WIPWed #53: Now We’re Zooming!

I started going to physical therapy for my wrist last week and already I feel a vast improvement. I tell you, those PT people know what they are doing. I’m still not overdoing it knitting-wise, but at least I feel like I’ve made a bit of progress this week!

Stitch Block Blues:

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Quince & Co. Osprey, colorways Glacier and Peacock. Click for project page.

As you can see, my Stitch Block Cowl has been growing. This was languishing a little because all of the fancy ‘knit one into the row below’ stitches that make such a delightful, cushy fabric were killing my wrist. However, right where you see that little purple stitchmarker I changed needles from the KnitPicks Harmony I always use to a new set of Knitter’s Pride Karbonz needles that I’m trying out, and it made a world of difference. (You’ll hear more about those needles in a full review soon!) I don’t know if the carbon material gave me a better grip or if the metal tips helped manipulate the thicker stitches more smoothly but the project has been much easier to knit since I switched and there were no glaring changes in gauge, either (hence the stitch marker and lifeline, in case I needed to rip back). So yay!

Something Blue:

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Blue Moon Fiber Arts Marine Silk Sport, colorway Ramalaba. Click for project page.

A while back, I saw a cute little linen stitch coin purse knit with silk yarn and thought it would look lovely upsized to a clutch for my wedding day. (When else would it be appropriate to carry a silk clutch, right?) However, the thought of knitting a bunch of linen stitch isn’t super appealing at the moment so I figured this would be a perfect opportunity to give my Zoom Loom skills a workout. I’m picturing weaving 6 of these little squares and sewing them in a 2×3 grid to make a bag that is approximately 8″ across the top and 6″ deep when all sewn up. Woven fabric is great for a bag since it doesn’t stretch like knitted fabric would, but I will probably still line the bag. Since I haven’t sewn anything since home ec class in middle school, this should get interesting. Luckily, I have my quilting Fiasco around if help is needed.

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The helpful man in question.

I have to say, I adore the varied and surprising skills my Fiasco possesses. This weekend we discovered that he is a genius at arranging lotion bars for product photos. Here was my attempt at making the mango-scented lotion bars look appealing:

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Hi. I’m a mango and this is my friend, lotion bar. We are appealing. You are impressed, RIGHT?! (Awkward.)

And here’s the same concept executed with infinitely more skill and patience, set up by the Fiasco:

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Ooooh yeah. It’s a mango-scented lotion bar party. Don’t you want to join in?

So yeah. He has now signed himself up to be my official product arranger and marketing consultant because the man has a gift that manifests beautifully through appealing mango placement. I was impressed (and ever so grateful). If you haven’t been following along at home, all of this is in preparation for the opening of my soon-to-be Etsy shop which will feature handmade lotion bars and lip balms containing lanolin (and yummy scents). You can read more info on the blog here or even ‘like’ the Facebook page if you’re so inclined, here. I’m hoping to open up shop by the end of this weekend with the bars I have already made, and will be adding lip balms and other scents as I obtain more supplies and create more stock. I’m getting super excited! The photoshoot made it all feel real.

Oh! If you haven’t entered already, I have a Eucalan wool wash giveaway going on that ends this week. You can enter until 11:59 Eastern time on Thursday 4/10 and I will choose and announce a winner on Friday. Good luck!

Check out more WIPs at Tamis Amis.

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Piece of Cake

I have met my cake-related soulmate. On Saturday, the Fiasco and I embarked on an epic road trip to my cousin’s Sweet 16. Along the way we planned to stop at 3 bakeries to try wedding cakes. We only made it to 2 because the second bakery was just. that. good.

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Supported spinning in the car!

In truth, I liked the place based on the name alone: A Little Something Bakery in West Hartford, CT. The owner, Beth, does some amazing things with cake.

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Don’t lie, you kind of want an ombre purple goth cake now, too, don’t you?

 

We had just come from a bakery that didn’t even offer to let us try their cake, we had to sort of awkwardly ask for it and they only had 2 different flavors (one of which was cryptically named ‘bride’s white’), so we were extra thankful when Beth pointed us to trays brimming with about 10 different flavors of cupcakes and let us have our pick. I gotta say — I’ve been on a low-carb diet for 6 months, and those cupcakes were a revelation.

