Friday, March 27, 2015


Now boast thee, death,
in thy possession lies a lass unparallel'd*

Defarge Does Shakespeare with hooks.  Once in a while.  Sometimes. 

Today I'm featuring another crochet design from Defarge Does Shakespeare. 

Inspired by one of my very favorite plays, Antony and Cleopatra

Unparallel'd, a crocheted and beaded necklace. 

Classy.  Simple.  Elegant. Love the photo. Love the snake, too.

Unparallel'd designed by Beverly Army Williams

See all the patterns in Defarge Does Shakespeare.

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*Fun Trivia Question:  What actress used these lines as an epitaph?

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Titus Who? Act Three

 Misery may love company, but so does oddballery, so I was thrilled to find out I wasn't the only Titus Andronicus nerd amongst the Defarge designers.

There are two of us fascinated by body parts, madness, and mayhem. While I took it all rather literally, Mari Chiba took a more soulful tack and designed Lavinia's Gloves inspired by Titus's daughter, who gets her hands chopped off.

Beautiful cable details on the cuff and along the fingers.

Mari also designed a seductive sweater, Lady M.

Lovely neckline and the lace continues on the upper back.

Which just goes to tell you that great tragedy and great beauty can co-exist.

See all the patterns in Defarge Does Shakespeare.

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If you are on ravelry please go favorite this design or any of the other Defarge Does Shakespeare patterns that catch your eye.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Titus Who? Act Two.

Tamara: Thus, in this strange and sad habiliment, / I will encounter with Andronicus, / And say I am Revenge, sent from below / To join with him and right his heinous wrongs (Titus Andronicus, Act V, Scene ii).

Enough with the dismemberment previously discussed.

My second design for Defarge Does Shakespeare was inspired by Tamora, Queen of the Goths.  Yes, she's murderous, vengeful, and monstrous, but a girl has to look good, too.  Pity her a bit. Titus chopped up her sons and baked them in a pie.  Then he invited her to dinner.  Oh, sorry, the dismemberment theme again. Alas, it's rather unavoidable when discussing Titus Andronicus, forming, as it does, a large part of the image structure of the play.

The piece is knit with two strands of stainless steel-wool yarn which creates a malleable, shape-shifting fabric, with a few beads for a bit of sparkle and shine.

Tamara's Torc of Vengeance

And, if you are like me, and sometimes have such a bad hair day that you need a disguise, then the Tamora Torc of Vengeance is just the ticket.

See all the patterns in Defarge Does Shakespeare.

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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Titus Who?

Sorry, not Titus Welliver, star of Bosch, but Titus Andronicus, eponymous hero (tragic division) of one of Shakespeare's least produced plays.

TITUS: Hark, villains! I will grind your bones to dust, … and make two past(r)ies of your shameful heads (Titus Andronicus, Act V, Scene iv).

I've always liked an underdog, so for my first pattern for Defarge Does Shakespeare I  took this world-class gorefest as my inspiration for Titus A's Awful Nice Pie, a crocheted coaster set, with the pasty-shaped container doubling as a wine coaster.

You can, of course, work up the coasters your team colors as a nice little hostess gift, or crochet the covered box to hold trinkets.

Crochet it with a thicker yarn and a larger hook and it becomes a nice felted bowl.
Yarn:  Noro Kureyon

But you may know someone who adores Halloween and prefers "awful" to "nice" any day.  The version embellished with body parts is just the thing.

Include a surprise inside:  internal organ wine charms.

See all the patterns in Defarge Does Shakespeare.

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Sunday, March 22, 2015

Defarge Does Shakespeare

Yes, she really does.

Shakespeare's birthday is fast approaching and so is the release date of Volume 3 in the What Would Madame Defarge Knit series:  Defarge Does Shakespeare.

The book is not only for crafters.  While it includes knitting and crochet patterns, it also features personal essays on Shakespeare's plays and poetry written by the designers.  There are black and white illustrations as well as full-color photos of all the projects.

See all the patterns in Defarge Does Shakespeare.

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If you are on ravelry please go favorite any or all of the 29  Defarge Does Shakespeare patterns.

I have two patterns in the book, one comic and one glamorous, because none of us is all just one thing, not even Tamora, Queen of the Goths.  Although those who know me would definitely peg me as more silly than slinky, I do enjoy a little bling now and again.  I'll be posting about both patterns, as well as some other highlights in the book, later this week.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Friday, March 6, 2015

FO At Last

It may not be as old as the "oldest original permanent floating crap game in New York," but this sweater has been on and off the needles for over two years.  I love the yarn, love the color, love the pattern, so why the delay?

