Monday, August 11, 2014

Milkweed Shawl

I know it has been a very, very long time since I've posted, uncharacteristically long, but never fear!  I have neither vanished nor been kidnapped by knitwear-hating elves.  And in fact, I have something beautiful to offer!

Interweave Knits has a pattern of mine in their Fall issue!  It's called the Milkweed Shawl, and the description is as follows:

"With milkweed disappearing and taking the Monarch butterfly with it, there’s no more joyous sight in October than milkweed fluff drifting its way across a field. The Milkweed Shawl is meant to celebrate fall and the ways in which this season of dying is also one of rebirth.”

How grown up and ecologically responsible I sound.  Nary a mention of fairies or ponies anywhere!

The Interweave version is knit using Manos del Uruguay Fino; this is the prototype I knit for myself using Sundara Fingering Silky Merino.  See how I managed to keep it a secret all this time?!?  It was hard.

The shawl features a neckline of netting, resembling the seeds.  It increases at five points; one at each edge, and three radiating sections, causing the shawl to widen quickly, so that it can be worn comfortably either draped around the shoulders, or wrapped as a scarf, which is how I normally wear it.

The second section’s lace pattern resembles the silk pappus (the fluff).  The increases in this section are limited to the edge increases.

The final section is edging that resembles the milkweed pods themselves, a looping leaf-like edging that adds length to the finished shawl. 

Enjoy, everyone!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

This Is My Beautiful Life

About a week ago, I was working at my local bookstore (Oh yeah, by the way, I work at Word!  If you're in the area, come visit!) and a former colleague from my publishing days came in.  And it was super cool--I hadn't seen him in years, he's become a very successful agent since then, not to mention a published novelist in his own right, and there to do a reading, and it was great hearing all about his doings.

And then he said, "And hey yeah, what are you up to?"

I looked around the bookstore.  I am up to this.  And mind you, it's a super cool bookstore and only talented and highly intelligent people like me are allowed to work there, but still....this side of five years ago former colleague guy and I were at just about the exact same place in our lives.  And then I left work and had a kid and now I've gone back to work but it's only part-time and our lives are very different.

I haven't had one of these "Is this right?  Is this my life?" moments in quite a long time.  Years, in fact.  It doesn't really work to answer former colleague guy's question with, "I'm a really good mom," but that's how I've been evaluating my worth for the past bunch of years. 

I furrowed my brow over all that for a few days. And then Willow and I whipped up a batch of slime and brought it out onto the porch to play with while I picked basil from my porch planter to make pesto with, and I remembered, actually yes:

I'm a really good mom, but that's by no means all that I am (though it is a huge chunk).  And I love my life at home with Willow.  This moment right here is worth so much.  As is watching Willow gather herbs to feed the black swallowtail caterpillar that has moved into our parsley plant (he's welcome to it.  That parsley plant went to seed last year; it's flavorless now).

As is hosing down the girl-child and the porch and me and pretty much the whole world to clean up the slime. 

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Romper-Type Person

So I made myself something else!  And once again...I'm not sure I like it.  Sigh.  I'm wondering if perhaps I'm just lacking in self-awareness when I'm picking out patterns.  Puffed sleeves?  I like them in pictures and they're all Anne of Green Gables and everything, but come on.  I don't wear puffed sleeves.

The same is true with rompers.  I love rompers when I see them.  They look so comfortable, and even when they are waaaaay too short for the women wearing them I think they are cute and fun but I try one on and say whoa that's waaaaaaaay too short for me never mind.

So I figured, I'll make one!  I'll make it so it's not too short!  I'll make it in the most fun fabric I can find--look, tiny guitars!  Or maybe they're mandolins or lyres...whatever.  I like them.  And it is fun, and rompers are fun, but.....

Sigh.  Maybe I'm just not fun.


But look!  Buttons!  I made buttonholes!  Bask in my buttonhole-making glory!

In theory, I don't dislike it.  I just haven't, you know, worn it outside yet.  On other women I think they look sexy but on me they just kind of look like I'm a 5-year-old.  I want to be the kind of person who wears rompers.  Romper-wearing people are happy and fun and know how to have a good time and get dirty (not that I would ever want to get my guitar-mandolin-lyre fabric dirty) and be the best mothers ever.

I'll just have to put on some Laurie Berkner and drink a lot more caffeine.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Knitting AND sewing!

Hi there!  Remember me?  I haven't been posting because I have been very, very busy.  Mostly with non-crafty things, but I did squeeze in some!

This is my handspun, which is now back on my lap, and is slowly turning into honey cowl.  Very, very slowly.  So many knitters have knit it that I thought, hey, it must be fun, and though I am not especially a cowl person, it sure does look pretty in that photo.  But oy.  It is taking me a hundred thousand years, and it is so. boring.  Even the interest of the yarn isn't enough.

So given my boredom, I have cast on two other projects--another bandwagon, Hitchhiker, as a gift for a friend who brought me much yarn from Skye.  It too is a bit boring, but Shilasdair is worth it.  And then I'm also starting a much-requested pattern for a Grown-Up Maile sweater--it shouldn't take me long.  Expect the pattern before the Fall.

And there is sewing!  I sewed Willow a dress, but my ever-faithful model turned bashful and is hiding behind her closet so you'll just have to kind of imagine it.

I sort of ignored things I didn't understand about the pattern while cutting it out, which made things tricky (this is how I learned to knit!  It's fine!) but my mom sorted me out and taught me how to do the gathers (do you see the gathers?  Under the stuck-out tongue?  She was really messing with me.)

The sleeves were supposed to be puffed, but by the time I got to them my mom had gone home and so I was lost in the tall grass.  No puffed sleeves.

