Saturday, December 29, 2007

Knit – R – Done tagged me for a Seven Random Facts about Me meme several weeks ago. Here the rules:


1. Link to the person that tagged you and post the rules on your blog.

2. Share 7 random and/or weird things about yourself.

3. Tag 7 random people at the end of your post and include links to their blogs.

4. Let each person know that they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

Here goes:

1. I’m a procrastinator! It took me weeks to get started on this meme.

2. I used to be a fine arts major. Knitting has taken the place of painting.

3. I seriously wish I had a personal assistant and a cook. Guess I've been watching too much Kimora in the Fab Lane!

4. I’m a Beatle freak. I remember their Ed Sullivan debut. I was so crazy about them my parents agreed to go to Sunday school late that night so that I could see them. Their music is still “happy music” for me. I have most of their albums still, had all the 8-tracks, then all the CDs. Now I have everything on the iPod. (Wow, I just dated myself!)

5. I’m a news junkie. I love me some Hard Ball.

6. Mom made my clothes from my birth until I moved away to go to graduate school. She is a professional seamstress and spoiled me for all manner of clothes from playthings to professional suits: deep hems, finished seams with wide allowances, linings in most things, and best of all, clothes perfectly tailored for all of my preferences, tastes, and physical idiosyncrasies. Mom taught me how to sew but I hated it. HATED. IT. Random fact #6 - This may bring me back:

Vogue 8430

It’s made of felt, which means minimal sewing, I hope. The edges are raw, not stitched or any other way hemmed. That is in antithesis to the tailoring Mom used to do for me, but this is me sewing, OK? The cutting would have to be perfectly straight, but a straight edge and one of those cutter wheel thingies Martha Stewart touts should work, don’t you think?

Mom has most of the latest Vogue Patterns at home. I’ve discovered a slew of articles applicable to knit design and sizing. I didn’t know they were online! DUH! Well, of course they are! Isn’t everyone and everything? I didn’t know you could look at and order patterns online! I didn’t know some of y’all order fabric online! Lord, another reason to live in cyberspace. Didn’t I have enough reasons? BTW, Mom knits too, and knits well, but she hates it. HATES. IT.

7. I have an aunt and uncle younger than I am.

I’m tagging the following seven: Olga, Nancy, Digital Leaf, Barb (where you been???), Francesca, Stacey, and Janet.

I know some of you are busy with the upcoming TNNA and other stuff, so please don’t feel obligated to participate if you don’t want to.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Habu Trunk Show at Woven Art

Where does time go? I was in Michigan weekend before last and it's already the 19th. Of course I lost a week when I got back - I promptly caught a cold and slept off several days in bed. No knitting. Not the time of year to be sick, is it?

I attended a Habu Trunk show at Woven Art while I was there. Man what a show! It consisted primarily of the garments designed and knit by Setsuko Torii found in Setsuko Torii Hand-Knit Works.

ETA: The Japanese-language book is still available at and Amazon Japan. There is no English-language version and no plans to publish one at the moment. I have it from a good source that only 2000 books printed.

Setsuko Torii Hand-Knit Works

Most of the garments are now available in kits from Habu Textiles. The pix I took don't do the garments justice - they are truly breath-taking individual works of art and innovation. I spent the first hour looking and staring - awestruck really. I was on sensory overload. Then I finally started trying things on, much later remembering to take pictures. My first impression years ago of most clothing made with Habu yarn was that they were best suited for smaller frames, but after watching everyone try them on, it quickly became apparent that practically every piece flatters every figure and every age. They are classic and timeless.

I can't choose a favorite. I loved some aspect of each piece: the careful color gradation knit into a jacket; the simple buttonholes created by enlarging and binding the opening of a stitch; the drapiness of the hand of knitted stainless steel or paper, or both together; unusual color combinations that would never have occured to me but really work; the innovation of a sideways knit making a deceptively simple jacket; or the rustling (a whisper) of a paper linen and stainless steel jacket when it moves. Design and concepts so simple in some cases that you wonder why you didn't think of it yourself.

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The color gradation is created knitting different shades solid gray yarn at certain intervals. The yarn is not variegated.

It was hard to choose a kit to buy. I finally settled on a new Torii design created after the book was published: a short wrap jacket with a shawl collar knit from DK wool and 2 tiny strands of ramie, and a white-on-white Kusha Kusha scarf.

I loved this cotton and stainless jacket.