Caissa by Anne Hanson of knitspot

Why, distractibility, of course. Falling for the lure of the quick, the small, the new.

This, of course, is the downside of the internet:  access to a steady stream of new patterns, new designers, new yarns.  Novelty has snatched the time that in the olden days of a few years ago I spent leafing through magazines, thinking, planning, going to the yarn store, paging through books of patterns, choosing, sitting with one, maybe two, projects, and finishing them.

Now I feel like Gargantua, stuffed to the gills with yarn, patterns, tools, books, and finished projects that, unlike this sweater, are sometimes just not all that satisfying.  Time for a reboot.  Or a yard sale.

As for distractibility, I am afraid that after completing the seaming of the sweater I noticed that I had sewn the sleeve to the armhole inside out and had to  pull out the seams on the sleeve, part of the body, and the entire armhole and resew.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Finished and Free

Officially, spring is less than a month away.  Actually, we have at least two more months of wintry weather.  That means it's not too late to add to your supply of thick, warm neckwear.

Fisher Hill is an infinity scarf that is long enough to wear doubled.  For a quicker project, crochet a single loop instead.  Make it taller if you like.  Use a bright spring color.  Laugh at the cold, windy weather.

You can download the free pattern here:  Fisher Hill

Friday, February 20, 2015

FO Holiday

Although I haven't been blogging about them, I have managed to finish a few items.

I started these mitts in the fall to be a Christmas gift for my sister-in-law who is a painter.  She requested that the mitts have fingers, and I liked this pattern Hidden Gusset free from Knitty, First Fall 2014.  They make a snug, good fitting mitt, and the pattern includes instructions for a version with fingers and one without.

What with one thing and another, and another, and another, these did not get completed in time.  Inspired by the Spirit Trail Fiberworks 2015 Stash Down, I  grabbed the project bag and got to work this week.  Not much yardage to count for the Stash Down, but a lot of satisfaction in finishing them.

Finishing them also frees up the chair where the socks for my brother-in-law, a couple of books, some wrapping paper, and a shipping box have been sitting since December.  Not that I use the chair for much beyond a temporary landing place for things going in or out of the room, but it sits in a direct line of sight from my knitting chair.  Maybe it's taunting presence is why I've been doing my knitting in other rooms lately.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Stash Down Buffet

I've got my work cut out for me this year:  Two large afghans for the nieces, another blanket, and the Spirit Trail Fiberworks* Stash Down projects.

I'm hoping giving myself these marching orders will cut down on my crafting distractibility. Oh, call it what it is, outright attention deficit disorder.  It's what led to a closet and a half full of yarn, a slew of unfinished projects, and a general sense of chaos.

I've winnowed the huge pile of Spirit Trail Fiberworks down to this:

Which I hope to turn into this:

1.  Finish the (unpictured) unfinished:

Hidden Gusset Mitts
Glasgow Rose Shawl
Caissa Sweater

2.  Start and finish the unstated (clockwise from upper left):

Brigantia (Sweater Club 2014 blue)  Laurie pullover  Worked at a loose gauge, this should be a quick knit, and be a great sweater to wear with jeans.  It is knit without seams, but I may add faux seams after the fact because I like the structure, and I am too lazy to work out how to knit it in pieces.

Verdande (Sweater Club 2014 red) Adventurous cardigan.  A more ambitious project, but the yarn has excellent stitch definition and will do justice to the cables.  This is a very long coat sweater.  Since I may be a little short of yarn, the fact that it is knit from the top down is a plus.

Birte (Inkheart, Saffron, Glencoe, Graphite, Rosewood) Oslo Shawl.  After much procrastination:  color work.  One knitter commented that this was a good beginning colorwork project.

Sunna (Knitting Club yarn crimson and green) Faberge.  I have loved this pattern since the minute I saw it, and have dithered for years about what yarns to use.  This one is knit from the ruffled edging up, which will be fun, and for although I am someone whose wardrobe resemble's that of a yoga-pant- wearing nun's, I do love a bit of beaded bling.

3.  I'll be throwing in a design project or too, yarn to be announced.

Wish me luck.

*The auto-correct wants to substitute "Fireworks" for "Fiberworks" which is appropriate when you look at the intense, luminous colors of the yarn.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Blocked Blocks

Block is one of those great old words that sounds like what it means:  like a stump, like a chunk, like a stop.  But in spite of all that solidity,  my blocks are progressing.

I've completed three for Molly's Afghan and have decided to think ahead, beyond the blocks, to the point a few months from now when I am faced with 63 individual squares and the task of putting them all together.

From the Learn to Knit Afghan Book: Basketweave (#3) and Garter
Stripe (#1) and a wild card square--
Letter "M".

