Sunday, January 22, 2012

Japanese Wedding Socks

In the summer of 2010 two of our fabulous friends got married. It was an amazing wedding - on a ranch in Colorado! All (well, most) the guests stayed, cooked, hiked, rode horses, hung out at the ranch for a weekend. These are two dear friends, so unsurprisingly their families and friends are also wonderful, and we really enjoyed to get to know some of them, and other better than before. We also, of course, pitched in to help cook the delicious wedding feast - designed by the groom and bride.This included four vegetarians following with fascination as my Fuzzband cut up the lamb for the lamb and flower stew while I sat around the fire singing American folk songs...

As a wedding gift we gave them hand knit socks in IOU form.

The bride and groom headed to Yokohama/Tokyo Japan for a year in the fall for her research on select modern Japanese female poets, and so we decided to go visit them for American Thanksgiving later that same year! It was an amazing trip filled with food, friends, and exploring. Combining wedding gift with Japan, I decided to use Japanese knit patterns and give the happy couple the option of tabi or ordinary socks. The plan was to have enough knit when we got to Tokyo so I could at least complete one sock per spouse for sizing purposes. I, of course, finished the socks on the flight home... But that way we could send them a little package of toe-warming love from The Have.

Here you can see Hers and His socks in action - photo kindly provided by the happy couple who shall remain anonymous.

I wanted bamboo yarn - the whole Japan theme, and who would not want an excuse to knit with bamboo yarn? I searched high and lo, even recruiting the patient Miss Knitter to look for it. Finally, at Stitches East 2010,  we found it! The divine Bamboo Baby hand dyed yarn by Miss Babs: 60% Wool, 30% Bamboo, and 10% Nylon which makes it sockable, so to say. The yarn was one of my all-time favorite yarns to knit with. 

  Her Socks:

The pattern is Véronik Avery's "Tabi Socks" from Knitting Classic Style: 35 Modern Designs Inspired by Fashion's Archives (New York, NY; Stewart, Tabori and Chang (ABRAMS), 2007), 81-85.

The leafy pattern, according to the pattern notes "echo the lacy knitting patterns favored in contemporary Japan" (p. 82). While the socks are specifically tabis in the pattern, the bride asked for non-tabis, which is what she got. A great fun knit, and it of course made me even happier to make them for a unique and dear friend who - and I hope you are sitting down - had never had hand-knit socks before

  I really like the lace line that separates the lace panel of the instep from the sole of the foot and traces up the sock to the cuff lace

His socks:

This pattern is  Ann Budd's "Undulating Rib Socks" from Favorite Socks. 25 Timeless Designs from Interweave (Loveland, CO; Interweave Press, 2007), 92-95. This pattern is also Japanese in influence: 

"Inspired by a stitch pattern found in a Japanese knitting book, these socks feature an easily memorized pattern that alternates increases and decreases to create columns that widen and narrow."

The groom wanted his as tabis, so I used the instructions from Avery, and I am pretty pleased with the result.

Both have reportedly been happy with their socks, here shown snuggling in Yokohama. This is also a photo courtesy of the happy couple.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Fishy Birthday Cake

This is a birthday cake for the little sister of my CT godson a couple of years back. It was her 3rd birthday - as the candles tell us. She was big into fishing that spring, so this is what I made. The cake was a chocolate cake with vanilla custard filling. The icing is chocolate buttercream icing, and white buttercream icing. See the jellyfish?

The sailboat was origami art from real paper!

The "large sea mammals" were Swedish Fish candies (which are unknown in Sweden, by the way).

The breaching was accented by buttercream icing leaves in white - breaching waves!

Side view of the cake: a birthday squid!


 This was a fun cake to decorate, and a huge success! I think it was one of the most popular cakes when the photos of my cake decorating were up on Facebook.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Lankadontti Tea Sock

I love tea. I can wake up and lie in bed just tickled all shades of pink, red and purple - knowing that there is tea in my near future. Tea is, contrary to common belief, the drink of the gods. Nectar? Pah! Wine? Whatever... Tea? Oh, YES! I have myself quite a collection of tea. In fact, it may be taking over my kitchen. The only actual item on our wedding registry was a Samovar (well, an option to donate funds towards purchasing one).

To prove my point about loving tea, here is an old photo of our tea shelves. The cupboard filled with tea to the right is not visible. And this photo is from late summer, early fall 2010 - there is more tea today...

But wait! What is that white thing hanging among the tea strainers from the custom-made-by-Fuzzband tea paraphernalia hanging spot? (Note second shelf, also custom made by Fuzzband.) It is a tea sieve!

Here is a vaguely fuzzy closeup.

