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6 posts from April 2012

California Revival KnitsApril 30, 2012

My fave pattern, Wrought Cardi

I'm lucky enough to be a stop on the blog tour for Stephannie Tallent's new book, California Revival Knits. As a fan of California architecture, I couldn't help but be interested in a book of knits modeled on buildings that, grouped together, "feature stucco, red tile roofs, coved ceilings, tile, tile, and more tile (with Spanish, Moorish or Mexican influences) and wrought iron."

After drooling over her book (which you can win a copy of by leaving a comment below), I had the chance to ask her a couple of questions. 

Wrought Mitts

What was your favorite part of this book's process? 

I really enjoy all the big picture things:  planning the palette, the yarn choices, the general pattern ideas. 

But I really love seeing it all come together, too.  I’m a big one for keeping myself organized via spreadsheets, and I admit I loved putting DONE in the pattern status column. 

It was also fun getting the patterns to my group of test knitters & getting their feedback and seeing their finished objects.

And having the final PDF is tremendously exciting.  I can’t wait for the print copy.

The photoshoot was a little nervewracking for me – I’d never done one before – but my photographer, Kathy, had fantastic ideas & made it as easy on me as possible.  Kristi Porter, who modeled for the main photoshoot, was awesome too.  I know the next will go smoother, now I know more of what I have to do.

Was there anything about bringing a book to the finish line that surprised you? 

Just how long it takes even after all the initial stuff (patterns, photos, text) is turned in.  There’s a big difference between self publishing a small collection of patterns yourself & working with a small indie publishing company (where, lol, it’s not always about ME). 

Tiles Sweater

What knitting project do you have on the needles now? 

I’m currently working on a second pattern collection of my own designs, and am in the midst of working on a lace cami in Dragonfly Fiber Dance rustic silk.  The back is done & I’m getting ready to cast on for one of the fronts.

If you’re familiar with my designs, two things probably caught your eye.

Designing with the silk is a first for me -- I usually work in wool or wool blends.   I really like the Dance silk; it’s a nubby silk noil that has lovely drape.

Also, I nearly always work seamless tops.  I didn’t have any traditionally non-seamless designs until this one.  But I decided the structure of seams would really help with this top, considering the inherent lack of bounce and memory of the silk.

After that, I have a couple hats for the book to work on next, and another sweater.  Of course there are many more patterns, but that’s the order in which I want to tackle the projects.

Please leave a comment for a chance to win the new book! Or preorder here.  Ravelry link here.  I'll draw a random winner on Friday. Good luck!  

JamApril 22, 2012

I've been playing music lately, drawn to the accordion more and more. It's been about a year that I've been fooling around with it now, and while I'm still not reliable with both hands at once, I can noodle around more or less non-embarrassingly with either hand. I have ONE song I can do with both hands (Eilen Jewell's "Walking Down the Line"). I believe that's what you call a start. And, hey, if I'm playing only the bass buttons, I can sing along. Kind of. 

We got together with a group of women a couple of weeks ago and spent the entire afternoon playing bluegrass. Accomplished musicians and singers, I played as quietly as I could most of the time, as I was by far the least talented, instrument-wise. I managed to tape one short version of "I'll Fly Away." (I'm the low alto.) 


 And the other night, I got together with the knitters to play some tunes. ALL THE WORLDS COLLIDE. At A Verb For Keeping Warm, we had an upright bass (Lala), drums and trumpet (Adrienne, of Verb), and two accordions in addition to mine (Stephen hizKnits and Sonya of the Felt Cervix Project). Lala also had her banjo with her, but we decided that a jam consisting of a banjo, three accordions and a trumpet was just asking for trouble.  

Stephen and Lala bonded over their t-shirts: 


Stephen's has Obama riding a unicorn, and Lala's has Batman riding a unicorn, saying "Giddyup." There was also an almost unbelievable moment when the two of them rapped "Bring the Noise" by Public Enemy back and forth to each other while the rest of us watched, dumbfounded. 

Then we jammed, man. Imagine three (THREE) accordions in one spot. Three is just about two and half too many for most gatherings. At times, it sounded experimental punk music being played by junkies wearing earplugs. At other times, though? It sounded awesome. 


Adrienne, with her "drums" at her feet, Sonya's accordion in the foreground. Yes, A's wearing shades at night. That's how trumpet players do. 

It all reminded me of what I love best about playing music--it absolutely forces you into a space in which you are bound to screw up, usually in front of other people. That's really hard for me, and it's scary. But there's a contrary part of myself that absolutely loves doing things that scare me. The high afterward is just so damn high, you know? 

