Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Stephannie Tallent's Wild West

Need a warm vacation after this miserably cold winter? Then knit from Stephannie Tallent's "Lace 1," the first e-book in her new collection called "The Wild West: Patterns Inspired by the Flora, Fauna, Geology, and History of Arizona."

Photo by John Fowler
Inspired by her years living in the Sunshine State, this collection of five e-books draws on the desert which, "has a beauty all its own. Colors are often muted, softer, a bit dustier: but then you get flashes
of turquoise sky or red rocks with a vibrancy that shimmers," she says. "From the vista of the Grand Canyon to the red rocks of Sedona, the hues of the Painted Desert, the impact of Meteor Crater, to the subtle colors of the Petrified Forest — there’s so much to see and experience."

Stephannie has divided the Wild West collection into five books based on technique. Her first offering, Lace 1,  presents five beautiful patterns:

The Bisbee Blouse, a romantic, lightweight top with 3/4 sleeves, relies on delicate but simple intarsia lace panels to form figure–flattering vertical lines. As Stephannie says, "The dainty buttonband details, I–cord neckline, waist shaping and softly fluttering sleeve and body hems all combine into a gorgeous feminine sweater that you’ll treasure." The Bisbee comes in sizes up to a 54" bust.

I like the look and feel of this blouse, which  reminds me of the corsets and undergarments women worn in the 1880s - although this is clearly a far more comfortable, unstructured alternative. The comeliness remains.

The back emphasizes the curve of a woman's waist and hips - very sexy in an understated way.

Stephannie's Cactus Wren camisole offers "flattering waist shaping and lace in abundance. Crocheted lace trim and delicate buttons give this a vintage feel." Knit in a fingerweight silk, Cactus Wren is a perfect warmer-weather garment, but you could also pair this with a blouse or jacket in cooler weather, too.

The Cactus Wren comes in sizes up to a 58.25 bust and can be easily modified for customized waist shaping or additional length.

Lace 1 also offers two shawlettes and a pair of socks, all designed in lace. Meet the Pinyon Jay with the beautiful bead detailing...

The Diamondback, which features a rattle edging...

and the lacy, comfortable Cholla Socks

You can buy Lace 1 from Ravelry for $20. Stay tuned for the remaining four e-books in the Wild West Collection - I've seen a preview and I am truly psyched.

Her name says it all: Stephannie Tallent is truly talented.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

A love poem for you (and me)

Love After Love

The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other's welcome,

and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.

- Derek Walcott

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Never forget

My friend, Lyn shared this today. We should write this on our foreheads backwards so we never forget!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Springbrook Cardigan via Custom Fit

Last night, I finished my first Custom Fit sweater and I have to admit, I'm impressed. The pattern, with one major modification that I'll tell you about, fits perfectly. But best of all, it allowed me to make a sweater I've always wanted to wear but could not buy. Custom Fit let me focus on what I wanted the sweater to look like rather than fretting over fit.

Based on my experience, here's what you need to know to make your own Custom Fit sweater a big success (pun intended):

Remember that this is bottom-up knitting. No top-down knitting is provided in Custom Fit. Amy Herzog, the creator of Custom Fit, is a big proponent of seams because they improve fit (and she's right, IMHO). She does provide guidelines for making the garment with a minimum of seams, however.

Take accurate measurements. No denial, my friends. The measurements need to be based in reality. Don't guess either. Get someone you feel comfortable with help you get ALL the measurements required. No fudging, either. If you want the sweater to fit, you must enter the correct measurements.

Make a gauge swatch. Yes, you must swatch. Just get over it. You have to make a 4-inch x 4-inch swatch and then you need to wash it and measure it again. Custom Fit makes your pattern based on a specific stitch and row count. Again, no fudging!

Add ease below the waist. Custom Fit is designed to create sweaters the skim the body. This works great if you don't have a mighty derriere like I do. If you're even remotely plus-sized, I think you're going to need more ease than the pattern gives you. Check out the Custom Fit projects on Ravelry and see if you agree. Many of them are too snug through the hips for my taste.

The good news is that Custom Fit lets you "pop the hood" and make manual adjustments to the pattern before you purchase it. Select this option and manually change the hips measurements (or whatever you need to change). To determine how wide your sweater should be, measure your favorite knit garment - sweater, T-shirt, anything that has some stretch. Enter this measurement in the "pop the hood" section. You will be happy you did.

Check the length, too. There have been some complaints that the sweaters are too short. This is another measurement you should check on your favorite garment. You can adjust this in the "pop the hood" section.

That's all my advice for the day. I'm looking forward to making a lot more Custom Fit patterns - I've got a million ideas rolling around in my head, and Custom Fit makes it a lot easier to make these dreams come true. I look forward to hearing about your experiences using Custom Fit.