Tag Archives: beret

Sabbatical?

I can’t claim to have been ridiculously busy since I last wrote, but I have done some things. The lack of writing is more due to the spotty internet at my apartment and my still-unhappy laptop keyboard that makes bringing my laptop elsewhere to write uncomfortable since it necessitates not only my laptop but also that pesky (i.e. huge) USB keyboard.

Things that happened:

  • My grandmother turned 80 and went down to Mexico to celebrate. That’s an interesting story all on its own, which I may put in another post. Don’t worry, though, she’s safely back home now.
  • We had the first real snow storm of the year, and then an almost-blizzard. We only got 6 inches of snow each time, and never got real blizzard conditions, but just south of town the roads were awful and they had to close the highway for a full 12 hours. I love living on the great plains.
  • The almost-blizzard meant that we had a snow day, so I didn’t have to substitute in a 3-year-old class. I really don’t like teaching 3-year-old classes.
  • I did teach many more private lessons than usual, which is good for my finances, but bad for my free time.
  • I had a master class with James Sewell through my company, which was wonderful.
  • I started on The Great Apartment Re-Organization of 2012. I’ve been doing a little every day, and things are slowly starting to take shape. My biggest accomplishment is that my dance shoes and accessories are all organized, and so are my tights. Everything was in there before, but now it’s in order.
  • I continued with progress on my various projects.

First up is my awesome dance stuff organiation:

My Blackberry Bramble Beret is coming along, with just the very top to complete. I got a lot done on it during full-cast rehearsals, and I’m now in the final stretches. Of course, this means that the pattern is no longer totally predictable with the way that the cables and decreases come together, so it’s gotten harder to bring it to rehearsals.

To that end, I started Queen Silvia from Nancy Bush’s “Knitted Lace of Estonia”. I’m using my 2-ply superfine alpaca laceweight from Dharma Trading Company. I can’t even begin to express how soft this yarn is. I thought that the ball of yarn was soft, but it’s so much better knitted up! It has just the right amount of halo to make it a bit fluffy without distracting from the lace pattern.

I also picked up several more books from Knit Picks during their sale:
200 Fair Isle Motifs” by Mary Jane Mucklestone
100 Flowers to Knit & Crochet” by Lesley Stanfield
75 Birds Butterflies & little beasts to knit and crochet” by Lesley Stanfield

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Modern Technology Has Ruined My Life

Right now, I don’t have internet at my apartment, my laptop keyboard is broken, and my phone isn’t playing nice with WordPress. I’m typing this on a USB keyboard hooked up to my laptop, and I’ll post it later this afternoon when I’m at the studio. I’m hoping that it’s just the keyboard, because that’s a relatively cheap fix, but it could very well be something more expensive. In other news, I’m tired of Hazel already, to the point of giving up on my fuzzy pants, and thinking that my pointe covers are silly and pointless.

Hazel is awkward with the double knitting and all of the stockinette, simple ribbing, and increases. It just doesn’t have an interesting, predictable pattern to it. Figuring out the progression of the stitches and being able to predict what comes next is one of the better parts of knitting for me. I’ll go so far as to alter patterns so that they have a more logical progression, but I can’t do that with Hazel. The pattern is pretty well put together (there are a couple of unusual typos/errors in the pattern that haven’t been resolved in the errata yet) and I don’t want to mess with it. She’s a very good facsimile of a living creature, and any changes to make her more logical or interesting to me would change that.

I’ve set Hazel aside for a little while now, so that I can come back to it with a fresh perspective in a couple of weeks. As for the fuzzy pants, I tried picking them up again, but I’m so used to my new style of knitting that going back to my old throwing technique seems way too slow. I’m afraid that switching to my new method will change my gauge, so I’m just putting it off. The pointe covers are just making me grumpy for unknown reasons. It might have to do with the repetitive mock-cable pattern, or the fact that I’m scared of turning a sock heel, but whatever it is, I’m giving them a rest until we head into full cast run-throughs of Coppelia. Full-cast means that there will be many small children running around, and I don’t have a huge amount of actual stage time. The corps dancers have to stand onstage for pretty much the entire production, but I have a solid chunk of dancing and then I get to hang out in the wings or backstage waiting for my next entrance. During the run-throughs where everyone is getting used to the show order and talking through the blocking (i.e. herding small children), I’ll have some time to knit.

