Friday, April 27, 2007

7.5 minutes.

I love how knitting blogs sometimes find their way into news stories about the upsurge in blogging. Nancy (of Beekeeper Granddaughter's fame) recently was quoted in her local newspaper about her take on the whole matter. And guess what? I piggybacked on her 15 minutes of fame! The reporter used one of my comments on Nancy's post about the White Sox to demonstrate the kind of lively dialogue that goes on, I suppose. So maybe that would really be only, like, 3.25 minutes of fame for me, huh? Paris Hilton better watch her back.

Now that the semester's winding down to a close, I've finally had a chance to break out my sewing machine, which has been collecting dust in a corner. Occasionally, I'd give it longing looks as I typed away at a conference paper (three conferences this semester! total madness!). Since I'd already cut out the pieces for this dress, I decided to spend the better portion of last weekend sewing it together:

Reading Erin's posts about the Duro dress on Dress a Day was like experiencing subliminal persuasion. (This may possibly be the first post that got that bandwagon going.) Every time I'd read one, I'd go, ooh, pretty dress. Oooh, pretty dress. Must make that dress. Must make that dress now.

Like the good little follower that I am, I picked up the McCall's version next time Joann's was having a sale. I thought it might be nice in cotton, but because I don't listen to my instincts and instead read the pattern envelope, I bought some rayon challis on clearance for the body, as well as the silky blue fabric.

If I were to make this again, it would definitely be in cotton. There's a whole lotta fabric in this dress, and the rayon definitely adds some weight. (In fact, if I had turned sideways in these shots, I'd bear a striking resemblance to Lady Bracknell!)

Overall, I'm pleased with the way it turned out; I think this is probably my most involved project yet, although it wasn't technically that difficult. Just a whole bunch of steps you have to get through, what with all the pieces (the sash ties in the back, but it's not all one's actually five).

I did have a crisis moment when I attached the bottom band and tried it on. It was waaay too long, and almost fell around my ankles! It was one a.m., but I was determined to not wake up in the morning with this project still cluttering my kitchen table.

I ripped out the bottom band (which I'd spent two painstaking hours blindstitching by hand), cut it in half, and then just machine sewed it back on. The stitching is sloppy, but you can't see it unless you're up close (and if you're that close, what the heck are you doing hanging around down there anyway???).

So, guess what I saw in the dumpster outside my house this morning?

Weird, huh? Although it does make me sad to see abandoned afghans, I do stop short of picking them out of the garbage. But even more than that, I just want to know how the heck it got there! And why is it draped over the top instead of being stuffed in? Is this some drive-by fiber art installation?

Monday, April 23, 2007

New socks.

While a lot of procrastinating goes on at Chez Yo La Tejo, some things do manage to get done.

Pattern: Madder Rib Socks from Knitting Vintage Socks
Yarn: Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock (I forget the exact name of the colorway, but it was something like China Blue, or China Stripes)
Needles: Size 1

Yay! Socks for me! After knitting three pairs of socks for other people, I finally decided to put some on the needles for myself. Selfishly, I've decided not to join Sockapalooza this year, simply because I want to knit stuff for me (and the occasional baby blanket for a new niece). Besides, my confidence in knitting something to fit a stranger who can't try on as I go took a hit last year; my sockpal never posted a modeled shot, leading me to believe that she probably couldn't get them on over her heel, but was too nice to say so.

As I've posted before, this is the yarn I originally started Jaywalkers with. I hated the pooling, ripped the sock, and then settled on a simple rib pattern, which shows the colors to much better advantage.

I knit the socks exactly to the pattern, and am not entirely pleased with the extremely pointy toe (I think Nancy Bush calls this the Star Toe). You need to stop knitting the ribbing about three inches below where you want the sock to end, which means that on my small foot, the ribbing ends about halfway up the instep. Also, the square heel doesn't lie flat, really, and kind of pulls down the heel (you can see this in the picture if you look closely).

Who cares? Ill fitting or not, I love them to pieces. Sadly, they will have to get tucked away for next winter, since it's flip flop weather here already. Don't hate! :-)

I leave you with a clip from Angel that makes me giggle every time I watch it (I think I'm only on my fifteenth view). I switched to Angel after my crack dealer friend with every Buffy season on DVD couldn't find the fourth season to loan me. In desperation, I told her I'd take the first season of Angel. I don't like it as much, but find myself developing a huge crush on the brooding, tortured vampire. (Brooding? Tortured? What's not to love?) Which are the qualities that make this video such a hoot.

