Monday, February 28, 2011

Yarn U iPhone App Update: 20 New Yarns, 100+ Images

This is Knitpicks' Comfy Fingering Weight. I'm eager to try it if only to recreate Casey's success knitting her Stitch in Time sweater. Isn't it darling in Comfy?

I've heard so many good things about Shelter, I just need to try it sometime soon. The colors are just so rich. Besides, I adore this dress pattern, designed by TT820. I'm eager to do in at least four different colors, Missoni style.

The new Debbie Bliss yarn, Angel. Wouldn't you like a pair of fingerless gloves like this?
A gauzy long sleeve sweater, also in in Angel, just looks yummy. I have no idea how this feels, but I'd pair it with a contrast stretch lace long sleeve top underneath.

If I've been quiet as of late, it's because I've either been knitting late at night and watching Turner Classics or updating my newest app, Yarn U.  It takes a lot of work to update an app. Not only have I corrected any mistakes I made the first time around, I've been adding new information, particularly fiber content and yardage. Plus I added new goodies and eye candy. I love all my new additions, but especially those with pretty pictures. Now I should tell you I haven't tried any of these yarns yet. Operative word yet. My stash is growing, it's not nearly as big as its fabric counterpart. The fun part about writing about these new yarns (and they truly are new for the most part, particularly Brooklyn Tweed, Quince & Co. and Debbie Bliss' newest yarn: Angel) is that I figure intuitively that I'll be adding all these online additions real-time sometime soon. I can't quite explain it.

Anyhow, here are some questions I've gotten and some answers to comments made in iTunes review.

  1. How come there are no patterns?? I can't put patterns in this app. They are copyrighted information which I don't have permission to use (although many designers generously shared photos). I did my best to provide links to appropriate patterns, especially those that are free. 
  2. Can I tag photos? I wish. I've been asking the developers about this, but I've yet to get a response. It would be a great way to get ideas for future projects wouldn't it? I'll keep at it though. It's a terrific idea.
  3. Why do you have discontinued yarns? There's no real good excuse here, except that I had access to the images, and I needed yarns to fill out the first version of my app, so there they are. However, I will eventually phase them out. But lots of them do have pretty pictures and I'll bet my Denise interchangeable knitting needles they would be great inspiration for future projects. Now you Noro fans, should be I getting rid of some of the late and great? You just let me know.
  4. Why don't you have (fill-in-the-blank) yarn? Well, I'm working on it as fast as I can. Ella Rae, more Blue Sky Alpacas, Misti Alpaca, Berocco and others. They're all on my to-do-list. I'll get them in the app as soon as I am humanely able to. It's a one-woman shop here and I've got other projects on various stove burners. 
I'm finished uploading 20 new yarns. After a little testing tomorrow, I'll turn it over to the developers and I suspect the next update will be live a week from now. Stay tuned! I'll let you know when the update is available. Keep those iPads and iPhones ready!

P.S. For those of you who have Yarn U and haven't written an iTunes review....I could use a nice 5-star review to mitigate the effect of a 1-star review. Many thanks in advance!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Just Like Starting Over: Crazy Lace Cardi Cropped Cardi by Myra Wood

I didn't expect to be such a perfectionist when it came to the cardi, which was supposed to be the equivalent of everything-but-the-kitchen-sink soup (at least for me), but what can I say? It seemed like the mistakes were glaring. Like the errant puff stitches on the front which didn't remotely resemble identical triplets. Remotely! Or the raglan sleeve increases which meandered when I wasn't looking. I've no idea how that happened. Since I couldn't take the increases looking like crooked tree branches, I ripped back one stitch at a time, delicately removing the stitch markers one at a time since I didn't want to ruin what was good about my raglan increases. Personally, I prefer to take the whole shebang off the needles and riiiiiip back until I reach a spot I deem worthy of saving. But I didn't want to take that risk with stitch markers. So I undid, until I found myself nearly undone. It was difficult because I've been knitting double. I feared that I would be seeing double before long because I became so intent so focused on this task.

Through 12 Angry Men (not a pretty female lead in sight I tuned out), Lawrence of Arabia (ditto) and some other Turner Classics, I hit the remote and un-knit. So boring. At least Gigi was considerably more entertaining, and I actually watched more than I played with yarn. Finally this morning I accomplished what I set out to do: fixed the increases and banished the bad puff stitches.  Now I don't know what I'll do if I catch a mistake 12 rows later, because this double un-knitting has me nearly swearing off Dream (which really does look beautiful knitted up).  But I do think Dream, because it has so much stretch and terrific stitch definition, would look great in:
  • a pair of socks
  • stockings
  • a hat
  • gloves
  • a lacy collar
Yet there's a part of me that fervently hopes that I'll finish up all four skeins of Dream with this project (an improvised short cardigan, designed by Myra Wood. The idea is to cast on a basic design and improvise, and add stitches within the basic pattern). We'll see...I'm certain, as the sun will peek through the clouds tomorrow,  that I'll be working a row or two tonight before I sleep.

P.S. I'm updating Yarn U, the iPhone app. So far I've added Opal and some Knitpicks yarn. I had a hoot and half uploading darling images for Debbie Bliss Angel yarn and the newest additions to Louisa Harding's line, Ianthe.  What else would you like to see in this app?

