(Picture taken from Searching the Inner Me)
Happy Blogiversary to me! I can't quite believe it, but I have been blogging for 4 years. From August 19 actually, but I only realised it today. Where has the time gone?
It's been a roller coaster ride of fun, not so fun and learning all the way. I've made great friends all over the world and have been privileged to share in their blogging lives too.
In honour of this auspicious birthday, I've decided to have a little bit of a giveaway! Two winners will be randomly selected from all comments left by midnight, Sunday September 4th, and they will receive either of these two lovelies:
Lisa Souza Sock! Merino in the Josephs Coat colourway. There's 560 yards of yummy 100% Merino in there, enough to make anything from socks to shawls and even mittens. I made a pair of Jared Floods scrummy Druid Mittens using just half a skein of this yarn before. Mmm.
The second offering is some lovely laceweight:
Knit Picks Shimmer in the Deep Woods colourway. 440 yards of 70% Alpaca, 30% Silk goodness. This stuff is really squishy and nom.
So, leave a comment telling me what you like best and least about my blog and if there is anything I could do to improve or anything you would like to see added and I'll pick a winner on Monday!
Rico Can-Can. If you're not, then I envy you. This stuff has been taking the knitting world "by storm" recently. And by "storm", I mean not in a good way. It truly is evil stuff. But ladies of a certain demographic seem to love it. It produces a ruffle effect, and is mostly used for scarves like this:
Mm. Isn't is classy? Can't you see youself wearing this to all the hottest parties hosted by the Ambassador, or to the first night at the opera? Yeah. This is what the word fugly was invented for. Not a nice word, but apt all the same.
So how come I ended up with some in my stash? Granted it's not the real thing, but it the same thing. I have no idea what came over me the day I bought it. I call it "Only a fiver" syndrome. You know, when something is so cheap (e.g. only €5) that you just can't not buy it. It stank up my stash for a while as I tried to pretend it wasn't there. I should have gifted it to a charity shop I guess, but somehow I didn't, which worries me. Anyway, a couple of weeks ago I was heading out to knit night and I had nothing I could bring with me. My Aeolian shawl is too complicated to knit while chatting, and I had no socks on the go (gasp). So I ran upstairs, opened the woolrobe and stuck my hand in. This is what came out. What could I do.
I cast on 9 sts and got going. It's a fiddly mother to knit with, let me tell you! Here's a link to a YouTube video on how to knit with it. I finished this in my Mam & Dads this morning, and my Mam went positively nuts for it! Bless her heart she thought it was only gorgeous. So I've decided to give it to her for her birthday in October.
As you can see, Alice has taken quite a shine to it too and has begged me to make one for her. Jeeze Louise, I have to make another one??? *sigh* A mothers lot is never an easy one. I have two more balls of it left, so I suppose I'll just look on it as stashbusting.
In other, more respectable knitty news, I cast on for a cardigan last week to go with my new dress.
The pattern is Decimal, from Knitty Spring 2009. I'm using some teal cotton I got recently for it. I think it's coming along nicely!
I also picked up my Ethereal top again. This one is going on too long for my liking. I'm about 75% done on one sleeve with one more to do then I'm done. I hope to have this finished soon. I'm also halfway through my Aeolian shawl. I've finished the main part and am ready to start the edging. According to the designer it uses 45% of the total yarn and I have half left so I'm good to go on the full edging version.
I'd like to have them both finished in time for this. This Is Knit is doing a yarn tasting and hosting the launch of Carol Feller's fantastic new book, Contemporary Irish Knits on Sept 8th. That's 12 days away. Hmm. Maybe I won't get the shawl done., but I really hope to have Ethereal done. I'd love to wear it to the party!
In sad news, my 6 weeks of bliss are over all too soon. Back to work on Monday. I haz a sad.
It's review time again! Autumn is upon us already, can you believe it?
Here goes with a review of Vogue/Designer Knitting Fall 2011. I have taken all of the photos from the Vogue Knitting website unless otherwise stated.
