The wonderful Episcopal priest who officiated at Mr. Trask’s and my wedding, and baptized Little Miss Feisty last year, mentioned to me once that she thinks she practices a “ministry of public imperfection.” As a working mother of two, she doesn’t always feel entirely together. I have mentioned that phrase to a lot of people in the last few years, and used it to remind myself not to lose perspective countless times both before and after LMF’s birth.
I have trouble remembering that, on this blog, nothing has to be perfect. I want the exact right photos, the exact right words – and I want to be at just the right place in my projects when I do blog.
Hence the long hiatuses (hiatii?) in this blog in 2014. And, when I think about it, that is just silly. A lot has happened this year, from the release of SSK Volume Two to progress on my dissertation to the slow development of New Guy. But I feel I can’t really post here if I don’t have a great photo of a great new project to share.
And yet one of the things I love about knitting is that you don’t have to do it perfectly. Time and again, I have told beginning and even prospective knitters that the beauty of the craft is that you can make a mistake or two and still end up with a lovely garment.
(Here we might indulge in a digression about the probably apocryphal stories of deliberate mistakes made by (depending on your source) Navajo or Persian weavers, or Quaker or Amish quilters, or Japanese potters…but I suspect most of my readers have heard those tales before.)
So I am musing on how I can have a knitting blog when my knitting time is very limited. (As I explained to a friend this week, with two kids, someone always seems to want at least one of my hands.) I want to knit, and I want to talk to you good people, AND I have some yarn to give away, so surely there is some way to make this work. (Do make suggestions in the Comments section below.)
Indeed, I have been working on this post, in dribs and drabs, since before the little guy was born – and he is now almost 3 months old. Time to hit “Publish,” wouldn’t you say?
It’s been an exciting couple of weeks here. We took Little Miss Feisty on a vacation:
And then I lucked into tickets to this tennis match in London:
My father bought himself and his wife these tickets several months ago; it’s been his lifelong dream to go to Wimbledon. At the last minute, his wife wasn’t able to come. So I GOT THE CALL. And spent a lovely afternoon and evening watching tennis with my Dad. I did some knitting on the way there:
This is yarn given to me by Catherine of chopkinsknits. I’ll explain more about our little knitting exchange later, but the yarn is fabulous: Mind the Gap by Trailing Clouds, and a bit difficult to come by. You can see that my stitches are a little too loose, so I need to go down a needle size or two. Update to come.
Meanwhile, this evening I will begin swatching for my Meryl Streep Cardigan (now available as a single pattern!) for the Streep Summer 2014 knitalong. Are you joining us? If so, have you created your Ravelry project and tagged it “streepsummer2014″ yet?
Because if you do you’ll be entered into a drawing to win some pretty, pretty yarn:
I have extended the deadline on this yarn giveaway to July 5, midnight GMT, because I didn’t do a very good job of publicizing the giveaway while on our crazy crazy vacation. So go ahead and create a project, so I can enter you in the drawing. If you’re having trouble tagging your project, or just want to make sure you are part of the drawing, you can post a link to the project in the comments section below.
We already have several people taking part, and happily a variety of yarn choices already. Becky is using Knit Picks Wool of the Andes Worsted Weight; I am using Neighborhood Fiber Co. Studio Worsted; and Fiona is using Stonehedge Fiber Mill Shepherd’s Wool Worsted. Here is my yarn photo for the knitalong; you’ll see that I’m taking a page from Becky’s book and used one of LMF’s Duplo figures to add interest. I call it “World’s Largest Ball of String.”
As you’ll know if you’ve ready Becky’s blog post on the knitalong, Becky is also making a smaller Streep, for her daughter. She’ll post about what she’s doing to create a child-size Streep. Fiona is making some changes in order to have her Streep fit just the way she wants, because she is between sizes. She’ll share some of her tips as well. Are you going to modify the pattern at all? We’d love to hear about it – tell us in the comments section below, or on your Ravelry project page!
At long last, the oft-requested Meryl Streep Lace Chevron Sweater is available to purchase as a single pattern on Ravelry. Ooh, aah! We’ve gotten a lot of requests to release this cardigan to be purchased separately, so it’s appropriate that it should be the first of the Volume One patterns available this way. [But more are coming, so sing out in the comments if you’d like to see a particular pattern sooner rather than later.] The pattern is $6.00 (US) in the Ravelry store, or you can still purchase the ebook, with 10 patterns, for $20.00.
