Monday, October 17, 2016

Make A-longs Past and Present

As most everyone who reads this blog knows, I am in the midst of a final K/CAL (knit/crochet a-long) celebrating my five year design anniversary. While I will get to a progress photo of my projects (and they really are coming along), I do want to provide an update on a CAL I hosted last Fall in the Crochet! Magazine Ravelry group.

I wrote several blog posts last year around the design that was the focus of that a-long, the Gradient Flower Cowl. I made several cowls for myself using up stash (so pleasing!), and have worn them in the intervening months. However, the (now) editor of Crochet! Magazine's special newsstand issues as well as Crochet World Magazine, Jackie Daugherty, was also participating and trying to decide on exactly what form her project should take: cowl, shawl, or (gasp!) blanket. 

A process photo of Jackie's
amazing shawl, based on
my Gradient Flower Cowl
Well, I am so thrilled to report that Jackie has completed her project - a stole - and all 505 motifs are made with amazing Koigu fingering scraps given to her by a friend! Isn't that shawl a piece of art? I think it looks like a springtime flower bed. You can read more about the journey of this beautiful shawl on the Crochet World blog, as Jackie has provided some additional background tidbits (including a great photo of the heap o' Koigu) in today's post. The shawl will also be on display next month at the Fiber Festival of New England, so if you are around that area and attending the event, definitely seek it out.

And now, onto my current K/CAL projects:

Pieces of another New Wave Skirt (on bottom) are topped by the
beginnings of both a Bomber-inspired Hoodie Vest (the cream textured
 piece on the right) and a Mixlace Poncho in awesome deep green.
My New Wave skirt pieces are almost completed, but as I have told my K/CAL peeps, I am having a devil of a time finding a short zipper in an appropriate color. I have been to three different places, and I have one more on my list before I give up the ghost and go online (but there's something about buying so small an item online that really doesn't sit right with me - all that gas for travel time and such). I am thoroughly enjoying the textures of my other two projects, as well as that gorgeous fall color palette. This is definitely my color sweet spot. I want to wear all of this right now!

I hope everyone is enjoying the season and making all kinds of wonderful projects. Get thee to thy needles and hooks and yarn!

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Long-Worn (and Used) Meets Handmade

Nichols Cardigan in NFC's
Studio Worsted
For those who love all things fiber, this is the weekend of the fall season - The New York Sheep and Wool Festival, otherwise known as Rhinebeck (where it's held)  - is happening. For many knitters and crocheters, it's an annual event. For others (like moi), we aspire to make it to Mecca one of these years very soon.

While I personally will not be in attendance, I am happy to report a few of my designs will be courtesy of Neighborhood Fiber Co. If you are anywhere near Rhinebeck Building C, booth 40 this weekend, not only will you get to pet some awesomely hand-dyed fiber, but you can also check out my Nichols Cardigan as well as the Lace Decadence Shawl.

Of some note, this year New York Sheep and Wool is hosting a used equipment auction in addition to a wool sweater upcycling class for kids (old wool sweaters are felted and then used by kids to craft plushies and other things). I have found the knit and crochet community to be extremely good about recycling, upcycling, mending, and just generally squeezing every ounce of wear out of their respective handmade (and commercially purchased) items. 

For me personally, it's been a more mixed bag in this regard. Growing up, we didn't get many new wardrobe items, but we absolutely adhered to the hand-me-down and mended theory of wardrobe management. Of course, through middle school that also made me an instant stand-out in the poor/working-class person's fashion parade, which was not the superlative to which I aspired. Once I hit high school and started making my own money, I cheerfully waived good-bye to hand-me-downs and ditched my meager mending kit. I cheerfully (and fairly mindlessly) breezed my way through the next few decades purchasing what I wanted, whenever I wanted as my budget allowed. 

Lace Decadence Shawl worked up in NFC's
Rustic Fingering Gradient Kit in Shades of Umber
It was not until the last decade or so that I have started to be more mindful of clothing - and designing for myself the last five years has shifted my mindful wardrobe gear into overdrive. It has not ever been a question of knowing the simple monetary value of my wardrobe - I have always paid for my own clothing - but gaining insight into and valuing all the other aspects of clothing has opened my eyes. From design, to materials, to production (including the all-important labor), waste management, and then upkeep - I have experienced nothing short of a slow fashion conversion. If I can crochet or knit it, I will (and no, there is NO sewing machine in my future). I have not made any real ready-wear clothing purchases in the last oh, at least, three years. Since I have no jeans (really, not one pair), I will need to make a few well-placed buys very soon, and they will be new, as opposed to used. I have no per se issue with used clothing - for others. Admittedly, this former hand-me-down kid will almost always choose new or handmade. I am not the vintage or used pied piper - every person is entitled to source their wardrobe in their own way based on their own rationale. Clothing is just too personal to expect anything less.

Despite my thin wardrobe depth, I am not-so-secretly jealous of those with wardrobe depth that demand a separate room in the house. One, to me, that seems to demand just such a room has to be Sonya Phillip of 100 Acts of Sewing. Her wardrobe, as well as her energy to sew, knit and otherwise create it, seems to be boundless. I may not want to sew, but I do covet Sonya's daily wardrobe choice possibilities.

All this gets me to my final point - I am not certain, if one is being mindful, that there is such a thing as "too much" in the context of a handmade wardrobe. Similar to thoughts expressed in Sonya's project statement, if one is fully conversant with the process of personal clothes making, and actively engages in that process, then what they produce is perfect for them. The last thing the DIY community needs is the consumption or politically correct police. Anyone with nominally imaginative powers can see exactly where that well-intentioned path will lead. If a person wants 10 skirts in 10 different colors, and is mindful about sourcing and acquiring said 10 skirts, then more power to him/her. Personally, I'm working on New Wave Skirt #2 for myself - and if I want 8 more, I will darn well make them.

Enough from me on this for now

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

We Resume with Day 8 of A La Maison 2 Introductions

I hope everyone in the U.S. had a wonderful Columbus/Indigenous People's day yesterday, and we are all now back to the normal work-week routine.

Not, however, routine for me, since I am still introducing designs from A La Maison 2, and today we have some awesome pillows - a Bevvy of Granny Square Pillow Covers to be exact.

I have not done much with the traditional granny square, despite my love of motifs. The granny square tends to be well represented, so how does one make it fresh? For me, the answer was in the details: buttons, buttons, buttons, outer seams, and a little mixed size play. The results are pillow covers with tons of personality that instantly give my space a pick-me-up. And of course, they are George Bailey-approved.

Get a load of that amazing vintage button!
I found that awesome vintage button during my summer travels around the Pacific Northwest. I could have waited to use it while I searched for some small replacement baubles (you might be able to see there are a few missing at top and center), but I decided I actually like the button exactly as it is - it's got history with its missing pieces and it gives the pillow cover so much personality.

You will find these designs' written patterns in my Ravelry pattern store in just a bit.

What will be revealed tomorrow? Hmmm ...