Saturday, October 26, 2013

Fat Bottom Bats

                                             Need a pocketful of bats? Of course you do.

Danger Level: Intermediate/Fiddly

Fingering/4ply wool
US #1 double pointed needles
small amount of stuffing - I just used extra yarn scraps
something to stitch teeth - I used Neon Rays needlepoint ribbon
beads for eyes

About 1" tall x 3.5" tip to tip
Bigger yarn will make bigger bats.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

October Illustrator: Sidney Sime

"There's something those fellows catch - beyond life - that they're able to make us catch for a second. DorĂ© had it. Sime has it. Angarola of Chicago has it. And Pickman had it as no man ever had it - or I hope to Heaven - ever will again." 
H.P. Lovecraft, Pickman's Model, 1927 
 The Soul of Andelsprutz - 1910
I discovered Sidney Sime a couple of years ago, through this exquisite and very complete post on Monster Brains. It's weird that it took me so long, as I the authors he worked with are some of my favorites. I mean, Lovecraft name-checks him, and Sime's work fulfills all the elements I love in illustration - that other-worldliness, that expression of something "beyond life".
It - 1911
Born poor in Manchester in 1867, Sime worked for five years in the coal mines before making his way to art school. He rose quickly as an illustrator of fantastic themes, just as such stories were becoming wildly popular. In 1904, he began the partnership with Lord Dunsany that would define his legacy. The most complete collection of Sime's work can still be seen, by appointment, at Dunsany Castle in County Meath, Ireland.
The City of Never - 1911

Romance Comes Down Out of Hilly Woodlands - 1910

I'd love to see some reproductions of these books published as they were in the early 20th century. Until then, I'll be combing the shelves for the illustrated Dover editions.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Froggit Friday! The Sweater With No Name

During the Last Great Closet Purge, I realized something. I have way too many sweaters that I never wear. It's not that they're horrible. I even get compliments on them when I wear them. They just. Well. I just don't like them. Many are early sweaters I knit for myself. They have flaws that other people might not notice, or things about them I would do very differently now, and send me cursing. So! Knitter's Resolution #1: Frog the little bastards. Make new sweaters that I do love, and will wear.

First up, A sweater I made three years ago. The idea was something along the lines of Hannah Fettig's lovely Whisper Cardigan.
I added a cabled panel down the spine, and used a sportweight linen/viscose blend, Firefly. The first thing that's wrong with it is that the bind-off on the collar, which really should have been wider, is too tight. It always bunches unpleasantly. Urgh!
Then there's the fact that it doesn't quite give me enough coverage to go over the straps on sleeveless tops, which means I have to safety pin it in place, or it becomes useless for wearing to work in Summer, the purpose for which it was built. This is an unpardonable offense.
Finally, it's just a bad, bad shape for me. It manages to draw awkward attention to the places I go out while concealing the places I go in. And see the thing with the collar again? Excuse me while I twitch a bit.
  I think there are five balls in it, and I have two more in my stash. I am going to try for a slinky, henley style pullover; with a low neckline and 3/4 length sleeves, I believe I'll have enough.

Favorite Haunts: Lone Fir Pioneer Cemetery

I don't know how many people take into account the proximity of a good graveyard when they house-hunt, but the closeness of Lone Fir Pioneer Cemetery was a big deciding factor for me when we moved over to the Southeast. The largest of 14 historical Portland cemeteries, I can spend hours there, admiring the stones and their inscriptions.

The Friends of Lone Fir used to put on a great Halloween event, complete with speeches from historical ghosts, called The Tour of Untimely Departures. They have stopped in recent years, which is a shame. It was a fun way to learn Portland history, and some of the ghosts were great actors. They still offer a monthly, non-haunted tour for free. (One of these days, I'll be up that early on a Saturday.) The cemetery is also a quiet city park, managed by Metro, filled with wildlife and the occasional yoga enthusiast. I'll definitely miss it if we ever move.
The Macleay mausoleum is the highlight of any visit. It's straight out of a Hammer Horror, and I love it. The second story houses a chapel, while steps lead down to the gated crypt in front.
More ghoulishness after the jump...

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Painless Provisional Cast On - Part III: The Shawlening

I love knitting triangular shawls. Well, to be fair, what I love is starting triangular shawls. There's always a point in there somewhere when the stitch count is over the moon and I wonder why I don't have a sensible hobby, like carving the Colosseum in a human tooth. And I do love wearing them, provided they are big enough to keep the chill off when skimming through the black void in the arms of my nightgaunts. I don't have many those little shawlette/bandana things; I need something practical for fleeing a haunted castle in.

My favorite way to start a triangular shawl is with a garter tab. Most patterns will have you begin this way, because it gives a perfectly smooth garter edge along the wingspan. Start with a provisional cast on of three stitches. With working yarn, knit an odd number of rows; in this case, I knit seven rows. Make sure you end with a right side row. What's facing you should look like this:
Not like this:
If you loose track of how many rows you have worked, remember that each ridge on the right side counts for two rows. When you've knit seven rows, turn the tab on its side. You will now pick up one stitch in each ridge. Just slip the tip of your needle through the little bumps closest to the edge.

Knit these three stitches. This will lead you down to your cast on edge.
Now, we want to get those cast on stitches live. In the picture above, you can see what looks like two and a half stitches, right under the provisional cast on. We'll turn that half stitch into a whole stitch in a minute. First, slide your free needle through the right sides of the two whole stitches:
...and under that last strand at the edge, holding the tail of your working yarn to the back:
Ready for a trick? Take a smallish crochet hook, and slip it up through the edge of the ridge immediately below your cast on. Grab the tail of your working yarn with the hook, and pull it through the ridge so that it forms a loop around your needle.

Knit these last three stitches. You now have nine stitches all together, with three for each edge and three for the center, and you are ready to work a wrong side row. Go ahead and unzip your waste yarn.

Let's work a few rows, with typical shawl increases, so you can see the what happens.
R1(WS): K3, p3, k3.
R2(RS): K3, [yo, k1] 3x, yo, k3
R3 & all following WS rows: K3, purl to last 3sts, k3.
R4:[K3, yo] twice, k1, [yo, k3] twice.
R6: K3, yo, k5, yo, k1, yo, k5, yo, k3.
Neat, isn't it? This is really all you need to start a triangular shawl. You could keep going and going in stockinette with garter borders, increasing at each edge and on either side of your center stitch, every right side row, until you reach the point of madness. Or you could throw in a stitch pattern or two, just to keep the gibbering at bay.

I hope you've enjoyed this little series!
Painless Provisional Cast On Part I
Painless Provisional Cast On Part II