The Streep was also the post you all chose in our poll about which sweater you’d like to see modeled on an average-size body. The photos in this post are Becky (Knitty designer extraordinaire) modeling a Streep made with Neighborhood Fiber Co. Studio Worsted (coincidentally, one of my favo(u)rite yarns).
As we planned a post about the sweater, Becky and I realized that it would be even more fun to do a knitalong of the sweater, with Becky and me both posting our progress on our blogs (hey! here’s Becky’s!) and offering tips about gauge, fit, blocking, and more. With its lace knit in a large gauge, the Streep seems to me to be an excellent warm weather layer for cool evenings. Plus, I have some green NFC Worsted just languishing in my stash. It was meant to be, I tell you.
So! Without further ado, the details of the knitalong:
- We will begin on July 1, and continue until September 1. This will give us time to knit in a leisurely, summery manner, and for the quicker knitters to then offer advice to the slower ones in the Silver Screen Knits Ravelry Group (or in comments on this blog or Becky’s).
- There will be discounts. Between now and July 1, if you create a Streep project on Ravelry, add a photo of the yarn you plan to use, and tag it “StreepSummer2014,” you will receive two coupons: one for $1.00 off of the single Streep pattern, and one for $4.00 off of the ebook of Volume One.
- There will be a giveaway. Likely not enough yarn to knit the sweater, but around August 1 we will select one person who has posted about their progress in the Ravelry Group and send them some pretty yarn. Details about this, with pretty yarn photos, will be posted on my blog in the next week or so.
- There will be advice and support. Multiple Streeper Becky will tell one and all what to do, and what not to do, when making a Streep. We’ll both post about our progress on our sweaters, do some troubleshooting, and perhaps even make some suggestions about modifications.
- There will be fun. Of course there will!
Should you have any questions about the knitalong, post them in the comments section below, or on the Ravelry Group forum. Don’t be shy!
Streep Designer Ann Weaver has offered up some words of wisdom for the knitalong participants (and anyone else interested in making their very own Streep):
I designed this cardigan to be worn with no ease or a little negative; that is, knit the size closest to your actual bust size, and if you’re between sizes, go with the smaller size. This cardigan is actually more fitted than the sweater that inspired this design. Because it’s knitted with worsted-weight yarn on US Size 10 (6mm) needles, the fabric has a lot of stretch, and I think it looks best when it’s being stretched a bit while worn. This opens up the eyelets in the stitch pattern, much like blocking opens up a lace pattern.
That said, if you prefer your sweaters less snug, feel free to knit the size above your actual bust size. I’ve begun knitting some of my samples a size or two larger than my size to enable more people to try them on at shows (I have a 32-inch bust, so my sweaters often look like child sweaters), and I’ve found that these samples, which have anywhere between 8 and 12 inches of positive ease, look and feel great. I can wear them over a long-sleeved shirt or even another thin sweater.
As for yarn, I LOVE the Fibre Company Organik that I used for the original sweater, but any worsted-weight yarn in a solid or semisolid color will work. I’ve seen a stunning version in Neighborhood Fiber Co. Studio Worsted and can imagine versions in tweedy yarn, like Brooklyn Tweed Shelter, or tightly-spun worsted, like Mrs. Crosby Steamer Truck, which I saw for the first time at TNNA. For the price, I don’t think you can do better than Shepherd’s Wool from Stonehedge Fiber Mill (a Michigan favorite of mine!). It comes in a ton of colors and is extremely soft!
Ann’s suggestions make me want to just rush out and buy lots more worsted yarn. I think it’s particularly interesting that she suggests some options that have less of a “halo” than Organik does, like the NFC worsted and the Mrs. Crosby (Hey, has anyone else had a chance to see this in person? Please tell us all about it!). I would love to make a Streep in BT Shelter, but between the price point and the difficulty getting it in England that will have to wait a while. And you all know how I love Shepherd’s Wool – I used it to design both the Elizabeth Taylor Dress and the Humphrey Bogart Pullover.
What about the rest of you? What yarns would you consider? Sweet Georgia Trinity Worsted? Rowan Pure Wool Worsted? What about some indie yarns here in the UK? Post your ideas in the comments section below, and don’t forget to create your project on Ravelry!
- Me: What do you think of this sweater? Does it make me look fat, or pregnant?
- Mr. Trask: Pregnant.
- Me: Pregnant, or Fat/Pregnant?
- Mr. Trask: Crazy/Pregnant.
