Thursday, October 16, 2014

Finished: Blue Green Bowerbird Wrap + Graphic Knits Pattern Picks (25 weeks pregnant)

Mikhaela's Blue Green Bowerbird Wrap

Stripes are a close second to polka dots in my pattern happiness book. So when I was invited to join the blog tour/knitalong for Graphic Knits: 20 Designs in Bold Beautiful Color—the new book from Interweave by my favorite knitting designer ever, Alexis Winslow—I immediately gravitated towards the Bowerbird Wrap, a soft, squishy loosely-knitted ribbed, cabled, striped and tassled wrap made from luscious silky merino yarn:

It was the perfect knit for this tired pregnant lady—the cables and stripes and super soft squishyness of the yarn kept me going, but it was simple enough to take on the subway or bus, or work on during my Hypnobabies birthing class or while watching my daughter as she splashed around in the bathtub or built time machines in the living room from chairs and sheets. The staggered cable pattern was fun, but easy to memorize.

Mikhaela's Blue Green Bowerbird Wrap

The basics:

Pattern: The Bowerbird Wrap by Alexis Winslow from Graphic Knits (Interweave).

Yarn: 3 colors of Malabrigo Silky Merino, a lovely soft hand-painted DK weight silk/wool-blend yarn. I used slightly over 1 skein of "412 Teal feather" for Color A, 1 1/2 skeins of "406 Narciso" (a chartreuse) for Color B, and slightly over a skein of "196 Mares" (a gorgeous painted deep blue purple) for Color C... about 585 yards in total.

Needles: The pattern recommends size 11 to start (to create a loose squishy double-sided ribbed fabric with the DK weight yarn), but I'm a loose knitter, and got gauge with size 9 needles.

Raveled: Here.

I would definitely recommend this project for a knitter of any level, even an advanced beginner. The only even slightly tricky bits are the cables at the edges, the color changes (I used a back join), and the twisted fringe finish. There's no fitting, no short rows, no stranded colorwork. And the ribbing makes it reversible—essential for a scarf or wrap.

It makes for a versatile garment. Wrap it...

Mikhaela's Blue Green Bowerbird Wrap

Drape it...

Mikhaela's Blue Green Bowerbird Wrap

Or wear it as a snuggly scarf.

Mikhaela's Blue Green Bowerbird Wrap

Seriously, this thing is really snuggly. I'm glad I sprung for the actual silk-blend yarn called for in the pattern instead of using plain wool or alpaca.

Mikhaela's Blue Green Bowerbird Wrap

Anyway. You know I mean it when I say that Brooklyn-based Alexis Winslow is my favorite knitting designer, as I've now made three of her garments, including my beloved chartreuse lace Georgina Cardigan (which actually works great for maternity, since it doesn't touch the belly) and my purple Delancey striped cardigan. Her designs are bold, figure-flattering, colorful, creative AND super fun to knit.

So please do show her some love and check out her first book Graphic Knits. When I am not hugely pregnant, I am most excited to make (suprise), the polka dot Sweetness Pullover (see knitalong here):

My other favorites are the wrap-style Orly Cardigan (love those staggered stripes!):

The Rook Pullover...

And the Danae Mittens:

So yes—please check out the patterns from Graphic Knits (you can see details for all of them on Ravelry), they are truly awesome. (And if you, unlike me, have an area of your middle resembling a waist, I highly recommend knitting along with the Sweetness Pullover!)

Disclaimer P.S.: I did receive a free review copy of Graphic Knits, but was not in any other way compensated or paid to knit the Bowerbird or write this post—I bought the yarn myself and wrote this post because I'm a huge fan of Alexis' work and hope her first book is a big hit so she can keep designing awesome knitting patterns!

P.P.S. So I will now admit that when I took all these photos in the early wee hours I hadn't finished applying the twisted cord fringe to BOTH ends of my wrap (I'll have to do tomorrow), but I think I managed to cleverly conceal that in my photos. Except now you know. Oops!

Mikhaela's Blue Green Bowerbird Wrap

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Graphic Knits Blog Tour / Knitalong Post (w/ finished Bowerbird Wrap) Coming this Evening!

