Saturday, December 29, 2007

The Bangles Greatest Hits

Christmas is over. The tree is down. Presents are all unwrapped. So before the excitement of New Year's Eve sets in, I thought I'd go through a rundown of all the Christmas crafts I couldn't blog about earlier for obvious reasons.

First up are the bangles. I made two each for my sister and two friends. I got the idea from Mimsie's Ravelry page and blog. And I had previously made two for myself.

Sippi's bangles are made out of Debbie Bliss Cashmerino DK (light) and Aran (dark)—her favorite color is periwinkle. The lighter one is a bobble stitch from Vogue Knitting, and the darker one is a lace hearts stitch from VK:

Richele also has a lace heart stitch bangle. Her's is made from Paton's Classic Wool Merino. The blue bangle is a thatched cable stitch from—you guessed it—Vogue Knitting. The yarn is Lion Brand Wool-Ease:

Kate's bangles are also from Vogue Knitting stitch patterns. The purple is Debbie Bliss Cashmerino DK and a double seed stitch. The tan is a lace pattern and Lion Brand Wool-Ease:

Mmmm, don't they look tasty!

I'll blog more on the rest of the crafty Christmas presents later.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Off to the races

  • Christmas crafts finished...........check
  • Christmas shopping finished.......check
  • presents wrapped....................check
Now, I'm just one Christmas party (at the horse races), a few hours of work, one evening of packing and laundry, and one six-hour drive away from vacation!

No peeking!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

'Jingle bells, electric lights'

Things are winding down finally. I've been listening to my favorite "Christmas" song, "Christmas Katie," on repeatI like the name! It's been cooler than 80 degrees in New Orleans this week. So it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

I'm 99% done with my Christmas crafts, shopping, and wrapping. And I'm 85% done with my deadline work that needs to be done before this weekend. After that, it's ten glorious days of watching "Lost" DVDs, playing with new Christmas toys, eating yummy things, and knitting! I can't wait. And I'm planning ahead.

I chopped nine inches of hair off earlier this month, which means getting used to short hair again and contemplating all the fun things I can do with it. Like wearing hats. I have a large head, so I always think hats look wonky on me. But I may be able to pull one off with my spunky new coif. I'm leaning towards a beret because I'm going to Paris this spring, and "when in Rome..."

I've been trolling Ravelry. I briefly considered Grumperina's Art Deco Beret from Knitscene, but I don't think I'm ready to commit to sparkly beads all over my head just yet. So I moved on to Wendy Bernard's Last-Minute Purled Beret and Le Slouch. But neither really jumped out and grabbed me. I was just about ready to give up and focus on finishing WIPs during my vacation. Until this morning. When by complete accident, I rediscovered this gem:

And all at once, it all came back. I remembered how much I loved this pattern when I first saw it last year (Vogue Knitting Holiday 2006). I imagined myself sitting in a lovely little Parisian sidewalk cafe, sipping café au lait and eating a crêpeor maybe a baguette, no let's stick with the crêpe. I saw my sassy new haircut peeking out from under the hat. And I was sold. I went to the yarn store during my lunch break. Now I'm $40 poorer (size 13 circular needles don't come cheap), optimistic, and not destined to focus on boring, old WIPs over break! J'adore le chapeau!

Photos:, Vogue Knitting, and Rowan

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Almost famous

I wrote an article for the winter issue of Knitty, and it just came out! Check it out. And if you're linking here from the article, welcome.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Long overdue

I know, I know. I've been a horribly neglectful blogger recently. But not for lack of things to blog about. The past month has been a flurry of finishing old projects and starting new ones—and getting a leg up on those daunting Christmas crafts. So without further ado, here's a rundown of finished objects and a preview of things to come.

Bryant's Slipover

My very first sweater-type garment is finished! I wore it to work yesterday, and it was so warm and soft (I used Garnstudio Drops alpaca). Even though it's knitted to gauge and blocked to measurements, it's still a little "gapey" at the top, but I guess that just allows for bulkier undergarments.