In the meantime, I cast on for Courtney Kelley’s Bramble Beret from “Vintage Modern Knits.” It’s the perfect cure for my Hazel-and-the-pointe-covers-are-boring ailment, since the cables, moss stitch, and bobbles all come together in a very nice, logical, and mildly complicated way. Also, it means that I’m finally knitting my beret.

As far as apartment organization goes, I now have a bookcase ready for assembly and bookends with which to organize my books on my new bookcase. The problem is that I need floorspace to assemble the bookcase, and I need the bookcase to clear the floor of books. I’ll probably resort to stacking the books precariously on my desk chair, but you have to admit that this is a funny little catch-22. I do have some over-the-door organizers that are currently holding dance tights and various pairs of dance shoes and shoe accessories. I also found several pairs of nasty old ballet shoes and toe pads that I ended up throwing out, and the total effect is that my bins of dance stuff are much easier to deal with now. On top of this, by organizing my tights, I spend much less time finding the right pair, and I was finally able to spread my leotards out enough that I can see them all in the drawer. It’s a miracle!

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Why I Should Get Promoted More Often (A Long, Boring Discussion of Sewing Machines)

When I met with my boss yesterday, he offered me a very generous promotion. It means more responsibility and time at the studio, as well as a pay increase and insurance. My first thought was, “OMIGOSH, I can buy more yarn! Maybe I can even buy yarn at Bouclé!  Look, they’re right across the street!”  I did go buy two more pairs of needles that evening, but it was totally legitimate because I can’t knit Wool of the Andes with my Knit Picks Options because they split the yarn. Therefore, I needed to buy some size US 7 Addi Turbos in order to knit my beret. (I have settled on a pattern, by the way. It’s the Gretel beret by Ysolda Teague. Further bulletins as events warrant.)

However, I think I need a new sewing machine. You might be thinking that “need” is a bit strong, because I do have a pretty new Brother machine. The issue is that, while he does perfectly fine with thinner fabrics, and I’m loving the automatic clutch on the bobbin winder, the drop in bobbin, the quilting guide, and some other modern features, he has issues with thicker fabrics. I’m thinking that it’s time to go for an old machine. Enter Craigslist. There are tens of old machines out there for sale just in my city, all pretty reasonably priced.

My dilemma is this: I could buy a 1970s era Sears Kenmore that looks to be the same machine as my parents’ but perhaps a couple of years off. The sewing table that the machine is in actually looks like it’s in better shape than my parents’ is. But that seems silly because my mom has always talked about the fact that I’m going to get their machine eventually, and having two identical machines in the family seems silly. I do love that machine, and I know all of its quirks and foibles, so having a familiar machine has its advantages. And still I hesitate.

Another option would be get something closer to my great grandmother’s machine, which is in storage right now near my parents’ house. I believe that it’s an early 1950s model Singer. It’s in a beautiful cabinet, with drawers, a wide tabletop and working surface, a matching chair, and tons of bobbins and vintage sewing supplies tucked away in it. I believe my great grandfather bought it for Granny, and, if so, he did a good job. It needs some work, and I’ve been meaning to re-wire it. In fact, other than sewing a couple of seams with it when I first took possession of it in high school, I haven’t done any sewing on it. The old, cracked insulation makes me nervous, and I don’t want to get a shock or set something on fire. But, once again, buying another sewing machine like this one seems silly because I already have one of the nicer machines from that era.

My third option would be to go for something much older, like a treadle or hand crank machine. Disadvantages include possible (probable) troubles finding needles, replacement parts, bobbins, etc, and the fact that finding someone to do repairs could be difficult and/or expensive. Advantages include the fact that most machines in this category are tanks and can sew through pretty much anything you can fit under the presser foot. On top of this, maintenance is designed to be done at home. In 1915, not just anyone could hop in the car and drive to their local repair shop 15 minutes away. Also, the lack of electrical business and other complicated features would make repairs simpler. I know how to clean and oil a sewing machine. In fact, I’m pretty good at it, and fixing mechanical things seems to be an inborn talent for me. Plus, aren’t these really old machines just so pretty?