I plan on pricing the largest size available for each pattern, as that is the one I would most likely knit. If I can get the yarn in Ireland, I use that price, otherwise Euro prices are US Dollar prices converted, not inclusive of postage.
Substitute yarns I suggest are my own choice, your mileage may vary. I try to use the same fibres as the suggested yarn where possible, but will use others I think would be good if I can't find it. I have used 4 main online Irish retailers for my prices and will vary between them for fairness. I haven't priced anything using mostly acrylic, but if you want me to, let me know in the comments. Also, if you want me to say where I am getting my prices from, let me know too.
Let me say that I love this magazine, and I don't mean this review as poking fun at it, more a light hearted reflection of it, and also maybe it will make the magazine think about the cost of the sponsored yarns it uses and the sizes it offers.
On a side note, a lot of the patterns in this issue use bulky weight yarn. I find it difficult to get here, and so am using Chunky and Super Chunky.. Sometimes I'll switch between them when recommending subs if I think one might be better than another. My advice though, would be to SWATCH before using.
There's another great article from Meg Swansen, this time about short row methods. Great stuff. There's also an advertisement section about sock knitting, called Sock-Cess which has a few nice sock patterns in it.
Again with the no Norah Gaughan design. I haz a sad.
It seems Nancy Marchant is becoming the New Nicky Epstein ™ with her regular column in brioche knitting. This time its a hat. I couldn't find an online picture of it, so you'll have to use your imagination. It's not the worst hat I've seen. The recommended yarn is Aslan Trends Invernal, an angora/merino/polyamide blend. It comes in at $32.70 or €22.72. I'd sub Spud & Chloe Sweater for €23 or Rowan Pure Wool Aran for €19.
Right, on to the meat of the sandwich. Here we go!
The first section is called Masterpiece Classics. "What's a romantic heroine to wear on a windswept moor?" immediately conjures up inages of Heathcliff, Cathy and Kate Bush. The hairdos are pretty special too, they remind me of Helena Bonham-Carter after a mad night out.
First up it's #1 Nordic Gloves by Lone Smevik Soleng:
Size: One size medium
Yarn: Skacel Cashmere Fino 100% Cashmere, 4 skeins
Cost to knit: $100 or €69.49
€70 to knit a pair of mittens? Not on your nelly. Even if it is cashmere. The design is beautiful though. I love Scandinavian mittens. Lots of subs available for this, try Artesano Alpaca for €22 or Debbie Bliss Andes for €27.80.
I love this design! Cute little squirrels all over the waistband! Autumn is the perfect time for this when they're gathering up all their nuts. Cute as all get-out. I'd love to make this one. And the yarn is one of my faves too, very reasonable IMO. Subs were hard to find that were less expensive than the recommended yarn, even including shipping from the US so I'd say go ahead & order some. Otherwise how about Artesano Aran for €109.45 or Malabrigo Merino Worsted for €89.60.
Cost to knit: Available in Ireland for €63.25 and €35.80 respectively
Seriously, 2 sizes and the largest is 36". It's a fairly standard Nordic style cardigan. I'm not going to bother suggesting subs as you can get the yarn here plus if they can't be bothered working out sizes I can't be bothered working out alternates. Grr.
Moving on swiftly to #4 Oversize Nordic Pullover by Kristin Nicholas:
Cost to knit: $57.48 or €39.94 on sale. I think this yarn is being discontinued.
Off to a good start using yarn that is being discontinued. But, it means a great price to knit it I guess. I like the diamond within a diamond stitch and the hip band that appears to go in a different direction. A nice sweater, IMO. Sub with Drops Nepal for €85.80 or get the recommended yarn at the bargain price above.
Next we have #5 Colourwork Vest by Cheryl Murray:
Size: 5 sizes 40 - 52.5"
Yarn: Aslan Trends Royal Alpaca 100% Alpaca 220yds/100g, 8 skeins
Cost to knit: $110.80 or €76.99
This one looks interesting. A zipper? Ooh does that mean steeking? I love steeking. I don't like the neckline and I'd have to add sleeves, so basically I'd want a completely different garment that the one pictured. But. Colourwork and steeking and zipper insertion. Oh my. Substitute Artesano Aran for €129.35 or get the real stuff from Jamieson & Smith in Shetland for a measly €63.42. I LOVE Shetland wool.
