Wednesday, January 30, 2013

[Review] History on Two Needles

Disclaimer: I was provided a review copy of the e-book by Annie last fall.

Confession: I am a sucker for inspiration pieces and mashups. I love clever interpretation of source material. I love fashion as art, even though I am not particularly fashionable myself. In History on Two Needles, Annie Modesitt takes design inspiration from historical art pieces and interprets them for the modern knitter.

I have been a big fan of Annie Modesitt's designs ever since she released her Corset Tank pattern in 2004. I never did knit the Corset Tank, even though I bought yarn for it twice, but I started following Annie's work and Modeknit/Knitting Heretic blog. I even submitted some hat pictures to her 1,000 Fabulous Knit Hats project (a look book of some truly fabulous knit hats).

Several years ago, Annie started working on designs inspired by historical works of art. She was doing this independent of a publishing house, so she was free to share the process and a few preview patterns with her readership. Then, this past fall, Cooperative Press picked up History and published it. Yay! I've been waiting forever to see the finished project.

The designs in History on Two Needles are divided in to 4 time periods - Ancient, Medieval, Renaissance, and Victorian. There are pictures of the inspiration piece and ample pictures of the project. There are good charts and easy to read schematics. Of the 18 designs, there is 2 scarves, 3 hats or hoods, 2 capes, 2 skirts, 2 tunic pullovers, 2 tanks/sleeveless sweaters, and 5 cardigans/jackets, one of which is crocheted.

Most of the patterns have sizes that range from standard sizes through extended plus sizes. Several designs are sized up to 58-59" bust and hips. I think this crocheted Pembrook jacket would be especially fetching on an hourglass shape. 
There are some very fun and wearable accessories, such as a ruffled collar and earflap hat, as well as some frightening (yet totally awesome) ones, like this Sutton Hoo Helm.

I have added several items to my queue and can't wait to find time to cast on for a few history-inspired projects.

You can download History on Ravelry for $16.95 or buy a print+digital copy through Cooperative Press for $26.95.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Monday is for blogging

I've been up since 3am to give someone a ride to the airport (I'm so good), so naturally I took all those extra free hours I was awake to rearrange my living room furniture. It started with cleaning up the plant shelves and ended with dragging steel bookcases from one end of the living room to the other and accidentally dropping a shelf full of heavy things on the floor. Aren't you glad you are not my downstairs neighbor? 

You might have noticed there was no shop update last week. If there is an update this week, it will also be small and it might not be on Friday. I have a lot going on this week, but it boils down to paperwork, appointments and the sniffles.
Sheep 2
Pattern: Wee Sheep by Susan Anderson
Yarn: scraps 

So far, 2013 is much much more productive than 2012 was. I have already finished 4 small projects, have several more cast on so I can get ahead of knitting ennui. I have finished 3 books and 4 novellas (see the Goodreads widget on the sidebar). My office is half-way clean and I have rearranged the living room furniture. I even set up a workable work schedule. Mondays are for blogging, for instance, so I've written most of my posts for the week. The one thing I haven't done is finish writing my 2012 recap. That's next. It's half written. I just need to add pictures and links and it will be all ready to post on Friday

In other news, have you washed your swatch lately? Always wash your swatch. That goes double if you are using supewash yarn. This cowl turned out how I expected it to turn out. No, I didn't swatch, but I have knit with superwash merino worsted yarn a lot. I knew it wouldn't hold that stiff posture it had on the needles. Unless you knit it with a watertight gauge, it grows by about 20% more than you expect it to. 

Wash your swatch!
Pattern: Puff Rib Cowl by Sarah Hollandsworth
Yarn: Madeline Tosh in Burnished on Tosh Dk


Friday, January 25, 2013

New Color Cards

I have updated my color cards! There are several new colors, as well as well as several old favorites that were inadvertently left off of the old color cards. There were 48 colors. Now there are 72, including 8 holiday themed colors that are available only during certain times of the year or by special order. Click for a larger image or see the color cards on my website. 