My favorite photo of the night: 


Here, Stephen was about to look up and see the host of accordion angels that Sonya and I so clearly saw (they had wings made of wool and their harps were strung with qiviut). 


Migraines and HormonesApril 16, 2012

*TMI alert -- If you're offended by people writing about their lady parts, don't read on; go pet a puppy or something else fun. I won't mind. 

I'll keep it short, because really, who wants to read about other people's medical schtuff? I'm getting a hysterectomy in two weeks, and I could not be happier. I've spent the last ten years trying everything (absolutely everything from East to West, don't you worry) to control/prevent my migraines but they're completely hormone driven, and I'm done. This is the pain train's last stop, friends. I'm getting off. Due to endometriosis, dysmennorhea, and the hormonal migraines, I'm getting the full monty taken out, ovaries and all. 

So I'm going to throw it out there, because you are wise: Let's talk about hormone replacement. I'm going to do estrogen-only supplementation. The hormone replacement therapy (HRT) that's been shown to cause cancer is a combo dose of progestin/estrogen. I'm not doing that because I don't need the progestin (and because I don't want to risk). The studies show that estrogen-only therapy actually lowers mortality (Bing! Zap! I'm like a video game!) and protects against the things that the old HRT caused: breast cancer, heart damage, etc. It might increase the risk of stroke, but only by a small amount. I've done some reading but I know there's a lot of stuff out there I don't know. And just try Googling hormone replacement! Quelle horreur!

Got any experience with this? I'll accept all stories and words of advice, apocryphal and otherwise, because I swallow the internet with a large grain of fabulously colored exotic salt. 

Oh, and I think in a response to all this, I've been SUPER sensitive about the all-over grey hair I've been trying to rock. (I'm 39, for the record.) I think, while I have friends that are rocking it, I was not quite there. I do believe in my heart we ALL should be proud of the grey hair when we get it. I believe my friends with white hair are gorgeous. But me? I was just not comfortable in my skin or my skin tone under grey hair, and I was tired of always feeling not myself. 

Photo on 4-13-12 at 7.23 PM #2

So I bought a box (Loreal Feria 56, for the curious), and covered some of my white with foil (because I do love it, just not all over) and ended up with this. Which, I have to suggest, I might be rocking. 

Now tell me everything about hormones. 

Dear Australia and New Zealand: April 12, 2012

I have a new gift book out! The Little Book of Knitting Wisdoms: 


So Eliza and I came up with this together: she came up with the quotes, and I, um, wrote them down for her. Yeah, that's it. (They're compiled from the first three Cypress Hollow novels, so America, don't despair that you can't get the book here.) (If you really want it, I think you can go HERE and request to be notified when they get it in stock.)

I'm excited about it. I love that my character Eliza Carpenter has become Someone (because, to me, she's always been pretty darn special.) 

Colette CrepeApril 8, 2012

Once a year, whether I like it or not, I get sewing fever. This year, it seems like there are more awesome patterns out there than ever. I chose Colette Crepe, and boy, I'm glad I did. I love this dress. 


It's a wrap-around, no zip/button dress, and it was, facings aside, very easy. And fast! Three hours to prep/cut, 4.5 hours to sew. For me, anyway, that's fast. Admittedly, there was a moment when we were due at a dinner party, and I was standing in the kitchen in my underwear, ironing the hem I needed to sew, but that's the kind of race I like. 


You can see by this shot I'd moved the vacuum cleaner. (Classy!) 

Closer shot of fabric: it's orange and tiny white dots on dark blue, with an orange sash. 

Photo on 4-8-12 at 11.18 AM #3

Angle of shot is weird and makes me look like a woman in a comic-book. Oh, well. 

It has POCKETS! 


and it's just fun: 


Good FridayApril 6, 2012

Why, yes, yes it has been. Non-religious me got home from work, took a nap, went and bought fabric for a dress from Verb, and then went to kayak Lake Merritt with Bethany. As you can see here, I had a terrible time. 


I've decided this: For my 40th this year, I'm going to learn how to sail. The Lake has lessons, CHEAP, and it's real sailing with tricky winds and tiny little sailboats. Then someday I'll take my show on the Bay, but until then, I'll be happy tacking around the lake of the city I love. 

Tonight I'm gonna tack seams, instead, and try to make a dress. The internet buzz about spring sewing has infected me, and it's all I can think about. More to follow.