I'll do what finishing I can as I go:  weave in the ends,  wet block,  and edge with the contrasting color.  Today I merely steam blocked to see what the dimension of the square would be:  8.5 X 8.5 inches.  A bit larger than my estimate, but not so much as to radically alter the size of the finished item.  As long as I keep to my gauge, I should have plenty of yarn.

I've assembled granny square afghans before, and the sewing or crocheting together isn't all that onerous, particularly in the presence of some bingeworthy television.

So I am looking forward to how righteously smug I'm going to feel when it comes time to put it all together.   Here's hoping that smugness doesn't go before a stumble.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Toolsday: Substituting Made Easy

I know I'm not the only one who falls in love with a pattern which calls for a hard-to-get yarn or calls out to me in a period of needing to shop the stash, not the store. I also find myself designing patterns with well-aged stashlings that have been discontinued.

In the process of writing what I thought would be today's post, I came across a newish website that takes some of the headache out of substituting yarns:  YarnSub

Run by Wendy Petersen of the muddy sheep blog, this is an extremely easy-to-use resource.  You enter the name of the yarn you want to substitute for and up pops a detailed description of the yarn (fiber, gauge, yardage, etc.) and list of possible subs.  The substitute candidates are listed in the order of how closely they match, and this is spelled out in detail.  If you don't like arithmetic or can't find your calculator, the listing includes the per ball equivalence.

The interface of YarnSub is very clean and features a soothing blue color scheme. As someone with horrible eyesight I appreciate those elements and the large clear font and the lots-of-white space format in which information is displayed.

The big-name yarns are there, but so are a lot of the independent dyers and smaller producers.  In some cases, a link is provided for buying the yarn, particularly useful for some of the less widely available brands.

The site also includes articles on substituting in general, watching, and yarn characteristics.

The science of yarn substitution.

I've bookmarked it for myself, and I know that it will be well-clicked.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Slo-Mo FO

Since the cold weather arrived here, a few months ago now, I've been opening the drawer where I keep cowls and small scarves expecting to find the cushy yellow one.

It hasn't been there, because, although I wound the yarn for it over a year ago, I never got around to knitting it. I have any number of yarn cakes sitting around and I don't expect to see the finished products, if I can even remember what they were meant to be.  But that yellow cowl kept playing hide and seek with my delusional reptile brain which acts as if once the yarn is wound the knitting deed is done.

The heaps of February snow, frigid temperatures, and gray skies have meant a lot of quiet inside time and an opportunity to knit and crochet.  A lot.

So now I have the cushy yellow cowl.  I wore it today.  Portable sunshine. Quince & Co. Osprey in Honey and Carrie's Yellow. My reptile brain is satisfied.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Stash Down

It's the crafter's polite version of a Smack Down.  The only thing we are competing with is our own accumulated yardage, though, not some trash-talking tough guy in tights.

Over the years I've acquired some gorgeous yarns from Spirit Trail Fireworks.  They are without a doubt the most luxurious yarns in my collection, and the colors are intense, gemlike, and subtly variegated.  Projects I've made to date with STF yarns are among my very favorite.

This year, I'll be adding some more.  Finishing up the two or three already in progress, including my WIP of Shame, a sweater that's been on the needles for two years, since winter storm Nemo:

There's also a new design for a crocheted infinity.  It's still plenty wintry here in the Boston area.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

I Heart Ravelry

I have been a member of ravelry since it was in Beta, now almost eight years ago.  I've made friends, published patterns, planned my knitting and crocheting, kept track of my projects, discussed books, spent hours admiring the extraordinary handwork of others, and picked up any number of tips.

On Monday I was reminded of why I love ravelry so much.  Before blogging about it, I posted the afghan project to my ravelry notebook.  In a flash, I had a message from a rav friend who gave me some friendly advice about the Cascade 220 Superwash:  the dark green runs when you wash it.  She had knit something with two of the very colors I had chosen and had that experience, with the off-white becoming a dingy gray.  She took the time to send me a message. We've never met, aren't in regular correspondence, just friends who happen to see what each other is up to, and who are willing to share experience. How angelic is that?

katrog hearts teresa2t

Monday, February 9, 2015

The Year of the Blanket

Not just the blanket of snow that is thickening all over the Boston area.

January 24, 2015

Same table. February 9, 2015

And it's still coming down, with as much as another two feet over today and tonight.

No wonder my knitting visions are of blankets and oversized sweaters.

