Wednesday, 20 March 2019

Making My Mark

Back in 2013 I wrote a post about selected stitch markers, and I remember how looking at all those cute options felt like stitch marker porn. At that time I was using a set of commercially made plastic stitch markers myself. I never liked those stitch markers because I considered them very ugly, but I disliked their brittleness even more. They were shaped like tiny locks, but they broke so easily that I avoided locking and unlocking them, and I'd often find one had snapped from nothing more than the light pressure of my hand as it held the the needle the marker was on. I never lost any stitch markers, but one by one they cracked and split until I was down to the last eight or nine out of what had initially been two dozen or so. Then it was time to think about picking out some new ones -- and I can't say I was sorry to have the excuse to replace the old set. Finally I was going to get some pretty stitch markers!

When I revisited that old KNDD post for ideas on what stitch markers to buy, I was reminded by my own research that I could make my own stitch markers. I do some beading and had the tools and findings already, and it was just a matter of finding some suitable beads.

For this project, I looked for medium-sized, smooth beads that wouldn't snag or catch on whatever yarn I used. I tried to keep the cost to a minimum, and it is indeed quite possible to do this simple project for very little if you've got basic beading tools on hand. I also knew I wanted different colour stitch markers that I could colour code as I marked different things (i.e., a single distinct marker for the start of a row, or a matched set for the sleeve parts of a "top down" sweater project).

When I bought the beads for my grandniece's tenth birthday necklace and earring set in January, I got the string of orange Czech glass beads you see above as my "free string" in a "buy 1 string of beads, get one free" sale at Michaels. I found the two red beads and the two dyed jasper beads you see above in my box of beading supplies -- they were the only ones I had left of their kind. The remaining string of ivory beads in the photo was a necklace I bought for $2 at Value Village using a "$2 off" coupon I got from them for filling out an online survey. I was feeling quite pleased with myself for getting the beads for this project together at essentially no cost... until I actually tried making the stitch markers and it turned out that the holes in the ivory beads were too large for this project. Sigh. I bagged up those ivory beads and tucked them away in my beading box for some as yet unknown future use. Then I bought another thrift shop necklace for $2.25, and this time I checked the holes before I bought the necklace to be sure the beads were suitable.

To make your own stitch markers you need head pins, leverback earrings, and a few basic beading tools: cutters, round nose pliers, and flat pliers or crimpers (not shown). Put the bead on your head pin, add the lever-back earring, then twist the top of the pin around the needlenose pliers until it's in a small circle. Cut off the excess length of headpin with the cutters, clamp the circle you've created closed with the flat pliers or crimpers, and... you're done.

These are the finished stitch markers. Given that twenty is a plentiful supply of stitch markers for me (I seldom work on more than one knitting project at a time), they are unlikely to break, and I'm not one to lose things, they should last me for quite some time. If they look just like earrings to you, it's because they essentially are, though I would put a little more effort into earring design than I have into these stitch markers, which I wished to keep simple in order to give my yarn as little as possible to wind itself around.

I did hold back two of the orange Czech beads with the idea of possibly making them into earrings for me at some point... lest I be otherwise tempted to borrow two of my stitch markers for some special occasion involving an orange outfit.

Monday, 18 March 2019

Knitty Spring & Summer 2019: A Review

Knitty has released their Spring & Summer 2019 issue. Let's have a look at it.

Opportune. Nice little cover-up, and it was a good choice to do it in a fun colour. Though as you may have suspected, I am partial to orange.

Kikyo. Very pretty lacework in this piece, which the designer writes that she designed to "bring the best of both worlds together. Knitters and crocheters: it’s time to get along." (And good luck to her with that.) The wearer will need to think about what's to be worn underneath.

Slouchy Time. Oh dear. The designer of this piece created it in homage to Flashdance. And I'm all for homages to Flashdance, but that ripped sweatshirt of Jennifer Beals' is almost the last thing about it that I would choose to emulate.

Jurret. Very much like this one. The shaping is good, and I like that all the ridges flow towards the neckline, drawing attention to the face.

Vanora. Nice little summer top. The lacework is so attractive.

Cailleach Beara. Another pretty little summer top.

Lis. This one's just a simple striped top, and yet it's so well shaped and finished that it has a lot of polish, and style enough to carry a simple outfit.

Pompompop. The pompoms are little much for my tastes, but then anyone who makes this design could leave them off (as the shawl would work aesthetically without it) or include them as they pleased.

Go With the Phloem. This is a decent, everyday kind of wrap. It seems to drape very well.

Ambition and Cunning. This has a "randomly cobbled together" look. When I look at it I'm left with the impression that either I'm looking through openings in the shawl to the model's sweater on the other side, or at swatches randomly appliquéd to a piece of gray jersey. I love the border ruffle and the stitchwork in the panels, but don't care for the design as a whole. It doesn't make sense visually, either in display or when on the model.

Plain Sight Socks. Nice socks! I especially like the way the lines running up the top of the foot from the toe flow into the stitchwork on the ankle.

Gothix. This is one of those designs that work especially beautifully as a showcase for a gradient yarn.

Friday, 15 March 2019

Vogue Knitting Late Winter 2019: A Review

Vogue Knitting has released their Late Winter 2019 issue! Let's have a look at it, shall we?

