Monday, March 31, 2008

FO: Pagoda Asymmetrical Cardi

I heart the Malabrigo. I heart it. I've been busy at work and just got this cardi done under the gun for Project Spectrum's Fire theme.

Pagoda Cardi
Pattern: Asymmetrical Cardigan from Knitting Nature
Yarn: Seven skeins Malabrigo Worsted in color "Pagoda"
Needles: US 8 and US 9
Extras: Three wooden buttons from Annie and Co.

There weren't really any mods worth highlighting. I lengthened the ribbing on the bottom. That's about it. I originally thought I'd make it symmetrical, but then I thought it would lose its appeal. Now I think it's kind of fun how it gets lopsided while I wear it.

I tried to mimic the photos in the book, but it's cloudy out and I have no tripod. I did put on a dress underneath the sweater. But somehow, it just looks like I'm wearing a big fluffy cardi over a nightie. Durn.

I also love the subtle shading of the Malabrigo colors. This photo captures the true color:

My one regret is that I didn't knit the collar longer. Since the collar is knit up separately and then move into the button bands, I followed the instructions and didn't realize until I was sewing it up that I couldn't just go back and knit the collar some more, which I could have if I had picked up stitches and knit the collar out. But overall, the pattern was easy to follow and fairly easy memorize. By the time I'd finished the first three repeats, I no longer had to refer back to the chart.

The one problem I can see is that the arrows pointing to where in the chart you should begin your pieces are kind of...ambiguous. The arrows seem to point to the lines in between squares and this confused me greatly. Was I supposed to start with the square to the left or right of the arrow? In the end, I just kind of said, "What the hey." I guessed and it didn't turn out too crazy.

Since I didn't really know what square I'd started the fronts with, I had to adjust the cast-on stitches for the back neck. By that point, I knew exactly how many stitches I needed per repeat of the chart and I ended up taking out maybe ten or so stitches. Then I worked down to the correct number of stitches for the back and sort of fudged everything when it came to seaming.

I found pretty wood buttons at Annie's:

Folded up the cuffs for more practical wear. The sleeves come out super long (I made the medium size) and the whole cardi is pretty big. But it's cozy and nice and definitely warm.

I tested it out by sitting in my armchair with a good book. Verdict: Malabrigo and Norah Gaughan score an A+++.

Now on to finish my other giant Norah Gaughan project for Project Spectrum's Earth!

Friday, March 28, 2008

FO: Build Me Up, Buttercup Baby

Buttercups are fun. Plus, they are diverse.

Buttercups in a field:

(from gilest at

Buttercup Powerpuff Girls graffiti on a wall in Europe:

(from metaphorge at

Buttah-cup, the Princess Bride:

And now, Buttercup Cardi:

Buttercup Cardi for a Toddler
Pattern: My own (see below)
Yarn: Schaefer Elaine and Misti Alpaca Chunky
Needles: US 11 and US 10
Extras: Flower buttons

Buttercup cardi with butter cream cupcakes!

Lilac buttercup buttons!

I declare, 'tis a feast for the senses! OK, OK, enough with the buttercup variations. I started with a skein of Schaefer Elaine in color "Snooks." It was so lovely that it cried out to be knitted into a child's garment. I paired it with Misti Alpaca Chunky in color "Lemon" for a quick raglan cardi with a short-row shaped collar.

Here's the (very quick and easy) pattern:



(MC) 1 skein Schaefer Elaine (99% wool/1% nylon; 300 yds) - color "Snooks"
(CC) 1 skein Misti Alpaca Chunky (100% baby alpaca; 108 yds) - color "Lemon"
Pair of US 11 and 10 needles
Tapestry needle
3 Buttons


12 sts x 16 rows = 4" square on larger needles


With larger needles and MC, cast on 42 stitches.

Begin stockinette stitch for 4 inches.

Next row: k1, k2tog, knit until last 3 sts, ssk, k1.

St st for 5 rows.

Next row: k1, k2tog, knit until last three sts, ssk, k1.

St st for another 9 rows.

