think Clapotis is better in a single, but the drape of this yarn is so nice that it doesn't loose too much from its plied structure.


- Sideways Rib Cowl/Hood in Plymouth Baby Alpaca Brush

A gift for my gramma. I'm hoping to finish this before our post-xmas visit this weekend, but I'm not sure it'll be ready. I have a backup plan in case it doesn't work out, luckily.

- Autumn Rose

I've been "swatching" (i.e, knitting a sleeve) this one, but I'm having some trouble with my color selections. They look fabulous on the skein:

but they look a little funny in the swatch. The light peach just looks like a dingy off-white

Choosing colors for this pattern is tough, since you have to choose:

- three different color groups, all of which have to look nice together. In the original color scheme there are reds, dark blue/green/black, and a continuum of yellows and greens. I choose teals in place of the reds, reds in place of the blue/green/black, and a continuum of oranges and browns in place of the yellows and greens.

- colors for each family that have the same relative values (lightness/darkness) as in the original pattern. I.e., in the red group, you need a medium, medium-dark, and dark color). Making it more complicated, the values need to be consistent across color groups. So the if the medium red is similar in value to the darkest yellow, then that relationship needs to be the same in the new color scheme as well, or the colorwork pattern doesn't "read" as well.

-colors that look nice in all the pairings that appear in the colorwork pattern. This is where I'm running into trouble. The colors look great on the skein, but in the rows where peach and dark maroon appear together, it looks just awful.

- Eiffel in Knitpicks Andean Treasure:

I always loved this pattern, but knitting with hemp never attracted me. I hear it softens nicely with wear, but why both with something that doesn't feel good in your hands while you knit it? I decided to make a winter-weight Eiffel instead. Alpaca is REALLY warm, so I figured the nice open, eyelet pattern would balance that out. I gained some weight after I started this project, so I'm a little nervous about fit. I've been procrastinating checking the fit, since, if it's too small in the bicep, I'll have to start over.

- Sunrise Circle Jacket:

I made some progress on this one this year, but the math is off on the left front, and I haven't felt like figuring it out. I'm a little worried that the fabric might be a little too floppy for this pattern, but the color distribution looks so much nicer with the looser gauge... I might have to punt it and use this GORGEOUS yarn for something else...

- Haiku in Knitpicks Merino Style

I started this as a baby gift for my cousin's baby Carter, but I think I might make him a carrying bag instead. It's cuter, and a non-washable yarn might not be the best choice for a newborn. And I love this yarn so much that I think I want to make myself a sweater out of it, as originally planned.


- Serrano

I love this pattern, but I think I made a math error somewhere, and I'm not sure about the fit. Have been feeling too lazy lately to check it out properly.

- Retro Throw

I just haven't felt like working on this lately. It was supposed to be my sister's graduation present, but it came out somewhat smaller than planned, and as my sister and her fiance are TALL (5'11" and 6'7", respectively) a teensy throw blanket didn't really seem like the best choice. I WILL finish it before their wedding, I swear! (Luckily, they haven't set a date...)

- Rising Flames Socks

No progress since the 2007 in review post. I've ripped out the instep twice, but they're still tight. The third time is probably the charm. But as much as I enjoy ripping out (hence, the blog title), frogging lace is a pain in the bum, so I think I'll let it rest for a little while before I tackle it.

- Blissful Jacket

I finished knitting the pieces a year ago, and seamed them up not long afterward, but for some reason, I just can't make myself finish adding the pinstripes. I also ripped out the collar - I wasn't wild about the shape. Will try with a different needle size to see if that helps. I think part of the reason I can't make myself finish this is that I HATE the yarn (Debbie Bliss Aran Tweed). Hate it hate it hate it. It's scratchy and full of knots, and it was expensive. Yet another reason why I get grumpy at Madame Bliss. Maybe I should have used Cascade 220 tweed...

If I don't make any progress on this one by next year's review, maybe I'll move it to the "things I may need to give up on category. Speaking of which:

- Lelah Top

This was supposed to be a gift for my sister, and it is embarrassing how long I have let it go.