Pattern #01, Mosaic Hat. Decent-looking hat with a band of mosaic.

Pattern #02, Mosaic Yoke Cardigan. A very polished, attractive piece.

Pattern #03, Mosaic V-Neck Cardigan. This one has some very smart detailing in its mosaic yoke and contrast piping and buttons, though I am not so sure it would hang so well through the body on a non-professional model in real life.

Pattern #04, Wrap. My goodness, this one is unqualifiably fabulous. Design, palette, drape... everything about it is perfect.

Pattern #05, Garter Mosaic Cowl. Handsome! This colour scheme works together so beautifully.

Pattern #06, Circular Wrap. This one is quite an amazing piece of design. I don't think anyone could wear it without comment.

Pattern #07, Beret. Gorgeous, intricate stitchwork.

Pattern #08, Leopard Print Pullover. A good and well-shaped interpretation of the classic leopard-print look.

Pattern #09, Gloriana Cardigan. This one is has a "Queen Elizabeth I goes gothic and then takes a turn as a Klondike dance hall girl" feel to it. It's remarkable as a technical accomplishment, even if I don't know how wearable it is.

Pattern #10, Faerie Shrug. This one's a little twee for my tastes, but there's no denying it's a delicately pretty little confection of an evening wrap.

Pattern #11, Lilian & Rose 3-Piece Set. This one is definitely over the twee line. It looks like a costume from a stage production of Midsummer Night's Dream, in which the actor is about to do a particularly sweaty interpretative "flower dance".

Pattern #12, Boxy Fair Isle Pullover. I'd neaten up the fit on this one, but there's no denying that's a very attractive fair isle pattern.

Pattern #13, Hound's Tooth Cowl. This is a fun update of the classic houndstooth scarf. The addition of the fringe works really well.

Pattern #14, V-Neck Cable Cardigan. Nice use of a honeycomb pattern in what would otherwise be a rather staid cabled cardigan.

Pattern #15, Plaid Pullover. Like the bold, fresh design quite a lot, but there are better colourways for this one.

Pattern #16, Diamond Yoke Pullover. This one is amazingly effective and striking for such a simple pattern.

Pattern #17, Lace Cardigan. I spent several minutes staring at this design while I tried to decide if I liked it or not, but I think I'm going to come down on the "like" side of the question. The texture is nice, the contrast trim and belt give it a polished air, and the folding shawl collar is unusual but interesting, and it seems to sit well.

Pattern #18, Mohair Shawl. This shawl has quite a lot going on in it.... Three different "art" yarns! Glitter! Sequins! Several lace patterns! Bobbles! Garter stripes! And fringe! This could so easily have been a mess, but I actually think it works together pretty well on the whole, probably because its colour palette is limited to a well-integrated pink and gray, and it even has a certain contemporary verve. This is a piece to pair with a simple outfit, as it's a statement in itself.

Pattern #19, Striped Pullover. I'm not a friend of the mullet hem, but in this case I think it works. It's elongated enough that it looks like a design feature rather than a mistake, and the rest of the design has twists and turns (i.e., the back cable detail, the gradient colours, the stripes) that seem to naturally flow into an asymmetrical shape.

Pattern #20, Yoked Pullover. Nice! The pattern is very well worked out, and I'm sure this would look beautiful in a dark, warm colourway too, but what I possibly like best is the contrast of the fresh, bright contrast colours against the white. So summery!

Pattern #21, Lace and Stripe Pullover. Not bad. I'm not a fan of mesh, but I must admit that the combination of the mesh and the bright stripes is a fun summer look.

Pattern #22, Color Block Pullover. I didn't like this one at first glance, but once I'd spent a little more time taking in the details, I realized that it was the colourway I was reacting to, because the design is fine.

Pattern #23, Animal Skin Motif Pullover. This pattern is from the Vogue Knitting Winter 1989/1990 issue. It's a classic shape, the neck sits well, and while animal skin prints and patterns may rise and fall some in terms of popularity/use by designers, it's never really out of style.

Friday, 15 February 2019

Pom Pom Quarterly Spring 2019: A Review

Pom Pom Quarterly has released their Spring 2019 issue. Let's have a look at it.

Woodwardia. I'm not too thrilled with the slightly boxy, cropped shape of this turtleneck, but I do like the feather-like garter detail at the seams, which gives an otherwise plain, classic piece a touch of distinction.

Vivarium. The boxy shape and dropped shoulders detract from what is otherwise a decent piece with an interestingly offbeat fair isle design.

Filix. A polished little pair of mitts.

Water Clover. This is pretty, and the shaping isn't bad, although I can't help but fear this top would feel a little stiff to the touch, as crochet tends to do compared to knitting.

Sweetfern. This one's attractive and visually interesting.

Ginkgophyte. A very stylish little tee with a contemporary vibe. That's some really striking detail.

Adiantum. A very pretty sweater with interesting stitchwork, and yet it's not so bold in design that it couldn't be paired up with a number of other pieces in a woman's wardrobe.

Aurea. Such a lovely wrap. The texture's fabulous.

Davallia. This crocheted shawl has a pretty lace pattern that feels modern and stylish -- this is a piece that could so easily have gone in an unfortunate "seventies homemaking magazine pattern" direction, but didn't at all.