Thursday, December 30, 2010

The end of loose ends is in 2010!

Cecily jacket - Front view

How much do I hate weaving in ends? Sofa king much. I've let some FOs sit, unworn or ungifted, for months on end while I work myself up to the task of weaving in, like, four ends of yarn on the underarms and sleeve hems. Whenever possible, I spit-splice or weave in the ends as I join new yarn, using this method I found online (thanks, aija and JP from Article Pract!).

The worst problem with hating to weave in ends is that I'm not actually particularly good at it when I actually get around to doing it. Looking at the wrong side of my work is usually like looking at Joan Rivers without makeup on--kinda yucky, sure shows how much work went into it. If it's a garment I will be wearing myself, I've even been known to just tuck a random end that I overlooked back down the sleeve if I know it's not going to work itself loose. I hate that I do this and it makes me feel very, very lazy--also a touch unprofessional. It's strange that weaving in ends bugs me this much, because there are other pretty tedious finishing tasks that I'll do with relish, even: Sewing on buttons or ribbon linings for plackets, knitted-on i-cord, even seaming, which many people despise (and which many of my designs, especially the garments, don't require). I just love a pretty and well-finished garment, but when it comes to the loose ends--ugh. I'll willingly settle for the outer appearance of good finishing.

Now that we're here at the end of the year, though, I'm calling an end to that thing with the ends. It stops here. Today. Right now. FOs are going to get FINISHED when they're done, and I'm going to love how it feels to snip that last little tail before moving on to the next project. I am resolved! 2011 will be The Year of Literally Tying Up Loose Ends. It's going to be awesome. Look how great it looks when I do it--the twinset above was blocked the morning after I cast off, and I had it all done right down to the buttons THAT DAY. Yay, me.

As I look forward to that Year of Literally Tying Up Loose Ends, it reminds me to remind all of you that there's just one more day left to enter yourself in my first-ever blog giveaway! Skip back to my last post and leave a comment with your favorite homemade holiday memory (doesn't have to be a winter holiday either, btw; I'll accept DIY firecrackers for the 4th of July or Guy Fawkes Day, or the hand-drawn cards you got from your kids for Mother's Day, or what have you). I'll put the names in a hat on New Year's Eve and draw for a free pattern and a gift certificate to Hill Country Weavers!

(Um, we may just have to tackle "blocking things as soon as they're done instead of leaving them unblocked on the dress form for several weeks" in 2012. Baby steps...)

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Xmas!

Season's greetings, everyone! In the holiday spirit, here's a little of the ol' red-and-green for you, Austin style...

The red is some lovely scarlet bougainvillea, and the green is my Hill Country dress--the pattern for which is now available! I'm thrilled to announce the release of the "Hill Country Does SHELTER" collection, which is an amazing group of patterns created for the new Brooklyn Tweed wool yarns. Just click on the link to visit the Hill Country Weavers e-commerce site and check out all of the patterns; Jared Flood's going to do a special post about it on the Brooklyn Tweed blog, too. There are hats, sweaters, legwarmers, and other accessories featuring all of the colors in the SHELTER range, and all with a dash of uniquely Austin flavor. They're each available as individual PDF downloads, or grouped in two PDF e-booklets at a generous discount off the single-pattern price. The layouts are gorgeous, with loads of great pictures of the designs themselves and the South Congress district that Hill Country Weavers calls home. WARNING: You may have a hard time choosing just one. I want to make them all myself. Especially Sarah Rose, Elizabeth Cobbe's sweet lace-edged cardigan...

Can I just tell you how great it's been working on this project? First of all, I'm in fabulous company: There are two Elizabeths (MightyGoodYarn and Elizabeth Green Musselman of Dark Matter Knits fame), a Kathy and a Kourtney, an Emily, and Suzanne herself, owner of Hill Country Weavers and all-around amazing lady. As the impresario of this project, Suzanne not only created her own beautiful woven blanket design (AND adapted it to scarf size, so she actually made TWO projects), recruited the local designers and photographer (the fabulous Meg Rice, who you may know as winemegup on Flickr), researched graphic designers and printers and photo shoot locations, oh my!, and brought the whole thing home in a matter of what, four months?

The finished product looks really amazing, and being a part of it might just be the best gift I get this Christmas. To celebrate the launch of the collection, and make this a gift that keeps on giving, I'm announcing my first-ever blog giveaway contest! Just comment on this post with your favorite homemade holiday memory (mine is the taste of my mom's peppermint pinwheel cookie dough). On New Year's Day, I'll pick a name at random from all the commenters. The winner will receive a free pattern of their choice from my Ravelry pattern store (you don't need to have a Ravelry account) and a $50 gift certificate to Hill Country Weavers. (That's enough for several skeins of SHELTER yarn, or both pattern collections. Not that you have to get those exact items, but I'm just saying...)

Tidings of comfort and joy to all of you!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

New pattern: the Cecily camisole

It's been several months since I last announced a new pattern here, but it's not because I haven't been designing. My needles have been quite busy, in fact, and you'll be seeing the results of that over the next few weeks, starting with this lovely (if I do say so myself) lace-edged camisole: Cecily!

Cecily - back view

Cecily is knit in Crystal Palace Panda Silk, which is a perennial favorite of mine. It's a fingering-weight blend of wool, bamboo, and silk, and these fibers work together to amazing effect. The bamboo gives it a nice weight and a little bit of shine, the touch of silk adds to the drape and smooth hand, and the wool is superwash merino--so you get a durable machine-washable fabric of beautiful color, breathable lightweight warmth, and elegant drape. Delicious!

Cecily - upper front detail

The cami is worked in the round from the bottom up, with no seaming. Princess darts at the front and back gently shape the waist, while short-row darts and pretty paired increases and decreases create a beautifully fitted sweetheart neckline at the top. The tapered garter-stitch straps are worked from the upper edge and joined with two short grafts or a three-needle bind-off--you can also use purchased lingerie fittings and satin or grosgrain ribbon in a coordinating or contrasting color for adjustable fabric straps if you like! The pattern's sized from XS up to 2X, to fit busts measuring 28-48" with slight negative ease for a sleek silhouette.

Cecily - hem detail

And as usual, it's named for a librarian or archivist or other information-science-y this case, rare-books store employee Cecily Farr from 84 Charing Cross Road. This movie is based on Helene Hanff's nonfiction memoir of the same title, and is absolutely charming--a little bit funny, a little bit sad, and very much about how important books and the people who work with them can be in our lives. There's also a bit of a Christmas theme running through it: the action begins shortly after World War II, when England was still under rationing. Helene's annual Christmas hamper full of hard-to-come-by delicacies--a thank-you to a London bookstore's staff for the volumes they've sent her throughout the year--is the subject of many of the letters sent between Charing Cross Road and Helene's various New York apartments over a forty-year period. I think this is a lovely equation of food for the mind and food for the body--the sense that books and food can both sate a certain kind of hunger. In the 1950s, Cecily Farr might have worn something like this as a warm underlayer beneath a blouse or cardigan as she worked among the shelves of the unheated store...nowadays, it'd be a feminine accent to a structured blazer, or look great on its own over a pretty summer skirt.

Ravelry details and more images are here (Cecily Camisole pattern page) and here (project page, including lots of WIP pics). Love it so much you want to make it right now? Just click the button! PDF pattern with charted and line-by-line written instructions for the lace motif is just $4.00, and it's a quick knit too--you could cast on tomorrow and be done in plenty of time for Xmas.