So, some of you know this already, and some of you don’t, but: in September, Little Miss Feisty will have a brother. As you can tell from the photos above, he’s already making himself known such that occasionally people on the street congratulate me for being “almost done” with my pregnancy. [Au contraire, nosy bystanders! The young mister will be with me all summer.]
Since it’s England, I’ll still have a chance to wear some hand-knits in the next few months, and I thought I’d post about some garments I think will work for me in pregnancy. When I search Ravelry for “maternity,” I don’t get a lot of options (although that is changing; a few designers have started to think about pregnant ladies when tagging their designs). So–here’s what I’m dreaming about for the next few months.
1. The Tea Leaves Cardigan. I so enjoyed knitting this sweater, and it turns out it looks great with a bump, too. If I find the time (hah! with a toddler in the house), I’d love to knit a second one.
2. Goodale. A great cardigan for spring and summer, and I knit one out of Madelinetosh Pashmina the last time I was pregnant. Not always a yarn I would think of for summer, but in this case I think my Goodale will be a nice layer for mornings and evenings here, when there’s still a chill in the air. Unfortunately, I have to get over my block to doing the finishing. How hard is it to sew a couple of buttons on? Evidently: really quite difficult indeed.
3. The Greenfield Cardigan. Another Melissa LaBarre classic, this sweater was my absolute favorite when I was pregnant with Little Miss Feisty. I wore it when the sky threatened rain even a little, and I got a lot of compliments on it. There’s something about the way the front drapes that actually is a teeny, tiny bit flattering on a pregnant woman.
4. Corinne, from Knitty Spring 2011. I knit this in September 2011, when we were getting ready to move to England. Our house was little more than an empty shell and I was frantically mailing yarn all over the country. I thought I’d be wearing this sweater a lot last time, but it doesn’t sit on me quite right. You can see that I used a semisolid yarn, and it is a bit more mottled than I would like. I also think that the sleeves need to be lengthened and perhaps a contrasting button band added. I have a much better chance of altering a sweater than of knitting one from scratch this spring, so hopefully I’ll be reporting back on this one soon.
5. Flaming June, from Knitty Spring/Summer 2012. I got so excited about this sweater last time that I tracked down one of the few UK retailers offering the yarn – she was on vacation in Canada, for goodness’ sake – and convinced her to bring back enough Hemp for Knitting Allhemp3 for me to make Flaming June my very own. People, that yarn is still in my stash. This is the kind of thing that makes Mr. Trask weep late at night. I really need to knit this sweater, and soon. Especially since hemp is such a nice fiber to wear in the summer.
So – are you pregnant, or knitting for a pregnant lady? What do you think I should make this summer (other than teeny tiny kid clothes)?
Today’s Knitting and Crochet Blog Week challenge is “to blog in a way different to how you normally blog.” So a wordless post, or a vlog, or something completely new. I thought I’d give you all a little rundown of my week, in photos, and to allow myself no more than 30 minutes in which to complete the post. [I was inspired in part by Franklin‘s ‘miniature entries,’ which get the job done in a short space.]
So, here’s what my iPhone photo files reveal about the week:
Who knows what the weekend will bring?
Plus, hey, copies of Silver Screen Knits, Volume Two are shipping, and ebooks are available on Ravelry! Use code SSK-BLOG for a 10% discount on the book, or sign up for the Silver Screen Knits Behind the Scenes newsletter to get a code for a larger discount, plus exclusive designer interviews and yarn giveaways.
Today’s Knitting & Crochet Blog Week topic/challenge is to do something new with photography, either of a knit object or in the way you use photos to illustrate your posts. I’ve given myself the challenge of using my “stock photos” (pictures I’ve taken around Oxford in the past, without knitting) to write about an upcoming event. Let me know what you think in the comments!
Here in England, we’ve just come back to reality from a bank holiday weekend, and another one is coming. Hurrah for May! On May 26 (Bank Holiday Monday), I’ll be at Oxford Yarn Store with copies of Silver Screen Knits, Volume Two. I’ll sign books, and Karen will host a tea party!
I do love a tea party. When I was growing up in Washington, DC, my mother organized a few annual trips with friends (and their mothers) to high tea at the Four Seasons Hotel in DC. Once, when we were in high school, Emily and I went there for high tea and, oddly, Michael Bolton was there. Clad in a t-shirt, shorts, and bare feet, he sat down at the piano and played for a while, to the bemusement of those of us there for scones and clotted cream. One can only assume he was a guest of the hotel. -But I digress.
