Pink Tank and Cardigan.

Cwazy Knitting Wabbit Aunt

We always feel a little rumpled before blocking.
[Click here for a close-up of the stitch.]

Look at the fog hanging outside my window. I keep expecting Gary Oldman, wearing too much white makeup and a hairdo that looks like two enormous pastry rolls, to come dropping in*. I should be knitting romantic shawls, wraps, capelets...something that seems more appropriate for the Transylvania-like fog. But what have I done gone and started? A screaming bubble gum pink tank using Phildar Coton Microfibres. Just like summer. Such a knitting rebel!

The tank is for my niece and goddaughter, who's also named "Becky" (awwwwwwww!). Her birthday is coming up and in consideration of the fact that she i) loves all things PINK, and ii) lives in year-round sunny climes where the heaviest winter garment required is a lightweight jacket, a cute little pink tank is in order and Aunt Cwazy Knitting Wabbit is the one who is going to knit it even though it's on teeny tiny size 3mm needles and utilizes slippery cotton that looks like string.

P.S. When my niece was born, and up until the time when she was about three years old, I didn't know how to knit because I was too busy upping my stress levels by working 14 hour days and some weekends as a lawyer. [What? And waste all those billable hours?] Thankfully, I saw the light. This will be the first thing I've ever knit for her so it has to be really, really, really nice. If it reaches my expectations I will go out and reward myself with a honking batch of tuiles aux amandes from the bakery.

*He's only welcome unless he's bringing Keanu (wearing that black coat from The Matrix) with him. [Rawr.]

Frogs and crepes.

She likes me so nice, she knit me thrice!

Oh, string-like cotton yarn! How I adore thee! You create such a glossy, crisp fabric. But that also means that every imperfection, every loose stitch, every too tight row is magnified in my eyes because you show it off so well. So in return I rip you out. Not once, not twice, but three times. Thank you, ever so much.

Rip Out Episode 1: Clearly brought on as a result of too much coffee, because it took place after I had already BINDED OFF and pulled the piece clear off the needles. I spread out the piece, looked at it, and decided that I didn't like that approx 20 rows down, there were two knit rows that looked too tight. Unfortunately, no fiddling with the stitches helped. Rip it, rip it good!

Rip Out Episode 2: I had gotten midway up the armhole shaping when I realized that oops! Forgot to do a chain selvedge like I had done the first time around. (The armholes are free edges, so I had done a chain selvedge by slipping the first and last stitches of all right side rows, and purling the first and last stitches of all wrong side rows.) Rip it, rip it good!

Rip Out Episode 3: After I did the first few decreases of the armhole shaping I decided that I wanted to pair ssk with k2 together instead of s1, k1, psso with k2 together. Yep. Just like that. Switched reels even though I had done it differently the first two times. It was only a few rows so I ripped it, ripped it good.

Now I've finished the front piece and I'm very happy with it. I would have started the back piece yesterday, but I was too busy stuffing my face with all the crepes that my husband made. I like to eat mine with butter and granulated sugar, but my son, a.k.a. Captain Destructo, likes to make a mess by eating his with Nutella. He's just turned 3 years old and he already knows how to slap Nutella on his crepes, fold them in half, and then again in quarters. Such a continental little chap! And here are a few pictures for you. (Please note how my dog Lucy - otherwise known as Sweet Tooth Dog - sits by the Captain in the hopes that he'll drop a crumb or two.)

Post-Halloween knitting.

Yep. Playing with the camera again.
[Click, make real big.]

Saturday was a gorgeous day. I woke bright and early in a revved-up yarn shopping mode. No need to psyche myself up over a cup of coffee, either. I was READY. As I whistled while I put on my boots, I was already imagining myself fondling the fluffy yarns I was going to buy. I even had my itinerary all planned out: Head to Phildar. From there, mosey on down to Anny Blatt. Show the husband the sewing machines in front of the Anny Blatt shop. Stop by La Droguerie for some notions. And, if time permitted before lunch, hop back into the car and head on down to Plassard for some serious dancing in the shop.

As I, my husband and my son zoomed down the main street of La Croix Rousse in our little Fiat, I commented to my husband, "Everything is so nice and quiet! It looks like everyone has taken a long weekend. Wait...long weekend? Oh no!" At that horrible moment, I remembered. Saturday is a national holiday. Aaaaaaaaaaah!