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Orange You Glad: Crazy Lace Cardi/Myra Wood

I hadn't exactly planned on making a cardi, but since I bought four skeins of this psychodelic orange yarn from Village Knitwhiz a few weeks ago, and I had little else do but work on my Granny Square Tunic, I thought I give this pattern a shot. It's hard to go wrong since all the stitches are improvised. I figure it's a little like everything but the kitchen sink soup. You know the recipe - you go into the refrigerator, fish out limp vegetables like carrots, celery and parsley (but not rosemary and thyme like the Simon and Garfunkel song). Snip them up, slip in a bay leaf, leftover chicken and onions, turn on the stove, cook, boom! You've got stock. Strain, remove any bones. Fish around in the cabinet for some noodles. Pop a fishful of noodles into the broth. Add some green peas for color like I do. A few minutes later, chicken noodle soup.

Now this cardi, designed by Myra Wood, is kitchen soup in the sense that it's a little bit and a dash of that stitchwork. Here's a short list of improvisations made thus far. I used this pattern as my base.
  • I cast on 90 stitches on size 5 needles borrowed from mom
  • I doubled up the yarn as suggested on the yarn label (this is Dream, a Takhi yarn, now discontinued)
  • After two inches of 2x2 ribbing (which will be deliciously elastic since this yarn is mostly wool with a touch of nylon), I slipped the whole shebang on a set of Denise circular needles, an accomplishment because one of my New Year's goals was to start using these interchangeable needles purchased last year at Arcadia Knitting's going-out-of-biz sale
  • Then, as Stitch Diva Studios recommends, I started playing around with different type of stitches, I've got a inch or so of garter stitch eyelet followed by a modified moss stitch. I'm toying with doing some feather and fan stitches and puff stitches.
  • All this experimental stitching makes this almost a wearable sampler. I suspect many of the stitches, even the raglan increases, are a bit wonky. But if I make a pattern out of my 'designer touches,' I suspect no one will notice. If there's a charm in a five-year-old's crooked embroidered alphabet in a vintage sampler, surely someone will find my meandering raglan stitches interesting.
  • Other than tracking and ensuring my bodice front and back, sleeves have equal stitches, I'm just knitting merrily along.
  • I plan to hide some not-so-great front ribbing with some creative crochet, making a bunch of loops for buttons. Somehow I'm going to have got to go over to Harlem Antique Shoppe to dig into their incredibly organized button drawers (all by color, no less). What do I have in mind? Small orange buttons with rhinestone centers. Maybe that will be my adventure for next weekend.
That's it for now. I'm working on updating Yarn U with new yarns. I want to add Brooklyn Tweed, Berocco, Lorna's Laces....what else should I be adding? Not to worry Dream won't be in there because it's discontinued and I plan to eventually weed out all discontinued yarns in the app make it entirely about yarns currently in production)

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Super Bowl Knitting: The Go Go Granny/Knitting It Old School

It's just hours away from the Super Bowl, but really, all I can think about what's for dinner, what's on Turner Classics and I really can't bring myself to go outside again for just about anything. I'm terribly content simply to hibernate at least until the sun comes out again perhaps tomorrow. Not that the lack of sunshine has kept me from happily creating. I've been working on two projects: the Crazy Lace Cropped Cardi using Tahki Dream yarn and then making still more granny squares for the Go-Go Granny Tunic from Knitting It Old School. I just don't know how to keep making all the granny squares fresh. I've stitched up 32 squares (16 for each sleeve) and I've still got to make many, many more squares for the front and the back. This will entail buying more yarn, unfortunately. I've been using Takhi Cotton Classic, but I'm contemplating ordering the equivalent Knit Picks yarn so that I can pick up speed (I'm homebound most evenings while my broken ankle heals) and save money at the same time. With more cotton in hands, and a slew of Turner movies, who knows? I could have this tunic done within the month. In the meantime, I've had some really deep thoughts about the wisdom of crocheting cotton, particularly during Chicago's biggest, baddest snowstorm last week.
  1. Crocheting anything cotton during the bleakest winter day is the ultimate optimism. Forget the groundhog, crochet cotton in plain view definitely means spring is around the corner. 
  2. Cotton crochet squares is extremely creative. It involves mixing colors much as one would blend spices in a cake recipe. You might not need a cardinal red like paprika in your concoction, but nutmeg (brown) is likely to be more appropriate with a unpredictable shake or two of lavender sugar (lilac).
  3. Matching squares is a lot like match-making. Moving squares around for the smoothest, least jarring look is better than a game of concentration. And the results last far longer than a game.
  4. What a better way to think about spring than to actually make something to wear to the beach, baseball game or barbecue? And since a crochet tunic takes a long time, the anticipation is high and drawn out. What will the tunic look like in the end? How will I wear it?
  5. Nothing elicit more smiles and stories than a crochet tunic. It's just very difficult to talk about what's happening in the Middle East, or how the squirrels raided the garbage cans and left a huge mess when you're looking at a granny-square tunic. Try it sometime and let me know how it goes.
  6. Accidents happen (and I know after my bone-breaker). That's why they're called accidents. But I should make completely out-of-place square. One that's eye-riveting, and makes any observant graphic designers say, "That's square doesn't work with the rest of the color scheme. At all." Of course, they'd approach me and say, "About that square...did you mean for that to happen?" Duh.
  7. Crochet is easiest to do with feet and head propped up on pillows. Can't do that with knitting, which really demands a more upright position.
  8. There isn't much more say about crochet and cotton, but that more knitters should do it even if the cost of cotton is rising.
  9. What I am going to use for summer and spring garments if cotton gets so expensive that wool will seem comparatively cheap?
  10. Crochet cotton will always be a part of my life no matter the price.