Have you been noticing the mad Helena Bonham-Carter hair, by the way? Nuts. They must have gone through a ton of hairspray and broken several combs in the lust for backcombed height. The poor models hair probably fell out afterwards from the abuse.
Next it's #6 Snowflake Jacket by Kazekobo. She of the gazillion capes in the last issue. There's also a cowl in this picture, can you find it?
Size: 4 sizes 36 - 48"
Yarn: Muench Yarns Touch Me 72% Rayon, 28% Wool 61yds/50g, 28 skeins. Yes 28 fpr the jacket, 7 for the cowl.
Lana Grossa Silkhair 70% Mohair, 30% Silk 230yds/25g 10 skeins for the jacket, 2 for the cowl.
Weight: Aran and Lace
Cost to knit: $529.56 or €367.91 for the jacket and $175.65 or €122.04 for the cowl
Hahahahahaha a jacket and cowl combo for €490????????? Oh my God. I think I've had an accident laughing so hard. What a joke. Who are they kidding with this shit? If it was made of Qiviut then maybe it's an acceptable price, but rayon? C'mon. I don't even think I have an opinion on the jacket for that money. As for the cowl, you can't even see it in the picture! Jesus wept. And the yarn name, Touch Me? I think not love, not at the price you charge! You could sub Drops Alaska for the "Touch Me Not" and Lang Alpaca Superlight for the Silkhair at a cost of €89.95 for the jacket and €25.35 for the cowl. But why would you???
Onwards (and hopefully upwards) to #7 Nordic Yoke Pullover by Ruth Garcia-Alcantud:
Size: 4 sizes 31 - 37"
Yarn: Brown Sheep Nature Spun Sport 100% wool 184yds/50g 9 skeins
Cost to knit: $22.20 or €15.42
Now THAT'S more like it! I love Brown Sheep yarn, and the Nature Spun sport is one I've used a few times before. It's a nice pattern. I like the subtle corrugated ribbing at the cuffs and hem, and the yoke pattern is cute. You can sometimes get Brown Sheep yarn here, but sub with Rowan Pure Wool 4ply for €52.50 or Drops Alpaca for €34.65 if you like. Shame about the model's trousers though, kinda reminds me of this:
The next offering is #8 Fair Isle Hat by Mary Ann Stephens:
Size: One size
Yarn: Cascade 220 Sport 100% wool 220yds/100g 2 skeins
Cost to knit: $10 or €6.94
That's great value to knit such a lovely hat. I'm not so sure about the tassel, but the stitch pattern on the hat is lovely. Sub Drops Alpaca for €11.55 or Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino for €23.80.
This is the last offering in the current section. #9 Fair Isle Cardigan by Rosemary Drysdale:
Size: 5 sizes, 34.5 - 56.5"
Yarn: Filatura Di Crosa Zara Chiné 100% wool, 137yds/50g 17 skeins
Filatura Di Crosa Zara 100% Merino 137yds/50g 1 skein
Cost to knit: $134.82 or €93.69
Meh. Nothing special. Don't like the really wide buttonband, hate the lazy "fair isle" only on the front. Boring boring boring. This could have been so much nicer. If it's your cup of tea, substitute Debbie Bliss Rialto for €130.90 (or maybe not), Rowan Pure Wool DK for €88.35 or yummy Cushendale DK for a mere €66. Perfect.
A new section now. The excitement! This one is called "Anything but your basic cable!" and all the garments are in pea soup green. Yum. Anyone else humming along to the theme from the Exorcist with me?
The first pattern is #10 Cable Raglan Dress by Sarah Hatton:
This dress is gorgeous. If you're lucky enough to be in the restrictive size range, make it. Honest. It's fab. Love! I'm not subbing with this one as the yarn is so readily available here. I look forward to seeing this on a real knitter soon....