Ever-so-insistent, we still drove down to the le premier arrondissement where all my favorite fiber haunts are in the hopes that some greedy shop owner would be open. But no, nearly everything was CLOSED. I smudged the glass of the display windows of the unlit Phildar shop as I pressed my face and hands against it, looking for someone, anyone, to let me in. I nearly called out, "Please? Open up? I want yarn! I got a long list. And a carte bleue! Pretty please?" Alas, no one answered. Sob!

Oh well. I'll be going back this afternoon, and the trip wasn't entirely in vain. We were having exceptionally nice weather, and I got to snap this shot of the fountain in the Place des Terreaux.

all that RIBBING
Ribbing. All the way up.
It's like a valium, I tell you.

In knitting project news, I finished the back of my niece's pink tank! The back piece is not like the front piece. It is knit on even smaller needles (size US1, anyone?), and is entirely in ribbing in order to ensure a snug tank fit. Knitting the piece had the same effects as a valium. If I hadn't worked through most of it while watching Stephen King's Carrie, I probably would have fallen asleep.

Incidentally, the straps of the tank are also worked in ribbing, and the pattern requires for them to be sewn on. However, I decided to leave a few stitches on both sides of the back piece open at the top, and after the piece is blocked I will knit the straps on so that I only have to sew them to the front piece.

P.S. The movie Carrie came out when I was about 9 years old, and my mother wouldn't let me see it. This is the first time I got to watch the movie, and all I'm going to say is that I am sooooo thankful my mother didn't let me see it when I was a kid. It freaked me out even as an adult! But doesn't John Travolta with his Vinnie Barbarino haircut epitomize how a dude could wear a 70s feathered 'do? [The theme music to Welcome Back, Kotter will be running through your head all day now. Muwaahaaaaaa!]

It's just a whirlwind of activity chez fluffa!

I deserve a gold star for knitting
all that ribbing without falling asleep.

This bubblegum-pink tank I'm knitting for my niece is SO pink, I get a sugar rush just from looking at it. But it's so fun! The back piece is complete, finally. I bound off center stitches at the top using a decrease bind-off to keep the ribbing from flaring out, and I left a few stitches at the sides on holders so I could knit on the straps. The pattern instructs the straps to be knit separately and then sewn on, and while I have nothing against sewing I think that the edges of the tank - which have no finishing - will look cleaner if I knit the straps on instead of sewing them on. With that done, blocking has taken place and I will now proceed to seam, which we all know is something over which I do not procrastinate. Me? Procrastinate at seaming? Never!

While waiting for the pieces of the pink tank to block, I went off and started one of the Bucket-o-Chic hats I plan on doing this winter. The first one is going to be a dark charcoal gray, knit using Plassard Merinos yarn which has to be the among the nicest yarns I have ever knit. 100% wool and a beautiful, even fabric. I also bought some Plassard Louinie, which is a novelty yarn with a bit of fur on it. I don't think I can use it as a carry-along, because it's too thick. I'll probably use it on its own as trim. However, I do want to do a bucket hat all in fur and for that, I'll be using more Plassard Merinos coupled with Phildar's Cygne in black. Phildar Cygne is FURRY. I love it! When I fondled the skeins of Cygne at the shop I expected them to meow at me. Then, when I swatched it with the Plassard Merinos I was immediately reminded of the horrific black wig that Jan Brady wore to a party because she wanted to change her look. (And that episode is, without a doubt, among the best Brady Bunch episodes, ever.)

Finishing parties, steam-blocking and stinky fabric.

Why, it's a seaming party!
[Throws confetti all around.]

Take out a red marker and circle this day on your calendar, friends. Believe it or not, I have decided NOT to procrastinate over seaming my niece's tank, and went off and started it! It's record-breaking; I usually wait weeks to start finishing. Let's all have a kir royale to celebrate.

But that's not all. While I was in the finishing mood, I decided to just go ahead and complete the back piece of Elfin. I kid you not. I'm on roll, I tell you. And as if that weren't enough, I even blocked it. Ever blocked Rowan's Felted Tweed using steam? The smell is enough to curl your toes. Wear noseplugs. But what a fabric! Felted Tweed doesn't curl, and this is something I noticed when I blocked the swatch. So I did away with the ribbing at the hem in order to avoid having the jacket cling at the hip area, but I was still able to do a tubular cast-on without having to worry about the cast-on edge curling.