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The top half is made of cotton and stainless steel knit together. The cotton gives the jacket shape and form. The bottom half is knit with two strands of stainless steel, one off-white and one gray, giving the impression of modern, ultra-lightweight and airy chain mail. It floats in the back.

The "Washi and Tsumugi" coat flattered everyone who tried it on. It doesn't hang in a boxy way, instead it skims the contours of the body. Everyone loved it.

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A mohair pullover edged with heavier tsumugi combination silk gives the garment weight and drape unimaginable in mohair.

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The red jacket in the foreground had knotted "shippo tails" on the sleeves making it much more than just a simple jacket. We were all surprised that it had hidden pockets!

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It is made of shosenshi paper and stainless steel, and rustles gently when you move in it.

This lovely Chinese Style Pullover is knit with two strands of shosenshi paper yarn in purple and khaki (actually green).

Chinese Style Pullover

Photo from Hand-Work Knits.

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The most astounding piece, for me at least, was the shippo tail tank.

shippo tail tank

Photo from Hand-Work Knits.

The MC is purple paper linen, followed by gray, chartreuse, blue/grey I think, then chartreuse, tipped with a bit of gray again. The chartreuse was beautiful with the gray and purple. It's brighter than it appears in the photo, providing a brilliant contrast to the purple. I'd like to make this eventually, but will modify the tail somehow, perhaps placing it elsewhere and modifying the length.

Takako Ukei, owner of Habu, gave an interesting talk about the development of Habu yarn Friday night, and three hour-long classes on reading Japanese charts Saturday morning. Each class was packed. Takako was delightful. She has a wonderful sense of humor and a boatload of patience.

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Takako is wearing a sideways knit cardi. She had a pattern for it, so it is probably available as a kit too.

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The pattern reading class was an enormously useful and gave me the chance to ask questions about some of the patterns in the book.

There are more pictures here.

Woven Art was an excellent venue for the show and the class. There was plenty of room to display the collection and try things on. The table was just the right size for the class (and the lazy susan in the center was perfect for treats!) Nancy's shop is the kind of place where knitters just go to hang, have a cup of coffee and knit (or weave. or spin.) as I would do if I lived in Lansing or East Lansing. Nancy is a wonderful host and the knitters there are warm, friendly people with whom I felt immediately at home. (I'll see you guys again soon!)

Why oh why doesn't someone in the Washington Metro area host a Habu trunk show? I would happily attend again.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

WIP Wednesday: Latifa

I had this brilliant idea of knitting Latifa in black and electric yellow without testing the black yarn first to see if the color will run. I didn't swatch, wash and block, of course. (I'll never learn.)


Did y'all ever watch The House of Eliott on A&E?

House of Eliott

It's finally available on DVD.

It's that time of year again...


Friday, November 30, 2007

FO: Opera-length Mermaid Fingerless Gloves

I didn't get fingerless gloves at first. What was the point of keeping your wrists warm while your fingers froze, I wondered. Then a couple of bloggers adapted the Pomatomus pattern for a few pair and they seemed so pretty, then another blogger pulled her mitts over her leather gloves for extra warmth and I was sold.

ETA:  Nail polish is Chanel Duo Platinum "Silver."

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Pomatomus Opera-Length Fingerless Gloves

They really are warm even without the leather gloves.

The Specs:
Pattern: Pomatomus adaption, EZ sewn bind off make the thumb more comfortable.
Yarn: Sundara Sock Yarn, "Black over Plum;" I used less than one skein. Knitting these seemed endless, so I'm done with the Pomatomus pattern for a while.

They've been finished forever, but it's hard to take a photo of your own arm in opera-length gloves. I haven't mastered posing in front of the camera before the timer goes off - frankly, I haven't tried. Styling it just right seems daunting and time consuming though I know many of y'all do it all the time, and well.

My laptop also went on the blink for a while. I borrowed one from work, but wasn't the same (my pix, my music, my aps, my bookmarks - you know). Dell replaced my monitor, motherboard, and hard drive. I had to buy an external hard drive to back up my data (no, I hadn't been doing that, but I will from now on cuz I had more shit on my computer than I thought!), install the operating system, drivers, and all my aps. Should have been plug and play, but it wasn't of course! Turned out OK: I saved all my data and the laptop works fine. Everything was under warranty except the monitor, but replacing that was far, far less than the cost of a new laptop.