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Scrabble tile wisdom.

She had so many flavors and such amazing combinations… eventually we ‘settled’ on coconut cake with lemon cream filling and red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting. I showed her a photo of the simple sprinkle design I wanted and she didn’t bat an eye when I requested only teal and green nonpareils instead of rainbow — while the other place basically told me I’d have to buy my own sprinkles to get the look I wanted. AND she’s going to make the red velvet cake in a blue/green color to better match the exterior decorations (I’m ridiculously excited about the blueness of the cake. It’s a silly little detail but I love it.)

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Handknit cupcakes!!!

Perhaps best of all — she’s a knitter! (Of course she would be, since she’s so awesome, amIright?) The knitting kinda clinched it, not gonna lie. It feels silly to be so excited about one detail of one day but honestly, it makes me incredibly happy to work with a wedding vendor who happily works within our budget, offers quality services, and truly seems to love what she does. She made us feel so welcome and wanted even though we didn’t have the largest budget and couldn’t afford one of her bigger and more elaborately-decorated cakes. It’s like that didn’t even matter to her — she was happy to have our business and we’re thrilled to be serving a fabulous cake to our wedding guests.

If you’re ever in West Hartford, consider swinging by for a cupcake or two. You won’t be disappointed. We were so giddy and excited by the whole thing that we got 20 minutes down the road before we realized we should’ve bought some cupcakes to bring to my parents (seeing as we were on our way to their house). We turned around, sheepishly purchased the cupcakes, and then when we reached the same stretch of highway we had gotten to before — there was a giant accident that held us up for 45 minutes. Those cupcakes cost us an hour and a half of our time but man, they were worth it! I can safely say that ordering the cake was hands-down the best part about wedding planning. (Though maybe that’s the residual sugar high talking…) If only everything could be this easy!

The Way It Goes

At the start of this whole wedding planning thing, I swore to myself that I would not become one of those obsessed people who got bogged down in the details and thought about nothing else. I believe I might have failed in my quest and it was the registry (the registry! of all things) that finally broke me.

You see, I’m a researcher. I thoughtfully consider every single outcome of every single decision I make (yup, welcome to hell). When it comes to shopping, I like to know what I’m purchasing, see what reviewers thought of it, compare brands, models, and prices, and generally do my best to ensure that what I’m spending my hard-earned money on is something that I both 1) really want and 2) believe is a good value. This compulsion for efficient, thoughtful shopping is apparently magnified by a million when I’m putting together a list of suggestions of what other peopleĀ  might spend their hard-earned money on for us. I managed to squeeze the whole registry ordeal into just three days but man what a three days those were. I’m still mad that I lost a large chunk of a night’s sleep over table linens.

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Yes, linens. We’re talking PLACEMATS, people. But they had to match the dishes, and not be boring, and potentially coordinate with the nonexistent walls of my future dining room, and look nice on our nonexistent dining room table of unknown wood color during the elaborate dinner parties we will undoubtedly throw once we’re married. Obviously. Except I couldn’t find any linens that both matched the dishes and wouldn’t be boring. I like color and pattern and texture and none of those things were working with the dishes I also loved. Then I had a stroke of genius: I could save the elegant, boring linens for those (certainly forthcoming) special occasion dinner parties and then MAKE MY OWN fun ones for every day use out of yarn that will MATCH PERFECTLY because I am a knitter (and fledgeling zoom loom weaver) and I have the power to MAKE IT SO. Now that I think about it, it’s probably not that weird that a fiber artist would care so much about what her table linens looked and felt like… right?

Nah… I’m probably still crazy. I was, after all, stressing out over coordinating items that I do not even own with rooms (and a life) that I do not currently have. But no more — the registry is done and reading this book has been a fabulous reminder that it is our neuroses that make life funny and interesting andĀ  some (like the Yarn Harlot) can even profit from revealing their quirky inner workings for all the world to see:

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Her newest book isn’t even about knitting but oh, I love it so. It’s chock full of essays about a variety of those extraordinary moments that make up ordinary, everyday life. I’m halfway through already and must’ve laughed out loud at least a dozen times. She might be my favorite person-I’ve-never-met. She’s certainly right up there with Jason Mraz, Margaret Atwood, and Terry Pratchett in the list of people I wish I could have a chat with over tea someday because I like the way their brains work.