Totally tubular. Like, totally.

Oh, how I love the invisible edge that the tubular cast-on creates! I use it every time I knit up a non-bumpy yarn of fine gauge. And it looks so neat and clean on Felted Tweed, it's worth having the room smell like a barn while steam-blocking the fabric.

P.S. When steam-blocking, set the iron to low-heat, and cover the fabric with a damp cloth. I always use lightweight cloth diapers (brand-new, never used...come on!) that are slightly damp to cover pieces I block using steam. That way, the steam will still get through but the knitting will be protected. And even with the cloth, Felted Tweed will still smell like a barn. But, like I said, what a fabric!

Happy berzzzday!


Why, I do believe it's my birthday today. Happy birthday to me! In celebration, I offer you a finished project: My niece's tank. I must say, I am happy with the way it came out and am pleased with the straps. Stitches on the back piece were left open, and the straps were knitted on, and then grafted to the front piece. No seams or unsightly joins! I can't wait to see the tank on my niece. Thankfully, that will happen next month when I make it home for the holidays. Of course, dancing pictures will be taken. In the meantime, I've got a matching cardi to make. Send extra knitting hands as a birthday present.

I've also been rolling on my Elfin cardi. I am past the armhole shaping on the left front piece and would like to finish it so I can begin the right front piece this week. Despite the small gauge, it really does knit quickly. I made it halfway through the left front piece while watching Docs de Choc, a horrific crime documentary that I find oddly compelling*. I'd love to finish this cardi before December rolls around, which will be a busy month for me and provide less time for knitting.

Personal fact [Claudia's going to love this]: When I was in middle school I read ALL of the Perry Mason detective novels by Erle Stanley Gardner. Knowing I was a fan, my mother bought me the entire series at a secondhand bookstore. Of course, I wanted to be a lawyer just like Perry Mason. And maybe I would have been, if I had been able to stomach the high-profile cases I observed when interning in the courts in N.Y.C. during the summer of 1991. I couldn't, so I became a corporate type instead. But I would have loved to have been like Perry Mason! He was my hero in my pre-teen years. And that, my friends, proves that I am one of the biggest legal geeks on the face of this planet.

Greetings from jetlag limbo.

Strikin' a pose in the tank Aunt Becky knit for me, yo.

I cannot begin to describe the feeling I got on Christmas morning when my niece and goddaughter Becky* opened the package containing the tank I knit for her, went to try it on, scrambled back out wearing it and gave me a tight hug while squealing, "Ooooooooooooh, thank yooooooouuuu!" That, my friends, is what makes all the knitting worthwhile, and then some.

I wanted to knit the tank's matching cardigan before I left to visit my family for the holidays, but I was so busy I didn't even get a chance to start it. I decided to take the yarn with me in the hopes I'd at least get to start it, and it's a good thing I did because jetlag-induced insomnia, powdered donettes and a gazillion cable channels made for excellent early morning knitting time. I got to watch all the films I've missed while cranking out some knits, and one of the things I finished was the cardigan:

Isn't she just the prettiest in pink?
[Click me and I will give you another view.]

The pattern (from Phildar's Pitchoun Spring 2003) originally called for the ensemble to be knit in white, and the front edges of the cardi were to be finished with flowered bands of hooks and eyes. These bands were available at Phildar boutiques in white only, so I decided to do away with them altogether and use eyelet buttonholes instead. I worked garter stitch bands on the edges of both front pieces and sewed on some matching pink flower-shaped buttons [closeup] I found in my local mercerie right before I left on my trip. The entire cardigan was knit, blocked, and finished while I was visiting my family. It was great fun to work on the cardi with the family looking on, and my niece flattered me by wearing it into the ground when I finished it. Of course, we took the customary action shots** of her wearing the things I knit for her:

My niece is such a sweetheart, she deserves an entry all to herself so updates on other knitting projects will follow later this week. I've missed my online knitting buds and it's great to be back!

*Yes, my niece is named after me. Awwwwwww!
**I took the shots in the atrium of my parents' house so the sun is filtered, but it was definitely there. Temps averaged 23-26 degrees celsius most of the time and we all walked around like it was spring. What a shocker to come back and be smacked in the face with icy wind and freezing temps. But then again, this kind of weather is EXCELLENT knitting weather. Hehe.