I have an as-yet unpublished sweater blocking at the moment, which leaves me as a designer at a place much like a writer with a brand-new blank notebook. When I was younger and writing stories for fun, getting a new notebook was practically a ritual. I’d stroke the cover a little first and then relish in the crraaack as I slowly opened it. Then I’d just stare in awe for a few moments at the vast expanse of white before me, maybe with some perfect little blue just waiting for to fill them. Even the smell of a new notebook was intoxicating.
Those few days (or hours…or minutes) between designs create a similar feeling. By the time I’m done knitting a sample I’m usually pretty tired of working on it. The idea that I can now knit something, anything else is wildly exciting. I enjoy thumbing through my collection of sketches for a while, and then invariably wind up starting something totally unrelated to any of them. Today one of my colleagues was wearing a gorgeous cabled sweater (it’s been unseasonably cold here, and all the old buildings have already turned on the a/c for the summer) that looked perfect on her, but would have been awful on me. I immediately began redesigning it in my head as something that would flatter my own figure. By the time I got home my mind had already wandered to tank tops. It is almost summer after all. And beads would be fun…
Then comes the really fun part – stash diving. Ooooh the squishy. And more options than a blank sheet of paper! Even if it’s not very warm right this second, it was warm recently and will be warm again soon. So nothing too bulky or fuzzy. I’ve knit a billion green things lately…oooh, that’s a lovely shade of blue. Or purple! Dude, how long have I had that yarn?! Mmm…this one doesn’t seem to want to leave my hands. Oh drat, it’s not nearly enough for a top. I really want to knit a top.
And thus goes the process. For what it’s worth, I think I’ve settled on a silk blend, in blue. For now.
Applied i-cord is a simple, professional option for finishing many knitted garments. It functions much like standard “plain” i-cord, except that you slip the last stitch of each row, pick up a stitch from the garment, and pass the slipped stitch over. For a more detailed photo tutorial (and a peek at the scrumptious kettle-dyed yarn my hubby got me for Christmas), read on:
1. Cast on 3-4 stitches. The i-cord in this tutorial uses 4.
2. Knit to the last stitch on the needle, then slip your final stitch as if to knit.
3. Use your newly emptied needle to pick up a stitch from the neckline, sleeve, or wherever you are applying your i-cord. This example uses the back neckline. Knit the stitch.
4. Pass the slipped stitch over the picked up stitch and off the needle. You are now back to your original number of stitches.
Slide your stitches to the other end of the needle. The stitch attached to the garment is now at the bottom of your row. Repeat steps 2-4 until your i-cord is the desired length.
How widely you space your picked-up stitches will vary depending on the direction and pattern of the fabric. Every few rows, stop and gently tug the i-cord to make sure it’s not bunching or leaving gaps against the garment. If the cord looks bunched, tink back and leave more space between your picked up stitches. If the cord looks stretched and tight, pick up stitches more frequently. If you are working around the outside of a corner, you will need to knit 2-3 rows of standard i-cord before working the center stitch. If you are working around the inside of a corner (as in a v-neck) no special treatment is necessary.
When your i-cord reaches back to the starting point, bind off and seam using mattress stitch.
Et voilà, finished i-cord!
Need a project to practice on? Try my Potomac.
My purse project and I took a field trip yesterday!
We slowly made our way from monotonous suburbia out into the rolling hills a couple hours west…
and eventually all the way to the caverns.
The caverns still fascinate me every time I go, and I have to say my 7th graders seemed exceptionally absorbed and quiet too.
…especially after I explained how the organ works.
After our cave tour, we took the kids to a pretty hedge maze; a new experience for almost all of them.
Being the incredible city-slickers my students are, they proceeded to spend the next hour running in circles, giggling hysterically, and freaking out every time any of them saw a bug. The other teachers and I strolled calmly behind them and tried not to laugh too loud.
After a picnic lunch in which the air was filled with complaints of “It smells like dirt!” and “Pieces of the tree are falling on meeeee!”, it was time to zoom on home.
…except we didn’t “zoom” for long.
At least my sock and I had lots of time together.
After a solid week and a half of dry, windy daily fire-warnings…
it’s FINALLY raining! Which means there’s still hope of good local fruit this summer, and I finally get to add some color and sparkle to my Sky Scarf again! Woohoo!
I just caught myself brooding about the lack of rain we’ve had lately and some ugliness likely to go down at the day job tomorrow. That means it’s time to remind myself of all the good things going on. The current top 5:
1. It’s going to be 85 degrees today. That means time for a good book and a glass of wine on the balcony. Even better, time for SUNDRESSES!
2. The warmth means daffodils and other Spring flowers are just about done, but I have some of the last ones sitting on my baker’s rack as we speak. They make me smile every time I look at them.
3. The upstairs neighbors are FINALLY quiet for the first time in about 48 hours. This may mean Reading Time on the Balcony turns into Napping Time on the Balcony, and I am totally okay with that.
4. My little urban-defiance potted garden is beginning to look like a jungle. See?
Most of the tomato plants are taller than I am, which is actually a bit worrisome.
5. There is so much (bought at 1/2 price) Easter candy in the kitchen I’m almost, but not quite, embarrassed. I believe it’s time for a Reese’s egg.
A year or so ago, I noticed that a good 75% of the sweaters in my closet were blue. Admittedly I like blue, but that seemed like too much, even to me. So I began making an effort to avoid buying so much blue yarn. In fact today, as I was writing up a new pattern I’m working on, I was feeling quite proud of myself because the yarn is green, not blue. At least, until I set it down next to the other sweater I’m currently working on, which is also green. As is the sweater I’m currently wearing. I think I have a problem.
Any suggestions for my next color obsession?
Sometimes feeling good requires us to take a moment out of our day to actually pay attention. Once I take the time to tune in, I find I invariably feel better than I did just a moment ago. So in no particular order, here are 5 things making me feel good at this moment:
1. The stretch of gorgeous weather that is making my Sky Scarf look like this lately:
2. Blossoms on my tomato plants!!!
3. The tsoureki my family is about to devour.
4. The drool-inducing smell of the ciabatta currently in the oven for Easter dinner (yeah, we’re pretty shameless bread fiends around here).
5. The knowledge that my husband and I get an entire day tomorrow to lay around and do absolutely nothing. Bliss!
Spring has sprung! Around here, that means plenty of flowers and luscious greens. Unfortunately, it also means rain.
This is the kind of rain I don’t mind though. In winter, I hate the cold, cold rain with a fiery passion. Well, as much fiery passion as that much dark and dreary will allow. Warm-month rain is different though. The mild, gentle rains of spring and steamy, explosive storms of summer seem happier and more friendly, somehow. Maybe it’s the knowledge that when it’s over, there will be warm, glorious sun on my shoulders. Maybe it’s the knowledge that all this rain feeds the lovely dogwood and magnolias, or that the alternating rain and hot sun leads to fat, juicy berries come summer. But whatever it is, I love warm month rain.
Warm, spring rain is what inspired my latest design – the aptly named “April Showers“.
I think the rain-like streaks of the body and the bright, sunny daisies at the end do a good job of emulating Spring in Virginia. When the rain here gets just a little too chilly and winter-like, I can wrap this shawl tight around my shoulders and it’s like wrapping myself in a little bit of Spring. I love it!