- Improvisational Cardi

This was a 2007 project. It's my own design, but I had some fit problems, and I don't have enough yarn to really fix it. I haven't decided if I want to frog it and make something else with the yarn, or revise my design.

- Juno Regina

I'm using smaller needles (to suit my yarn substitution), and it came out very narrow (about 11" vs. 16"). I'm also not sure the color is right for me. It has a nice range of bluish greens that suit me well, but it also has some more foresty, yellow-based greens. I'm in love with the yarn, but I don't know that I'll be in love with the FO.

And I'm not sure I'm a lace kind of a girl. I love working with tiny needles, but laceweight yarn makes my hands kind of sore.


- Syncopated Brioche Hat:

I just didn't love it. The colors in Shepherd Sport were much greener and browner than in the Lion & Lamb I used for my Clapotis, in which the blues were more dominant.


- knitting with laceweight yarn


I've accepted that my dance business is going to take the front seat this year, so I won't be getting in as much knitting as I used to, but I do have some modest goals for this year.

- I'm mostly concerned with finishing the projects I'm working on now, especially Autumn Rose, Eiffel, the Sunrise Circle Jacket, and blocking Hopeful

- more yarn - I want to get back into spinning this year

- I'd like to make myself a warm hat/hood/balaclava. It has been chilly out there!


- reduce my UFO list

- get a better handle on color selection for colorwork


Thursday, November 20, 2008

Another Baby Knit Photo

Also, here is the lovely Margot, sporting her baby surprise jacket:

Labels: ,

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Chicken Viking Hat Seen in the Wild

(click on the photo to see it full-sized)

Modeled for you by the always adorable Alexander as part of his Halloween. He appeared as Thanksgiving Dinner, complete with roasting pan, turkey baster, and cranberry sauce.

If you want to make your own, check out the free pattern by Sarah Mundy.

This is my third chicken viking hat. Two were baby-sized for Alex and Elena, and one adult-sized for Ryan:

Labels: ,

Wednesday, November 05, 2008


I generally try to keep politics out of my knitting blog, but I just have to say that I am so proud of our country today.

It's not just about our first black president (which is amazing!) or the major policy shifts we can expect (which we need so much). It's about what this says about us as a people.

The best life advice I ever received was: Behave like the person you want to be, and, over time, you will become that person.

That's what I saw in the American people last night. For so long, we have been stuck in "survival mode", acting out of fear, and worrying primarily about "me". This is a normal response to trauma, but it's not a healthy way to live.

Last night, our actions said that it's time to move on and start behaving as if we were the country of our national mythology. One that is dedicated to liberty and justice for all. One that believes that who your parents are should not dictate what you can achieve in life. One that believes that, while personal responsibility is critical, when we live in a community (whether town, country, or world) we have to live up to our responsibilities toward each other.

We do have a long way to go, and we can't just sit back on our couches and expect it all to be done for us, but we have made a wonderful beginning. And if we can harness even half of the energy that made this election possible, we can shut down guantanamo, fix our healthcare system, get the financial system back on track, and start earning the trust of the rest of the world again.


Monday, January 21, 2008

Hopeful tweaks, BSJ, colors selected for Autumn Rose

I did the secret-ninja snip, knit, and graft to lengthen my Hopeful. I'm very pleased with the fit now. I think I used the wrong size needles, though: I started with size 6s but the fabric looked too loose, so I frogged back and switched to fives. I think 6s were the correct choice after all. Oh, well. It shouldn't be too noticeable once I even out the tension on the transitional rows (particularly the grafted row) and then block it. (The rest of the sweater was blocked in September, so it has had a chance to relax, while the inserted section hasn't.)

My next step is to make the sleeves longer. I'm not sure if I'll take them to 3/4 or full-length. It may depend on how much yarn I can get my hands on. Knitpicks is discontinuing this yarn and they're out of grey. I contacted a user on Ravelry who has two balls in her stash, but I haven't heard back yet. I'll be crossing dye lots, but I think it won't be obvious if I use the same dye lot for the entirety of both sleeves, rather than switching part-way through the body, for example. We'll see!

