The Amazing Adventures of Tom and Bel

Friday, February 25, 2005

32 Flavors

13 and entirely too fond of blue eyeshadow. (Don't worry- I learned.)

Just a quick post, as I'll be spending my birthday (indeed, the whole weekend) at the Twin Cities Food & Wine Experience.
I hope to squeeze in some knitting, as the Flower basket Shawls need to get done; I'm ready to move on to the next project. The striping from shawl to shawl is going well, though:

More of the FBS. Color's much nicer in person.

And finally, a quick view from the window of my office:

Minneapolis bleak. I'm so over winter. Let the spring begin!

Thursday, February 24, 2005

A New Hope

Thank you all for the kind comments about my wedding skirt and the good vibes for my family, all of which are much appreciated. It is going to be a tough row to hoe, as they say, but I am convinced we will come out stronger on the other side.
This is not just me being a Pollyanna - those of you who know me in RealLife(TM) know that I am what might be termed "emotional" if one is being kind. ;-D
And I admit that there is some despair and sadness over the storms in both my and the Boy-O's family.
But I do believe as well that there is always hope. Especially when there are days and sweet faces like this one.

Our new cousin: William Thomas. Everybody now: "Awwww..."

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

When I say "happy," you say "birthday!"

We interrupt your regularly scheduled blog to bring you breaking news: the arrival of presents* for me!
Yes, boys & girls, the Mom-O, queen of gift-giving occasions, has struck again.

The loot:

One adorable crocheted purse, some of which was worked under my very nose!
It is the perfect size to hold keys, my make up and a small knitting project.
What else does a girl need?
I plan to carry with me at tomorrow evening's work-related event (fancy restaurant).

Cute little sweater shaped DPN holders. Who even knew they made these? (Don't answer.
I am so behind the times.)
These babies were put to work immediately:

I love these. As soon as I find the rest of my dpns, they too will be corralled. Thanks, Jeanne!
(especially for the many sticky toffee pudding recipes included in my present!)

Much of my day was spent in transit. The results below:

Flower Basket Shawl progress...

Because these skeins aren't even remotely matching (despite being from the same dye lot), I have chosen to stripe the shawls: 10 rows in one skein, then 10 in the next. This should spread the colors out nicely. So far it's coming out wonderfully, and I am enjoying the speedy progress on these. Can't wait to start blocking them, though: they look like little bundled up knots!

*Does it mean you're working too much if you forgot that your 32nd birthday is rapidly approaching?

Monday, February 21, 2005

My Heart Belongs To...

My darling Boy-O, who not only watched my favorite movie in the whole world with me, but took pictures of his future bride in her shiny new wedding skirt!!!

Ignore the dirty slippers (gotta get me a clean pair of these for the actual walk down the aisle)and focus on the amazing fact that I am DONE with possibly the most massive piece of knitting ever!
(In the interest of Full Disclosure, I should say that it's not totally done, as I still need to finish off the waistband area. I am waiting until the end of March to do so, however - the diet is progressing nicely and I don't want to have to make the adjustments more than once.)

Below is a nice shot of the lace pattern:

Ready for our closeup, Mr DeMille...

My dear sister wondered why I have chosen butter and chartreuse as our wedding colors. We were inspired by this lovely MS cover shot from last June...

... and decided it looked so pretty and fresh, we would go for it.
In that same vein, and because I need commuter knitting, I started the gifts for my best ladies (no maids at the Casa de Boy-O):

That is the beginning of a Flower Basket Shawl. Inspired by the lovely Stephanie (aka Yarn Harlot), I think I've found the perfect use for these unmatched skeins of Nature Wool.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Just a Quickie

One of the strangest things about being on the Internet is the change it makes in your language. Particularly the prodigious use of acronyms that haven't anything to do with what they refer to. As knitters, of course, we frequently refer to "frogging," "HALFPINTs", S.A.B.L.E. and S.E.X. *

I am thinking about this because I recently caved in to all the peer pressure and ordered a small bit of the KnitPicks yarn to check it out - since it wasn't much, I guess that makes this particular round of SEX a quickie?

In any case, here's the goods. I'll report on the test drive when I've more time.