Can #11 Cabled Cardigan by Mari Tobita top the last one?
Sigh. I was all ready to do a Bob the Builder and shout "Yes it can do better!" then I saw the price to knit. Sigh. The pattern is gorgeous though. I love the collar and the length, and the stitch pattern. It's yum. Substitutions using the same fibres aren't much cheaper unfortunately. I think this cardigan might be one that got away. Subs include Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran for €148.75 or Sublime Cashmere Merino Silk Aran for €154.70.
As with all Prism yarns (as far as I can see) they are very expensive. I'm also not mad about the variegation here, I think it hides all the pattern details. I quite like the front v-neck, but I also spy bobbles on the body. Bobbles & I are not what you would call best friends. Substitute Artesano Aran for €89.55 or Drops Alaska for just €37.50
Our next contender is #13 Wave Cable Jacket by Ellen Ligouri:
I love this one. From the comfy looking turtle neck to the wrapover front to the columns down the front. Yum. I bet this would be great as a coat in the Autumn. Mm.And the yarn cost isn't too bad considering. The nearest I can come to it is Drops Bomull-Lin for €79.80.
The next one is a real doozy. #14 Ribbon Cable Cardi by Helen Sharp:
Well. What can I say. It's a perfectly nice cardi that has fugly ribbon threaded all the way through it. Huh? How the hell do you wash this without the ribbon getting all staggly? When you sit down the back will be flattened. It's wrong. Just wrong. Shame really, as the cardi itself is ok. I suppose you could make it and leave the ribbon out. In that case, sub with Malabrigo Merino DK & Debbie Bliss Angel for €223.75 (!) or Artesano Superwash Merino & Lang Alpaca Superlight for €132.60.
Has anyone else noticed how many of these patterns so far use a main yarn and a Kid Silk Haze type yarn held together? Why?
The last in the current section is #15 Ribbed Turtleneck by Pat Olski:
Wow. Lots going on here. 4 sizes stretched out over 9"? C'mon. The cost to knit isn't unsubstantial either! The sweater itself is nice, if a bit tight fitting for my taste. I like the eyelet detail down the arm. Otherwise it's quite a plain ribbed sweater. Substitute Malabrigo Merino Worsted for €103.50 or Artesano Aran for €119.40 or Drops Alaska for €55.
A new section especially for Vogue's favourite insanely expensive yarn designer, Twinkle. This one is called Stripe it Right and the first offering is #16 Striped Cardi by Wenlan Chia:
I just don't get the appeal of this designer. Everything is baggy, misshapen and huge. Not to mention rediculously expensive to knit! Super Bulky yarn is hard to come by here, so I'm kinda grasping at straws with these sub reccommendations. Knit at your peril. Drops Eskimo for €45.60, Lang Malou for €91
*Yawn* A cardi that's oversized, But WAIT! It has something different! Oh yes! there's no stripes on the front. Sneaky. *Yawn* Again, sub at your peril with Schoeller & Stahl Filzi for €45.50 or Drops Eskimo for €31.20.
The next section is The Art of Lace. First up is #18 Lace Cardi & Cowl by E J Slayton:
Pretty lace. I think the colour is seducing me more though, isn't it pretty? As a cardi goes, I reckon this is quite impractical. The cowl would probably do my head in getting in the way and having to keep wrapping it rounf my neck as the cardi moved. Still, it is lovely. Sub with any sock yarn at all, try Drops Fabel Plain for €33.80 or spoil yourself with Malabrigo Sock for €132.65. Yeah.
Ooh. how cool is this? It's like one top layered over another, but they're joined. I think this is really interesting. Not that I'd be able to knit it, thanks a bunch for the crappy sizing Vogue. I think this one might require some more research on my part, just to see how it's done. Very ingenious. Sub with Debbie Bliss Rialto 4ply and Debbie Bliss Angel for €110.20
Over halfway there now. #20 Lace Bodice Top by Laura Zukaite:
I like the neckline, but the rest is rather plain, no? Not my kind of garment. All that reverse stocking stitch would drive me nuts! Sub with Rowan Cocoon for €89.55 or Twilleys Freedom Purity Eco Chunky for €51.35
Another laughable cost to knit. Seriously? It's just a long pullover with short sleeves and a turtleneck. I don't understand short sleeves on a heavy outer garment like this. Don't other people's arms get cold? Is it just me? If your arms are nice & warm, then sub with Lousia Harding Merletto for €92.65 or Rowan Pure Wool DK for €59.40.