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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Momma's got a brand new bag.

Meg asked me to post a picture of the sweet little purse I got at Lord & Taylor in Boston. Here's my beloved new Le Sportsac. (Apologies for the crappy cell phone pics.)

My ex-roomie Jennifer will attest to the fact that I adore bags with lots and LOTS of pockets. The more the better, and this one has two on the front, one on the back, and two main compartments. AND. It comes with a cosmetic pouch. Bonus! What could be better? Turns out, it's the perfect size for a sock knitting bag:

This is my Madder Rib sock (from Knitting Vintage Socks) in progress...actually, it's the second sock in the pair. Almost done! The yarn is the Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock that I was knitting my fugly Jaywalkers with. Ugh. Can you believe I got all the way to the toe on the first Jaywalker, and ripped it out? I had it on my foot, and my antipathy toward it--toward the striping, toward the blotchy pooling--was just so visceral that I clawed it off and immediately frogged it.

But now. Sigh. This is so much better. It's clear this yarn was meant for a sock with fewer stitches (60 as opposed to 75, or whatever the Jaywalker calls for). The pooling is now pretty and regular. So happy with it!

For today's post, I thought I'd throw in some random Latino-themed content, because after all, this is a Latina knitting blog, y'all:

* Did you all see this adorable Mexican dress pattern on the Craft blog? I've been wanting to make one of these for myself for the longest time!

* Jennifer and I went to Helena Maria Viramontes's book reading here in Austin on Sunday. I can actually start a gallery now of my close encounters with my favorite authors!

She's got a new book out, called Their Dogs Came With Them, which is about East Los Angeles during the 1960s, the process of razing that neighborhood in order to build the freeways, and the people who were displaced and forgotten.

* Have you seen how beautiful Madonna's daughter Lourdes, aka Lola, has become? It makes me irrationally happy to see that she also looks like a straight-up Latina (she's half, of course).

* And here's some Ricky Martin unplugged to make you irrationally happy. His cheese factor may have gone up with his English-language crossover, but when he sings in Spanish, he is nothing but pure, distilled hotness.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Baby blanket bingo.

Thanks to everyone who commented on my last post with opinions and advice about the baby blanket I've decided to make for my new niece, who'll be arriving in July. The last option, which is called "Lullaby," was the overwhelming favorite, and truth be told, it was my favorite too. It combines lace with garter ridge scallops, and looks like it has the right amount of heft.

And it's in worsted weight for a faster knit, so how can you go wrong? Ashley suggested Valley Yarns Longmeadow (from WEBS), so that's a contender. I'm also looking at another time-tested cotton/acrylic blend...Cotton-Ease, of course. I don't know that I've actually seen it in the stores since Lion Brand brought it back out of retirement, but I've been planning a trip to JoAnn's or Michael's to check out yarns for this blanket, so maybe I'll see it then.

While in Boston last week for a conference, I was able to sneak in a yarn store visit. Hooray! The conference was at the Marriott Copley Place, so the first thing I did when I checked into my hotel was to fire up the laptop and google for yarn stores. I found three that looked pretty close, but Newbury Yarns, at 164 Newbury Street, turned out to be a felicitous stone's throw from the Marriott. I checked into the conference, walked over to Lord and Taylor and scored the cutest Le Sportsac purse on sale to hold all my conference paraphernelia, and then wandered over to the LYS.

When I walked in, a mother and daughter were chatting with the salesperson, so I contented myself with stroking the Malabrigo. When they left, I struck up a lovely conversation with the salesperson, whose name is Meg, and totally geeked out on the sock she was making from Cherry Tree Hill yarn. I mentioned that I was making a Jaywalker with Lorna's Laces and hated the pooling; she mentioned other Jaywalkers she'd made, so I knew she was part of the tribe. Y'all know. I asked her if she read blogs, and she said she did, and she asked me if I had one, and you can imagine the rest.

I was thinking of buying some sock yarn, but surprisingly their selection had been pretty well picked over (Meg surmised that the sock she was knitting inspired people to buy out the sock yarn section--good sales strategy!). So I bought some sweet cherry-colored Malabrigo (it's actually called Geranium) and happily trooped back to the conference hotel and checked out a panel on vampires (um, it was a pop culture conference, natch.)