You all might recall that OYS hosted the Silver Screen Knits Launch Party last fall, with champagne and music and general merriment. This time, Karen and I thought it would be fun to have a tea party one afternoon – and when better than a bank holiday?
I have high hopes that Little Miss Feisty will be able to attend, at least if her rigorous nap schedule doesn’t interfere. And that means Mr. Trask will be able to come, too (and wrangle her).
Oxford Yarn Store is a quintessential local yarn shop (LYS) – Karen seems to know everyone who comes in by name, and she hosts several knitting groups a week there. She organizes fun, interesting events (Saturday, May 24 will feature both sheep shearing and a presentation from the Oxfordshire Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers). She sells British wool and yarn from indie dyers. And she supports local designers like me!
Just as I did last time, I’ll bring some garment samples from the book (any requests? post them in the comments!), and I’ll be available both to sign books and to talk about yarn selections for different patterns. Please join us!
Requisite self-promotion (many apologies):
Have you ordered your copy of Silver Screen Knits, Volume Two yet? Copies begin shipping tomorrow! Use code SSK-BLOG for a 10% discount on the book, or sign up for the Silver Screen Knits Behind the Scenes newsletter to get a code for a larger discount, plus exclusive designer interviews and yarn giveaways.
5KCBWDAY2 Dating Profile
Write a dating profile for one of your past finished projects.
Wooly pink hat (Madelinetosh Tosh DK, Ms. Taylor) seeks companion for travel, outdoor adventure, learning new things. Began life as part of Tea Leaves Cardigan project, but turned into extra yarn and then stash. Finally found my calling as first item knit for new baby, when mother learned she was having a girl. Traveled with family to Wales:
I’m unable to reveal my current location. The child on whose head I resided for the better part of a year became disillusioned with headwear, and one day (it is presumed) she yanked me off and tossed me out of her buggy. This had happened several times before, but her staff always retrieved me. Then, one day, they didn’t. [It was the male staffer on duty that day. But I digress.]
In search of new head and/or fellow hat with whom to explore the colleges and thrift stores of Oxford with a view to attending a bop. Willing to consider hat of other colors and fibres, but machine-knits need not apply.
Requisite self-promotion (many apologies):
Have you ordered your copy of Silver Screen Knits, Volume Two yet? Copies begin shipping on Thursday, May 15! Use code SSK-BLOG for a 10% discount on the book, or sign up for the Silver Screen Knits Behind the Scenes newsletter to get a code for a larger discount, plus exclusive designer interviews and yarn giveaways.
The votes are in! In a very tight contest, those of you who voted (and thank you for participating) chose Ann Weaver‘s Meryl Streep Chevron Lace Cardigan as your “modeled on an average knitter” sweater. I’ll be posting photos of this sweater on me and the fabulous Becky Wolf. Additionally, we’ll be releasing the Meryl Streep pattern as a single pattern to purchase on Ravelry. Hurrah!
Since it’s going to take a few more days to pull this together, I’ve posted the interview with designer Ann Weaver that went out to Silver Screen Knits: Behind the Scenes subscribers when Silver Screen Knits, Volume One was released. Subscribers received an interview with each designer from Volume One, and we’ll be sharing those interviews on this site in the coming weeks. [If you’d like to receive the interviews with Volume Two’s designers, plus a pre-order discount code for Volume Two, notification of special giveaways, and more, please subscribe to the SSK Behind the Scenes e-newsletter. Thanks!]
As those of you who have Volume One may remember, this sweater was inspired by one worn by Meryl Streep in the movie Plenty, based on the play of the same name by David Hare. It begins and ends with a shot of Streep in a field in France just after the Allies have won World War II. Streep’s character, Susan Traherne, was part of the French Resistance and is full of hope for the future. The rest of the film spans two decades following the war, showing how Susan copes with “normal life” after the war. The film’s eclectic cast includes Tracey Ullman (herself a knitter!), Sting, Sir Ian McKellen, and Sam Neill.
The line from the film that we selected to highlight in the book was
“I want to change everything…and I don’t know how.”
–Susan Traherne (Meryl Streep)
A call to arms for knitters who need to alter patterns, perhaps?
If you own a copy of Silver Screen Knits, Volume One, you can see the original film still that inspired the Meryl Streep Chevron Lace Cardigan. It’s very much of the mid-80s, boxy and knit from variegated yarn. Ann Weaver’s version is a bit more accessible, with waist shaping and a longer fit.