Begin raglan shaping

Next row: (RS) Bind off 3 sts knitwise, k to end

Next row: (WS) Bind off 3 sts purlwise, p to end

Next row: k1, k2tog, work to last 3 sts, ssk, k1.

Next row: Purl all stitches.

Repeat last two rows 6 more times.

Bind off all stitches.


With MC, cast on 21 sts.

Begin stockinette st for 4 inches.

Next row: k1, k2tog, knit to end.

St st for 5 rows.

Next row: k1, k2tog, knit to end

St st for another 9 rows.

Begin raglan shaping

Next row: (RS) Bind off 3 sts, k to end

Next row: (WS) Purl all stitches.

Next row: k1, k2tog, knit to end

Next row: Purl all stitches.

Repeat last two rows 2 more times.

Begin neck shaping

Next row: (WS) Bind off 3 stitches purlwise, purl to end

Next row: k1, k2tog, knit to end

Next row: p1, p2tog, purl to end.

*At this point, you're shaping the armhole on the right side (knit side) and shaping the neck on the wrong side (purl side)

Repeat last two rows 2 more times

Next row: Knit all stitches.

Next row: P1, p2tog, p1.

Bind off.


With MC, cast on 21 stitches.

Begin stockinette stitches for 16 rows.

Next row: Knit to last three stitches, ssk, k1.

Work 5 rows in St st.

Next row: Knit to last three stitches, ssk, k1.

St st for another 8 rows.

Next row (WS): Bind off 3 stitches, purl to end.

Begin raglan shaping

Next row: knit to end.

Next row: p1, p2tog, purl to end.

Repeat last two rows 2 more times.

Begin neck shaping

Next row: Bind off 3 stitches, knit to end.

Next row: P1, p2tog, purl to end.

Next row: K1, k2tog, knit to end.

*You are now shaping the armhole on the wrong side (purl side) and shaping the neck on the right side (knit side)

Repeat last two rows 2 more times.

Next row: p1, p2tog, purl to end

Bind off.

SLEEVES (make two)

Using CC yarn and larger needles, cast on 22 stitches.

Knit 5 rows in garter stitch.

Change to MC and St st for 20 rows.

Next row: k1, k2tog, knit to last three sts, ssk, k1.

St st for three rows.

Next row: k1, k2tog, knit to last three sts, ssk, k1.

Next row: Purl

Repeat last two rows 6 more times.

Bind off.


Sew sleeves to back and fronts.

Block to measurements.

Sew sleeve seams and side seams. (I left the cuffs of the sleeves unsewn to create a little vent detail)


With right side facing and smaller needles, pick up 30 stitches with CC.

Knit 1 row.

Buttonhole row: K10, ssk, YO, k3, ssk, YO, k3, ssk, YO, k3.

Next row: Knit all sts.

Bind off.

BUTTON BAND (Left front)

With right side facing and smaller needles, pick up 30 stitches with CC.

Knit 3 rows.

Bind off.


With right side facing and smaller needles, pick up 86 sts with CC.

Knit 3 rows.

Bind off.


With right side facing and smaller needles, pick up 56 sts with CC along neck edge.

Knit 3 rows.

Begin Short Row Shaping

Knit to last 16 sts, turn. Repeat.

Knit to last 12 sts, turn. Repeat.

Knit to last 8 sts, turn. Repeat.

Knit 10 rows.

Bind off.

Final measurements:

sleeve width: 9"; sleeve length from hem to neck: 10"

front bottom hem width: 8"; front chest width: 7"; front length (MC) from top of hem to point of raglan: 14"; front length including garter hem: 15"

back length: 14"; back length with garter hem: 15"; back chest width: 14"; back bottom hem width: 16"


At the moment, I've only written up the one size. Haven't had time to do calculations for other sizes, but will in the near future. Also, I left the sleeves a little short because I thought they were cute as 3/4-ish sleeves. But I had yarn leftover to make full length sleeves. Just add another inch worth of sleeve before raglan shaping. It's my first stab at writing up a pattern, so if there are any errors or you have any questions, just let me know.