Many of the colors can also be produced on spinning fiber. I don't have examples of every color on every fiber, but this should give you an idea. 

 I have also added several new options for custom orders, as well as updated the icons so it is easier to pick your base. I don't have the storage room to stock all my bases all the time, so if you don't see your favorite base listed, just let me know and I will get it in for you. Edited to Add: The bases below are not all inclusive. It is just what I have in stock right now. I will be getting in a greater variety of spinning fibers soon.

My creation

Monday, January 21, 2013

Hello, Again!

Howdy! Long time, no chat. Did you miss me? Social media swept me away in 2012, but I'm better now and happy to be back blogging. I spent an afternoon last week redoing the sidebars and the layout of the blog and website. If you are reading this through an RSS reader, click through and check out the new layout. I think it looks much cleaner. I even added a "Follow Blog By Email" option in the upper right hand corner.

My knitting has picked up the pace since the calender turned to 2013. I feel like 2012 was a year of not knitting very much. I haven't finished my yearly wrap-up (yet), so I don't know what the actual numbers are. It feels like I knit less, but read more. I reached my goal of 38 books in 2012. I have set a new goal of 50 books in 2013. It sounds like a daunting number, but I figure at least 12 of those will be audiobooks, 10 book club books, 12 Kindle e-books that I can read while knitting, plus a few novellas and a stack of books recommended to me this past year by the staff at the, sadly now defunct, local book store.

Rachel's bookshelf: read

Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm: A New English Version A Leaf on the Wind of All Hallows Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore The Uncommon Reader The Journal of Best Practices: A Memoir of Marriage, Asperger Syndrome, and One Man's Quest to Be a Better Husband Waking Up in the Land of Glitter: A Crafty Chica Novel

More of Rachel's books »

Book recommendations, book reviews, quotes, book clubs, book trivia, book lists

I just finished a test knit for a secret pattern. I can't share the full design or the color it is knitted in, but let's just say that if you like sophisticated neutrals dyed by yours truly and clever design by a prolific and brilliant shawl designer, then you might want to check out the KnitCrate subscription service. Hint hint!
Bryndis a
I am also working on a cowl designed by my friend Sarah from Yarn Geek Fibers. It is called the Puff Rib Cowl. Somehow, I neglected to knit the 5th row of the 5-row repeat enough times that I decided that the missing row needed to be a feature and not a flaw.
Puff Rib cowl
The only other thing in active rotation are my purse socks from yarn that my husband dyed and a Piper's Journey shawl (no pictures yet).
Super Hero stripes
And finally, recently off the needles, is my favorite sweater ever. EVER. This thing fits so good I can't even believe it. When I first finished it, it fit ok. It didn't quite button, the sleeves were too long and the yoke was bigger than I planned, but I still received several compliments on the sweater. Overall, it still fit pretty well and I was happy. The pattern is from Ysolda's Little Red in the City and is called "Lauriel".
Lauriel front
The sweater before.
As soon as I finished the sweater, I decided to make a few changes. I reknit the cuffs by reducing the number of ribbing stitches and shortening the ribbing. The sweater is fairly heavy, so I decided to stabilize the neckline with a row of crochet just inside the neck edge. I successfully gathered the yoke before stabilizing the neck. By running a gathering stitch and cinching in the yoke, the whole body of the sweater laid much nicer. I can now wear it buttoned, unbuttoned, or partially buttoned and it looks great. This sweater also made me a convert to the grosgrain method of finishing a button band. It is much more stable and professional looking.
(The sleeve are the same length. I'm just standing crooked.)

What's on your needles?

Saturday, January 12, 2013

January Newsletter

I have spent far too much time this evening trying to figure out how to post my January newsletter here on this blog. So instead of wasting any more time with a labyrinth of HTML, I will recommend you click HERE to read January's newsletter and click HERE to sign up to get the monthly email delivered to your inbox. There could be free soap in it for ya if you do.