Monday, August 31, 2009

vacation knitting

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Ok, I admit that I've been home a week and have been in cyber hiding. It was relaxing while I was on vacation to be totally unplugged and I've been clinging to that and pretending that I'm still on holiday as the last days of summer wind down.

What was so jazzing was to find all of your comments here and on Ravelry where more than 320 have favorited my A Very Warm Book. It's really rewarding and validating to get that kind of feedback on a project that would have otherwise been made in a vacuum. Thank you all!!! I will try to respond to all of you individually.

Part of the reason I haven't posted yet is that I've been feeling like there were so many things that I wanted to share that I got overwhelmed. The pile of photos that I have to wade through hasn't been helping either. I might have to split this up into more than one post.

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For airplane and vacation knitting I wanted things that were small but with plenty of interest to keep me engaged. On the way over I chose Selbu Modern. This is a free pattern that knits up quickly and easily following the nice chart.

Vital stats: Pattern: Selbu Modern by Kate Gagnon Osborn.
Needles: size 0 and 3, 16" circulars.
Yarns: Koigu Painter's Palette Premium Merino KPPPM (blues) and
The Woolen Rabbit Harmony in Tupelo Honey
(a riveting, unidentifiable color, neither ochre, green, nor yellow).

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This color combo tweaks me in exactly the right way. The Woolen Rabbit yarn is the most intriguing color, and I've been looking at it since The Spa Knit and Spin of '08, trying to decide what to do with it. Suddenly paired with the blue it was just right. It reminded me of sun burnt weeds and the blue of the Aegean in Turkey, which was exactly where I was knitting it.
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Now that I've knit a couple of pairs of mittens and a hat with sock yarn, I have to say that I like the fabric of these things to be a little tighter. Superwash sock yarn tends to loosen up when it's washed instead of knitting together, which is exactly what makes it washable. I still like this hat, but might consider knitting it with a shetland yarn next time for a little more body and a firmer fabric.

There are a few more photos on flickr (click here), and I hope to have our magical stopover in Munich and another project in the next post. The kids are back in school and it's back to work.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

a very warm book, or a knitted book jacket

Here finally, is my super secret mystery project unveiled. Yup, it's a knitted book jacket. Why oh why would anyone go to the trouble of doing such a thing, you may ask yourself. All I can say is because it was there. My job job is that I'm a graphic designer, or a book cover designer to be specific. It's something that I've done for years and it just seemed to make sense finally to knit a book jacket.

Click on any image to see a larger version on flickr. Details of materials on Ravelry.

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The greatest challenge that I had with this project was sizing and charting. This seemed much more difficult than sizing for a garment because I had to make it fit EXACTLY to the height, width, and spine of the book. I made my Lorem Ipsum swatch and I charted, and charted, and charted. Knitted stitches aren't exactly a square in dimension but more of a rectangle. At one point I got hung up on the difference between stitch size and the graph paper squares and made the dang thing much too short. So I had to chart all over again, which took me almost two weeks. Stranded color knitting requires an even density of the the foreground and background colors since both are being carried along as I knit. For you graphic designers out there that meant no really big white spaces.
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Above you see the front of jacket, back of jacket, front flap and back flap. I couldn't resist adding in a bar code on the back and a self-portrait on the back flap, it kind of looks like me.

What is Ex Libris? Ex libris is Latin and it means "from the books of...", but it also refers to a bookplate. A bookplate is a small paper label that is glued inside the front of the book, usually on the endpapers and has the owner of the book's name on it. Bookplates were at one time very elaborate and could be a piece of art of their own with great type and a lovely illustration. You can see many examples at the Book Plate Society website.

What about the ME part? ME are my initials, so this is my book and exterior bookplate. I've been thinking as I worked on it that it's a bit like a sampler for me. Cross-stitch or needlework samplers used to be something that women made to show off their skills, but also as a little library of stitches. I pulled designs from Norwegian and Fair Isle books, the Digitale Bibliotek, but also charted the letters, self-portrait, and a few other parts myself.
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The book underneath all of this knitting is Fashion: The Collection of the Kyoto Costume Institute, a great book by the way. I picked it because it was on my shelf, was a hefty size (about 8 x 11")which gave me more room to design, and had a nice red case. It seemed kind of empowering to be dressing a book about the history of fashion.
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After all this effort I finally steeked and the damn thing was too big. I tried the covered steek method and it looked nice, but it seemed a bit bulky and stretched the end seams out a little, so I ripped it out. A little machine stitching up the sides held it together as I steamed, and fulled with the trifecta of hot water, soap (lavender shampoo!), and agitation, and finally it was the right size. A big shout out to the folks at Rauma Yarns because the colors did not run in the hot water. The red bleeding into the white could have been a disaster. This book is going to be mighty warm this winter.
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Above is a glimpse of what my charts looked like. And below, the book jacket made a nice tube top before I steeked it.
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Here is where the book will be living, it's in good company. Is it practical to knit a book jacket? No, the jacket slithers off the book and it's really too hard to get the knitted piece just the right size. But it was a fun brain, hand, and art exercise.
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I will be on vacation and away from the internet (yes there are still parts of the world where people aren't spending all their time blogging), for most of August. See you at the end of the month!