Friday, July 31, 2009

Moose sleeps... as usual

Taking a momentary break from knitting to admire The Beloved Pug, Moose. I don't know why, but I love watching him nap - which is a good thing, because he's always asleep. He gets up momentarily to eat, chew his bone, and go for a walk, but otherwise he's comatose. I love him.

Moose loves his Tempurpedic.

The sound of one eye opened.

Did someone say Food? Stew? Treat? Cheese? Tom?
Theresa? Mom? Priscilla? Dog? Walk? Convertible?
Any other word in Moose's limited vocabulary
that would instantly bring him out of a dead sleep?

Thursday, July 30, 2009

All Hail the Great Jillian Moreno

Today I'm starting the Knitting at Large Hall of Fame to recognize designers who create fabulous patterns for the ample among us. Jillian Moreno is the first recipient of the award because her sweater designs are amazing! Plus she's just come out with Cambridge, Volume 4 of her Curvy Knits series.

You probably notice the obvious: Curvy Knits uses plus-size models only. God bless them! How wonderful to see a plus-size design on a gorgeous plus-size woman. Don't show me some damn skinny bitch in an ample sweater... I can't begin to imagine how I'd look in that tiny, size zero pullover. Give me a girl with some curves, dammit!

Published by Classic Elite Yarns, Curvy Knits offers fantastic sweaters with up to 60-inch finished bust sizes. That's great! But the best part is that every single sweater is to die for. Jillian is full-figured herself, so she absolutely gets it. She knows amples can't do chunky yarn, horizontal stripes, or cropped cardigans. In fact, Jillian and Amy Singer wrote the book (or books in this case) on plus-size knitting: Big Girl Knits and More Big Girl Knits. If you want a primer on selecting sweaters for your own particular ampleness, buy these books or get them from the library. They're on the top of my bookshelf, first in line.

And if you're into freeware (freewear?), check out Jillian's designs on Knitty.com. She founded that venerable knitting site with Amy Singer, too!

Curvy Knits Cambridge offers a true dilemma: which one should I knit first?! I would wear every single one of these sweaters. In fact, I would buy them off the rack if any knucklehead buyers would procure them for their retail outlets. (Why, oh why is it so hard to buy a great sweater for a full-figured woman? I guess I'll leave that question to a future blog post.)


The other Curvy Knit volumes are also terrific: Volume 1, Volume 2, and Volume 3. I own them all. If you can afford the booklets, please buy them. Yarn companies only continue to offer products that sell. If we don't show our support with our dollars, we won't be able to buy great booklets like these in the future.

So thank you, Jillian Moreno for all you do to clothe the ample among us. I'm looking forward to Volume 5 - and to finishing up what's on my needles now so that I can knit up one of these beautiful Cambridge sweaters.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Rib-it rib-it

Not talking frogs today. Instead, I'm talking ribbing for my Desperately Seeking Ditto sweater.


After casting on the required four million stitches (one of the many woes related to knitting an ample-sized sweater is huge stitch counts), I knitted the prescribed 2.25 inches of ribbing. One of the interesting things is that the pattern has you cast on 15% more stitches than you'll need for your finished hip size; after the ribbing, you then decrease stitches by 15%. This gives you ribbing that won't gather in at the bottom but won't flare our either. Nice.

I received some mystery yarn in the mail this week: K-Angora. Who in the heck has ever heard of Kartopu Yarn? Apparently it's from Turkey and is from the company that makes Ice Yarn (another brand I know little about).

I found K-Angora online while shopping for yarn to make Nicky Epstein's Berry Cluster Pullover from Knitting on the Edge. I want to wear this beautiful sweater to wear to my family's Christmas get-together (assuming the good ole Ditto turns out well and I have confidence that I can upsize it correctly).

As I mentioned in a previous post, I love cream and white yarns - and am embarrassed that I've bought another one! But I do think this sweater done in white and trimmed in pearls will be lovely.

Oh, and since I'm not supposed to be acquiring new yarn, I'll tell you that the Kartopu Angora is inexpensive (denial is more than a river in Egypt, as they say). A 100-gram skein costs about $6, but you get over 500 yards in a skein! Here are the details about K-Angora: 40% Angora, 15% Mohair, 45% Acrylic. 547 yards/500 meters each. Needle size 3-3.5 mm /US 4. I'm knitting the sweater double-stranded with a size 7 needle. You can purchase K-Angora at Yarn Paradise.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Ditto: Yarn Selection

I've got visions on yarn dancing in my head. Nothing new there... I've always got knitting project cogitating in my brain. As an experienced graphic designer, I know that envisioning the final product always benefits a creation. When I'm designing a logo, I see it done. Then I go about creating it. Same thing goes with knitting.