I'm also working on a baby surprise jacket for a family friend's coming baby. I'm going to need more yarn. I've ordered more of the gold, light turquoise, and orange. I've got plenty more of the brown, burgundy, pink, and teal, but I think it really needs a turquoise stripe before I use any more of the darker colors, so I'm waiting for the additional yarn to arrive. Here's what I've got so far:

I'm tempted to use the wrong side, since I love the mini-stripes you get on the wrong side when changing colors:

I've also selected the colors for my Autumn Rose:

I'm sitting on my hands to prevent myself from casting on (or even swatching!) before I finish the baby gifts and at least one of my in-progress projects. The yarn is Knit Picks Palette, which I love, especially now that they have more tertiary colors and heathers. The colors are:
Reds: merlot heather, garnet heather, red
Blue-greens: marine heather, calypso heather, tidepool heather (these were xmas gifts from my mom)
Oranges and Tans: brindle heather, fawn, apricot, peach, golden heather

The photo doesn't do the colors justice. The blues are much more blue-green and zippy than they appear, the reds are much richer (and move towards brown), and the oranges transition more smoothly. The oranges and reds just POP against the blues. Every time I passed by the table I had laid them out on, I was struck by how great it looked.

Labels: , , ,

Thursday, January 03, 2008

2007 in Review

Here's my annual New Year's Day post.

2007 was a big year personally, but not a big posting year.

NOTE: this post is going to replace the 2007 items in my Finished Objects sidebar. Click on the pictures to link to the appropriate posts, which often have more pics.


- bought our first condo

- made the transition from semi-pro to full pro bellydancer, including teacher training, giving my first workshop, and my first student

- released two episodes of my video podcast on dance composition for belly dancers, Taktaba

- quit my new job and went back to my old job (YAY!!!)

- attended six weddings (including my sister's) and a baby shower

- went to France


- being really busy and not blogging

- knitting a fair bit, but not completing many things

- considerable restraint in yarn shopping

- colorwork, and a general color awareness

- spinning


- Tubey #2 in Karabella Aurora 8

This is also the first sweater I've made that has my husband's raving approval; in his words: "I'd buy this one for you in a store".

- Odessa in Knitpicks Merino Style

- Target Wave Mittens in Beaverslide Dry Goods Fisherman Weight Wool

- Droplet Hat in Beaverslide Dry Goods Wool/Mohair blend

- Snowflakes and Arrows Vest

- 2 hats for Afghans for Afghans

- Banff for Afghans for Afghans for Afghans
re-sized for an older kid and re-gauged for McTaggart Tweed

- Snuggly Red Blanket

I finished knitting this over two years ago (maybe closer to three...) and have been using it since then (it's even gone in the washer once or twice), but I didn't get around to weaving in the ends until recently.

- Northern Lights Mittens

The pattern was from KnitPicks, but doesn't seem to be available anymore. They ended up bigger than I wanted, so they weren't warm enough (too much free space inside = not enough insulation), so I gave them to my mother-in-law, who has bigger hands. I'm crazy about the pattern, though, so I'll try it again, although probably in just brown and turquoise.

- Teapot Onion Dome Tea Cozy

(my own design. Pretty much just a Sideways Shortrows Hat with gaps for the handle and spout (white only). When they get all steamed up, hear them, well, smell! Made from two yarns that I spun myself. The brown was my very first yarn ever, done on a drop spindle, and the white is my first wheel-spun yarn. Speaking of which:


- White Lamb's Pride Wool
Came with my spinning wheel. I thought I had photos, but apparently not.

- Thimbleberry roving from Beaverslide Dry Goods

Haven't figured out what I want to make from this yet. Maybe a cozy for the great big (but poorly insulated) teacup/strainer that lives on my desk.


- Sunrise Circle Jacket

I re-gauged this one, and am not sure the fabric is stiff enough for the design...

- Improvisational Cardi

My own design - having some fit problems. I haven't decided if I want to alter it or learn to love it the way it is. (It actually looks fine on, but since it's both tighter and shorter than I had in mind, it looks like a completely different design.)

- Serrano

I pulled the needles from this one for another project, and just never picked it up again. I need to do a sanity check on the sizing before I go much further.

