Monday, March 02, 2015

Toasty Warm Toes

My growing sock collection!  With a ball of Crazy Zauberball thrown in for good measure.  I’ve posted some of these before, but wanted to showcase one of my new favorite things about winter.  Handknit socks!

 My “vanilla” socks.  As I often knit sweaters and rarely can resist the temptation to go offroading when I do, it’s a real treat to have one type of knitting project where I can fall back on safe, boring predictability.  Especially of late – I seem to have less and less patience for fussy crafting.  I just want to knit rectangles.  Even hats, with their decreases and brims – oh heavens! – can stall for weeks on end.  One thing I like about these is the reinforced heel flap, as that is often where my socks wear thin.  Mmmm … so warm and comfy.

Vanilla with sprinkles on top.  You’ve might recognize the pair on the far left.  Gosh I love this pattern!  The fit is superb, the pattern is simple enough to memorize but incredibly neat and fun.  It really is about as easy as a vanilla pattern, but with a very light twist to it.  I highly recommend.  I actually knit up a fourth pair for Grammy before she passed away.  She always delighted in wearing them and looking at the bright pinks and purples and reds, but my parents never let me leave them with her at the nursing home because they thought the staff would just lose them in the wash.  So I brought them with me whenever I visited her, and when she passed away I slipped them into her casket during the viewing.  Is that morbid?  Personally, I like the thought of my grandmother going to the next world with a warm pair of socks that had been stitched with love.

Roo posted up an interesting sock pattern that looks like it could become my next vanilla-esque sock pattern.  Chocolate chip, perhaps?

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Green + brown instead of gray + gray

2015 has proven to be eerily sunny thus far.  Believe me, I will take the break from gray, gray, and even more gray (I mean, I'm embracing the gray but sometimes it is hard), but at some point it starts to feel like spring and I worry about our planet, I really do.  Also, selfishly, you cannot flirt with perfectly blue skies and 60 degree weather and not make me long for spring, full on.  Dipping back into gray and cold is going to be a sad affair indeed.  Sadness for me, relief for the planet.  I guess I can handle that tradeoff.

I've been taking advantage of our sunny days to spend more time on my bike.  Portland is known as a bike friendly town, and it truly is.  It's only a couple miles from my apartment over to the Rhododendrom Gardens near Reed College, a twisting path under tall trees and past ridiculously picturesque houses.  Portland, why are you so photogenic?

I really like these ferns growing out of the side of a stone wall.  It just seems so romantic, and also a testament to the life that will remain once humans disappear from this planet (as I imagine we will one day, as so many species before us have done).

I mean, really.  This looks like California in February.  California is a thousand miles south.  We're so far north that the sun's rays purportedly can't even convert Vitamin D within our bodies, that's how weak the rays are.  It cracks me up to think of these rationalizations for spending time in the sun.  I grew up with a father who has a strong aversion to the sun.  Whenever we're out, Dad can be counted on to head for the side of the street with the most shade.  (This is the man who is already wearing one of those floppy brimmed hiking hats for a turn around the block)  "Like a homing beacon," he jokes as he jaywalks towards the shade, angling his steps to maximize his time in the shade on this side of the road, and then to catch that tree halfway across the concrete.

Inevitably, some of this has rubbed off on me.  Then I moved up here and realized that if one did not log an adequate amount of time in the sun while it was here, one would end up with a severe, severe case of Seasonal Affective Disorder.  The solution?

Knitting in the park.  Exactly ;-).

The second time I came, my friend and her daughter joined us.  Z was born a month before I moved up, and R+T were the only 2 friends I had up here when I moved, so this past year and a half I've had the privilege of watching her grow up.  Amazing.  I do hope for a family of my own one day, but as I don't seem to be moving very fast in that direction, I've taken it upon myself to put Plan B in motion: ingratiate myself into the families of my friends with children via the role of Spinster Aunt.  It's been good so far.

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Handstitched Undergarments

In the last four months or so, I’ve stitched up a number of undergarments.

Leggings, using this tutorial that Ali swears by.  I can see why she’s made up four pairs of leggings from this pattern.  The drafting is straightforward but fun, and the pattern is easily customizable to include a calf measurement should your calves be wider than your knees, as mine are.  Other great things about these leggings: cuddly soft bamboo, and no more uncomfortable waistbands digging into my sides!  I’ve already got two more pairs cut out, which should tell you something.

Tap pants, using this 1930s pattern.  These are scrumptuously decadent, frivolous, luxurious, and impractical – when I wear them over in lieu of a half slip, I have to undo four pairs of snaps every time I go to the bathroom.  And yet, in the last 2 winters I have yet to wear my half slip once, whereas the instant I finished these up I wore them three times in a single week.  That’s sayin’ something.  Also, at a mere half yard of silk charmeuse, they’re a lovely way to slip a little treat into your daily life.

I’ve also been playing with Ohhh Lulu’s underwear patterns.  This is the Lola pattern, which I love in theory.  I especially love the look of stretch lace in the back.  However, this pattern needs a backside that is smaller and perkier than mine is, and as it has been 15 years since my tush was that small or perky, I will be retiring this pattern.

One reason I started sewing underwear was that I felt guilty about all my jersey scraps.  At least with wovens I can delude myself into thinking that one day I’ll use my extras as facings, pockets, linings, or in a quilt.  Underwear makes good use of those itty bitty leftovers – and since the Grace panties only use jersey for the side panels, I can use up ever smaller bits and bobs.  Sweet!  Also, this pattern uses not just jerseys scraps but woven scraps as well.  These are so much fun to make up.  I’ve seen a number of elegant versions online, but I happen to be partial to color explosions.  I admit I wouldn’t wear these day in and day out; the woven sections, though cut on the bias, doesn’t quite feel the same as pure jersey.  Still, once or twice a week they’re fun to reach for.  There will definitely be more of these.