I’m thinking I should just get Granny’s machine out here somehow, but I’ve sent out a bunch of emails to people listing machines on Craigslist and we’ll see if anything truly promising shows up.

Any comments, helpful and otherwise, are welcome.

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I Wish My New Yarn Were Here

But it isn’t, so I’m still obsessing about my beret/mittens.  I haven’t really found a pattern on Ravelry that I’m in love with.  I have found several cable patterns that I like, from the one used on the back of Kristi Geraci’s Ailbe mittens to the much thicker pattern with a bobble from the front of Debbie Bliss’s Sara sweater. The problem is, I can’t figure out how to chart them in the round. In theory, yes, but I can’t make it work out so that there isn’t at least one cable that crosses the start of the round.

The chart from Knitty is here. As you can see, it doesn’t intertwine all the way around the mitten, but is charted as a panel for the front. I’d like to split it up and take it all the way around, but any way I put the repeat in, I find issues. Is this pattern just unsuitable for knitting in the round, or am I missing something completely obvious?

The best solution that I can come up with is to just move the start of the round one stitch to the left every time I encounter a cable like that. I’ll end up with a couple of extra stitches, but they’ll probably only be noticeable to me or another knitter who examines my hat to figure out the pattern.

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Distracted Knitter, Bad Sewer

Seamstress?  Sewist?  Whatever it is, the apartment is nowhere near clean enough to cut fabric in, and my Denver Fabrics order is supposed to show up tomorrow.  It’s going to be so sad to get a big box of wool and not be able to do anything with it.

The thing is, I’ve been spending too much time trying out my new knitting style.  I’m still knitting some on my fuzzy pants every evening, but I’m in love with my new way of holding yarn, so I’ve been knitting and ripping little scrap-yarn swatches over and over.  I know it’s pointless, but it’s addicting.  I’ve started to think that I need a new knitting project for all of that excess energy.  New knitting projects don’t require a clean apartment what with balls of yarn being more compact and portable than large pieces of heavy fabric that needs to be pre-washed, carefully dried, ironed or steamed, laid out, marked, cut, and basted before anything really useful happens.

You may recall that one of my current projects is a pair of mock-cabled pointe shoe covers to use as warm ups at dance.  I had bought some Knit Picks Wool of the Andes for them. When it arrived, it seemed strange that I should have so little yarn for such a big project. I then figured out what went wrong: I scrupulously calculated the necessary yardage based on a rough calculation of the gauge that I’d be using and the surface area of the completed project, but I forgot to account for the fact that I, apparently, have two feet.

(I find myself compelled to mention here that I have a degree in mathematics.  I had several very good and entertaining professors, but one of the most memorable moments was when Professor C. walked into class early and heard someone complaining about how this math course was so much harder than previous ones.  Professor C. responded, “This is not math.  Calculus?  Differential equations?  That was math.  This is mathematics.”  So here I say, I’m pretty good with mathematics.  But with math?  Not so much.)

Now, having realized this serious error in the math, I think I should use my pretty purple wool for something else.  I’m considering a beret and a pair of gloves.  I really like the Ashwyn Beret and Meret for lacy options, and the cables on Nine Dwindling Cables, Laurel, and Brambles are very pretty. Then again, the color would look nice with my Cornflower Cowl so I might do some skinny cables like those. Whatever I do, I’ll either be finding or making a matching glove pattern. I’m bad at making decisions. Feel free to tell me what to do or offer more pattern options.

(Also, am I the only one who feels like a creepy stalker type when I comment on another person’s blog?  It’s like offering unsolicited advice to a stranger on the street, but from even further away, which is somehow worse.  “Oh, hello.  I just reached through the internet to spy on you and comment on your life.  Have a nice day!”  Conversely, I love it when I get comments from random people whom I’ve never met before.  Maybe I’m just too socially awkward for this whole interacting-with-other-people thing.)

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