Ravellenic Games 2016

It’s almost here!  The most exciting biennial, world-wide athletic competition known to man!

No, silly, not the Olympic games.

Rio-2016-Olympic-Logo-Vector-Graphic[1](Although I am excited to see some synchronized swimming and rhythmic gymnastics.)

No, I’m talking about the Ravellenic Games!

Rav-GamesThis’ll be my second time participating.  Last time (Winter 2014), I made a sweater.  It was pretty great (the sweater, not this photo).  I actually still wear it quite a bit.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

(If you’re considering taking part, join the Ravellenic Games group on Ravelry.  It’s essentially a big, friendly knit-a-long where everyone casts on at the same time (7:15 Rio time on the 5th), when the Olympic games start.  Then, you see how much you can get done before the end of the games, two weeks later.  There are a lot of rules and teams and stuff, but I plan on ignoring most of that, because I’m a rebel. Ha.)

Last time, I planned out my project weeks ahead of time, maybe even months.  This time I’m flying by the seat of my pants.  Looking at the list of “Events,” I’m thinking I might participate in the Sock-Put, the Sweater Triathalon, or the WIP Wrestling (I’ve got a stack of half-finished projects that need to be finished).  Maybe I’ll do Garment Polo- I’ve been thinking about making a cabled skirt (because apparently I want everything I wear to be cabled).

We’re going on a road trip during the Olympics, so I’ll have lots of time to knit, but I also don’t want my project to be too fiddly (I get carsick if I spend too much time looking at my knitting).  I’m thinking something with a lot of stockinette or garter stitch.

Any suggestions?  Do you think you’ll be taking part in the Ravellenic Games?  What events will you be joining?

High Five!

I finished my gloves!  Finally.

All I had to do was find four tiny buttons and sew them in place.  I didn’t even have to weave in any ends.

I guess I just get distracted easily.

Also I have about thirty-seven different projects going on at all times.  It’s a problem.  But not one I plan on fixing any time soon.

Anyway! I found four tiny mother-of-pearl buttons in the jar of buttons I inherited from my grandmother.  They’re a quarter inch across, paper-thin, and they almost match.  (They match enough for my purposes, anyway.)OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACute, right?  I love them.  If ever there were buttons that could make big, squishy, rainbow-colored gloves classy, these are them.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANow I just have to wait for it to get cool enough to wear gloves.

Have you ever had a project wait for a simple finishing touch for an unreasonably long time?

Who You Gonna Call?

GHOSTBUSTERS!

I just saw the new Ghostbusters movie, and oh my goodness!  I loved it!Melissa McCarthy;Kristen Wiig;Kate McKinnon;Leslie JonesIt was funny, and a little scary (but I’m kind of a weenie when it comes to this kind of movie), and the four Ghostbusters were totally (pardon my French) badass! They are portrayed as wildly intelligent, brave and scrappy women who don’t stop fighting for what they believe despite the entire city thinking they’re frauds. They save New York, expecting no recognition, doing it only because they know it’s the right thing to do. (And they do it with style, and some really killer (ha!) weapons.)  They’re scientists who know they’re working for the greater good (and even Patti, the only one who isn’t technically a scientist, is incredibly smart and resourceful).

Sure, it’s still rare to see women getting different, interesting roles, much less four women in the same movie, but I love that we’re starting (slowly) to move in that direction.  It’s so important for kids (boys and girls) to see that women can be just as interesting, intelligent, brave, and (sorry again) badass.

So in honor of my four newest favorite characters, let’s play imaginary dress-up.Ghostbusters-2016-02[1]Erin Gilbert, played by Kristen Wiig, is a prim-and-proper scientist.  She is an assistant professor of Physics at Columbia, up for tenure.  Unfortunately, due to her involvement with the paranormal, she not only fails to get tenure, but is booted from the university entirely, prompting her to fight ghosts full-time.  She’d totally rock this knitted blazer, especially with a blouse and a tiny bow tie.

Triangle Jacket by von Hinterem Steintriangle-hinterm-stein-_medium2[1]Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy) is also a physicyst, but she is unabashed in her study of the paranormal.  She’s been exploring the field for years, working away on the fringes of academia.  She has a less-formal wardrobe, focused on comfortable, practical pieces that are still pulled-together, like this super cute sweater.

Climb Every Mountain by Heidi Kirrmaier15439833162_7ff9e3897d_z[1]Kate McKinnon plays Jillian Holtzman, a crazy-smart (or maybe crazy and smart) nuclear physicist.  She spends her time creating amazing weapons, traps and other awesome ghost-fighting gear.  She marches to the beat of her own (slightly syncopated) drum and is unapologetically her own person.  (She might be my new hero.)  Holtzman would rock an oversized sweater like this, paring it with something unconventional, like overalls and welding goggles. (But she wouldn’t have the patience to knit it herself- not enough explosions.)

