Sunday, October 30, 2011

A Scandalous Cowl

Washed, pressed, and ready to wear for this evening — this merino and silk ribbon man’s cowl was made for masked crusader, Troy Samaroo. He travels for work often and needs something warm and versatile to wear over or under his coat. But mostly he wanted something slightly unusual to wear  for Halloween — super villains beware, a Scandalous Cowl is on the prowl.

We looked at a selection of fine yarns at Stitch Therapy. Maxcine has some beautiful yarns in the shop for winter. Among them are two luxury yarns: a deep saffron merino, SWTC Saphira; and a variegated hand-painted copper silk ribbon, Karabella Silk Organzina.

I sketched out a few basic ideas until we arrived at a favorable design. Troy’s signature contribution was a single archery-inspired sleeve guard — the Elves of Rivendale would be envious. I calculated 131 yards at 8 skeins of Saphira to marl intermittently with 92 yards of Silk Organzina at 3 skeins to create rustic striations and a deep texture.

Three gauges of needles create a smooth taper as the cable patterns transition into each other. Traveling ribs twist their way down the collar into a body of cabled lattice. The double silk hem adds stability and masculine elegance to this man’s garment.

The single left-hand sleeve is knit into the cowl at the neckline, which is reinforced at the front to make the cowl roll. The thumb hole is a minor detail but it makes this sleeve feel more like gear. The simple cable pattern runs up the arm picking up from the same patterns in the body. The result is a handsome, exquisite Scandalous Cowl.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Multi-directional Misnomer

Snow is sticking to cars and trees like a cold wet blanket. Fall looks more like winter today as Wall Street is occupied by protesters who attempt to exorcise the specter of corporate greed, job creation moves at a zombie-like pace, our middle-class is weakened  and more vulnerable to economic plunder, and our nation seems to have taken on extremely opposing political directions... and Halloween is here. This sounds more like the prologue from a movie about the Black Plague, doesn’t it?

On this cold wet night our group is going as a clan of cave people. Actually, we’re all going as our friend Chris who hosts his annual Halloween party dressed as a cave man. Luckily the party is just down the block. I made Stephanie a thick woolly scarf from six balls of of S. Charles “Natasaha” — a bulky luxury yarn made with 38% Wool, 33% acrylic, 24% Alpaca, and 5% Nylon. I got the last seven balls from Stitch Therapy. Who knew a cave woman could have it so good.

The Multi-directional Scarf, as it is called, is more of a misnomer. Much like our American politics it actually only has two directions that oppose each other obliquely. This method complements the character variegated yarns or yarns with varying thickness. It gives “Natasha” the appearance of fine Persian lamb. For a detailed tutorial click here.

Similar in technique to Entrelac, this scarf is knit in sections that meet perpendicularly. You can use any reversible pattern that has an even number of stitches.

A ribbed pattern using the same multi-directional method gives quite a dramatic result — soft elegant waves. By changing the direction in the middle of your work by slipping and wrapping the yarn around a stitch (W&T) increases the specific work area — this is called short row. Combined with a series of increases and decreases it creates a diagonal orientation.

The components of this Multi-direction Scarf are the first and last triangles, and a modular short-row section which is repeated to a desired length.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Feline Finery — A Cat V-neck Vest

Here’s a versatile investment for any cat’s wardrobe: a red cabled V-neck vest. It gives any house cat a smart, clean look for the Holidays. It also hides his cat gut. I wonder where Phillip put his glasses. The collar is set higher into the back. This compensates for the position of his front legs.

The construction of this vest might seem odd to anyone other than a cat. It’s looks more like a backwards A-line shirt. The chest area is shorter than the back, off-setting the neck line farther into the back. The V-neck helps define the front. The armholes are set directly below the chest as opposed to left and right placement to the body. Otherwise the ribbed facings are picked up and knit just as any sweater.

With larger armholes the vest allows Phillip more freedom of movement. He can easily go from destroying the couch to destroying the bed quilt with such ease. 

But how can one keep a cat vest fur-free? I have a feeling one has to accept the improbability.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Cat Mock Turtle

A woman asked me if I'd make her dog a sweater. I replied no... but... who said I wouldn't make our cat a hand-knit sweater? This jaunty mock turtle suits Phillip the cat just fine. This acrylic cat-casual is based on a raglan construction with the sleeves centered down in the front... or is it the bottom?

When I design a garment I keep body type of the wearer in mind. For Phillip’s sweater, the chest and the elbows are turned for a better fit. It’s made for lounging around on a lazy day, which is what Phillip does on most days. But upon closer observation the waste might be a bit tight or too short, it rides up when he walks. I see a cardigan with pockets in Phillips future.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Zuki — a Cherished Moment

“Thank You” by Paloma Baillie, 2011
H graphite pencil on printer stock, 8 1/2" X 11"

Sometimes art is a bolder reflection of life, than life itself. Often we cherish things that are simply intangible to others — snow globes, hand-me-down sweaters, a lock of hair, an envelope with baby teeth, old photos, letters and postcards. In Buddhist philosophy an attachment to a permanent self in a world of change causes suffering. But these possessions aren’t really what we keep. They are only souvenirs of an experience that enriched one’s life.

Much like this drawing of Zuki from possibly my youngest fan,  a bean filled possession has gone far beyond what any one person can hold in their hands. Of all the flattering things, this drawing is high on my list. “Thank You” Paloma B.!

Sunday, October 02, 2011

A Ginger Spiced Pork Pie at Brooklyn’s Atlantic Antic

I made a few adjustments to my Kings County Pork Pie hat pattern using Rowan Wool Cotton. It still needed to be washed and pressed but I wanted to wear it to the Atlantic Antic to see Les Sans Culottes. This hat is so light-weight and breathable, but mostly it kept my head warn on this crowded, chilly fall afternoon.

Men in black— Jacques, Clermont, and Pomme grab a beer at Last Exit bar.

Band leader and French ex-pat, Clermont Ferrand, en route to the stage

Tous de la bande, Les Sans Culottes — Clermont Ferrand (l'homme de tĂȘte). Kit Kat Le Noir and Courtney Louvre (les chanteuses deux), M. Pommes Frites (la basse), Tres SemmĂ© (la guitare) Johnny Dieppe (le clavier), Jacques Strappe (la batterie)

Madame Courtney warming up her vocals on a chilly day

The music was sweet, the street food was delicious, and the crowd screamed “Encore!” Notice the stroller brigade.

This crowd gets younger and younger each year. Where did their parents go?

Antoine, Janice, and family — this was a long day for the girls.

Adrianne looked surprised. I wonder what Katie just told her.

Tom and Michelle bobbed to French power-pop rock in a sea of people.

Troy and Pat hold court off of Court Street.

The youngest fan of all — Kit Kat kisses baby Delphine’s sweet little dancing feet. I wish I could have stayed longer, but my allergies were killing me. October is allergy season and I got the whole fall package this year — sneezing, itching, runny nose, dry eyes.

The gang went bar crawling and I wandered home sneezing. I made some coffee and revised my hat pattern with a simple side band. It’s optional but it adds an understated detail, and it accommodates minor adjustments within hat sizes.

Rowan Wool Cotton is a 50/50 merino blend that is so soft and elastic that it makes any hat feel like freshly baked bread. I particularly love this warm color (SH: 00965 / LOT: 3373). It’s the color of the best ginger snap you’ve ever had. Here’s a closer look with my friend Justin, he’s a busy man who wears many hats.