In closing, I cannot take credit for the cupcakes. They are from Magnolia Bakery. They are delicious. Magnolia has opened up a store on the Upper West Side. I am going to die from sugar shock. An extra shot of cupcakes for a happy, happy Friday!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Fluffy Bits

Last week was stressful. It was all capped off by my losing my cell phone in a cab and figuring this out only after I was ensconced in my PJs. I have lost my phone, oh, about five times over the past four years. The first time was a pickpocketing, so maybe not my fault. Second time I left it in a cab. Third time I left it in a bar. Fourth time was an unfortunate incident when I tossed my jeans into the washer...without checking my pockets. This brings the total to five. I was about to give myself an ulcer.

I borrowed my roommate Don's phone to call my friend Maya to ask if I had left my phone at her place. She said she'd seen it in my pocket as I left but checked again anyway. No phone. As I was on her land line, she got a call from my cell phone on her cell phone. She asked what the caller's name was, and heard a garbled, "I like this," after which the caller hung up. So she assumed that the caller had just decided to keep my phone. We decided I needed to cancel the phone. While I was in the process of canceling the phone, Maya called me again and told me to cancel the canceling. The girl had called back and said, "My name is Alexis." Maya had somehow misheard "Alexis" as "I like this." Long story short, Alexis's mother called me back and told me to meet her on their corner this morning and I did. She gave me my phone back. I gave her a Starbucks gift card as a thank you for relieving me from potential ulcers. There are some really nice people in the world.

Easter and all that stress is now over but I'm still into the pastels.

This is a ball of Schaefer Elaine. It's 99% wool/1% nylon and it's a thick-and-thin yarn with a sproingy texture. I've been staring at it lovingly in the store for a while but couldn't think what I would make with it. So I'm making the store a sample out of it.

It's going to be some sort of raglan cardi for a two-year-old size. I'm kind of making it up as I go, so who knows what it will look like in the end. It looks like a candy necklace melted onto cream.

Even the leftover Peeps are coming out to play:

BTW, I tried these new "sugar-free" Peeps the other day. Yuck. That's all I have to say about that.

I also seamed up the Asymmetrical Cardi and I just need to knit up the collar and button bands.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Friday Brain Candy

First off, I've finished decreasing for the back of my asymmetrical cardi:

Like I said, it's zooming along. I actually think I'll finish this by the end of next week. Too bad spring is rapidly approaching.

Now for the brain candy:

From top to bottom: Journey Into Darkness by John Douglas and Mark Olshaker, Wind, Sand and Stars by Antoine de Saint-Exupery, Inside the Mind of BTK by John Douglas and Johnny Dodd, and The Age of Innocence: A Portrait of the Film by Martin Scorsese and Jay Cocks.

I've read the first, am in the middle of the second, am emotionally preparing for the third, and just flipping through the last for the beautiful photos and the feel of the era. Mostly, I bought the last one because it was being sold by a street vendor for a measly buck. I was browsing and opened the book to this page:

It's a heartbreaking quote and reminds me so much of when I read Kate Chopin's The Awakening for the first time. I've been having these weird dreams lately (some of them mildly frightening) about teeth falling out and being replaced and ordering food and having people cheat me out of five dollars. While none of these situations is life-threatening, I keep waking up with these awful feelings of vulnerability and helplessness. And I think the Wharton quote just alerted me to the reason why.

I read an interesting article a long time ago that talked about how our society projects what we want to on women, but not on men. Men can tell us what they stand for, who they are, what they want, what they need. But we tell women what they stand for, who they are, what they want, what they need. And if women aren't what we want them to be, we get mad. How dare a woman decide for herself? Our society allows women to be "whatever they want," but do they really? Because I see a lot of women being pressured into or punished for their choices every day. Not just strangers, but good friends as well. Right now, I'm like that old R.E.M. song on a loop. "Everybody huuuuuuuuuuurts...sometimes."

This book doesn't's just lovely.

