Monday, January 26, 2015

And so, the Goober.

I'll eventually get around to where I've been for the last year (if for no other reason than to document it and hopefully get a few laughs). But it veered mostly between lots of pain and lots of annoyance. I'm trying to decide if I should name names, with the doctors. At the least, I'll get into where you can find the one who called me "sweetie".

But first, some year in review stuff, and of course, the best thing of the year was the kiddo. Because she's awesome.
This is the best thing, I think. That's her, face down and asleep with a book. She's started reading voraciously, mostly YA novels. I started the European tradition of letting her open a book gift on Christmas Eve, and allowing her to stay up as late as she liked, reading. Most weekends she'll fall asleep reading in the evenings. It's awesome.

There was a thing I'm having trouble adjusting to, though.
She's got all these OPINIONS all of a sudden. (No, really, it's a hoot.)

She turned nine. After a week of not being able to make up her mind, at the last minute, she asked for the same cake I always make.


Granted, the shirt is from the Skinny Years, and the boots were tight, but. THOSE ARE MY CLOTHES. How did this happen? (I totally earned Mom Points though, she told me half an hour before the bus that she needed a "Hawaiian shirt" to wear. OH LOOK WHO HAS A COLLECTION.)

She finally learned to swim, thank the gods. And she started piano lessons a couple weeks ago. (Husbeast and I have been debating... is it wrong to push your kid - into band, in our case - when we're pushing them toward something FUN?)

Lately, she's been yelling "MOM, I'M HOME." every afternoon on the front walk before coming inside. I guess so the neighbors know too? Whatever, it's adorable.

Another landmark this year, though not a positive one like the others.
Emergency room trip. That there's an infected salivary gland. (Honestly. When does anyone do anything normal in this house? Forget strep throat or tonsillitis, no, let's puff up like a lopsided hamster instead.) Usually that doesn't warrant an ER trip, but that puff up there appeared in a single hour. That thing where you're freaked out, but you can't freak out or your kid will freak out? Definitely a suckier side of parenting. We went to the children's hospital. They prescribed antibiotics and Sour Patch Kids candy. I wish I were kidding. The sour makes the salivary glands work over time, which is good. But. How many kids in the world go to the ER and come home with a prescription for candy? SERIOUSLY?

But yeah, the year in Goobie. She's chugging along, nothing gets her down for long. Of course, when you lead a charmed life with prescriptions for candy, life is pretty good.

Oh, and she went as Bubbles at Halloween
We spent the two weeks ahead of the holiday, while I was making the costume, singing the theme song. Doot doot do do dee doo do!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Guys. GUYS. Fiberheads who take pictures!

During the Yule madnesss this year, I had seen a little clip-on lens thingie at Amazon for $10. I try to do close-up photography of yarn (usually), and it often looks like crap. It was only $10. For that, I could give it a try. I put it on my Christmas list, and the husbeast and his dad both tried to buy it for me, but by then they were out of stock. I had a sad. (LINKIE HERE! I remembered to add it.)

After the holidays, I wondered if they had more, and they were on sale! So I got a set.

You get a little clippy dohicky and three lenses that you can put together different ways. Basically, a fish-eye, and two variations of close up macros. You clip 'em over the camera hole on your whatever. I'm showing it here on my iThing mini, so I can take a picture of it, but I'm using it clipped to my phone for the example pictures. It's meant for iThings and Samsung Galaxies, but the issue is about fit, not whether the camera can 'use' the lens. My phone's a Motorola Photon and its just fine. 

See? Clippy bit: 

The fish-eye lens has some potential, though it's not remotely what I need and wouldn't have bought it if it wasn't part  of the whole set. (It even came with lens caps and a little bag to put them in.) But, hey, new lens, let's play. Below, the back yard, with and without the fisheye lens.

It seems obvious, but the top is without the lens, bottom is with. Fireworks shows may become fun. And I wanna try this on the Wall o' Cascade at the yarn shop.

But! The fun comes when I use the super-close up lens, to take pictures of yarn, which was the whole plan.