Well, when I got back to the hotel, I surfed over to Meg's blog, Nepenthe's Misadventures, and discovered that she's the designer of the Shimmer socks in last month's MagKnits! So cool! I decided that I would knit her Bramble scarf pattern with the Malabrigo I bought, so that it could be a true memento of my Boston trip.

I also finally finished the Monica top for my 5 year old niece:

Pattern: Monica, from Spring 2007 Knitty
Yarn: Lion Brand Cotton-Ease (stash leftovers)
Needle size: 8

This was a super easy, super fast knit. I knit it in a worsted weight, because that's what I had, so I followed the directions for the smallest size and got the medium size's measurements. I thought I would be clever and make the straps adjustable by sewing buttons on them and making buttonholes. Now I'm not convinced that the straps will hold up because, let's face it, a top knit in worsted weight is a pretty heavy top. Elizabeth just made the same top (in almost the same colors, too!) but she knit long cords for spaghetti straps, so that they can just be tied. I like this idea better.

Also, my garter ridges on the hems are thicker because the pattern instructions confused me. If it tells you to start knitting stockinette on the wrong side, does that mean you knit a purl row? Apparently so. I knit a knit row. Oh, well.

Here's another FO:

It may seem like I'm knocking 'em out, but this was a really fast knit--it's the Trendsetter Swing yarn I bought in Memphis for my friend V., who picked it out. It's just a garter stitch scarf done the long way, and by holding together the Swing with some Lana Grossa Baby Kid Extra. Together, they made the softest scarf ever, and with the green garter rows, it reminded me of spring flowers on a vine.

It cheered me up over the Easter weekend, which was full of nasty rain and sleet here in Austin. But, warmer weather has come back, and I hope it's here to stay!

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

New kid on the block.

Here's a little secret I've been keeping from you all...I'm going to be an auntie! Again! If you've been reading for a while you're well aware of the fact that I have a lovely about-to-be-5-year-old niece, Isabel. Well, she is about to become a sister! And is very excited and proud of that fact, too. If you ask me, she's the perfect age to be a big sister; she's ready to give up her throne as the baby in the family, and hopefully will be less likely to be jealous.

I don't think I gave up my baby throne so easily when my sister came along. My mother likes to remind me that I was still very much attached to my bottle at the old age of three. I distinctly remember her showing me my bottle, telling me that I was going to have to stop drinking from it because there would be a new baby soon, and placing it on a very high shelf in the kitchen. I remember watching her put it there, and scheming in my little mind about how I was going to climb up there to get it back. Thankfully, that little feat was beyond me, since I probably would have pulled down half the glassware in my tumble from those great heights.

Anyway, my baby sister's own new baby is coming in July, and we know she's going to be a girl. Hurray for girls! I've decided that I want to knit her a blankie, inspired in part by all of Alison's blankie knitting and the way in which her boys love theirs to pieces.

I don't have Sarah Dallas's book, which is what she's using for her stitch patterns, but I do have a lovely Leisure Arts Best Baby Blankets (or some such title), and have narrowed down my choices to the following (apologies for the dim lighting):

I like this one for the openwork hearts.
These I like for thier laciness (not laziness...that would be me.)

I like the following two for their laciness, too, but also because of their weightiness. There's something about a heavier blanket that's comforting, don't you think?

What do you guys think? Any opinions? Preferences?

I also need to decide on the yarn, and I'm pretty sure I want to go with acrylic or cotton for washability. Lolly just had a discussion of the fact that not all acrylics are created equal, Caron Simply Soft being one of the nicer ones, and Laura recently decided that Red Heart Soft Yarn was the Two Buck Chuck of acrylic yarns. I happen to like Caron Simply Soft a lot, and it comes in great colors, but I'm not sure how it'll wear over time. Does anyone have any other recommendations? I might even spring for Knitpicks Shine if people think it would make a good baby blanket.

In other niece news, Monica's still not seamed, and the big birthday is coming up! I also have to go to a conference on pop culture this week in Boston, where I'll be presenting a paper on...blogging! Sadly, I wish it were on knitbloggers but it's not; I'm talking about the way culture is linked to gender performance online by Chicano/a bloggers. It's been fun to write, and has also made me acutely aware of how I perform certain aspects of my own identity on my blog.

Fun times, huh?