Here's another view, and there are even more pictures on Ravelry (subtropicalkatie), if you're so inclined.

Swatch Bangle

I saw these on Mimsie's Ravelry page, and loved the idea, so I went a little Fetching with them. I'm up to three so far
with more to come before Christmas. (Close your eyes for the next few pictures if you think you might be on my Christmas list.)

I used my favorite cable stitch of all time (Hollow Oak from "Vogue Knitting") and some stash Debbie Bliss cashmerino aran in a dark blue for the first one:

The next is just a regular thick cable and some stash Lions Brand Wool Ease in a tan-brown:

I'll keep the remaining ones a mystery for now
at least until Christmas.

I'm a checklist kind of girl, so signing off on all these objects brings me lots of satisfaction. But I'm also an only-happy-when-I'm-busy girl, so I've obviously got a few new projects in the works.

Little Gems Mitts

My first foray into non-Fetching fingerless mitts is turning out well so far. I haven't had any nervous breakdowns or Debbie Bliss withdrawals
yet. Here's a progress shot of the Little Gems Mitts from Interweave Knit's Holiday Gifts. I'm using the yarn used in the pattern, Jamieson's Shetland Spindrift but in a different color scheme. My "gems" will be various shades of green.

And in other crafty news...

The sewing machine has been lugged downstairs and is hard at work again on several new projects. The only one that's finished so far is a modified version of the clutch from the cover of Amy Karol's book. I stumbled on some great Free Spirit gnome fabric while online shopping at Purl and knowing that I was soon to be the houseguest of a gnome-loving friend, I decided to put it to good use. As for the modifications, it's reversible. I added a ribbon along the edge of the solid side for a little more pizazz and voila! I think it was a hit!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007


Woolgathering was yesterday's word of the day on, and though I didn't have time to write yesterday, I thought it was an appropriate title for a knitblog post. And to use that word of the day in a sentence — it means "indulgence in idle fancies or daydreaming" — I am currently woolgathering about all the free time I'll soon have for knitting. But until that glorious time (about two days from now), here's an update of the super-secret gift I made last month for my sister. Her birthday was last week, and I think the starry-eyed surprise was a big hit! I slightly modified Amy Gaines' "Woodland Animals" owl pattern and added a few personal touches. Stuffed animal toys are fun for all ages especially if there's sisterly significance!

Friday, October 26, 2007

I think I have a problem

I've been playing on Ravelry all week. And doing so has shown me something about my knitting character that I've obviously been in denial about:

And I'm not just a Fetching girl. I saw the Little Gems Mitts pattern this morning and already ordered some yarn to make a pair. The sad thing is, it's not even cold where I live! I think I have a problem...I like fingerless mitts too much!

(Image: Interweave Knits)

Monday, October 22, 2007

'So close, I can nearly taste it'

It's rainy, gross, flooding, and tornadoey in Nola today. And Ravelry is teasing me with this little piece of information:

182 people are ahead of you in line.

So close! But still so far away...tomorrow, I can feel it. But it was not a completely disappointing day. My friend Richele let me play on her Ravelry and I came home to a pleasant (and slightly rained on) surprise—a package of beautiful fabric treats from Purl. Now I can make some beautiful things out of Amy Karol's book, including but not limited to the clutch on the cover and the lap quilt.

And now that I'm essentially done with a big work project that has been eating all my free time for the past month or so, I have time to knit again. So far, I've made one sock, one Fetching fingerless glove, and part of Bryant's Slipover vest. I'm using the recommended Garnstudio Drops Alpaca yarn for the vest, and I love it so far. I'm using a heather green (#7815) and tan (#302), and they're blending really well. I'm quite pleased.

Monday, October 8, 2007

'I'm on top of the world, the coolest kid in the neighborhood'

I am pretty amazing if I may say so myself. Despite the fact that the vast majority of all non-day-job-working and non-sleeping hours last week were spent slaving over a big freelance project with a rapidly approaching deadline, I still managed to find time over the weekend to crank out the super secret gift I alluded to last post. I can't show the whole finished project yet as the super secret occasion has not yet arrived—and I wouldn't want the super secret recipient to catch digital wind of the surprise—but here's a little taste to tide you over. The finished object is literally a starry-eyed surprise!