The 2nd picture is a much more accurate representation of the colors (thank you, my clever, clever Boy-O, for explaining the concept of the F-stop), but you can see the texture a bit more in the first one.
The green is Andean Silk - so far, feels really lovely. I am enjoying fondling the skein in between rounds of the Skirt That Will Not Die. I only ordered a couple of skeins to check it out before committing to a man-sized project - I want to make something really soft for my fella with this (he's sensitive, bless him).

The carroty orange (a new color for me, but lately I've been obsessing about it) is Wool of the Andes - feels sturdy and practical. I suspect I will enjoy this a lot. Ordered 8 skeins for me; may become a slim fitting cardi.

And I also ordered 8 skeins of the Merino Style in Storm. Ooh. This is no Maratona (or Jaeger Extra Fine Merino, Julia), but it does feel quite soft. I stuck a bit of it down the shirt to see if the skin reacted and so far so good. Will likely become a sleeveless turtle pour moi.

In other news, my first Color Knitting class went quite well. We made funky, stripy wrist warmers and everyone seemed to really enjoy playing with the colors. One of the students even got around to practicing duplicate st (she's a continental knitter, so she's quite the speedy one).
The craziest thing though: in spite of the fact that we're in Mpls, everyone was either originally from Chicago or had a very strong connection to it. There was lots of gabbing and enjoyment of that fact (not to mention reminiscing about the fast food. Mmmm... Demon Dogs.)
I'm very much looking forward to tomorrow's session - we're starting Fair Isle!

* Frogging - unraveling one's knitting ("Rip it, rip it")
HALFPINT - not Laura Ingalls Wilder, but a sweater you lust after, but are too busy to make ( Have a Lovely Fantasy Project, I've No Time).
SABLE - Stash Acquisition Beyond Life Expectancy
SEX - Acquiring Yarn, usu. on a yarn shop crawl (Stash Enhancement eXpedition)

Friday, February 18, 2005

Bitter much?

This has been a spectacularly unhappy week for me.
Workwise, I am mega-stressed (I'm solely responsible for a huge, huge event for the first time), dietwise, I'm hanging on by the skin of my teeth (waiting desperately to be done with this first, super-strict phase of the plan), and trying to finish off the details of long-distance wedding planning is challenging, to say the least.
And now, this morning, I was disappointed to learn that my latest design submission was rejected and devastated to learn that my step-dad is having major medical drama.
If you pray, pray for us. If not, send whatever good vibes you can our way - we need them!

But! This is my KNITTING blog. And knitting makes me joyful when I am happy, and soothes me when I am sad. So, on with the show!

Happiness in a ring. Hmm...symbolic?

This little beauty is from Viking Knits. I have long admired Elsebeth Lavold's genius in figuring this stuff out, and I'm very excited about using this in a design.

Diamonds & purls (and why do I hear Prince singing in the background?)

I swatched this little brocade pattern for a trim, a la Elizabeth I by Alice Starmore, but don't find it substantial enough for my needs. I will actually use a single repeat of King Charles Brocade (BW I, p. 31) in its stead.
The Skirt Which Will Not Die (note: I really do love it - I'm just bored and want to be finished) is a mere three skeins from completion, and I even think I will have some yarn left over. Can't wait to start this next project!

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Happily Hooking

The last few days have been extremely busy with my day job, so very little crafting has been done. A few rows here and there on the Skirt That Will Not Die, some swatching and measuring for the top to go with it (pictures soon!) , but mostly working on the stuff that pays the rent.

However, I am rediscovering a skill I've neglected for too long.

Patons Classic Merino in Paprika. I am really starting to like this "non-orange" shade of orange.

Challenged by a friend of mine, I figured I'd see if I still remembered how to crochet.
Wonder of wonders, it came back in a flash. I am unreasonably pleased with myself.

Crochet vs Knitting: I learned both crafts around the same time, but knitting was always more my "thing." At the time I began my fiber explorations, most everything was written for right-handers, so learning to reverse it all was difficult. Another huge factor was that there were much more fashionable resources available for knitting, and the bulk of the crocheted items I saw were just that: bulky and old-fashioned. I didn't really want to make doilies or TP covers then (although that may have changed - have you seen this?), so I became almost exclusively a knitter.