#24 Lace Belted Cape by Kristin Omdahl:
Size: 1 size *eyeroll*
Yarn: Manos Wool Classica 100% wool 138yds/100g
Cost to knit: Available here for €100
Another cape. And in one size. But wait, is it really a cape? It has sleeves like a cardigan, has a belt like a cardigan and is long like a cardigan. I'm confused. I don't like being confused. No subs suggested as I'm just too confused.
Hopefully #25 Rib Yoke Topper by Anna Cohen will sort my poor head out:
I quite like this. It reminds me of grandfather shirts from years ago. Looks quite comfy too. The sleeves look a bit flappy but otherwise a nice enough garment. Sub with Drops Ice for €86.40 or Lang Big Cotton for €107.10
I love the name of the next one. #26 Cowl by Vladimir Teriokhin. Does exactly what it says on the tin. Must have taken hours to come up with. Oh, and it's crochet!!! Shock!!:
Size: One size.
Yarn: Bergere de France Fourrure 100% Acrylic 19yds/100g 4 skeins
Weight: Super Bulky
Cost to knit: €28
AHHH Fun Fur Attack!!! Run quick before it melts all over your bebehs and eats your silk stash!!!!!
Evil. That's all I'll say. However, each to their own, so if this is yours, then subbing could be fun. I've never seen a super bulky "fun" fur before, so how about holding two strands of the fun together. Double your "fun"! Try Sirdar "Funky" Fur for €15.80. Or not. I'm not.
Vladimir returns, this time with #27 Jacket. Another ground breaking name.
Size: 3 sizes 52 - 60"
Yarn: Bergere de France Alpaga 70% Alpaca 30% Wool 98yds/50g 24 skeins. !!24!!
Cost to knit: €192
What kind of nutty yardage is that for a fingering weight yarn. 98yds??? Madness. Plus, it's another yarn that's been discontined. Tut tut Vogue, your reasearchers are letting you down. Sub any sock yarn you like for this one, as patterns go it's not that bad at all. Try Drops Alpaca for €46.20.
Down to the final 10 patterns now. Yipee! #28 Cropped Topper by Faith Hale:
Seriously, that's €140 for yarn that's half acrylic. Yep. It's a basic open fronted cardigan with short sleeves. Nothing to see, move along please. Sub Lang Merino + and Lang Alpaca Superlight for €70.20 if you must.
The final section now, called What you want now! and the first offering is #29 Hooded Neck Piece by Kalurah Hudson:
Size: 1 size
Yarn: Alpaca with a Twist Baby Twist 100% Alpaca 110yds/50g 8 skeins
Cost to knit: $288 or €200.14
HAHAHAHAHAHAHA What I want Now? Listen Vogue, What I Want Now is decent patterns at a decent cost to knit. €200 for a balaclava with a thousand buttons on it is most certainly not What I Want Now. ThankYouVeryMuch. Jesus. Sub with Artesano Alpaca for €49.50. And pass me the Valium.
It's kind of hard to see the pattern in the picture as the scarf is bunched round the models neck and also hidden by being placed over similar colours. Looks ok though. Sub with Malabrigo Lace doe €19 or Manos Lace for €30.
Boring hat, but I bet it feels amazing knit in 100% cashmere. Although I'd be terrified it would rain or snow and the hat would be ruined! If you are like me but want to knit it, try Mirasol Ushya for €27.90.