Still!  A completed, you can actually wear it places dress!  And she loves it, oh how she loves it.  And I love it too.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Nova Slouch

This is Nova Slouch, a quick and easy beret with  just a bit of stranding to keep it interesting.

It's meant to be worn a bit loosely and comfortably, so as to avoid both hathead and headache, but the band of colorwork around the brim is graspy enough to keep it on without the need for a ton of pins.

It's also quite lightweight, knit in fingering weight over US 4 needles--a good Spring and Fall hat, and neither so heavy or huge that it will suffocate you trying to knit it in the Summer.

I made it with leftover bits of Madelinetosh Tosh Merino Light, in Cherry and Tern.  The hat only uses about a hundred yards of CC, so it really is a good stashbuster.  Because who wants to waste any Madelinetosh?

It's available at my Ravelry store.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

No Longer Young Adult

So RockNoodle and I went to BookCon this past weekend, and she was by far the predominant demographic, but there were plenty of grownups lining up to see Veronica Roth and John Green and Cassandra Clare and Holly Black and Maggie Stiefvater (!).

And it got me thinking.  I read a lot of YA.  I have never really questioned this--I just really like it, that's all, and I always have.  And I mean always.  From the time I was able to read novels, I was reading what would now fall under the umbrella of young adult.  I was used to the characters I read about being older than me, and I remember being so excited when I was finally the same age as the characters in the books I read (like when I was ten, and I was the same age as Alanna when she went to the palace to pretend to be a knight...that was awesome).  And of course I kept reading, and Alanna kept getting older and so did the other characters I read about, like Sally Lockhart, who was actually an adult with a child by the end of the series, but you would still find it in the children's section, a fact that now strikes me as odd.

But slowly, I became older than the characters I read about.   I think there are several reasons for this, the most obvious of which is that YA became an even more exciting genre, with lots of children and adults of all ages reading it, and it's a huge umbrella with really nothing bringing it together other than how its characters are between the ages of fourteen and twenty. 

But why those ages in particular?  I get why the readers who are that age are interested, but why are the rest of us looking back?  I think it's because we as a culture consider that period of life pivotal--you are on the cusp of becoming an adult, and you could be anything at all.  It's a very exciting time, theoretically.  But I know that I found my teenage years neither enjoyable nor particularly formative.  College had a more profound influence on who I am now, but not in the ways that you might think.  If I had to point to a time that I consider pivotal, it would be meeting Dave and deciding to be a part of his life, and what that meant for the kind of adulthood I would have.  I was twenty-three. 

So maybe that's not that far off the age range for YA, and maybe I'm just a late bloomer (actually there's no maybe there).  And the next pivotal point for me would be having Willow five years later--at the ripe old age of twenty-eight, which is decidedly not YA, and parenting really isn't something that is considered or discussed in YA, or not the books I read, anyway.  There's a reason for that, sure--I like to escape as much as anybody else, and I'm fascinated by mythology and why and how we use it, and if I'm going to read a book, I'm thrilled if it's got spaceships and magic and selkies.  But all good science fiction or fantasy novels talk about real lives through the lens of magical spaceship life, and have something relevant to say--it's not just escape.  So why are these books relevant to us grownups?

I have zero interest in adult malaise and wanting to have an affair and being bored with your life and your children or any of those novels; however well-written they may be, they make me want to slap someone.  Is that what I'm supposed to be reading now?  'Cause I'm not gonna.  But though I do and will always love YA, I wouldn't mind if I could read about parenting and spaceships.  Or watching extended relationships with werewolves, not just the beginnings of them.  Because I don't think that our teenage years are our only pivotal ones.  God forbid we stop believing we have the opportunity to change who we are.  (Perhaps that's the point adult malaise novels are trying to make, but they're so depressing and self-obsessed.  Maybe if there were some vampires thrown in or something.)  I have rewritten a lot of myself since Willow was born, and plan to continue doing so.  My personal goals have changed enormously, almost as much as if I'd suddenly discovered I have fairy blood.  I'm thirty-three, and I have more in common with fictional teenagers than with fictional adults--but parts of my story are still missing.  The Raven Boys could easily have been written about adults, but Maggie Stiefvater chose to write about teenagers, which makes me simultaneously glad and sad.  I'm glad that there are books about smart, mature teens.  I'm sad that there aren't books about curious, malleable, and wistful adults.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Sewing Fail?

So this is my sewing table.  You can see how very "mine" it is.  But the sewing machine itself is off-limits and no longer covered in a threadbare pillowcase but a sewing machine cover that I made with said sewing machine!  Go me!

(I'd link it, but the free internet pattern I used has disappeared since I used it two weeks ago...)

All well and good, right?  But then I had to go and try something much more a dress.  Like this dress, which doesn't really look much more ambitious but clearly is.  Part of it was my fault, because I am teaching myself to sew kind of like how I taught myself to knit.  Fold and iron to mark where to sew?  Wow, that's a lot of effort.  Why not just use chalk?  (I have not yet figured out that this was a mistake, but I probably will in the future.)  The back and the front look pretty much the same.  They must be exactly the same!  I will use just one for both!  (I did very quickly figure out that this was a mistake).

But a little finagling with the sleeves and I fixed it so you can't really tell (really, you can't).  But the dress.  Oh, the dress.  It is awful.  Note my expression on the right there.  Grim, very grim.  But then...I looked at the pictures and I don't know, it kind of grew on me.  

I don't have any pictures of me in the dress sans belt.  Nor will I.  I am not a masochistic blogger.  But with the's okay.  Not, you know, awesome by any means, but I do still like the fabric and sure, it's kind statement-y and I have to be feeling extra unselfconscious on days I want to wear it, but...

It's okay.  I don't feel complete hatred.  That's something.