Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Modern Medieval

This one has been a long time in the works!  Back in the winter of 2012 designer Becky Herrick (here are her blog and her Ravelry page) asked me to be a test-knitter for her new pattern, which would appear in the pattern book "What (Else) Would Madame Defarge Knit?"  The patterns are all inspired by literature or characters from legend.  Becky's design was the "Iseult Dress", about which she says "My Iseult sweater dress is designed to call to mind the strength, grace, and beauty of its medieval namesake. Drawing on historical and modern design elements it can be paired with leggings and a steaming cappuccino or with a chemise and a stone tower."

I went with a mixture of the two for my photoshoot - a more modern styling with tights, tall boots, and a leather jacket, but a woodland setting (and a pottery mug of tea.)  We were so fortunate to find exactly the setting and lighting I'd had in my mental picture of the shoot - during the half-hour window between Sunday dinner and driving my sister back to college after her fall break!

The dress itself is surprisingly simple and quick to knit.  It's worked up in a worsted/aran weight wool and since it's worked in the round, the stockinette stitch body is pretty mindless!  The cables are charted and easy to follow, and I found it simple to adapt slightly to suit my height.  I added several inches of length to the skirt to bring it just above my knees and an inch or so between the bust and waist shaping, but made no other modifications that I remember.  The pattern includes subtle but effective shaping, and ropes of cables follow "princess seam" lines down the front and back.

Easy cables on the dress, a slightly daft expression on me.
I knit almost all of this in January and February of 2012 - enough to try it on and tell Becky that it fit properly and the pattern was clear and error-free.  I left it for about 8 months with just the skirt border left to knit.  Then I finished that up in November and for some unaccountable reason never actually wove in the 6 loose ends and blocked it.  Well, I wasn't allowed to post anything about it until the book's publication the following April, so I figured there was no rush.  And then April in Tennessee is not the best time to be wearing wool sweater-dresses.

But October in Michigan is!  So finally, my Iseult dress is finished and photographed, and I look forward to getting a lot of wear out of it this autumn and winter.  I can picture it layered over a long-sleeved shirt (still with tights and the boots) for a warmer outfit in the dead of winter, or styled with patterned tights and heels for a more sophisticated look.  But it will definitely get plenty of wear - and I'll feel like a princess wearing it!

(Photos by my sister.  Dress explained above. Boots from Payless. Tights - who knows?)

Tuesday, 29 October 2013


If it's been a bit quiet on the blogging front lately, it's because I've been up to my eyebrows in painting.  (No, really, I had paint in my eyebrow last Thursday.) 

This is the "before" - pale pinkish-mauve walls, ugly blue carpet, and a chair that really needs a new slipcover!
We decided that the living room carpet had to go - a combination of old, ugly carpet and the smell of cat - so then it seemed that this was a good time to just give the whole room a makeover.  So three weekends ago we moved all the furniture out, ripped out the carpet and the padding, pulled staples out of the subflooring (my opera workshop set-build and strike training at work there!), and commenced painting everything.

Carpet gone, and I think this is after the application of cat-odor-killer.
Oh and did I mention the mantlepiece had to come off the wall before we could get all the carpet out?  Yeah, there was that too.

So most of the painting is finished now, but we're giving the floor paint ample time to dry before we load up the bookcases and drag sofas and pianos across it.  The living room is empty and light and airy, and the rest of the house resembles a junk shop - but it will be worth it in the end!  (And I only have three window-frames left to paint.  I'll be glad to stop washing paint out of my hair.)  I'll be sure to supply you with prettier pictures when we have everything back in place!

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Autumn Leaves Shawl

I finished this shawl a few weeks ago for a friend, who wanted something she could use as a throw for her sofa or a shawl for herself, as the weather grows colder.

The pattern is "Tango"(Ravelry link) by Corinne Ouillon.  I added several repeats of the body pattern and an extra repeat of the border as well, to make the shawl as large as I wanted.  The yarn is from KnitPicks new line of crochet cotton, Curio, in Cornmeal.  There really is little else to say about it, so I'll just let the photos speak for themselves!  I think this rich gold is perfectly offset by the colours and sunlight of early autumn.

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Vintage Knits: Surplice sweater and bonnet for baby

A couple years ago I picked up a 1942 book called "Sewing for the Baby" for just a few dollars at an antiques store.  Somewhat ironically, I have never actually used any of the sewing patterns (though I keep planning to), but I've loved all the knitting patterns I've tried.  (My knitted elephants are adapted from a pattern in this book.)

Now, I've made up a sweet little layette set for an infant girl.  Both the bonnet and the sweater are really simple to knit.  I made just a few adjustments - the sweater was supposed to have a more compicated border and also some embroidery along the front edges, but I didn't feel like adding that, and the bonnet was meant to have a crocheted border around the face but I felt it detracted from the simplicity and comfort of the design.  Other than those changes though I worked both these garments as written and I think they came out really nicely! I love that the sweater doesn't involve trying to slide anything over the baby's head.  Much as I love pullovers, they're just not practical for wobbly-necked infants!  This wrap style is so much easier.

The yarn is a superwash wool and is SO SOFT.  The buttons came from my stash (specifically, the quart jar full of buttons I bought for $5 at an antiques mall.)  The whole thing knitted up in just a few days and is now available in my shop in case you have a sweet baby girl in your life who needs something warm to cuddle up in!

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Bad blogger

I really have got to be better about keeping up with this poor blog!  The trouble is I've been so busy doing blog-worthy things that I haven't had time to actually write about them.  Between custom orders and the incredible apple harvest and two weeks spent out of state my blogging time has been limited.  But I have several finished projects and a lot of pictures of jam to share with you, so hopefully we'll be back to our regularly scheduled programming very soon!

In the mean time, have some socks.  These are the latest in a long line of travelling socks, and they're for sale in the shop, should you have a need for some man-sized footgear.