BWAHAHAHA. The top photo is without the lens, the bottom is with. Isn't that fantastic? It makes me look like I know what I'm doing. (Yes, that is hand spun yarn. Yes, I did it. I got 750 yards of three ply out of 4 ounces of 50/50 silk/merino blend. Yes, it took forever. No, I don't know why we're still discussing my sanity as if there's a question about it.)

So there you are, a super fun thing for low cost. Woohoo.

This is my first try, blogging from my iThing with the bluetooth keyboard (whee fun technology) I'll be back later too add a direct link to the lenses, but they're on Amazon.

Happy picture taking!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Twist Collective, fall 2014

Y'know, I had mostly quit blogging and reviews, because I was so damn tired of all the OMG DRAMA that seemed to come with it. But if I'm getting dragged into six year old drama anyway, fuck it, I'll do what I want.

For years now, a friend of mine (hi, T!) has been telling me to do more reviews besides VK. People find them helpful, and it wouldn't look as much like I was picking on anyone that way. Since Twist is the polar opposite of VK in just about every way possible, I decided to start with it.

A WORD ON BUSINESS MODELS: Traditional, on-paper, pay-for-it magazines make money by selling magazines, and advertising. They can charge more for advertising, the more magazines they sell. (Seriously. advertising rates are based on subscriptions. There are auditing places set up to verify and everything.) Bottom line, if they want to make money, they gotta sell magazines. That is the only real priority. They don't need good knitting patterns, they don't need good tech editing, they don't need Big Name Designers, they can use cachet or reputation or anything they like, so long as the magazines sell. This, in my opinion, does not motivate them a damn to publish good patterns, or even interesting patterns. Just sell magazines.

Twist Collective takes advantage of this crazy new thing we call the internet. The 'magazine' is on their web site for free. If you want a pattern, you pay for it, like you would over on Rav. Rates are reasonable, about the same as everywhere else I've seen. Twist gets a percentage, and the designer gets the majority of the fee. (They do make some money on advertising, I'm sure, and rates would be based on page loads, but I'll bet you the bulk of the revenue is from pattern sales.) Pattern sales, to happen, need good patterns. A dud means no money for anyone. A success can be really, surprisingly profitable. For instance Sylvi has over 1700 projects on Rav at the moment. Even if only 2/3 of those people paid for the pattern, that's a good chunk of change. More than any print magazine could hope to pay a designer. This business model DEPENDS on the magazine producing popular, well-edited, solid designs in as many sizes as possible. (More sizes equal more potential customers.) Essentially, it has to produce stuff we want to knit, to survive.

This business model is why you'll find some of the best designers working for Twist these days, and why every single issue will have at least one (and usually many) things that you'd really like to knit and wear.

I'll be going over the patterns only (I do not want to be here all day, I promised my kid and hub a trip to the book store). But there ARE articles, and they are good. There won't be much commentary on "why this sucks" for the reasons stated above - none of it sucks. It can't, if they want to stay in business. Some things look better on some body types than others, as with all clothes, I'll talk about that since y'all seem to find it helpful. And possibly about color, as needed. I'm leaving out all the tech info I usually include, instead just putting a link to the tech page for each pattern instead. Y'all can look for yourselves if you want to. Pictures and stuff in quotes is from the web site, every thing else is by little old me.

First section, "Joyride". FYI, Twist is based in Paris, of all places (I know, RIGHT?) so the photo shoots are always amazing. Unfortunately, just like any other magazine, pretty pictures do not equal being able to see WTF, but their tech pages have close ups of interesting design, which is very nice and not usual.

Weft, by Holli Yeoh

As we know, I am not a fan of the horizontal look-how-wide-I-am stripe. BUT. This one also has a nice vertical line with the outlined button band down the front, and you could do a solid color instead of the stripes, still get the herringbone effect with the darker color, and have a really nice sweater. And just to support what I was saying about business models, this thing comes in nine sizes. NINE!

Hullabaloo by Sandi Rosner 

Socks. About which I have not much to say. They are nice socks, probably very well tech-edited, and come in three sizes. I can't imagine riding a bike in those shoes, but I use toe clips. It's refreshing to see "look, nice socks" copy writing instead of "look at our never-before-seen amazingly HIGH FASHION SOCKS".

Kokliko by Barbara Gregory 

Much the same thoughts on these as the socks. $6 for a hat, mitten, and cowl set seems like a bargain. And multiple sizes in mittens is pretty awesome.