Now if only my brain could go back to working like a normal person’s like it did pre-wedding planning, that would be great. I could really use more sleep.

IS #64: Other People’s Wedding Knits

If you remember, last week I talked about all of the lovely wedding shawl patterns I was considering and was so totally not going to knit for a variety of reasons. Well, due to your shameless enabling encouragement, I’ve been convinced to try to knit one anyway, all those reasons be damned! I’ve decided on Ann Hanson’s Twig & Leaf shawl, but have not yet started because I am seriously procrastinating winding up 1200 yards of laceweight silk. Perhaps I’ll be able to get to it tomorrow.

In the meantime, I thought it would be fun to look at some of the lovely and inspiring things other people have knit for their weddings.

Copyright mystique. Click for project page.

This raveler, Amber, amazingly designed and knit her own laceweight silk wedding dress! (Let that sink in a moment.) That’s over 2800 yards of yarn knit on size US 2 and 3 needles. It’s incredible and really looks lovely. I’m blown away. Incidentally, she also designs and sells bridal hair pieces on Etsy.

Copyright MandaKR. Click for project page.

I think weddings inspire the ‘go big or go home’ mentality in a lot of knitters; this knit by Amanda also took over 2400 yards of laceweight yarn. It is huge, gorgeous, amazing, and perfect with her silvery dress (that I believe she made with her mom, if I’m remembering correctly from the With This String, I Thee Wed board on Ravelry).

Copyright megknitficent. Click for project page.

I think this veil by Megan was the first wedding-related project that really inspired me. I loved the way it looked draped over her dress and imagined I would knit a shawl just like it to wear as a veil for my wedding. When I went dress shopping, I ended up purchasing a veil, so that won’t happen now but I still love the look.

Copyright Caitri. Click for project page.

The big knits are lovely but the smaller projects are wonderful, too. I love these handknit wedding flowers by Caitriona. If I look at them too long, I might want to make my own as well, and that would just be way too much knitting. Resist!

Have you seen any lovely wedding-related knits? What has been inspiring you lately? Please share in the comments below!

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IS #63: Wedding Shawls Not To Be

I had been waiting until I found my wedding dress to plan out my wedding shawl. I’ve had the yarn in stash pretty much since I got engaged and I knew, just knew, that I wanted to knit either a shawl or a veil for my “Big Day”. It makes sense, I’m a knitter, I love shawls, why wouldn’t I want to knit myself a luxurious, complicated, laceweight silk shawl to shoe off my mad knitting skillz and commemorate such an important occasion?

The yarn in question: BMFA Silk Thread, colorway Spinel

Well, here are a few reasons: 1) the wedding is a mere 4 months away, 2) I have kind of a lot to do between now and then (understatement), 3) I bought a veil when I went dress shopping that I actually really like and plan to wear most of the night, so the need for handknit decoration is essentially gone, 4) the wedding is in July, so the need for a shawl for warmth is moot, and 5) laceweight. silk. complex.

And yet, despite all these reasons, I still find myself dreaming of knitting a pretty shawl. I likely won’t make one, but I’m just going to wind the yarn and maybe swatch a little, no commitment, no hard deadline… we’ll see how it goes. Here are some top contendors.

Copyright knitspot. Click for pattern page.

I think Ann Hanson’s Twig & Leaf shawl would be the most achievable, if I were to knit myself a shawl by July (which I won’t, because we decided it was crazy, but if I did…). It begins along the bottom edge, getting the lace bit that requires concentration done first, then transitions to a short row garter stitch section for the rest of the shawl. It’s simple but elegant and has a flattering, semi-circular crescent shape.

Copyright Twist Collective, Aimee Gille, Kate Gilbert. Click for pattern page.

This Tendrils pattern by Susanna IC has a very similar look to the previous shawl, it’s just glammed up a bit with a larger gauge, a wide swath of smooth stockinette stitch, and added beads. I love the floaty, ethereal quality of the fabric. Honestly, almost any of Susanna’s shawls would make a suitable wedding shawl, she has such a graceful design sense.