In addition to loving tea, I love my friends. And as luck would have it, I have many very crafty friends and relatives. One of these crafty friends is Laura of Lankadontti-fame. Lankdadontti is a wonderful online artisnal boutique that specializes in crafts based on Finnish traditional textile, and some other, crafts. The company has a crafts-blog, Sanavyyhti, with a monthly pattern, or tutorial. The tea sieve is the April 2009 tutorial. (Och samma på finska.)

This was great fun to knit - I used some left-over cotton yarn that emigrated with me from Finland. The problem was that I did not find, or did not have the energy to do so, food-grade metal wire strong enough to make the ring at the top. Laura and her husband gave me one in the summer of 2010 - and there was much rejoicing, believe your me! The best thing about returning to New Haven, CT, was that now I could use it to make tea!

The sieve fits perfectly into my Danish white ceramic tea pot, and is now pretty much the color you would expect cotton dipper into strong tea several times a week for a few years would. Some day I will make more of these, but for now it is my favorite tea accessory, and every time I use it I am reminded of how much fun it was to knit it; how great a friend and teacher Laura is; and that soon, very soon, there is ready steeped tea. What could possibly be better - except having tea with Laura while crafting! Too bad there is a pesky puddle called the Atlantic between us...

Expect to see more from Lankadontti and Sanavyyhti among Random Thistles!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Awaited Baby

As the first installation of my project to get my craft images off Facebook, I chose this very dear project.

I had seen this beautiful christening gown kit at The Yarn Barn, and thought to myself, "Some day there will be a baby I can knit this for!" My nephews had already been born, as well as one niece - and my niece's mom knits.

At my wedding a dear friend told me she was pregnant! This was greater news than normal as I was personally really invested in her becoming a mom. I know - it is all about me. I offered to make the family a christening gown, and Voila!

The pattern is "Loving Hearts" Heirloom Christening Set from Louet. The yarn is their Euroflax 100% linen yarn - a pure pleasure to knit with! The kit also included the buttons, ribbon, satin fabric for petticoat (silk - I burnt a bit to test it), and elastic. The first photo here is my fabulously artistic photograph of the kit cover image overlaid with the first ten or so centimeters of knitting. Very artsy, fartsy, no? The pattern can be purchased here.

Here, the basic form of the top, and you can see the variation of laces: sleeve lace, top heart panel, and the two laces of the skirt....

In comparison: the completed top - love those buttons!

This work-in-progress shot shows off the sleeve with the heart panel running down the center. I am particularly impressed with the way I captured the camera cord...

A closeup of the skirt section's central panel both before and after lining. The skirt portion of the lining has a knit lace trim that peeps out from beneath the knit top layer. Very fetching - just what the well dressed infant will wear!

The completed gown - along with the knit cap that goes with it.

Knitting something for someone you care for is a wonderful thing. Every stitch is a meditation on friendship, and this gown was that more than most projects. My wonderful friend had a beautiful baby daughter in 2009. A few years later the little cousin wore the gown as well.

As I type this she has chicken pox - krya på dej lilla vän!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Haida Hoodie

I have spent some time with Significant People on Vancouver Island, British Columbia (Canada!), and there was exposed to the amazing West Coast First Nations art - most significantly button blankets. Some day, I vowed, I would make myself one! With an orca, because orcas are amazing!

Inspired by friends who have very cool hoodies, for example from etsy, I conceived of the idea to make myself a hoodie based on a button blenket orca. This was partially fueled by my epic lack of a desire to own any of the amazing hoodies on etsy. Failure on my part. I mean, how could I not want this?

So, I scoured the internets for images of Haida First Nation images of orcas. I also consulted my Fuzzband's West Coast First Nations art books:

Then I did some fancy doodling, complete with using one of my great loves in life: the sharpie!

After this it was a matter of finding teeny weeny buttons (e-bay, shipped from Hong Kong): 6 mm across. I also needed, well, a hoodie. Because I am cheap, I looked for a black hoodie at various second hand stores, and ended up finding a red American Apparel hoodie with some stains at the Salvation Army up the road. I also got a black T+shirt to cut up for the applique work.

I traced the image, more or less, on to the black T-shirt, and after pinning it down securely I sewed it on by hand, just whipping over the edges to fasten and avoid any fraying. After this I sewed the buttons on around the edge of the orca, securing the thick thread every 10 buttons or so in case they decide to explode off the hoodie some day. Only after I had "buttoned up" the outline did I cut out the center pieces oh fin, head and tail, one at a time with embroidery scissors, and sew them as above.

Here vague close ups of the faux mother of pearl buttons. I suck at photography, in case that was hard to figure out...

This is an image of the reverse side of the hoodie. The lines are from sewing on the buttons.