Friday, October 5, 2007

'Every year is getting shorter, never seem to find the time; plans that either come to naught or half a page of scribbled lines'

Many apologies for the time lapse between posts. It has been a whirlwind three weeks of frantically seaming the lacy dress, entertaining travelers to this Subtropical ‘Paradise’ I call home, traveling to exotic temperate climes (right), and celebrating my golden birthday! The lacy dress is still not finished. It’s about halfway seamed, and the rest is held together by safety pins. But my visiting friend saw it and loved it. She saw it without the seams attached and liked it better sleeveless than with the pattern’s bell sleeves. I’m not sure what I’ll end up doing, but I have decided to put this project on hold for now. There’s no chance I’ll wear it before next May, and I have dozens of cooler-weather projects I’m itching to start.

First up is a super secret gift project that can’t be discussed on here for fear that the recipient will catch wind. But also on the books is the Tilted Duster from the Fall 2007 Interweave Knits. I ordered my Berocco Peruvia in Tabaco (brown), and it arrived last week. I can’t wait to start! And I’m also planning to make a few more of Cheryl Niamath’s Fetching fingerless gloves. (Aside: this was the first pattern I tackled after knitting many long rectangles, which I taught myself to do while living in A Very Cold Place back in 2004. I took a break from knitting while I went to grad school in the Cusp of Subtropical Paradise and picked it back up about this time last year when I lived in Glorious Seasonal Bliss. The pattern makes for great public transportation knitting, so I made four pair last fall. The pair I kept for myself are beginning to look a little ratty, thus the need for some new ones. Not that I’ll really need them here in ‘Paradise’—maybe my office will get cold or something.) But really, the renewed Fetching interest is due to my discovery of a SubPar LYS that sells Debbie Bliss!

So that is what’s on slate for the next month or so. In other exciting knitting news, I met the Yarn Harlot a couple weeks ago! She was amazing—just as funny and entertaining in real life as in her blog and books. Check out her post on New Orleans. She gets it.

And let's not forget my glorious knitting-filled birthday. OK, I didn't actually have any time on my birthday to knit, but I got lots of knitting-related presents, including Vogue Knitting, Maryjane's Stitching Room, and some great DVDs for watching while knitting: Planet Earth and Breakfast at Tiffany's!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

'Seconds from the impact and moving way too slow'

After almost exactly two months to the day of working on the Vogue Knitting lacy dress, I'm finished — with the individual pieces. Now all that's left to do is the ever-so-tedious finishing. But before I do that, I have a very important decision to make: to leave the very obvious Amish flaw or to fix it.

I first learned about the Amish flaw theory last year when I was working at National Geographic, coincidentally around the same time that I learned to knit things other than long rectangles. I took a tour of the headquarters building, and the guide showed us a beautiful Amish quilt hanging in the corridor between the M Street building and Hubbard Hall. She pointed out a mistake in the quilt and told us about the Amish tradition of purposefully creating a mistake in the work because the only things perfect are of God. This tradition also reminds me of the Greek myth of Arachne. Arachne was a fabulous weaver in Lydia (modern-day western Turkey), supposedly better than the goddess Athena. Foolishly and pridefully, Arachne entered into a weaving contest with Athena. When Arachne's work turned out to be flaw free, Athena destroyed it in a fit of rage. Ashamed, Arachne tried to hang herself, but Athena took pity on her and turned her into a spider and the rope into a cobweb, which Arachne used to climb to safety. And her descendants have forever been exquisite weavers.

