Saturday, October 31, 2009

Miss Marple

I love a good mystery.

Miss Jane Marple is a fictional crime solving old lady who knits while sleuthing. Obviously she's a role model for me.

When I was asked to design a mystery sock for Sock Knitter's Anonymous (a huge Ravelry group) I was honored and set right to work on the mystery theme.

So, no pictures yet. But if you want to knit along, here is the first clue:

download Miss Marple clue #1 now

The pattern will be released in 4 clues, one a week for the month of November. Sometime in December it will be reformatted with pictures and available for sale for $1.99. I'd suggest you take it while it's free, if you prefer.

And, because this is a blog, I'll link to the Miss Marple Wikipedia page. I wasn't going to but it's standard operating procedures.

NEW: Sorry - links not active anymore. Use this instead:

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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Emerald City Mitts

New pattern alert! Available now to members of Fresh From the Cauldron's Wizard of Oz club, available to everyone else in early 2010.

Emerald City Mitts

The Emerald City beckons with these arm-warmers inspired by the stylized buildings of OZ. Gothic Lace starts on cuff and flows into twisted lacy cables, ending on the hand with a motif that echoes the silhouette of the Emerald City.

Wear these when you need a dose of the magic of OZ.

Emerald City Mitts
Look at my beautiful friend Emily, modeling these armwarmers! (Thanks Em!)

Yarn: Fresh From the Cauldron MCN Sport Yarn [80% Merino, 10% Cashmere 10% Nylon; 250yd/229m per 113g/4oz skein]; color: Emerald City; 1 skein.

Needles: 1 set US #4/3.5mm 32” circular needles (magic loop), 2 sets of 24” circulars, or double pointed needles, or size to get gauge.

Gauge: 24 sts/32 rows = 4" in st st

Wrist circumference:
7 inches (17.5 cm) unstretched. Will stretch to fit 10 inches (25.5 cm).

Emerald City Mitts

This pattern is the third of four in a collection inspired by the Wizard of Oz. I'm swatching the last design now and will share it with you in December. I'm a little sad to be nearing the end of the series but also looking forward to starting on the list of projects I get to design when these are all done.

I keep thinking That I want to write a whole book of patterns inspired by the Wizard of Oz. Actually, I have about a dozen pretend books I want to write. I usually keep this to myself because in my fantasy I may one day knock them out, one at a time. I guess I better start knocking out those proposals, one at a time, and see if any click.

2010: a year of more dreams, including a starting knitting book? I guess I should put on these mitts and drink in a dose of the magic of Oz.

$4.99 for the pattern

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Monday, October 05, 2009

Sweater Curse - broken!

2009 has been a year with big dreams, goals and breakthroughs.

Glee Sweater

One such goal was knitting a sweater that fits. Yes, a simple goal, but one I had failed to achieve until this year. How embarrassing to admit!

I've cast on and frogged dozens of sweaters in my life. There was always a Problem. Sometimes it was the yarn, sometimes the pattern. Often it was the knitting. The story is nearly the same every time.

It was three years ago I attempted to make a simple cardigan.

I wanted a raglan style cardigan that I could fall in love with. A sweater that I would end up wearing every day. A simple, natural, old fashioned, plain-and-tall hand knit cardigan. Alas! It was not meant to be.

If I could pinpoint where the sweater went wrong I would say it was in the expectations phase. I wanted the sweater to be what it could never be. I was looking for the stuff only dreams are made of... cozy, soft, perfect, timeless, classic, flattering, etc. I may as well been hoping to knit a unicorn. That was the first problem.

I had enough natural wool to make the project, but there were many questions. Could a girl my size, shape and complexion look okay in a bulky knit shapeless, colorless sweater? Probably not. Was my gauge consistent? Not especially. Did I knit the whole thing anyway, including seaming and weaving in the loose ends perfectly? Of course. I'm no amateur.