- Retro Throw

Just slow going.

- Rising Flames Socks

I've ripped out the instep twice, but they're still tight. The third time is probably the charm. But as much as I enjoy ripping out (hence, the blog title), frogging lace is a pain in the bum, so I think I'll let it rest for a little while before I tackle it.

- Oatmeal-colored wool yarn

Spinning that up on my Babe's Fiber Garden Pedal Pusher:

Items in need of finishing or adjustment.

- Blissful Jacket
I finished knitting the pieces a year ago, and seamed them up not long afterward, but for some reason, I just can't make myself finish adding the pinstripes. I also ripped out the collar - I wasn't wild about the shape. Will try with a different needle size to see if that helps.

- Lelah top for my sister

Or did I finish this? I can't remember... I think it wanted to be taken in a little at the overbust...

- Hopeful

This needs some extra length in the torso, and I will probably make the sleeves long. (Alpaca/cashmere blend is gorgeous, but completely inappropriate for short sleeves.) This one received the husband seal of approval.

- Juno Regina

I'm using smaller needles (to suit my yarn substitution), and it came out very narrow (about 11" vs. 16"). I'm also not sure the color is right for me. It has a nice range of bluish greens that suit me well, but it also has some more foresty, yellow-based greens. I'm in love with the yarn, but I don't know that I'll be in love with the FO.

- Synopated Brioche Hat

My own design. I don't like the decreases, and it doesn't quite cover my earlobes, so I'm going to rip it out and make it deeper.


Haven't worked on this in at least a year, maybe two... Perhaps I'll make a snuggly something out of this yarn instead. I have plenty.

- Tubey #1

I think I'd like to redo this one with some cable detail around the neckline.

- Hush Hush Chemise

Why did I think a knitted nightgown with no waist definition would be a good idea?


- wheel spinning
- brioche stitch (syncopated)
- applied i-cord
- i-cord cast-on
- knitting with beads


- first mittens


- Jenn from Brooklyn, a fellow bellydancer who hosted a fabulous yarn crawl at the Yarn Harlot's book release party in NYC.

- Jen from Calgary, whom I met on Jenn-from-Brooklyn's yarn crawl.

- Jody from FL, whom I met after her SP9 punted.

Many still pending from my end-of-2006 list.

- Autumn Rose, probably in blue/greens and browns (maybe with some red)

- Apricot Cardigan
I have some yummy Karabella Aurora 8 in hot pink that would be perfect for this.

- Hex Coat from Knitting Nature

- Whisper

- Eiffel

- Sweet Mary Jane from Knitpicks (apparently no longer available)

Have yarn, will knit.

- a big cozy handspun something


- REALLY getting a handle on fit. Not just how to make a sweater with the desired dimensions, but how to decide what those dimensions should be.

- Get an understanding of collar and neckline shaping. Again, not so much how to produce the desired shape, but what shapes produce what results.

- Explore stitch patterns. I really enjoy texture, but since they add bulk to the garment, I end up working in stockinette more often than not.

- Play with color some more.


Thursday, October 18, 2007

Not-quite-finished Object

Well, I finished and blocked Hopeful:

Unfortunately, it's a little short in the torso. It needs another 2ish inches of straight work between the hip decreases and bust increases. Blocking seemed to help, but once it's on, the body curves take up all the length. Oh well, I'll just have to do my secret-ninja cut/knit/graft thingy. But not anytime soon.

Ambrosia works up into a lovely Hopeful, but isn't really a ideal yarn for the project. Alpaca is just too warm for a short-sleeved sweater (duh). It also gives me the pricklies against the skin. (It's not at all rough; in fact, it's buttery and silky. But something about alpaca just prickles me.) I may have enough yarn to knit it down to 3/4 sleeves. If not, I can always wear it with a jacket.

I have to say, though, I love this pattern. The design is adorable, and the construction is so clever. I'm just wild about shortrow sleeve caps: there's no seaming, and the shape is perfect.

Also shown in the photo:
- Una
- a blanket I made from Red Heart Light & Lofty over two years ago, and whose ends only got woven in this week (after the photo was taken)

Labels: , , ,