Garter Stitch Hooded Wrap by Audrey WilsonHGSW2STAR2_medium2[1]And last, but certainly not least, is Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones), a former New York MTA employee.  Patty knows just about everything about the history of the city (which comes in very handy, dealing with the undead), and is incredibly brave and surprisingly cheerful in the face of an unpleasant public and a horde of unhappy ghosts.  This adorable crocheted miniskirt (especially paired with big gold earrings and a silk bomber jacket) would be perfect for Patty’s bright, un-selfconcious style.

Mini Skirt by Jane Greencrochet-skirt-pattern_medium[1]So, who wants to say it with me?

I ain’t afraid of no ghosts!

Cephalopod

I finally finished it!

Or at least I finished the knitting part!

And, it is glorious.

My Stranger Cardigan is all knit up, and you hardly even notice that the sleeves are a different color than the rest of the sweater.

The only thing is…

I think this sweater is meant for someone with significantly more arms and legs than I have.  Perhaps an octopus.  Or maybe a cuttlefish.  Look at this bad boy!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOof!  (As a side note, finishing the last arm was a pain, to say the least-  all that sweater flapping around in my lap!  Ugh!)

But, wait, a little origami, and Hey Presto!

A sweater!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANow I’ve just got to sew up the underarms and block the bejesus about of it.

I’m so close I can taste it!

Knitting with Kids

For my “day job” I get to hang out with elementary school kids and teach them sewing and arts and crafts.  It’s kind of the best- I’m still half-surprised it’s my job.  And for a couple golden weeks each summer, I get to teach my absolute favorite class- knitting.

We have a range of ages- last week we had a dozen children from 6 to 10.  Some had knit before, and some had never even touched a knitting needle.  We started with finger knitting, letting the kids get used to playing with yarn, and getting them used to the idea of pulling loops into other loops (a surprisingly difficult concept for some of the little ones).

One girl was enjoying her finger knitting so much, she did it all week- ending up with a finger-knit tube almost 60 feet long.  She then took her finger-knitting and sewed it together in a spiral, making a multi-colored rug that she was really proud of.  WP_20160715_10_26_08_ProWhen a kid gets bored of finger knitting (which most do), we move on to loom knitting with the Knifty Knitter.  I am completely in favor of the Knifty Knitter now- a position I would never have taken even a ouple years ago.  What I once thought of as “cheating,”  I now see for what it is: a way for kids (or anyone, really) who don’t quite have the motor skills to actually knit.

The kids this year made adorable hats (with pompoms), fingerless gloves, bags, and even a tiny hedgehog stuffed animal.  (This is a glove in progress:)WP_20160715_10_26_14_ProAnd every class, we get a kid or two who wants to try their hand at “stick knitting.”  This year 9 of our 13 students broke out their needles.  It was a record!

There is nothing more adorable than a whole classroom of kids, needles clicking, concentrating on their projects and chatting about whatever it is that kids chat about.  (I wanted to take a picture to share with you, but I figured their parents might have reservations about having their kids pictures up on the internet.  So, you can look at my student’s knitting project- her second ever!  I believe it ended up being a very small pot holder.)WP_20160715_10_26_24_ProHave you ever knit with kids?  How did it go?

Favorites

Everyone has their favorite patterns.  My favorites are well documented:

Baby Surprise Jacket by Elizabeth ZimmermanOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHitchhiker by Martina Behm

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAApparently I have a thing for garter stitch. Who knew?

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I get into a bit of a rut when it comes to patterns.  I keep falling back on my favorites- evergreen patterns that I cast on time and again.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing better than working up a friendly old pattern, one you know like the back of your hand and you’re sure is going to give you reliable, fantastic results.

But sometimes you want to try something new.

So, here’s my question for you:

What are your all-time favorite patterns?  What’s a pattern that you turn to again and again?  And why do you love it so much?

I’d love to hear from you, and if I get enough comments, maybe we can have a whole post next week about your favorite patterns!  I’m excited! I always love finding a great new pattern!

Wearable Art

We had friends visiting over the weekend (Hi friends!), and we dragged them all over Seattle.  We had lunch at Pike Place, we explored local parks, and ate and drank our way across the city.

And we visited the EMP, a weird pop-culture museum in the shadow of the Space Needle.  It’s full of movie and music memorabilia.  It’s an odd collection, but a pretty fun way to spend the afternoon.  (Want to see Princess Buttercup’s gowns from The Princess Bride?  A collection of phasers from Star Trek?  Nirvana’s old set lists?  Then the EMP is the place for you.)

This summer, the EMP is hosting a traveling show of “clothes” from the World of WearableArt Awards Show.   This show/competition is apparently held every fall in New Zealand, and now I need to visit New Zealand.

The “clothes” are only clothes in the sense that you could put a person inside of them.  They’re really wearable sculptures made out of plastic, leather, metal, wood and every other imaginable material.  They’re truly stunning.  If you ever get a chance to see the exhibition, definitely take advantage.  It’s really amazing.

One piee particularly piqued my interest, and (surprise, surprise), it featured wool.WP_20160711_16_20_21_ProThis is “Totally Sheepish”, by Sarah Peacock (whose website I couldn’t find, so if you can find more information about her, I’d love to see it.)