Put kindly, the sweater could have fit a small horse. More honestly, it would have fit a full grown alpha-male gorilla. I wore it around the house for a day or two, in denial. I kept checking the mirror to see if it looked okay, and it never did. I posed like they do in knitting magazines when the shaping on a garment is bad. I hugged myself, I reached for an apple in an imaginary tree, and I twirled around, laughing. It helped a little, but the sweater was hopeless.


It was The Stupid Sweater. I undid everything and returned the wool from beast to balls, which now live in a rubbermaid container in my closet. In January I made leg warmers out of 2 of the balls:

Koolhaas Leg Warmers

Knitting the yarn into something new helped erase the memory of the ugly. But what about some new yarn, a new pattern, and a new start?

Pattern: Glee by Zephyr Style.

Yarn: Blue Moon Fiber Arts Socks That Rock Heavyweight in color Mossay.

Strong start:

Glee Sweater

I started this new sweater in January. I cast on for the medium size but eventually I discovered it was too big, so I switched to making the small size partway through with some creative decreasing. I convinced myself this was a smart decision, considering my personal shape and curve locations.

So, it fits me funny, which totally my fault.

Glee Sweater

It’s roomy, and that’s fine. It will be nice in the winter over a long-sleeved shirt. If I make this one again I’ll make the small. I have a hard time knowing what size I am.

Glee Sweater

If I had made the small all along I would have had enough yarn to make it longer; that would have been nice too. I just knitted until I ran out of yarn basically.

Glee Sweater

I learned a lot on this sweater. In fact, I have since made two more sweaters (yes, I'll show them off too) and have the 4th on the needles right now. I know, it's really fantastic!

2009 was a very big year for me in many ways big and small, including the breaking of a life-long specific knitting curse. I'm going to dream a bigger dream in 2010: designing sweaters... Stay tuned!

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Randomness and a contest winner

Dice image belongs to MissTurner, used here thanks to a creative commons license

I often like to use this blog to share random collections of thoughts or ideas that swirl around my life in the moment. Now that the seasons are changing I find myself back in a contemplative frame once more. It's a natural transition from lazing about, daydreaming with posicles to preparing yourself for the impending chill and burying nuts, like the squirrels are doing under the lavender plant in my front patio.

We call those kind of thoughts random, but that actually wasn't a random thought at all. Maybe none of my so-called random thoughts aren't really random?

Today I've been thinking about the very idea of randomness. I don't really know what I am talking about and I'm certainly not going to bust out the Schopenhauer or anything, but it is interesting to think about the ways we interpret randomness, as well as the ways the seemingly random is influenced.

This all started when I consulted the mighty random number generator to pick a contest winner. I had a thought that it might be nice if someone local won, to save on postage. Then I immediately felt guilty for having this thought. It flat-out isn't fair for folks who live in other places. So I let the random number generator decide, as promised.

This is what's known as a tease.

This is the book I am giving away. Check it out here, by the way:
The Joy of Sox: 30+ must-knit designs

A word about the random number generator, a concept I am always entertained to ponder... In fact, as a ridiculously bad math person I do secretly love numbers. In college, I took statistics because it was the closest to philosophy of numbers someone like me could handle. I challenge you to read the basic introduction to randomness here and still not find all of this terrifically interesting.

But really, you're here to see if you won the contest. So, okay. You've waited long enough.

They say patience is a virtue. It's easy to say things like that when you're the one demanding it of others. Thanks to all of the people who entered the contest to win a copy of The Joy of Sox. I'm happy to announce the winner today:

Lobug - who said, "I love socks b/c of the seemingly infinite variety of techniques you can use to knit them!" The winner was randomly chosen, yet lives locally. I assure you I did nothing to influence the number generator. But it made me think about if it was possible somehow. Which made me write this ridiculous wordy blog entry about nothing.

Lobug, get in touch. Leave me a comment with a way to contact you!

I loved reading each and every comment about why you love socks. I'm going to quote many of you here over the next few weeks to share the love. Very inspiring!

I'll end now with a final thought regarding randomness (sort of):

Oh, many a shaft at random sent
Finds mark the archer little meant!
And many a word at random spoken
May soothe, or wound, a heart that's broken!

Sir Walter Scott, Lord of the Isles