Nancy's posts, cooking Thanksgiving dinner, and Ravelry's foodie group got me into food mode, so I've been reading food blogs. I think there are just as many of them as knitting blogs! And some good ones too. I have too many faves to list them all here. Let's start with Homesick Texan and The Traveler's Lunch Box. Y'all may be seeing some food pix soon.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Merlot Vine Socks, Finished

Finally done, though a little late for Socktoberfest.

Merlot Vine Socks

Merlot Vine Socks

Yarn: Twisted Fiber Arts, colorway: Arial
Needles: US 1 DPNs
Pattern: Merlot Vine Socks, Anne Hanson; Yarn4Socks Sock Club, October 2007
Modifications: Added a couple of lace repeats. Had a LOT of yarn left over. Love the lacy rib cuff.

Friday, November 02, 2007

YPF: Habu "Shosenshi" Paper (A-60)

100% linen, 280 yds, color #116

Habu Shosenshi Paper, A-60

Habu Shosenshi Paper, A-60

Habu Shosenshi Paper, A-60

I have two skeins of it. I bought the first skein at 50% off at Purl Soho about 3 years ago. It was lying in a pile of sale yarn like trash. This was my first encounter with Habu and I had no idea this purchase was the beginning of a Habu obsession. And I had no idea what I'd make with it. People were making handbags out of it, which didn't quite fit the bill for me at the time, so it sat in stash. Olga recently double stranded it with some lavender Habu Tsumugi silk to make Setsuko Torii's coat and I realized this slightly heathered pairing would make the perfect skirt for a similarly colored jacket I bought this summer at Babette in San Francisco. Olga has warned that this may not make the best fabric for a skirt since neither linen nor silk has any memory, but I will give it a shot anyway. So she suggested sewing a lining slightly smaller than the skirt. When I was working on the linen stitch skirt, both Sahara and Olga suggested knitting very large swatch to abuse (stretching, pulling, throwing it in the handbag, then washing) to see how it will hold up. I'll do the same this time. I also have some pink Harrisville New England Shetland that might knit up will with it.

Friday, October 26, 2007

YPF: Watershed

70 percent Merino/30percent Seacell

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Hand dyed by Karida, owner of the Neighborhood Fiber Co.

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A portion of the sale of each skein goes to the Anacostia Watershed Society, a non-profit that works to clean up the Anacostia River.

I bought it at a party last night that Knit Happens hosted for Karida. As you can see they sold tons of the yarn, and it's no wonder. It's soft and the colors are luscious!

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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

WIP Wednesday: Merlot Vine Socks II

I completed the foot of the second sock and 1.5 repeats of the lace pattern on the leg.

Merlot Vine Socks

Merlot Vine Socks

Merlot Vine Socks

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The little leaves are less than an inch long and quite pretty, but they are somewhat obscured by the dark color of the yarn. The leg is quite stretchy, so maybe they will show more when I wear them. I think this will be a good pattern for the lime-ish colored Smooshy I bought in Seattle. When the leg is finished the effect will be of little vines crawling diagonally up the leg. Lovely design, Anne!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Style, Iceland Style

Last night I attended a Women's Foreign Policy Group reception for Iceland's Foreign Minister Ingibjorg Gisladottir at the home of Iceland's Ambassador to the US, Albert Jonsson. I noticed her when she arrived because she had on this fabulous outfit.

Iceland Foreign Minister Gisladottir

It may not be your style - I don't have the body type to pull it off, and despite this post's title I realize that not everyone in Iceland has adopted this style either, but she just stood out in the crowd of conservatively dressed Washington women. (Tim Gunn thinks we lack style and are overdue for makeovers. Read his Washington Flyer interview here.) In our defense, many of us work in offices where it's required to wear a conservative, standard issue suit, and most of us had arrived straight from the office. Many of us fear we won't be taken seriously if it's perceived that we care too much about how we look. Remember that New York Times article about how Nancy Pelosi has brought style to Capitol Hill? She practically refused to be interviewed for it and said her husband bought her clothes. Huh.

Ambassador Gisladottir is a serious woman. In her brief talk she described her efforts to secure Iceland a seat on the UN Security Council and her efforts to reach out to African countries. She described herself as a feminist who believes in the positive power of women, and also talked about her efforts to bring together a group of women from the Middle East to discuss that region's pressing issues. Gisladottir's sense of style does not detract from the work she's doing on behalf of her country. My pictures don't do her justice, but she looked great in this coat, cropped pants and heels. We're told to avoid horizontal stripes for the most part, but it worked for her. As Tim would say, she owned the look. Her makeup was subtle and emaculate, hair - perfectly highlighted. She also had on a funky three-stranded rubber and silver choker.