Copyright Jane Heller. Click for pattern page.

The Trousseau shawl by Carol Feller is lovely, as well. It’s also very aptly named as ‘trousseau’ is defined as “the clothes, household linen, and other belongings collected by a bride for her marriage”. I love the way the different sections of lace swirl in opposing directions, the effect lends so much movement and life to the fabric. The pattern is written for thicker yarn than I have, so I might want to double it up… or just save the pattern for another day, another yarn.

Copyright nimruse. Click for pattern page.

While this pattern, Morticia by Boo Knits, is decidedly not aptly named for the theme of the day, I really love the unabashedly gothic, romantic drama of the design. The lace, the gratuitous beading, that irresistable ‘drippy’ edging! So interesting, so unlike any shawl I already own, so fancy. (I’m not sure why a gothic beaded shawl is equated with ‘fancy’ in my mind, but let’s roll with it.) There are actually a ton of Boo Knits designs that I’ve been wanting to knit for a while, Sweet Dreams and Premonition are near the top of the list.

I was hoping that writing my wedding shawl thoughts down would get the idea out of my system, but I’m afraid I’ve only convinced myself that I actually need to knit not one but several wedding shawls by July, because I love them all. Apparently, I am a highly covetous knitter and I want all the shawls, all at once.

What’s been inspiring you this week? Share a link in the comments below and/or let us know!

 

Dresses and Joy

I had a rather productive weekend! First, I found a wedding and dress, and second, I finished some socks! As I mentioned, I was kinda dreading the dress shopping thing and quite frankly, you could tell. While going through all the photos of all the dresses I tried on, I was highly amused by my facial expressions. I call this collage “The Many Faces of Dress Shopping”:

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But, as the middle photo suggests, I found a dress that works and was strong-armed into buying an overpriced veil (by my mom) and I’m pretty happy about it all. It was super helpful having my mom, my aunt, and my friends there — they really helped me sort through what I was thinking and made the process more fun. Although that hasn’t stopped me from having dress-shopping-related nightmares. I think because I only spent 2 weeks thinking about the dress and 2 visits trying dresses on, I’m stressing out that I didn’t get the right one. And when I look at photos of some of the poofier, more elaborate and more ‘bridal’ gowns, I wonder if I should have gotten one of those. But then I look at the photos of me in my lightweight, flowey bridesmaid’s dress and remember how comfortable I was in it and I feel better about it. There’s a lot of weird pressure caught up around the wedding dress, guys. It’s kinda messed up. People buy keepsake sketches of their gowns, take those weird ‘creepy floating dress’ portraits as if the gown (and not the woman in it) matters, and spend thousands and thousands (and thousands) of dollars on something they will wear for literally 5 hours. I just don’t get it. I like pretty things as much as the next gal but… priorities. Anywho, onto more fun things!

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BMFA Socks that Rock, colorway Comfort & Joy

I feel like a ‘Hallelujah!‘ is in order because this is the first pair of socks I’ve finished for myself in a year and a half, since September 2012! That is far too long to go without new socks. It was a Rockin’ Sock Club kit from 2011. I loosely followed the pattern (Joy by A. Karen Alfke) for the i-cord cuff and the linen stitch heel, but I customized the ribbing pattern and did a half linen stitch toe.

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I wish I had made the i-cord on top longer with more exaggerated ‘festoons’ because when the sock is worn it stretches out and you loose the neat wiggly effect you can see in some of the other photos on the project page. Other than that, I’m very happy with them because they’re new and they’re done!

I also received my Rockin’ Whorl Club fiber for February. If you don’t want to be spoiled, you should look away now!

 

Right now!

 

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BMFA Rockin’ Whorl Club Super Silky Merino, colorway Spring Fever

This fiber looks so sweet and delicious, I could almost eat it! It’s a blend of 40% extra fine Merino, 40% superwash Merino, and 20% bleached tussah silk. Tina suggests that this fiber would make excellent socks and I think that’s what I’ll likely try, when I am able to get around to it. For now I’m just petting it because it’s delightful.

I hope you all had excellent, productive, and joyful weekends!