Later in my knitting career, I got a hold of a *fabulous* special issue from Vogue Knitting that I still love - if you can find it, do pick it up. And not long after there were great new books like Melissa Leapman's Crochet with Style - for my money, it's still one of the best for wearable crocheted garments. Nowadays, of course, many more resources are becoming available.
Yet it's still a skill I rarely exercise.
So I decided it's going to be my new Crafty Grrl resolution - make better use of the other skills I've got! Should be fun.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Bridezilla rides again!

REALIZING to my complete and utter horror that I have less than 60 (sixty!) days to go before my wedding, I have been cruising along on project #2. The results to date are below:

The stockinette bit at the top will likely be cut off and redone in ribbing - I've lost a few lbs and need it tighter (yay!)...

This soon-to-be skirt is Classic Elite's Zoom, which I picked up from Elann a while back (Oh! How I love them!) in the Ostrich Plumes pattern.
It will be worn with a cream colored top that's mostly plain, and will cover the stockinette in any case.
Here's a better shot of the lace pattern:

This stuff has been a bear to knit lace with, but darn it all, I couldn't resist using one of my favorite patterns for what, I'm sure, will be my favorite day ever. No matter if the cake falls flat, or the band forgets the songs, or the groom doesn't show (ooh. wait. I may be lying about that last part!) , at the end of the day, we'll still be married. Ah, the joy.

Thursday, February 10, 2005


ONE of my favorite pastimes is cruising when the spring and fall shows are happening, to get a sense of what's out there (and how far out it is) in the world of fashion. I certainly don't have a couture budget, but I've got a heck of an imagination and I can easily see which details catch my fancy (and can be adapted to knitting).

I will always love Anna Sui's ragamuffin chic styles even if I'd drop myself from a cliff before I put any of it on. Her use of color is nothing short of inspirational, and leads me to combinations I never expected to enjoy. Monique Lhuillier is becoming a veritable force of nature with her stunning evening wear (she's got a rose colored lace dress that is particularly sexy - imagine a simple tank in a soft merino like Jaeger Extrafine or Rowan 4ply Soft and a stockinette-based lace pattern that's not too open -- ooh la la!).

So my suggestion to those of you who don't think you can design is to try fishing for ideas amongst the kings and queens of fashion. Frequently, a little piece of an idea is all it takes to send you off on your own journey, fashioning something that is uniquely your own.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Wishin' and hopin' and plannin' and schemin'

JUST in case anyone reading yesterday thought I was kidding about the short pants:

Baby Boy-O. Awww...

Yeah. He really was that cute. (Heh.)

Since pictures of the wedding project [2 of 4 - ack] would just look like more of the same (and believe me, it feels like it, too), I will instead share a hint about the next project in the queue:
Imagine a bit of this crossed with a dash of this, and add a smidgen of this.
Look interesting? More to come...

And finally, since the blog is named for the little beasties, I leave you with this amazing, shocking, never-gonna-happen-again-cause-they-are-perpetual-motion-machines-shot:

Blissfully sleeping puppers...

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Greedy Grrls

IN an attempt to add some order to the chaos that is our office, I've started cataloging my stash and matching it up with projects I'd like to make. This process, while of great practical value, has the unfortunate side effect of providing clarity on something I've denied for a while now.

I have A Lot of Yarn. A Whole Lot.

This Whole Lot of Yarn is understandable, as I've been knitting since the Boy-O was in short pants.

Not counting my active WIP, there are 10 sweaters and four pairs of socks to which I am committed. Then there are four other potential sweaters I've matched up with stash yarn.
This does not count the insane significant number of patterns that don't have yarn attached. Nor does it count the summer stuff - this is strictly fall/winter wear.

However, it begs the question of how long it's going to take me to knit up all of this yarn. And that, my friends, is too scary to contemplate.

Almost as scary as the fact that I seriously feel the need for more yarn.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Who you callin' loose?

SO what's a girl to do when she's got entirely too much to do?
Why, join another knitalong, of course!