One niece is heading to college in upstate New York in the fall and since I can't knit snowshoes I thought I'd knit a blanket.  She requested her new school colors--gray and forest green--and I'll be knitting the Learn-to-Knit Afghan from Barbara Walker's book of the same name.  It consists of 63 squares covering a range of knitting from simple knit and purl to lace, cables and colorwork.  I'll be subbing in a couple of personalized squares, and working the squares in gray and white with a forest green edging.  The forest green yarn is caught in a snow drift between here and somewhere out west, but I expect it to arrive soon.

Cascade 220 Superwash.  Silver Gray & Aran.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Eschew the Zoom

Not the name of my favorite indie rock group.  Not  the garbled translator function at work. Just one more recycled New Year's resolution.

Some previous December or other, I resolved to improve my iPhone picture taking skills.  As anyone who reads this blog regularly or views my projects on ravelry can see, that hasn't happened.  Once in a blue moon, I take a picture that is well-lit, well-composed, in focus, and true in color. Totally random blind luck. Most of the time it's dim, distracting, out of focus and looks like it's been dipped in last night's dishwater.

This resolution never got farther than line item in the inventory of lack.  No courses enrolled in.  No books purchased.  Not even a rudimentary google: better iPhone pics.

Never underestimate the usefulness of being too tired to knit, read, or rehang the clothes on those swell new non-slip hangers.  I wasn't too tired to let my fingers do the walking (and if you get that reference you must be almost as old as I am), and I searched for tips.  The   webby-verse is  chockablock with tips, ten to the nth power of tips.

I stashed a few in Evernote, but I only had time for a quick skim.  Did you know that the digital zoom in that smartphone is not very smart? It isn't really a zoom, but a sloppy facsimile, which leads to fuzzy pics. Clearly, this was news to me.

So no more zooming.  I will follow the advise to just get really close to whatever it is and snap away.

Or rather, I will hold the phone firmly in both hands, and remove my thumb gently from the shutter button because the picture doesn't get taken until the button is released.  Who knew? Probably everyone but me knew this, but now I have something else to try.

The results of my experiments so far, taken in winter window light, no retouching:
Eschewing the Zoom.
Zoom Flop.
Yes, the angle is slightly different--what can I tell you, I'm cockeyed--but yes, indeed, there is way more detail in the first photo.  I took another set of pics, and another light bulb went off in my head.

No zoom.


The amount of detail is different, but, duh, when you zoom you are dealing with the light at the camera position, not at the object's position.  In this case, the second photo is duller, with a much darker exposure.

Stay tuned for more adventures of the Ignoramus with an iPhone.

There are any number of tutorials and tips out there, but for sheer inspiring gorgeousness take a look at this photo gallery:  National Geographic iPhone Photo Tips

Friday, January 9, 2015

Practical Matters

I was wondering why the gift wrap was so hard to cut.  Oops! I was cutting the cord of my headphones.  Not the cheesy white earbuds.  The good full-size Sennheisers. They were lying on the table. Under the  gift wrap.  I didn't see them.  I managed to mend them, sort of, with some electrical tape, but I began to think about all the time I spend ferreting around after my devices, and all the times I have dropped them and whatever they are tangled in while bounding up to answer the old school landline in the other room.

I also began to think about what I really like to make:  problem solvers and practical items.  Here's a new one, a pouch on a cord to hold my listening device, so I can listen and knit without danger of strangulation. Or decapitation. Bonus: a finished object in the first week of the New Year.

I'll probably have to break out the neon orange yarn and crochet a few more. But while I like the end result, I think my on-the-fly construction method on this one was overly complicated.  Back to the drawing board.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Crafty Resolutions for 2013

No, I haven't parted ways with consensual reality.  No, it's not a typo.

Back at the end of 2012 I listed some goals for 2013.  One of them was to learn Brioche Knitting.  I bought Nancy Marchant's book.  I enrolled in a Craftsy course.  But no Brioche. Not in 2013.  Not in 2014. Oh, sorry, you mean I actually have to pick up needles and yarn and do something?

It's a pattern.  My shelves are heaped with instructional materials.  My devices are stuffed with educational apps. Let's not talk about the oddball devices I've stockpiled:  the pom-pom maker, the tiny loom, the I-cord spool, the jewelry pliers.  I could start a  craft store with the supplies in my closet.

When it came time to think about what I wanted  to learn in 2015,  I didn't have to waste an iota of brain power. I had all these perfectly good resolutions left over from previous year-end dreaming, and  recycling is  a good idea, right?

So I looked up my Craftsy password, grabbed yarn and needles, and gave it a go.  Progress to date: a bit more than halfway through the sample swatch in Lesson 1.  That wasn't so hard now, was it?  Anyone else with a recycled resolution?