Pride and perfection aside, my Amish flaw is a fairly large and noticeable one, which was not put there on purpose. The dress pattern calls for alternating sections of the lacy knots pattern and the lace acorn insert. Having never made lace — or anything of the apparel category — before, it didn't dawn on me that the instruction "(k1, p1, k1, p1, k1) in the next st" meant to do all of that in one stitch (despite the very obvious "in the next st" directions). So my acorn inserts for the main body of the dress are a big jumbled mess (the piece on the left in the picture) compared with my correctly knitted inserts in the sleeves (bottom section of the piece on the right in the picture). I guess Weird Al would say this qualifies as an "Amish Paradise" (sorry, I couldn't resist). Urgh. What to do? I don't particularly want to redo 76 inches of acorn insert, but I also want the dress to look nice. I guess it's time to start frogging. Thank goodness Netflix just delivered a new disc of "24." And don't worry, I have a few other less noticeable Amish flaws worked into the dress. I'm not going to be turned into a spider anytime soon.

Monday, September 10, 2007

So I lied...

My first real post will not be about knitting as promised. I know all you faithful readers—all two of you—are severely disappointed. I may throw in a little knitting shop talk at the end just to spice things up. But for now, I present my beautiful, "new" parquet coffee table. Many of you already knew and loved this table in its youth. What a fun-loving and jovial kid it was. With a flair for obnoxiously bright colors and the uncanny ability to keep sticking around, this table has gone through several reincarnations since it first came into my life six years—almost to the day—ago. Here's a brief history of the table for those of you who don't know or have forgotten. I bought this table used for $5 at a sketchy back-of-a-warehouse second-hand store in Buena Vista, Virginia, when I was in college. (Oh sketchy trips to BV...but that's another story). My roommate and I decided to paint the table hot pink to match our living room decor and proceeded to slather on apparently hundreds of coats of shiny, sticky hot pink paint. I assume the table had the lovely parquet design and some sort of decent finish when we bought it, but that was sophomore year. A lot of it is kind of hazy now. We gave the table a loving and happy home for nine months with only the occasional college party—ahem—"get-together" abuse. The table stayed with me through college, moving into the sorority house and later the slightly more whimsical house I lived in senior year.

When I started graduate school the following fall, I decided hot pink was a bit too juvenile for my geriatric tastes, so I repainted it lime green, a so much more sophisticated choice. Obviously, I didn't first strip the pink paint, I just added on another couple hundred layers of ridiculously colored paint on top. Lime green table survived through graduate school and moved into storage during my first year in the "real world." Which brings us to May of this year, when it moved out of storage and into my brand new, beautiful, grown-up, working-girl apartment. I had new furniture and new decor and it was obviously time for the green to go. So I decided to refinish it. I read up about wood refinishing online and headed to my friendly, neighborhood Lowe's for supplies. I naively thought this project would take me a weekend. I bought only one jar of paint stripper and just a few sheets of sand paper. Now, numerous weekends and about $100 worth of paint stripper, sand paper, chemical-resistant gloves, stain, and finish later, I have a beautiful new table to show for it. I have to say, all the hard work was well worth the effort because my "new" table adds the finishing touch to my lovely grown-up living room.

And now for the knitting. See that pile of whiteness on the ottoman in the picture above. That's the fun, little summer project I started on two months ago. No longer summer and, frankly, no longer fun, the Vogue Knitting Spring/Summer 2007 lacy dress will be finished if my life depends on it. I'm on the last sleeve. And now that my table is done, I might be able to spend a few more weekend hours finishing it. Until then, I must get back to work...

Thursday, September 6, 2007


I used to hate blogs. I thought they were dumb. Then I worked for one. And I kind of fell in love with the short snippets of prose (caveat: I also like TV on DVD better than movies). But I moved to a new job in a new city and no longer had a blog in my life. So I decided to create one of my own. Which is where Subtropical Paradise comes in.

At this point, I'm as curious as you are as to what this *blog* will be about. I fancy myself a writer but do not write for a living. I knit as often as I can. I'm a scientist. And I love to travel. So the plan is to make all those things fodder for SubPar, and we'll see where it goes from there. In my first real post, I plan to showcase some recent knitting projects. Until then...