Defarge Does Shakespeare

Fun times all around, there’s a new book in the Madame Defarge series! Check out Defarge Does Shakespeare! It’s on the Defarge site, on Cooperative Press, on Ravelry – pick your favorite.

Heather Ordover is back with this third collection from new and returning fabulous designers. And this isn’t the end either, I know there are more Defarge books in the works. If you like this sort of thing you should sign up for her e-mail newsletter. You should also sign up because later today three readers will be winning copies of Defarge books (and some other cool prizes)

Let’s take a peak, shall we? Maybe it’s how knitters interpret Shakespeare (or maybe it’s just that April is around the corner) but I’m finding this collection to be delightfully spring-like. I mean, start with the Fairy Queen Tea Cozy:

Ok, that’s clearly spring. And good for early spring too, because on cold rainy days I do like to curl up with a hot mug of tea and a book (or a mug of lukewarm tea an a toddler – but a mom can dream)

But the Lady M sweater is also a perfect transitional season garment. There’s lovely lace in the yoke and you don’t have to think about the drops of blood in the pattern description unless that makes you feel sly and sneaky and literary all at once:

How about the Midsummer’s Eve Wrap? I SO WISH I had time to knit a giant panel of lace. Something squishy to curl up with on the couch after bedtime… Maybe I should cast on now, it’ll only take a couple of years at the rate I’m knitting right now.

And to wrap things up the Taming of the Shrug! Not only does it have a very entertaining name, but it really is gorgeous.

I am not a shrug person because if I try to wear them my back feels cold and drafty. But I can totally see myself wearing this gorgeous piece of lace. I’d probably end up keeping it at the office to wrap up in when the AC gets too cold in the summer.

What is your favorite Defarge pattern?

I feel like I need to say, I did not get anything free for this review. However I am a Defarge designer. You might remember my Iseult Dress pattern is in the second volume, What else Would Madame Defarge Knit? So I am affiliated, and proud to be a Cooperative Press cooperating author!

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at the museum

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A little FO

Here’s the first of two recent finished baby items. I’ve got 4 more friends and family due in the next couple of months which means more tiny newborn knitting!

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This is from the Tiny Trees baby vest. I guesstimated gauge instead of swatching so this is more of a 3-6 month vest. But for an April baby I hope that means it’ll fit come autumn.

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I knit it out of Patons classic wool DK – it’s a great workhorse yarn that I’ve never tried before. I tend to avoid superwash wools for myself, so it is fun to explore this whole new category of yarn as I knit things for future moms. The whole project only took about two days. I never get to knit that much in two days, but I made this while on retreat back in February. I might be a little behind with the photos…

Karbonz

I have a problem with my needle collection – it’s getting old. Old might not be a problem for metal needles, but I have a lot of wood needles in my stash and they start to splinter and split after years of use. So I was really excited when the awesome folks at Knitter’s Pride offered me a test set of Karbonz.

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Nothing like a set of interchangables to revitalize an aging collection of tools. Now, I like quality knitting tools (I own more than one set of signatures) and I’m not a huge fan of aluminum needles (true fact: they bend as I use them. Maybe I should learn to relax?) These Karbonz needles feel like quality right when you take them out of the case.

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That’s probably because they’re made of carbon fiber, the same stuff they make high tech vehicles from! This makes them very strong, and the metal tips mean the fibers won’t split with use (like my wood ones did) The carbon fiber isn’t quite as smooth as metal, but it’s much smoother than wood. So these needles are in the middle for grippiness. How do they perform?

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Really well, actually. I’ve knit two baby sweaters using these shiny new needles (note to self, take FO photos) and they’re comfortable in my grip, the yarn slides perfectly, and the stitches are even. I can feel the point where the metal meets the fiber with my finger, but I never had a stitch snag or a slow down as they slid over the joins. The point where the cable meets the needle is strong too. I don’t usually do magic loop because I’ve ruined more than one circular by cracking that join. But in the interest of SCIENCE! I knit both these little sweaters in the round bending and twisting the cable:

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And it held up to my abuse beautifully. Really, the only point that showed any wear at all is the printed size number on the side of the needle. While that is obviously just about gone after just two projects each needle is also imprinted with the size on the metal end.

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So even when the white lettering is gone I’ll still be able to tell what size needle I’m looking at. I do own stitch gauges, but they’re always going on walk-about. So it’s nice not to have to hunt one down…

Overall, I love these new needles. I’m a DPN girl when working little baby sleeves or socks. But for hats, sweaters, skirts, etc… I love working in the round. And these needles will make so many projects easier and faster. I’m excited to finish up the collar on this little red sweater and find something to cast on next!

(Please note that I did receive these needles free for review purposes. However my opinions are my own, I won’t review something I don’t truly enjoy and think that you will like.)