Smarty by Alison Green
This is styled as a very fitted sweater, and it's very nice that way. As you see, pair it with a skirt and you can make it pretty dressy. I bet it's just as nice with a looser fit, worn as a jacket. I appreciate they've got a model with actual boobs in this thing so we can see how it works on real figures. Detailing on this is pretty cool:

You can't see it well here, I don't think, but the cables are in two different colors. You could have some real fun with that, and make it match most of your wardrobe.

Safra by Susanna IC
Two-in-one, you can knit it as a scarf (left) or a crescent (right). Done in worsted weight, so it's gonna be thick and heavy. Which is both a good and bad thing, depending on what you want it for.

Calais by Ashwini Jambhekar 
The tee-shirt shape is flattering to nearly everyone, and the detailing at the waist sucks in the fabric and gives you an actual waist. Woohoo. Only drawback is, you have got to get that shaping to hit you EXACTLY at your waist, or it's gonna look funky-weird, at best.

You can see on this last photo, how it's riding a little oddly and puckering, on this model. Some of this can be avoided by knitting it in a size that fits more loosely. But mostly? You HAVE to get the waist right on this one. Unfortunately it's knit bottom up (top down would allow you to try it on, in progress), which adds to the technical details. Not saying it's a bad pattern, just saying it'll take a good bit of effort to get to fit right.

Petersham by Annie Watts
Yep, those are mittens, all right. Kinda neat looking.

Oleada by Mara Marzocchi 
Hat and mittens set. I'd add some extra length to that hat so it didn't pop off my head. But it's your head and your hat. Up to you.

Roxton by Laura Chau 
Looks like a standard textured pullover, right? Alas, no. There are lace panels/strips in between the twisted stitch bits, making it a lot more openwork than it seems.

If it's cold enough for long sleeves, why have a sweater with holes in it? I don't understaaaaaaand. But, hey, you like it and wanna wear a tee shirt under it whenever you put it on, it's a perfectly nice sweater.

Latifolia by Tori Seierstad
I'd have knit something called Latifolia with two shades of green (a yellow-green and a blue-green for the two types of chlorophyll), but I'm a literal-minded plant freak and may need to get a grip.

Akebia by Kate Gilbert 
One of the best of the issue. Though this picture's crap. Hang on...
There ya go. Pattern and color edge at wrists, neck, and waist. Personally, I'd leave the pattern and color off the bottom edge. Hips, what hips? Nothing to see here. But if you like your hips, good for you, and draw attention to those babies every chance you get. Anyway. For color substitution, try to stick with the dark body, light pattern combo here. The lighter colored pattern draws the eye to your face, shoulders, and hands (and hips, if you're into that). If I wasn't already fighting my way through a stranded color pullover, I'd knit this myself.

Next section, "Artful". I don't know why knitting mags have sections like this, unless it's just to keep the reader's brains from melting. Which is helpful, now that I think of it that way. Also helpful to give reviewers a good place to stop for another cup of tea and to pet the cat.

ANYWAY! More sweaters, and shawls, and stuff!

Caledonia by Quenna Lee 
Awesome photo, not so good on details...
I have concerns about the shoulders. That neck is quite wide, and the shoulder straps quite narrow. If you've got broad shoulders anyway, you're good. But if you don't, consider adding some stitches on each side, make the neck narrower. Otherwise, damn fine sweater, I really like it, it'd be flattering on just about everyone.

Grania by Rachel Coopey
Nice. That pompom is gonna add weight to the top/end of the hat and make it flop around weirdly. But I am known for my anti-pompom views, so it's possible I'm biased on the whole thing. You could leave it off easily enough.

Corvina by Angela Hahn

Raglan pullover with cable and lace detailing at shoulders and wrists. I wonder how that neck line isn't curling more. Either there's a hem there, or it's been starched, or something. I'd use a pure, solid color for this, because you can see, even with the slight color shifting in this yarn, the cables are getting kind of lost. Lighter colors are better at showing cables, too. Cables cast shadows that get lost in darker yarn and hey, is that a cable?