Two very short but loaded words. It's in my top ten list of favorite books. The title comes from a repeated sentence throughout the book: "There's no such thing as autobiography there's only art and lies." It's not a perfect book, but I still love it for its imperfections. It's an odd little fictional/philosophical story and her language is overinflated occasionally, but her heart is there.

Monday, March 17, 2008

FOs: Flourish Nightingale

Liqueur Flourish Scarf
Pattern: Flourish by Kim Hargreaves
Yarn: Rowan Kidsilk Haze in Liqueur, 5 skeins
Hook Size: M (9.0 mm)
Extras: Lots of beads from Toho Shoji NYC

What can I say...I love this scarf. I am passionately in love with it. Not so passionate about the last part of making it, though. I do plan on making this again one day (maybe for a friend, maybe for me) but I have learned my lesson: The beading ain't worth it. It looks lovely on the finished scarf, but the beading took about as long as it took to crochet the entire scarf. Finishing the beading was anti-climactic since the scarf looked wonderful even without the little sparkles. Scarf: A+. Beading: C.

It counts for the first wave of Project Spectrum, which is Fire: Reds, Oranges and Pinks.

Here's another photo head-on to get a better look at its texture and flounce:

I'm surprised I'm not more flexible after trying to take photos of knitted objects on my own person.

I also finished up the weaving in of ends on Caroline's Nightingale.

Caro's Nightingale
Pattern: Nightingale from Rowan Story Book of Little Knits
Yarn: Filatura di Crosa Dolce Amore
Needles: US 2
Size: 3-4 years

The pattern says to turn up the hems and insert a drawstring-like ribbon for the sleeves and body. After the nightmare of stripe ends haunting me like spaghetti demons, I decided I had had enough of finishing. Besides, it's cute enough without adding ribbons and frills. My cousin can fold up the sleeves if they're too long. It'll still be a wonderfully casual little pullover for playdates and playground frolicking. Maybe not so great for keeping sleeves out of food or finger paint. This book is so adorable, I want to make Caroline the entire wardrobe. I justify it by telling myself they can save the clothes for her sister Beth to wear a couple years down the line.

And since I finished two (count 'em, two) WIPs, I started my fiery li'l Asymmetrical Cardi. Man, this one is going fast:

Mayhap it is because Malabrigo is like a heady, psychotropic drug that affects me in surprising ways. For instance, it makes me forget that there are responsibilities that I must attend to other than knitting this sweater. It also makes me forget that I am hungry, I have to pee, and I have to go meet friends. I want a gazillion more sweaters in Malabrigo. Yes, I've heard all the warnings. It pills, I hear. But that's okay. Because when my sweater pills badly and can no longer be worn in public, I can make another one! Yup, that's using my noodle.

Look at that soft, squooshy goodness.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Friday Eye Candy...literally

One of my favorite candies: Gummi Life Savers. They have certainly saved my life (or at least my sanity) on occasion.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Tea & Sympathy

I think my old allergy to milk is coming back. This makes me sad because it means I shall no longer be able to indulge in lattes or ice cream. We'll see how it goes after three weeks of abstaining from dairy.

In the meantime, I am indulging in lots and lots of tea:

Tea is lovely. It is soothing and calming and good for you. I like the ritual of it, too. Berryblossom White is my current favorite, but you can't go wrong with traditional green or Earl Grey.

This week's sympathy goes to Mrs. Silda Spitzer, who is doing the ol' stand-by-your-man pose this week. Despite how badly I feel for her, I really wish she would just kick Eliot where it counts. She is a Harvard-educated lawyer who gave up her career for him to go into politics. If I were her, I would do more than just kick. I would maybe rip his heart right out of his ribcage and throw it on the ground and stomp on it until I diiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiied...

But on to prettier things. I crocheted up something fairly rapidly for Project Spectrum, which I decided to join last week. I think it'll be good inspiration and may get me to explore colors that I normally ignore. The first phase, "Fire," puts me right in my, um, element.

It's Flourish by Kim Hargreaves. It was originally on her website, but the pattern is now available in Heartfelt. It says four skeins of Kidsilk Haze. Ha. I have to dip into a fifth. But of course, when it comes to scarves, I don't swatch or care much about gauge, so it serves me right. I've finished it, but was debating about the beading. Clearly, the beading won. I'll post photos of me wearing it as soon as I'm done with the sparkly work.