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book in progress

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Carpentry

The poor chickens have been all cooped up this winter. Well, I don’t think they think they’re “poor” because if you open the door for them to come outside they look at you like you’re crazy*.

But last week their coop got a little less, um, cooping? Coop-like? What I’m trying to say is the door blew apart on a windy week day night. And the short days combined with the day job means the poor birds had no door for 3 days straight. Every morning I’d hear the rooster crowing as I went to my car and I’d be thankful that a fox hadn’t gotten them all overnight.

So this weekend, during naptime, we made a new door.

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This is a rustic “barn board” door that Neil and I agreed some hipster would probably pay good money to have. But for us, it’s something we could slap together entirely with supplies we have on hand. The rough cut 1×4’s and 1×6’s are cheap lumber we have left over after fixing the roof last summer.

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Neil had to literally dig the lumber out of a snow bank with a shovel. Then we had to scrape ice off the sides to get it to lie flat so we could line everything up. And let’s not forget that we had to take 1″ off the width at to bottom because the amateurs who built our coop (oh yeah, that’d be us) didn’t quite frame the door square… I like to pick on us, but mostly I’m proud we built this thing 7 years ago and it hasn’t fallen over or blown down yet!

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It was a cold, blustery way to spend our saturday afternoon. Although it was better than the sleet we had on sunday. At least by then the chickens had a new door, so their deep layer shavings stayed fluffy and dry. And after building a whole door from scratch we did feel pretty accomplished!

*ok, chickens don’t have the brain power for that. But they DO look at the snow like it’s an alien substance that they’d rather not touch, thankyouverymuch.

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Wordless WIP Wednesday

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phone photography

It’s pretty cool living in the future. Have you noticed? Suddenly I get alerts on my phone when packages are delivered to my doorstep – all that in spite of living in a part of the world that still doesn’t have cable…

But the thing that strikes me constantly is the power in these “phones” we’re all carrying around. The camera alone has more photography tricks than the digital camera I used to shoot the pictures for Kingdom. I wish that were an exaggeration, but it was kinda an old camera when I took these pictures.

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As I’ve slowly learned to utilize my phone camera to the fullest capacity I’ve had to pull out the DSLR less often. And I’m fine with that. It’s still the best camera for design photo shoots, and I bring it any time I think we’ll appreciate it (birthday parties, sightseeing). But for Ravelry project updates?

Phone.

Night time yarn documentation?

Phone.

That time Windsor put a scarf on all by herself and she was so proud?

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Phone.

I learned a LOT of tricks at Gale Zucker’s phone photography class during my retreat last month. If you ever have the opportunity to take a class with her – don’t hesitate! She’s an excellent teacher. It was in her class that I got really comfortable using fun things like photo mats and frames. I’m honestly amazed at how clean and pretty that after-dark shot of the gradience yarn is. It may look like just another yarn photo. But if you’ve ever tried to get nice lighting, and color correct pictures after 4:30 in January, you know how impossible it can be. Those editing tricks are from her class as well.

And I promise not to add inappropriate lens flare to all my photos.

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(Maybe to some, but I promise not all of them…)

Hawthorne

A couple of weeks ago I got an exciting package from the folks at Knitpicks. They sent me a couple of preview skeins of their Hawthorne yarn, fingering kettle dyed and the new sport weight.

I think I’m an excellent knitter to review these yarns, mostly because they’re exactly the sort of yarn I love. First let’s talk about how they feel in the hand. These are not merino yarns, the labels say these are “fine highland wool” and I’d agree with that assessment. These yarns are softer than your basic wools (softer, for example, than wool of the andes or cascade 220) but I can tell just from the feel that they’re going to be hard wearing. Both the fingering and sport weight are 20% polyamide (that’s a type of man made fiber) which again will make these excellent sock yarns.

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Next, look at the twist. These are highly twisted yarns (although not over-spun, or anything negative like that.) Both weights are made of two plies twisted back upon each other to make sproingy, cushy yarns. One of the biggest problems I had with the Stroll yarns (I used stroll sport in my Foote Brook socks) was that the plies tended to split while knitting. I don’t think I’ll have this problem with these yarns.

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Finally the colors. I’m holding Compass kettle dyed fingering and Vancouver in the multi sport yarn. Compass is a lovely golden yellow, gorgeously saturated. While Vancouver combines teals, greens, and purples in a single variegated skein. I also love that the kettle dyed yarns are made up in colors that will coordiate with the multi dyed colorways.

How will they knit up? I wish I could tell you. I took them both too my knitter’s retreat weekend, and didn’t get around to knitting either. Turns out there are only so many hours in a day. But I will get back to you and let you know once I give them a try!

(Please note that I did receive these skeins free for review purposes. However my opinions are my own, I won’t review something I don’t truly enjoy and think that you will like.)

Ski day

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