I started out thinking I'd use the new Briggs and Little Selkirk yarn that is on it's way to me from Ram Wools. Unfortunately, the package is apparently on the slow boat from Canada and I want to start work. Plus I think Ditto might be better in a softer, drapier yarn that includes some fiber other than wool.

I hit my stash. I'm too broke to go to the LYS and spend over $100 for this project (dammit). I wish I could waltz in, sidle up to the Rowan, Debbie Bliss, and Berroco shelves and pick the just-right yarn - but I can't. I just can't right now. I wish I was recession-proof!

Plus I've got TONS of yarn stuck everywhere in my abode. People are starving in Africa and I've got skeins and skeins I could feed them if it wasn't so damn hot there and yarn was actually food. I also am trying diligently to choose a better way of living that doesn't rely on accumulation. So I'm using what I've got.

I went digging through my closets and cubbyholes and found three choices: Brown Sheep Serendipity Tweed, Knit Picks Simply Cotton Worsted, and Naturally Caron Country. I'm incredibly embarrased to admit that they are all the same damn color! I love natural creams and whites, but do I really need to buy three different yarns in cream? (I'll admit another secret: I've also got nearly 2,000 yards of white Simply Cotton DK, too.) Ridiculous! Enough with the offwhite yarn!

I swatched all three and decided to go with Country because of it's soft drape and sheen borne of its merino wool and microfiber blend. Let's hope this isn't a mistake. I wish I could afford to go buy the recommended Berroco Latitude just to give this project the best chance of success. Oh well...

Now I'm off to cast on while riding the exercise bike and watching Hilary Clinton on Meet the Press. Thank God I can multitask. :-)

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Meanwhile...

While I get my Desperately Seeking Ditto sweater going, I'm working on my Shawl of Many Colors. This explosion of color reminds me of antique scrap quilts women made from feed bags and their husband's old shirts. I've always loved those masterpieces.

Based loosely on the Betsy Coyne's Fiesta Shawl available on Ravelry, I am using worsted weight and doubled sock yarn to create this fun and easy project. I own an embarrassingly large mountain of yarn, so this little stashbuster is perfect for me. My plan is to add a natural-colored, crocheted, cotton lace edging when I'm done.

The pics below show how the quilt quickly grows one kaleidoscopic square at a time.






Friday, July 24, 2009

Desperately Seeking Ditto

Okay, so my one major quest in life is to make a damn sweater that fits. That doesn't mean making the sweater equivalent of an upside-down green trash bag with arms. I don't want some baggy thing that sorta, kinda fits, but a garment that actually contours to the twists and turns of my over-ample body.

Good luck, huh?

The knitting industry just recently discovered plus sizes and congratulates itself whenever it publishes a pattern that goes up to a 50-inch bust size. In real-world terms, that means size 24 or 3x. But what about the rest of us poor souls who need a larger bra?

Take me, for example. I have a 62-inch bustline. Not bragging, just the truth. *smile* This means I can't just take a 50-inch pattern and add 12 inches to it. It doesn't work that way! If you've ever bought a huge T-shirt, you know what I mean. The shoulders droop to the elbows and the short sleeves drop to the wrists. This is because some numbskull decided it was a good idea to make the shirt exponentially bigger than the size 10 he or she started with.

I challenge you: go find a so-called "normal" size woman and hold your arms up to hers. You might have twice her hips and boobs, but your arms are just the same length. Which shows you exactly why exponentially larger garments do not fit.

So, let's start again. I'm in quest for a pattern that fits my big sorry ass - which sadly is even larger than my big sorry boobs. This is why I've spent all day with a calculator, an Excel spreadsheet, and my menopause-addled brain doing knitting-pattern math.

My prototype? I am starting with Ditto, a new, free Norah Gaughan pattern available from Berroco. I like the look, including the simple styling and the "slimming vertical twisted stitch ribs." Plus the pattern goes to size 54 - a whole four inches over Berroco's usual sizes! *rolling my eyes* (Editorial comment: Norah Gaughan is a size 16 so you'd think she'd be a bit more accommodating in the larger sizes department...)


I started with the schematic and wracked my brain about how to proceed. After an hour of messing around with pen and pencil, I decided I needed to graduate to Excel. I started inputting the numbers from the pattern into a spreadsheet, including the measurements, stitch counts, etc. Then, using every single brain cell leftover from my high school algebra class, I figured out the ratios between, say, the total number of stitches at the hips versus the total number of stitches for the sleeves. That gave me a ratio to use for my own pattern - and my own hips and sleeves.



Then I took the pattern and added text comments with my numbers in red. Hopefully, this will give me a proportionally larger pattern than will actually fit. Accepting prayers for this project starting... right NOW!

I don't know if any of this will work, but I'm going to give it a try. God willing, it will be close and if it is, I'll give you the download so you can do it yourself. Frankly, as long as my Ditto fits better than a big green trash bag, I will be happy. Apparently, it doesn't take much to put a smile on my face.