The adorable Kitten has started a Crafster knitalong for this sweater from Berroco's free patterns page. Possessing both the original pattern book and (gasp!) enough of the actual SensuWool that the pattern was written for, I blithely cast on for a sleeve on my 4.5 mm (US7) needles.
I knit a few rows before I realized that this sleeve was Not Going to Fit - my gauge was 6 sts to the inch. Doing a quick mental calculation (for every st/in I want to add, I should drop down two needle sizes) led me to this:

Yeah. Sure you need a #7. Right.

That swatch, which is coming out exactly to gauge? US2s.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

De plane! Deplane!

IF I were to be stranded on a desert island (a la Julia's supposition), the thing I would want most would be to hear the voice of Hervé Villechaize saying those sweet, sweet words. Failing that, I will play along with her Desert Island Yarn Game:

Julia says: First, you must create categories from the yarn you currently have in your stash (or, if you have some restraint, would like to have - ha!)
Hmmm. Like Julia, I divide by fiber. My categories would be:
  • Wool
  • Wool blends
  • Merino Wool (yes, this is separate - trust me)
  • Mohair blends
  • Alpaca
  • Alpaca blends
  • Cotton
  • Cotton blends
  • Linen
  • Acrylic
  • Unusual fibers (lurex, rayon, soy silk, etc.)
  • Novelty yarns
Julia: Once you've gotten the categories in place, choose the ones you feel you cannot go without. This should be a small number. Mine is six. Aim for five, but if you really have to, you can have seven categories.

Remember to take some thought. These may or may not be your favorite categories, but they are the ones you would really need to do a full array of seasonal knitting. (Or maybe not - maybe your Desert Island is in the tundra - it can happen - DC seems to have broken off from the Mid-Atlantic and floated substantially northward.) Categories may be yarn-driven as well. If you have a single yarn in a category that you can't live without, it may push the category to Desert Island status. Choose wisely.

Okay, it's getting a little tougher, but not impossible.
My absolute must have categories include:
  • Merino (favorite, would run over small children in the street for this)
  • Wool (2nd favorite)
  • Cotton (I love summer too much not to include this)
  • Alpaca (this is just plain sexy)
  • Acrylic (variety means me too)
  • Mohair blends (yarn-specific lust)
Julia again: Now, within each category, you must choose no more than five different yarns that you feel are your absolute favorites to work with - either for the great feeling you get from the process or from the effects they produce.
  • Merino: Patons Classic, Lana Grossa Cool Wool 2000, Rowan 4 Ply Soft, Koigu PPPM, Baruffa Maratona
  • Wool: Beaverslide Dry Goods, Bendigo Woolen Mills Rustic, Bendigo Woolen Mills Colonial, Araucania Nature Wool, Noro Kureyon
  • Alpaca: Inca Alpaca, Bendigo Woolen Mills, Inca Tops (this is actually blended w/silk)
  • Cotton: Tahki Cotton Classic, Schachenmayr Catania
  • Cotton blends: Cascade Fixation, Berroco Cotton Twist, Dale Svale, Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece
  • Mohair blends: Mountain Colors Mountain Goat, Brown Sheep Handpaint Originals, Oak Grove Yarns
Julia's final instructions: Finally, you must choose only one yarn in each category that you would have to have on your Desert Island. This is tough, and you may have to subdivide categories to do it. Just remember - aim for five, no more than seven. (If you can get by on four, I'll be really impressed.)

Oh, crap. This is where it gets hard. Evilly hard. Death by a thousand paper cuts hard.
Here goes:
Merino: I love all of these yarns, and having to choose between them is like choosing between carrot cake (with generous spices and real cream cheese frosting) and death by chocolate cake (you know the one - it's deep chocolate with frosting that's even more chocolate and covered in molten chocolate). Ai ai ai. If I could put variegated merino in a subdivision, there would be Koigu, no question: the incredibly rich colorways and buttery texture.
Otherwise, for a basic merino yarn, Maratona has the edge. It is soothingly soft, yet makes cables and textured stitches "pop." It can be worked at worsted or DK gauges, which extends its usefullness.
It is the first yarn I ever loved.