I also bought two more pattern books:

The one in the background is "Summer Breeze," which features Rowan's Bamboo Soft and Luxury Cotton DK. I am in love with this little thing:

The gray book is the new Studio 8, which focuses on Rowan's tweeds.

This little number would be supercute over a dark cowlneck and jeans.

Aside from knitting, I'm doing pretty well with my goals for the year. I read 1.5 books in January and then read 2.5 books and a screenplay in February:

John Douglas is pretty much a big part of my life right now. He started up the criminal profiling unit at the FBI in the '70s and these books are really not for the faint of heart. Sometimes I just want to cry reading about these cases. But if one wants to write about murderers, one must attempt to understand the circumstances surrounding them. I'm well into another Douglas book and thinking of starting a nice, normal fiction book to take my mind off of psychopaths.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Birthday Presents are Gooooood

I went home on my mom's birthday to have a joint mommy-and-me celebration. We had strawberry ice cream cake and lots o' sushi.

My family just isn't big on huge birthday celebrations or present-giving, but I can always count on old-fashioned pocket money from my parents. I remember when I was a kid and they'd hand me about twenty bucks at the end of the month for the chores I'd done. I could make that twenty-dollar bill stretch pretty far on candy, a paperback book, maybe a scented body lotion. Given the inflation rates these days, my parents like to offer a little more than a twenty for my birthday pocket money. But instead of spending it on a momentary splurge (e.g., shoes), I decided to invest in a more time-consuming alternative.

Annie's just got in a ton (I honestly think it might be a metric ton) of Malabrigo yumminess. There are so many colors in the laceweight, the silk blend, and the regular ol' worsted that I wanted to stuff a swimming pool with it all and sink into it. Maybe I should join Yarnaholics Anonymous. I really, really, really wanted a big cushy sweater made out of the worsted, so I bought seven skeins in the Pagoda colorway.

This is what Pagoda shall be:

Honestly, I overlooked this cardigan for a long time because the model's eyes are kind of freaky. They're a lovely color, but she's frowning and staring at the camera so intensely that I half expect her to burn a hole through all the pages of Knitting Nature. But I saw several beautiful renditions of this cardi on Ravelry and the knit-lust consumed me. As soon as I brought the Malabrigo home, I swatched:

First on US 10s, then on US 9s. The 10 is recommended, but I like the 9s better. There shall be other adjustments as well, since I am not that fond of asymmetry when it comes to the fronts of cardis. But one thing stands between me and Symmetrical Cardi:

Caroline's Nightingale is pretty much all knit, but I'm still finishing. There is a lot of finishing required of this li'l sweater. The seaming is just the beginning of it.

I'm a little afraid of this:

Stripes are lovely. Sewing in all the ends...not so much.

On top of that, I went through a long process of inventory. There are some WIPs in my stash that are just not going to happen. I cry uncle. Woven Trellis Scarf? There's no way I'm finishing that in the near future. I seriously do not have the patience. Mindless knitting is one thing, but 500+ inches of tiny tubes = crazy making. My Clapotis made of Colinette Lasso? Blech. The colors are pretty, but it won't be that warm and it's not draping the way I had hoped. Argh. Also, my Lady Eleanor is not to be. The yarn is beautiful and the pattern is fantastic, but I realized that I simply won't get much wear out of it. Nope. The Noro is so lovely that it deserves to be seen. So that will be ripped out and turned into a sweater of some sort. This is a bit sad, but really it's refreshing. I don't feel so obligated to these dead-end projects anymore.

But on a happy note, my BFF gave me a curious little bird:

His name is George. He is an owl. George tells me that I am a cool cat and he likes hanging around. George tells me that next year, he will protect me when every last one of my friends wants to buy me a drink for my birthday. He promises he will ward them off so that I will not wake up with the kind of headache I suffered this year. I've learned my lesson and I've learned it well, George.