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Ravellenic Games Projects

1 Mar

Although I’m a big Ravelry user, I had never “competed” in the Ravellenic games before. For those who don’t know, in the Ravellenic games people try to finish as many projects as possible in the time frame of the Olympic games. There are teams, events, medals, etc. and I don’t even really understand the whole thing. The first time I heard of it was in relation to the controversy between the Ravelry and US Olympic Committee in which they sent a cease-and-desist for calling the games the “Ravelympics”. The controversy is pretty funny, although the amount of power that the USOC has is a little terrifying (they tried to sue Seattle when it built the Olympic sculpture park… which as a view of the Olympic mountains. Wonder if they have tried to rename the mountains yet).

This year I kinda-sorta competed although since I moved to Brazil during the Olympics I was a little preoccupied! But here are the projects I finished:

Aidez Collage

The first project I finished was Aidez by Cirilla Rose, one of my favorite designers (my project page here). It’s one of the most popular patterns on Ravelry (3,348 projects!) and I’ve wanted to make it for a long time. I couldn’t wait to start it so I actually started before the games, but I finished it in a record 10 days so I did get into the spirit of sprint knitting for the games. For this pattern I used a different gauge yarn (worsted instead of bulky) and I also improvised a lot of the sizing. I had read that the gauge on the pattern was messed up so instead of just knitting according to a larger size (to fit my thinner yarn) I based my stitch count off my own gauge and sizing. Luckily there isn’t much shaping in this pattern so it was pretty simple. The only problem I had was with the shoulders–definitely the thing I struggle with most in sweater design.

Besides sizing, I also switched out all the cables. I thought the ones on the original pattern were a little boring, especially on the back. For mine I chose 2 cable patterns from Stitchionary Vol. 2. For the back I staggered two columns of “Aztec”. Next to this I worked “Ring of Fire” which matched the seed stitch from Aztec and also had a cool name. On the sleeves and the fronts I worked just the zig-zag side cables from Aztec.

I’m really happy with how this turned out and I think it’s beautiful, the only thing is the yarn is a little scratchy! I chose a blend of wool, alpaca, and acrylic so I thought the acrylic and alpaca would counter the wool’s itchiness but not so… I just hope it gets softer with washing and I will probably have to wear it over long sleeve shirts.

My second project was from the pattern Turban(d) (my project page here). I’d wanted to make an ear warmer for a long time and had half a skein of soft Malabrigo Rios yarn left over that was perfect. This is so cute and I love the colors, I almost wish it were cold enough here for me to wear it (ha… actually I don’t miss the cold at all).

Hey Girl Sweater Collage

I didn’t get to finish my third project because of the move, but it’s one I’m really excited about. For Christmas I received 3 skeins of Madelinetosh DK and one of Malabrigo Arroyo and I was imagining a cardigan with stripes in reverse stockinette. At first I thought I would write a pattern myself, but then I thought since I would be doing a lot of plane knitting with this, it was best not to have to be doing a lot of math and note taking. I chose the pattern Hey Girl by Chic Knits (my pattern page here), who I think is one of my new favorite designers. I usually knit things to be form fitting but this will be a more slouchy, casual sweater. I am planning on doing the lower portion with more of the reverse stockinette stripes (I love how the interlocking purl stitches make the colors blend together), and I will do the cuffs of the body and sleeves in garter stitch. (I apologize for the poor quality photos, there’s no good place to shoot photos in my hotel room!).

New book: Japanese Cowichan-style Knits

14 Feb

Granted Clothing

A few months ago I discovered Granted Clothing and fell in love with their sweaters, handmade in Vancouver BC! As a non-knitter, I would look at the $400 price tag and cry a little tear, but as a knitter I get to figure out how to make my own!

If you’re like me, you recognize this style of sweater–they’re bulky, usually with animal designs, and are vaguely Native American-looking–but don’t know much about it. I did some background research and the style is called Cowichan knitting, after the Cowichan people of Vancouver Island, BC, and was developed when the Cowichan were introduced to European settlers’ knitting methods. Like other styles of Native American/First Nations art, mainstream fashion decided these sweaters were something that could sell and now you can now find mass produced “Cowichan” aka “Big Lebowski” sweaters at Urban Outfitters (great blog post on this issue here).

I *think* I get to bypass these issues by making a sweater myself… and acknowledging that I’m remixing the original style into something of my own creation while still honoring its origins. I’d love to have something that incorporates more color and maybe has horses on the back?

Japanese Cowichan Book

In any case, the idea to design my own Cowichan-style sweater was on the back burner when last week I saw this book on sale from Fringe Association (a great store/blog I just discovered). It light heartedly (and obliviously?) combines traditional designs with Scandanavian motifs and other styles. It’s a total cultural mash up and it’s great.

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One of my favorite Granted sweater is the whale vest for kids, and this book has its own whale design. Perfect!

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I love this lion head too. Would be so cute on a little boy’s sweater.

If you’re wondering “wait… isn’t the book IN JAPANESE?” well yes, it is, but Japanese patterns have such detailed charts and diagrams that no reading is necessary (except numbers–at least those are the same). And if anyone finds this on Ravelry, please let me know!

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we heart TOMS (but…)

24 Jun

My favorite TOMS have finally worn out. As you can see above, the sole has worn completely through and the fabric is beginning to poke through. Since TOMS are practically the most popular shoe around right now, I’m not going to tell you about the brand or “ooh and aww” over their charitable mission which you already know. While I still love TOMS (especially my new wedges), I am thinking of branching out for the following reasons:

1. Durability

I bought my Toms over winter break which means they have lasted about 6 months. While I do wear them a lot, and they don’t make claims about being super durable, this is still pretty ridiculous! If I had to buy a new pair twice per year I would end up with a LOT of old shoes.