We’re lucky to have several samples of this particular sweater. The first sample was knit by Ann herself. Becky, who has been my test knitter for several years now, knit a second sample of this sweater for me, and a third for Neighborhood Fiber Co. in their luscious Studio Worsted (man! how I love Studio Worsted). Becky and I are pulling together our clearest photos and best advice about this sweater, and are looking forward to showing it off for you all very soon.
In the meantime – are there other garments from Volume One that you’d like to see as single patterns? Comment below before May 12, noon GMT, and I’ll enter you in a special drawing to win some (ooh, aah) Sundara yarn that has been languishing in my stash.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, it’s been an exciting few weeks. Not only is it American tax season (mailed ours off this morning), but I had a rather large birthday (no, I will not tell you the number) and today we are beginning preorders for print copies of Silver Screen Knits, Volume Two.
- If you would like a 20% discount code to preorder Volume Two, sign up for the SSK: Behind the Scenes e-newsletter and it’ll pop right into your mailbox.
Just like Volume One, the book includes introductions to each inspiration movie, memorable quotes from the movie, and descriptions of what to look for as you’re watching the film – plus, eleven gorgeous patterns!
Some of the movies that inspired us this time: Rear Window, How to Marry a Millionaire, The Great Gatsby (1974), Singin’ in the Rain, and East of Eden. We got carried away by a few of these films; Susanna I-C ended up designing three patterns (two sweaters and a shawl) inspired by Grace Kelly in Rear Window, while Becky Wolf and I tackled Mia Farrow and Robert Redford in The Great Gatsby, and Becky created a stunning cardigan based on the same film that inspired my Sophia Loren pullover from Knitty Deep Fall 2013.
And then there’s the Gene Kelly vest from Singin’ in the Rain, Ann Weaver’s version of a sweater worn by James Dean in East of Eden, a pretty lacy skirt inspired by Brigitte Bardot, some lovely versatile fingerless gloves by Tanis Gray, and a cardigan inspired by Lauren Bacall. You can see photos of all these garments over on the print pre-order page, so even if you aren’t sure about buying do go on over and check it out.
Print pre-orders include an e-mailed link to download a PDF of the e-book; those e-mails will also go out on May 15.
To celebrate the book’s release, in the coming weeks you’ll see:
- The release (due to popular demand) of two Volume One patterns as single digital patterns on Ravelry;
- A true, illustrated-with-photos tale of my meeting a wild and crazy movie star;
- Photos of one of the Volume One patterns on Becky and me, with advice on altering the pattern to fit you;
- Interviews with the Volume One designers (previously exclusive to the SSK Behind the Scenes e-newsletter); and more.
So, as they say, watch this space. Also, Happy Birthday to me, and congratulations to everyone who sent their taxes on time. Most of all, as always, thank you so much for your support.
No, seriously. I want you to!
This isn’t just because I spend way too much time in the morning staring into my closet (although Mr. Trask will confirm that I do).
It’s that I want to get some Silver Screen Knits sweaters onto bodies that are not size 4 or 6. I really appreciate it when designers and publishers post photos of their garments on average people, not styled models, and explain what works about the fit of the sweater as well as what doesn’t. Those of you who know me in real life know that I am short (5 foot 2) with broad shoulders, and I often need a second opinion to decide whether a garment fits me well.
Anyway – it’s high time I put my money where my mouth is.
To that end, fabulous test knitter and designer Becky Wolf and I are ready to share photos of ourselves in a sweater from Silver Screen Knits: Volume One. We’ll tell you the size of the garment, our measurements, and modifications we might try in the sweater pattern to help the finished product fit us. [Note: depending on the size of the sample we used in the photo shoots, we may or may not need to model a different size.]
If this proves popular, we’ll do it again, but for this round you can choose from three sweaters:
- The Meryl Streep Chevron Lace Cardigan, designed by Ann Weaver;
- The Audrey Hepburn Garter Stitch Cardigan, designed by Veera Välimäki; and
- The Faye Dunaway Traveling Top, designed by Danielle Romanetti.
I’ve set up a handy-dandy one-question survey on Survey Monkey for you all to vote for the sweater you’d like to see. So use the links above to check out each sweater’s Ravelry page, then make your choice below.
The survey closes on April 15 (next Tuesday), so pop on over and tell us what to wear. As my mother used to say – It’ll be fun!