Hi everyone! Just a quick note that I'm super excited to be part of the blog tour and knitalong for Graphic Knits, a gorgeous, colorful and inspiring new book from Interweave by my all-time-favorite knitting designer, Alexis Winslow.

I had a lovely time knitting my book project (the Bowerbird Wrap), but due to some personal challenges barely managed to get it finished by last night. I blocked and photographed it this morning with a little help from a hair dryer, but still need to edit my photos and blog it properly later this evening. In the meantime, please check out the entire Graphic Knits blog tour:

  1. Knit Darling - Sweetness Pullover KAL - 9/19 (P.S. it has polka dots!)
  2. Heather Zoppetti Designs – Woodstar Mitts – 10/3
  3. Dayana Knits – Laszlo Cardigan – 10/7
  4. Stockinette Zombies – Germander Shrug and Sweetness Pullover – 10/9
  5. Knitscene/Knitting Daily blog – Barbet Turtleneck – 10/9
  6. Polka Dot Overload - Bowerbird Wrap – 10/15

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Sewcation fail: defeated by a baby beanie and a broken sewing machine

I was almost defeated today by a baby beanie with a single pattern piece. But after hours of unpicking and making scale model mini beanies and finally reading other people's blog posts, I realized it wasn't my fault. I'm sure the baby in this Ottobre maga

Generally speaking, a hat pattern should allow for the insertion of a head, right? Not so this Ottobre reversible baby beanie (at least not as written).

I started off my two-day sewcation yesterday morning in high spirits, dressed in me-made maternity clothes with a mocktail in hand:

All set for my 2-day #sewcation w/ mocktail in hand & a #memade #maternity outfit (Burdastyle top I maternitized in 2010 + self-drafted half circle skirt). #sewing

I began with what I imagined would be the easiest project possible, to ease myself back into things: a gender-neutral baby jacket and hat gift set made from a repurposed cashmere sweater. I planned to appliqué a little blue felt bicycle on the jacket and line the baby hat with soft blue bamboo knit.

First #sewcation project: appliquéd cashmere baby jackets from repurposed adult-size sweaters. #sewingforbabies #sewing

I cut out both but I figured I'd start actual sewing with the baby hat, the cute little bear-eared knit "Ernie" beanie with just ONE pattern piece from the 1/2013 issue of Ottobre. WHAT COULD BE EASIER, RIGHT? I mean, I've made lined dresses and overalls and trousers and things with buttons and collars and plackets... A KNIT BABY HAT SHOULD TAKE FIVE MINUTES RIGHT?

Sorry if I am shouting. But I really can't help it.

Because TWELVE HOURS LATER I found myself unpicking THOUSANDS of tiny white zig-zag stitches out of fuzzy white cashmere sweater knit BECAUSE if you follow the Ottobre instructions in the order as written THERE IS NO OPENING FOR AN ACTUAL BABY HEAD.

Oops. My #sewcation is half over and so far my biggest accomplishment is sewing an Ottobre cashmere baby beanie together backwards. Now to unpick tiny white zigzag stitches from fuzzy white sweater knit. #sewingforbabies #sewing

I thought maybe I had just done something wrong, but I made some tiny little hat mockups (see photo at top of post) just to confirm I wasn't totally out of it... and then I searched online and found every single person who had attempted the hat had the same problem and had had to drastically alter the pattern to actually work. (Really, who'd think you'd need to read pattern reviews for a BABY BEANIE?). So I cut some head openings and resewed it together my way, and now all I have to show for my sewcation is one cute (if way too labor-intensive) little cashmere hat. I could have KNITTED it faster from scratch.

And that's probably all I'll have to show for my sewcation, since this morning the screw threads wore out in my needle clamp and now every needle I attempt to insert just falls right out with a maddening "Ping!" sound. The shop says it will take at least 10 days to repair as they are backed up.

In the meantime a friend is going to loan me her Featherweight, but renting a Zipcar and traveling way out to Queens with a broken sewing machine wasn't exactly the sewcation I had in mind. I might defer that for another day and spend today cutting out a few projects and knitting.

I think I need another mocktail.