OK, it’s a little weird, but look at the craftsmanship!  Most of the wool for this piece was harvested from the artist’s pet sheep, High Jump, and processed by hand.  Some was spun into yarn, which was then knit and crocheted.  The teardrops were wet felted, and the corrugated pieces woven around the waist were hot-molded (a process that I don’t know much about).WP_20160711_16_19_50_ProCan you imagine all the work that must have gone into making this thing?!  It must have taken months and months, maybe even years.

Be sure to check out the WOW website, or just Google the World of WearableArt to see the amazing creations.  And if you happen to be in New Zeland in October, go to the show and tell me all about it!

OK. New Plan.

I’ve finally got my act together.   I’ve sulked long enough, and I think I figured out a solution.  I think I can make this sweater work.  I’ll live to knit another day.

But first, I had to rip an entire sleeve.  It was… an unfortunate amount of ripping.   I poured myself a nice stiff drink and went to town.

God… look how different that yarn is.  (New yarn is on the right, old, scraggly yarn is on the left.)OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI remembered someone telling me, or maybe reading somewhere (not sure where… I just know I didn’t make this up), that if you had two different dye lots that you had to make work, you can work them in stripes to blend the two colors together.  It was worth a shot.

First I tried 2-row stripes, but that ended up looking really stripey.  (I didn’t even bother taking a picture of this one- it didn’t look good.)

But, when I tried narrow, 1-row stripes, I managed to get a pretty even color.  And, since I’m using a big circular needle, I can slide the needle back and forth after every other row.  That means I don’t have to break my yarn or juggle extra balls of yarn!  Winning!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASee?  The sleeve (the bottom portion of the picture) is pretty close to the rest of the sweater.  It’s still a smidge blue-ish in real life, but only so much that someone looking really closely would notice it.

The only problem is that the combination of new yarn and old, frogged yarn makes the fabric a bit of a mess.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABut at this point, I’m just going to cross my fingers and hope that it looks OK after blocking.

Have you ever had to get creative to get around poor dye-lot matching?

Inspiration: Cheering Up

I got some pretty cruddy news today, and I find myself in a bit of a funk.  (Don’t worry, I’m not dying or anything, just disappointed.)  So, what’s a girl in my position to do?  Nothing productive, surely.  That would make too much sense.

I know, I’ll go trolling through my Ravelry Queue.

I’m sure you’re Queue looks like mine… hundreds of random patterns you’ve collected over the years, half of which you don’t even remember adding.  But, the one thing they all have in common is that they are all patterns I like.

So, in an effort to cheer me up, let’s look at pretty patterns from my queue.

This sweater has apparently been on my Queue since 2009.  I still love it, seven years later.  I’d wear the heck out of this cardigan- a zipper, stripes, and a hood?  It’s like it was designed for me.  Love it!  (Actually knitting it up, with all those stripes… all those ends… *shiver*)

Staccato by Kristen Kapur

2458554061_dfe8208157_z[1]This little wisp of a shawl is too beautiful for words.  But I’ll try anyway.  I don’t think I’d ever actually wear it (I don’t think it’d go too well with jeans and flannel), but it’s so pretty, I kind of want to make it.  Don’t you just love the way they incorporated the corner increases into a lace pattern.  I’ve tried to design something similar, and it’s not as easy as it sounds.

Growing Flowers by Mia Rindejan_2012_224_medium2[1]These little girls are just too cute, too.  And!  They have teeny tiny clothes!  Little dresses, skirts, sweaters, and shawls.  I could just eat them up.  Delightful!

Mary, Millie, and Morgan by Susan B. AndersonDSC_8359_medium2[1]I’ve loved this sweater since last year when I saw a whole table of ladies wearing them at a knitting conference.  It’s just the cutest, with perfect 3/4-length sleeves and a hem that falls at the natural waist, perfect for paring with full, 50’s-style skirts.  And those cables!  Just adorable.  Someday, Chuck, you will be mine.

Chuck by Andi Satterlundchuck01_medium2[1]Well, I’m feeling a bit better already.  There’s something very calming about scrolling through pages of beautiful patterns.  Ahhh…

Do you have an out-of-control Ravelry Queue, too?  Do you have any favorite patterns stashed away for “someday”?

Heartbreak

I’m completely heartbroken.  My hopes have been dashed.  My best plans of a simple, fun, and easy sweater are completely falling apart.

My yarn came in the mail.  (Actually it came in the mail a few weeks ago, but I was so disappointed, I threw it into the closet and pretended it hadn’t showed up yet.)  Usually new yarn is a source of joy, but ugh…

Look:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOK, it’s kind of hard to see in a photo, but take a closer look:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe ball of yarn on the left is the new yarn- it’s significantly more blue-gray.  And the half-finished sweater is on the right- it’s a lovely pink-y lavender.

I know they look pretty similar in these photos (it’s been established my photography skills are lacking), but in real life, they’re significantly different.  Even my husband commented.  I’ve got the whole sweater finished with the old yarn, except for the left sleeve.  I can’t have a sweater with one different color arm!

This, boys and girls, is why you buy all your yarn at once.

Now I’m going to go drink a lot of coffee and come up with a plan.