Friday, September 24, 2010

Exotic Wood and Chinaberry, a New Pattern

When I was a girl, my dad worked as a machinist in a lumberyard in the Bronx. He used to come home smelling of sawdust. I loved that smell -- maybe it was dad, maybe it was the wood.

Every once in a while he would bring home a special bag. Inside would be small blocks of the exotic hardwoods that the lumberyard handled. There would be babinga, ebony, mahogany and teak. There were so many, I could never keep track, but it was a great lesson in geography because he used to tell us where each tree grew, and we would find it in the atlas. I don't think he ever brought home any wood from the Chinaberry tree, but it sounds exotic enough that he would have. It grows in China (of course), as well as Australia and India. The tree yields small purple or yellow flowers that look like bells. These bells remind me of the lace on my newest pattern, Chinaberry.

This pattern took some time to develop. I wanted to take the leap into self-publishing and I had some ideas, sketched out. I decided on one. Chinaberry started out as this sketch:
As you can see, it was originally meant to be sleeveless, and it still may have an incarnation as that, but for this piece I wanted sleeves. After the pattern was written and the prototype was knit (see post from July 25th), I had some lovely women test knit the pattern. A huge thank you to Deb (jstdt3t), Liz (oddlizard), Rose (rosejulia1), Connie (faeriesandpixies), Louise (louiseclsc171260) and Elly (iknitcupcakes) for the many, many hours they took to not only knit the pattern, but find my errors and keep me grounded in reality. Without their support and encouragement, I'm not sure I'd ever have had the courage to self-publish.

Then, of course, came the pattern layout. I'd been working on parts of the design layout all summer. I knew what I wanted my patterns to look like, but it took me the better part of this month to tweak it down to what I envisioned.

Yesterday, my husband and I took a ride to the beach on the Long Island Sound near where we live for the photoshoot with out new camera. The day was fantastic for late September -- 80's and sunny (and just a little bit sad because you know you won't be getting many more like it). I love the light in the autumn. Although my hair leaves much to be desired (appointment next week, Nicole, are you listening?), I think the pictures were wonderful. So, thanks Joe for being so supportive.

Chinaberry is an elegant, easy-to-wear, three-season lace pullover in five sizes (S, M, L, 1X, 2X). It features set-in sleeves, high jewel neck and center front placket. Simple lace adorns the yoke, cuffs and bottom band. All pieces are knit flat, bottom up and seamed. The pattern is written in table format for ease in following directions.

It's available to download now through Ravelry.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Kidney Pie and the End of Summer

Today is unofficially the last day of summer -- in all possible ways. I always try to pack in all the fun I can between Memorial Day and Labor Day. This year we did the "'burgs." Williams in July with good friends and Gettys in August with husband and sons. I spent serious time in the city (NY), yarn-shop hopping with a good friend. We beached, picnicked, lolled around the pool, walked, ran, played ball, bbq'ed, movie'd and assorted other things. Unfortunately there were many things we wanted to do, but didn't. There's always next year, but...

as they say, all good things come to an end...

Today is the end. Tomorrow we all start school. I'm changing grades, sons (both) are moving up to different schools and daughter is a senior. As much as we all have something to look forward to, no one wants to leave summer behind.

Yesterday we spent the day at our cousins' beach house in Mattituck. It was a beautiful day, weatherwise and otherwise. Today we tried to have fun with a family bbq, but we all kind of moped.

To cheer myself up, I finished a new pattern, the Kidney Pie Cap.

Beautiful daughter is modeling. (It was hard to get her to laugh today, but we managed. She even managed to get me to laugh when she did this "supermodel?!" face.) The pattern is free on Ravelry. It was the first time I worked with Tahki Torino Bulky and I loved it!!! It feels so lightweight for a bulky. I bought two skeins when I was at Gotta Knit in NYC in June. My friend, Sima, laughed because I'm forever buying yarn to swatch with, but I have to try it out, y'know? I knew I wanted to make a hat with this. Unfortunately for me, I think this sample has now disappeared into one of daughter's drawers. The pattern is super stretchy because of the ktbl nature of the ribbing. So even though this measures a mere 15" around, when worn it will fit a variety of sizes, my head (22 1/2" - watermelon) or daughter's (20 1/2" - macintosh). There might be another one in the works for me.

The cap is relatively simple to work. Both the cables and the lace are easy repeats. However, when it came to shaping, I knew I didn't want to interrupt the cables or the lace too much. The decreases are not stacked in this one, but my goal of having the pattern follow through to the top of the cap was met.

The short version of how this cap got its name: My grandfather used to call a brain, kidneys. Of course he knew the difference, but it had something to do with a comedy act he had heard or seen. The running joke among my family is to say "use your kidneys" if you're doing something stupid for which you should think more carefully, thus -- Kidney Pie -- a cap to warm your brain!