#32 Fingerless Gloves by Judy Sumner are next:
Size: 1 size
Yarn: Lornas Laces Shepherd Sport 100% Wool 200yds/50g 1 skein
Cost to knit: $13.50 or €9.38
They're fingerless gloves. Cute. I like the wrist ruffles. But am I mistaken or is the stitch pattern the same as Snapdragon Mittens (Ravlink). Well if it is, then these are off my list. I've seen peoples Snapdragons and what the stitch turned out looking like (ladybits). Especially in red. No thank you! If you don't care, then sub with Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino for €11.90
Down to the last 5 patterns! Woo! #33 Leaf Mittens by Pat Olski:
Size: 1 size
Yarn: The Fibre Company Canopy Worsted 50% Alpaca, 30% Merino, 20% Bamboo 100yds/50g 2 skeins
Cost to knit: $26 or €18.06
Mittens. I love mittens. Can't get enough of them Not so sure about the bobbles though. Sub Drops Nepal for a steal at €7.80. Might even make me consider the bobbles at that price!
These remind me a lot of a pair of socks I made Alice from Sensational Knitted Socks, the Crosshatch Lace Socks. I think it's the same stitch pattern. A nice functional pair of gloves. A great Christmas gift knit. Sub Artesano Aran for €29.85
In 2nd last place we have #36 Cabled Leg Warmers by Kazekobo:
Size: 1 size (coz everyones legs up to the knees are the same)
Hmm. Leg warmers. Do people actually wear these? Wouldn't your feet be cold and lonely without some coverage too? Wasn't Fame years ago? If you want to make these, then never mind the scratchiness, dive in and use Studio Donegal Aran Tweed for just €11.80.
It's the last one! #37 Braided Cowl by Laura Zukaite:
Jeez, I'm sick of typing out the same kinds of yarn over and over. How many projects used laceweight mohair/silk blends? Imagine wearing this round your neck too. Itch itch itch.Apart from that, it's an interesting pattern. I would probably wear it more bunched up though, but I must check it out to see the construction method. Sub with any of the gazillions of mohair silk blends out there like Debbie Bliss Angel for €35.80 or Kid Silk Haze for €39.
So that's it! You've survived another review. Overall I'm quite disapponited (again) in the size ranges, but more so with the variety of patterns in this issue. Not much that I would contemplate and too many that I'd have to sell a kidney to knit.
Hope you enjoyed it, please do tell me what you think in the comments. I'm always looking for feedback and ideas.
A feis (pronounced fesh) is a traditional Irish music festival. Last weekend one of the lovely Irish knitters WrapNTurn (Twitter link) hosted the first FibreFeis in her fabulous home in County Cork. It was a huge hit, with knitters, spinners and crocheters coming from all over Ireland to join the fun.
Camping facilities were available in the grounds of Sue's home:
I, however chose to stay in a hotel in Cork city, about an hours drive away. In my defence, hubby and Alice came down too and we made a long weekend holiday type thing out of it. The sun Gods shone on us and we had a really lovely afternoon sitting on the deck, chatting (drinking wine), swapping tips and ogling each others yarns & projects.
Our very own talented designer, Carol Feller came along and brought two trunks full of her designs, including those in her new book, Contemporary Irish Knits (Amazon Link). There was much ooh-ing and aah-ing and squeezing and trying on of the garments. Great fun!
It wasn't long before we had the first FO of the feis, a lovely headband.
Then the big guns came out and people set up their wheels and started spinning on their spindles. I could watch this all day. It's truly fascinating to me. I'm afraid to try it though, what if I really liked it and then had to go and buy roving, wheels etc to do it? Oh no. I just can't afford to fall for another craft.
Everyone got involved in the craftiness. Even my hubby tried spinning! I was in total shock. I cut his face out of the photo as he'd go bananas if I published him on the internet, so be content with a hand and trust me when I say it belongs to him!
Once the sun went down, a pit was dug and a fire was lit. Everyone settled round the fire in their snuggly clothes to have a chat and make smores. OMG! Smores! They were ridiculously good. I'd never had a "proper" one before. I'll definitely be having a proper one again! Mmm.
Fibre Feis was a huge success. Thanks so much Sue for opening your beautiful home to us all and being such a terrific hostess! Roll on next year.