Wool: Though I am unreasonably obsessed with/enamoured of Nature Wool (the subtle variegation thrills me too much for my own good), this category goes to the Australians (Bendigo's Colonial). It has a classic, cabled construction, comes in three weights (5-, 8- and 12-ply) , a surprisingly good selection of colors and shows off textures like nobody's business. The ultimate cabled sweater yarn.

Alpaca: Here, Classic Elite has the edge. It's is quite soft; I always want to pet it whenever I walk by. The Bendigo is sturdy and lovely, but I think I prefer Elite's color range.

Cotton: Cotton Classic truly is that. The ridiculous number of colors and the shimmery glow entrance me every time. You just can't run out of things to try with this yarn, and it does everything well - lace, cables, whatever you throw at it.

Cotton blends: I love love love Svale - it is so soft and subtle. But then there's Cotton Twist - the rayon component gives it a shimmer and drape unmatched by other yarns. I have to give the barest edge to Berroco, for the better color range.

Mohair blends: No contest here: Mountain Colors rocks my knitting world. This yarn is soft, resilent and makes me glow when I get to work with it. A real splurge, but it knits up into something you want to wear forever.

So there you have it. Whew! That was entirely too difficult - I want all the yarn with me if I'm desert island-ed!

In other news, I'm back to wedding knitting -- and still wondering if I'm insane to even attempt it. Progress can be seen below:

Random bits of bulky alpaca lace. Know what it is?

Does this help?

Thursday, February 03, 2005

I's Got the Button!

A superquick post to publicly thank the lovely and talented Eklectika for creating a button for the Delphine Along:

Whoo-hoo! Sidebar-age!
Please copy to your blog's server as needed/wanted/desired.

I had to convert the file to a jpg for Blogger, but it is meant to be a GIF. Once I remembered (ok, once the Boy-O reminded me) of how to do this, i had to put out my other favorite button as well.

I think that says it all...don't you?

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Click and Drung

Rather than bore y'all with photos of cream colored stockinette swatches, here's my preliminary idea for the Delphine Along:

The beginnings of an idea...

As you can see, the princess pullover is my primary inspiration (and the more alert among you will notice that this was drawn in PPT, 'cause I'm allergic to pens). For the moment, I'm planning a slightly higher neckline than in the original, different cables, and ribbing all down the sides rather than just at the waist, and with the possible addition of a lace insert down the sleeves.
All subject to change, depending on my knitting/whims/how my body changes over the next month or so.
(I'm getting married in April - eek! - and of course am beginning to realize that the size I am at the moment may not be the size I want to be at that time. So it's back to the Fat Flush for me!)

Comments? (About the sweater, darlings, not the diet!)

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Throwing Down the Gauntlet

Whoo-hoo! Claudia and Ginx are in on the Delphine-Along, which means it must be madness the coolest idea I've had yet.
I'd love to see Aubergine on this list as well - I bet a manly interpretation of Wilson's work would be stunning and clever in his capable hands.

Since I had yesterday off, I spent a good deal of time clicking through images from Delphine Wilson's web site to identify what elements, specifically were calling to to me.
I came up with these four:

Please note: These images are all copy right Delphine Wilson & her photog(s).
They do not belong to me, and I am using them only for my own instruction.

The elements that strike me are as follows:
1) Upper left: The wrapped sleeve is fiendishly clever. I adore this and must try it.
2) Upper right: The two-tone raglan is subtle and sexy, all at once.
Note that since the double decrease begins mid chest, the lower edge would not pointed, but the mock turtleneck does dip into a vee.
3) Lower left: Subtle shaping, romantic cuffs and dropped sts. I have been playing around with these in some things I've been desigining lately , and I think they add a beautiful decorative accent that is sexy without being risque (we'll just leave that to the plunging neckline, eh?).
4) Lower right: This bodice plays into every princess fantasy I've ever had. I love the ribbed square neckline*, the neat short-row sleeve caps, and the gorgeous cables.

There are other fabulous items (A red cardigan that is too lush to be believed, for starters), but these were the ones that seemed like I could finish this year most resonated with me. The princess pullover will probably be my starting point.
I have about 1300 yds of natural colored alpaca that should work perfectly. Hmmm...I'll be swatching tonight.

*Also one of my favorite things to design - I hate crewnecks.