Friday, March 12, 2010

Spring fling.

  Isn't it amazing how a nice spring breeze can brighten everything?  Even though it's still a bit chilly out, we're finally getting sunshine and the trees are beginning to bud.  Which means spring planting season, already started with a new rose bush.  I went for one called Miranda/Mirandy (spelling depends on who's selling it I guess but it's the same rose), which should yield some really nice crimson red blooms.  Now if I can only find a few black rose bushes that aren't so far away I'd worry they'd arrive dead.  Our local florists look at me oddly when I ask if they have them, with the exception of Lowes.  I guess although not ideal for good roses they tried by getting some tea roses that were a brown red.  Cocoa something or other, I forget the name.
   With spring also comes new yarn lines.  Some are out already, while some are still forth coming.  And I noticed the majority are doing the same ol' same ol' you see every spring.  Which is pastel.   I mean no offense, but honestly pastel is done every spring, it's almost like ho hum.
   However there is one yarn line, (and this is one of the reasons I love this company so much), that is giving us color.  Not only bright, bold spring colors, but they're creating a new yarn line that takes shades of these colors, blending them in such a way that you're not looking at striped yarn.  Instead you're looking at yarns with a shade, highlight and main color all in one.  The company is Knit Picks, and they're calling the new line tonals.  It won't be limited to one type or weight, which is sweet.  And although it's all over their group over at Ravelry, and they've shared images on their knitting community blog, just in case you come across this blog and haven't seen them yet, I'll share the teaser pic with ya.

  Aren't those gorgeous?  If you look at the orangy pink one you'll notice how it blends from a yellowing up through pink to this nice shell pink shade.  And they're in bright easter egg spring shades, from light to dark, which I think is appealing to all crafting types.  This particular one is from the tonal sock yarn, but they've hinted it'll also be found in other weights.
   Their simply cotton line, which was a 100% organic cotton yarn in four natural shades ranging from marshmallow off white to a really pretty brown.  This year they're adding color to them.  I can't wait to see, and if I heard right they're also bringing it out in fingering weight.  I'd love to have cotton socks that fit in my shoes when the summer heat strikes us, that's for sure.
   And lastly what I'm really excited about almost as much as the tonals is their cotlin (a cotton/linen blend), which will also come in new bold shades from canary yellow to lilac, cerise red, bison brown, whisker grey and pistachio green.  Although from the image it doesn't look pistachio to me, but more like a sea green but we'll have to wait and see when they release them.

    The cute puppy is Xena, which belongs to Kelly I believe?  The owner of Knit Picks.  Hopefully she won't mind my slurping her picture.  To hear more about the KP yarns their link is over on the right hand side of my blog here.  Trust me, you won't be disappointed.  Just click Knitting Community on their main page for their daily news and information about the new yarns.  From what I know they're releasing them this April, which gives me maybe enough time to finish some of what's already on my needles.   I hope :/
   Ok I waxed on too long about KP's new yarns.  But as a fairly new knitter, crochet/tatter for much longer, the more bold colors are what I think of when I think of spring.  Sure pastels are pretty, but they look washed out to me.  In a way I've thought they'd be more suited to winter, when everything's white.  The pastels would add a little splash of color without overpowering the crystal white of winter.   But in spring flowers come in color, the grass (at least here) is turning a nice rich green, the sky no longer looks washed out but turns that beautiful robin's egg blue.
   I just can't imagine being inspired design wise by pastels.  Not in the spring leastwise.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

My Sontag

   Well ok, it's mine but it isn't mine.
   I decided this last winter I needed something to keep warm.  Normal shawls never stay put, which is why I never wear them around the house.  But the best thing about the sontag is that it wraps around and fastens in the back, hugging the body so it never falls off.  And it's very Victorian, although probably worn more often in the early to mid Victorian years.
   I have a pattern in Piecework written by Colleen Formby.  If you'd love to make one, this is a great pattern from a very knowledgeable lady.  But I wanted to push myself and see if I could manage one from the Godey's lady's sontag pattern.  Which if you're familiar with Ravelry can be easily found.  If not, just google Godey's sontag, and it should have it in one of the hits.
  It's a very simple pattern, except as usual the pattern was sized small. (Isn't every Victorian pattern?)  Something I'd never be anyway even if I were skin and bones.  But the best thing about the original pattern is, all you have to do is increase the rows.
   I doubled the starting stitches from 5 to 10, and doubled the number of rows.  And the thing fit my back exactly as it should.  I'm only nearly finished with the right wing at the moment.  And I had to increase my rows there too, however same as for the back, no re-figuring needed.  Just keep knitting as per the instructions until it reaches around to the back without pulling too tightly.
   I did notice there isn't any mention of a button hole in the Godey's pattern.  And it describes it as if it just hangs like a normal pattern.  But we do know that Sontags were worn wrapped around and fastened in the back.  My guess is the long ago editor might not have known anything about it in reality, and just assumed it was another shawl.  But pictorial evidence shows how it was worn.  At least around the 1850's to 60's.
   I loved the green of Colleen's sontag, so I went with that, using Telemark from Knit Picks (my favorite yarn company), in Pesto.  Here's what I have so far.  Just ignore the wrinkles in the sheet under it, and the yarn ends hanging out.  I partially weave these in to anchor them, then with needle weave the remainder in after I'm finished.

And the back

It doesn't exactly look shawl like when stretched out does it?

  Normally sontags I've seen are plain knit.  The one Colleen did was in a basket weave stitch.  Since I'm doing that on a pair of socks I decided to go with one called Seersucker, found on page 19 in 400 knitting stitches by Potter Craft.

  The back of this stitch doesn't look too shabby either, I think.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Let's do the timewarp

   A couple days ago I came across a news article about what's being called Timewarpians.  Yet another new group, this one fast becoming my favorite, involving vintage fashion, living, etc, etc.
    In brief (hopefully), it's a group of like minded vintage lovers who are wearing their era of choice as an every day fashion statement.  Not simply for clubs, tea parties or meetings anymore.  Cnn tells of a group in London who call themselves the London Strollers.  Where they not only wear what looks to me like nineteen teen Edwardian fashion but stroll about a specific area, which is reminiscent of the Victorian habit of walking or riding through the park to keep in touch with the community.
  I think its' a wonderful idea, and it sure beats the nasty habit most have taken to, which is sitting at home in front of the Tele.
  What excites me most is the growth of this trend.  Those such as myself, who were lucky enough to have grandparents who were alive during the Edwardian era and are in love with the past themselves, can now, with pride, exibit those desires to be vintage.
  I think in part for those who are younger, it's a way of getting away from the noise, and stressful habits we've taken on as a society, and to embrace a more calming way of living.  Not to mention everyone, and I do mean everyone, is greatly improved by Victorian fashion.  I don't care who you are, the frumpy dumpy look we've been calling casual just makes us look frumpy dumpy.  But take a man even with a beer belly, and put in him vintage fashion and he's transformed into the portly gentleman.
   I think I'm definitely going to pick up my sewing again, and perhaps purchase a few more La Mode patterns.  Since it's 2010 some from 1910 should be quite suitable.