The ambassador's wife, Mrs. Jonsson also looked great in this little leopard print knit dress. It had a fuzzy little halo that must make it a very cozy dress for evening. It's hard to see the front of the belt, but it was about 8 inches wide. The slingbacks were a very subtle bronze metallic that matched the spots on the dress.

Mrs. Jonsson at Women's Foreign Policy Group Event for Foreign Minister Gisladottir

I asked her if she bought it Washington and she just said "yes." (I'm thinking, "where did you get that dress, woman?!!?" and immediately trying to figure out how to knit it. It is a very fine gauge that would require a knitting machine.) I didn't press it. Note to self: make sure that next time the first question is a more direct one and to the point. But you have to admit that most of the time, woman will eagerly to tell you where they got things. I hope that Icelanders do not consider this a gauche question.

It was not a gauche topic for the Spaniard and Italian participating in a project I closed in Seattle last week. Over dinner, Rosa, a Spanish judge and law enforcement official (also a serious professional woman), freely told us about her 70 pairs of shoes that she has neatly organized so that she can wear them all. And Roberto from Italy said his male friends all wanted him to bring back Abercrombie and Fitch t-shirts, now all the rage in Italy apparently. In his opinion, A&F t-shirts were not so great for women, so he shopped for his wife elsewhere. Then they got into this huge discussion about how American sizes are so confusing. I didn't take pictures of them and should have done, especially of Rosa hiking up the hilly streets of Seattle in the four inch heels she bought a Nine West!

Back to the reception, an attache from the Swedish Embassy had on a black pants suit with white blouse, accessorized with a black handbag with brightly colored tulips printed on it. Maybe wild accessories are a way to liven up that Washington uniform. We could knit some.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Philadelphia and Loop

Warning: Long post. Loop and Yarn at bottom.

A couple of weeks ago, some work colleagues and I took the train from Washington to spend the day with one of our program partners, the International Visitors Council of Philadelphia. I thought I would take note of any yarn shops I saw there, with the idea of visiting them later. We were met at the train station by Ben Franklin, Council President Nancy Gilboy, and Senior Program Officer Ron D'Alonzo, Senior Program Officer,

Ben Franklin

then taken on a tour of Philly. We toured Independence Hall, where the Declaration of Independence was signed.

Independence Hall

Liberty Bell

We also toured the new National Constitution Center, an interactive history museum of the American Constitution. There's a cool room of life size statues of the Constitutional Convention Delegates situated through out as if they were discussing the issues at hand.

Delegates to the Constitutional Convention, NCC

The room is open for visitors to walk among the delegates and pose for pix.

National Constitution Center

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Finally we went to see the Liberty Bell.

Liberty Bell

Independence Hall seen through the window.

Liberty Bell

We went back to the Council's offices for meetings, when Nancy saw my Habu Kusha Shawl on needles sticking out of my tote. Turns out she knows the owner of Loop! Nancy is one of those persons that Malcolm Gladwell describes in The Tipping Point as a "connector." With no hesitation at all she pulled out her Treo, made a couple of calls to find out if the owner was there, the store's hours and address, and the next thing I knew I was in a cab on my way there! That the shop was scheduled to close in 25 minutes did not deter her. Thank you, Nancy!


Loop is beautiful little shop with yarn from inexpensive to tres chere displayed in bookshelves on both side walls from front to back. It's all white, light woods, and bright, which really shows off the yarn to full advantage. The yarn is neatly shelved, and arranged so that when you are standing away from the shelves all you see is end balls of color, no ball bands. There two inviting sofas facing each other with a coffee table in the middle of the store with the latest knitting magazines and yarn.



Love the little wall installations!

The very friendly and helpful Kathy and Laurie greeted me.

Kathy and Laurie at Loop

We had a nice chat about yarn and patterns in the few minutes I was there, and I bought some Koigu and some DB Cashmerino to play with.

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I hope to go back soon.

I made back to the reception held in our honor at the Marriot.


Thanks Nancy, Ron, and IVC staff for our informative and enjoyable day in Philadelphia, and thanks to Kathy and Laurie for your warm help at Loop!


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