2. Life Cycle Analysis

I’ve searched a lot over the internet for whether old Toms can be composted or recycled and I haven’t found anything specific. It seems that the canvas is made partly of recycled plastic, so that wouldn’t decompose, and the sole is made of recycled rubber, so it’s probably not recyclable either. I would really like for them to work on making a compostable shoe. They wouldn’t have to change much, using a natural latex bottom and biodegradable canvas upper and sole wouldn’t change the look or durability of the shoes.

TOMS does have a section on their Facebook page on repurposing old TOMS, but you repurposing things into knick-knacks that you don’t actually need isn’t true recycling.

3. “One-to-One” Criticism

There has been some criticism of their “one-to-one” model. The blog Good Intentions makes some good points:

  • It’s quintessential Whites in Shining Armor.
  • It’s doing things “for” people not “with” people.
  • They allow people to pay to travel with the distribution trips as shoe fitters thereby promoting poverty tourism.
  • They promote the “awareness raising” activity – One Day Without Shoes – which is really just a marketing ploy.
  • They ship in goods for free that outcompete local goods, it’s a short-term solution that could create long-term problems.
  • There are many better and cheaper ways to get shoes on the feet of the poor. Continue reading

Ahhh New York

10 Feb

Oh, New York! One of my favorite places in the entire world. And yes, I know how that sounds. Incredibly cliché. Nevertheless, there is a reason why it’s so great. For instance, where else would you find a tall thin male model in leopard print tights and chunky platforms strutting in the middle of the street? Or walk into a small rundown café and feast on the best meal you have ever eaten? By far there are way more fabulous finds then the above mentioned. Nevertheless, I would say by far my favorite is the shopping. And I’m not just you average stores, I’m talking about the stores that are only in only in Asia and Europe. Only in New York will you also have a chance to experience fashion in other parts of the world. Here are a few of my favorites.

Uniqlo

It covers the basics. However the quality of the clothing is incredibly luxurious, while managing to sell at a relatively cheap price. Jeans run for $40.00 a pair. There is a wide variety to pick from (skinny, straight, tapered, boot cut, flared, etc.). Not to mention hemming is free! So for those of us that don’t fit into the whole supermodel long lean leg thing, we can still pull off uniqlo jeans.

The store originates from Japan and its only US based store is in Soho, New York. Check it out. It’s three levels! And did I mention they sell men and women’s clothes? The men’s graphic tees are an awesome deal, especially since they are cheap ($12.00) and are cut smaller than American men’s t-shirts.

Shop online @ uniqlo.com/us

……..Or better yet, in New York @

546 Broadway,

New York, New York

10012, USA

Top Shop

If you think you’re European, but haven’t managed to find you’re IT store, well here IT is: Top Shop. Started in London, England, it sells all of the newest trends that us Americans have only seen the glimpses of. It’s like a high-end Forever 21, with four levels of shoes, accessories and tons of clothes that sell to both men and women. But here’s the catch, it’s converted from pounds to US dollars, which makes the price a little steep. However, even shopping in their sales section you can find high quality items and fashionable clothes. And as a result, makes you feel like a seasoned European shopper.

Shop online @ Topshop USA

……..Or better yet, in New York @

478 Broadway

New York, New York

10013, USA

Other unique stores to check out while in New York:

Muji

Pearl River Mart

Kinokuniya

Mystique Boutique

the scarf curse??

13 Dec

A few days ago I posted my first published knitting pattern on ravelry.com and a couple people have started making it! (find it here if you don’t have a ravelry account) On Friday I was excited to find that a woman had emailed me asking for suggestions on making the scarf for her boyfriend. But then yesterday she emailed me back reporting that “the sweater curse has transferred to the scarf” and that her boyfriend had broken up with her half-way through knitting it! The horror!

So what is the “sweater curse,” two words which strike fear into the hearts of knitters world-wide? It’s the unfortunate and awkward situation in which the knitter makes a hand-knit sweater for their significant other (usually a boyfriend) and is dumped while making or soon after completing said the sweater. According to Wikipedia, 15% of knitters have experienced this phenomenon and 41% “consider it a possibility that should be taken seriously.” The threat is so serious that some knitters abstain from knitting before marriage, and others sign “pre-knitual” agreements!

The reason why I find the sweater curse so interesting (and why I believe in it myself!) is because it has real-world explanations, the most convincing of which is (again from Wikipedia), The Sweater Curse as a catalyst for analyzing the relationship:

“Giving or receiving a significant gift such as a sweater may cause either the giver or receiver to evaluate the relationship. For example, the gift may seem too intimate, too domestic or too binding to the significant other. It can be seen as a signal that makes them realize that the relationship is not reciprocal, prompting them to end the relationship before it involves obligations.”

What a surprise, a guy thinks things are getting too serious and heads for the hills. *ahem* I’ll stop here lest I begin making offensive generalizations. Good thing I only made John gloves for his birthday!

wishful thinking.

8 Nov

I’m in love with this scarf from Anthropologie. It would be a fun project to knit yourself; challenging but interesting… if only I had time!

Fox Scarf - Anthro

Click the pic to see how much it costs. I’m used to Anthro being out of my league but… this one was just a shock.

some people are too cool.

1 Nov

Makes me want to marry a guy who will wear red sneakers to our wedding… never thought I’d say that!

Wedding pic by Max Wagner. Is it creepy to look at other people’s wedding pictures? Because I do it a lot.