Fluence by Lana Jois
Shawl-wrap thingie with neat edge treatment. I strongly suggest doing that edge in garter stitch, because this version, in stockinette?
Probably freshly blocked, there, and already starting to curl. If you HAAAAVE to knit those chevrons in stockinette, do it as loosely as you possibly can - it'll curl less than tight stitches would.

Ashling by Rusty Baker
Again, I don't understand. If it's cool enough for two layers, why have big holes in one? If you need a heavy cowl neck, why doesn't it have sleeves? SOMEONE EXPLAIN TO MEEEEE. (I know, I know. It's fashion/style vs. practicality/use. This is the story of my entire life.) In practical, non-whining information, watch the length on this. Unless you're one of the two people reading this who like your hips, a shorter length would result in less bulk around them. With two shirts and a pair of pants on, like the model, that's three layers of clothes around the part of your body most women are unhappy about to begin with. I'm just sayin'.

Fynele by Rachel Coopey (who names these things?)
Hat and mitten combo. I do like that Twist's business model means that they need to produce season-appropriate patterns. No super-bulky mini skirts in the dead of winter. And mittens and hats in fall, when people who think ahead would be knitting them.

Sixpence by Kristen Rengren
Half-round shawl with interesting circular detailing. Nice. It's knit on size eight needles with heavy yarn, though, so take that into account when you're considering it.

Heyday by Marnie MacLean

We're back to patterns at your hips and do-you-really-wanna-do-that, but it's easy enough to leave off and the henley pattern/cut/style is really flattering for everyone. It's knit in reverse stockinette, some flat, but some in the round. Something to keep in mind if you hate purling.

Candlesmoke by Barbara Gregory
I love swirl patterns, so these really made me go OOOO!

Hausti by Susanna IC 
Another awesome but not terribly helpful picture. Seriously, the green against the purple, with the graffiti (street art? I'm saying street art) as a contrast to the softness of the yarn. BUT WAIT.
Aha. Better. Take a look, there is nothing on either of those edges to keep them from curling. (Though I like the beads. Nice detail.) If you're gonna knit as is, make sure the edges are knit as loosely as possible and plan on blocking it a lot.

New section! Take a break and pet your nearest furry friend.

Next (last?) section, Wavelengths.

Falkirk by Theresa Schabes
I am decidedly 'eh' on this style of sweater. They remind me of bath robes. But they are comfortable and warm. Good news is, with the loose, drapey cut, fit isn't a real problem. It'd make a good first-fitted-sweater type project.

Wheat Fields by Nancy Marchant 
Reversible scarf in brioche stitch. (Insert rant here, about scarves that look like ass on one side.) If you've wanted to try learning brioche stitch, which makes an amazingly awesome soft, fluffy, warm fabric, this would be a great first project.

Cliona by Caroline Levander

This got another big OOOO! out of me. (Swirls and knotwork. What can I say? Celtic heritage. Does it show?) Really, REALLY nice. Comes in a bunch of sizes, and the cables are repetitive enough you won't lose your mind trying to work them. Drawback for some, the body is done in seed stitch. HOWEVER, the seed stitch means that the fabric doesn't need any other edging. I am probably going to knit this for myself. For whatever that's worth.

Greenery by Helene Rush 
Mosaic yoke, regular stockinette body, mosaic detailing at waist. Cool idea.
There is a hey-look-hips aspect to this, but with the darker body and the way the colors work, it could actually be slimming. No, really. One thing I noticed, that I'm not sure of, is the little lace detail at the points of the yoke.
Structurally, that's going to put stress on the single strand of yarn going through that point stitch. Doesn't REALLY matter, but if you knit for the ages (I do), that's likely where the sweater would fail first. I'd do it in regular stockinette. But, hey, your sweater.

Cahoots by Ysolda Teague 
Dare I call this run of the mill? It kind of is. But. Ysolda's patterns are known for fit. So if you want a cardigan that fits Just. Damn. Right. this is probably the pattern for you.

Vasalisa by Jennette Cross
Hooray! A pattern with the plant motifs done in green! (I really need a grip.) Being a plant freak, mittens covered in little trees is adorkable to me.

Ravenscrag by Robin Melanson 
Cable-knit with an allover pattern. Nice. Unfortunately, if you knit it to fit this closely, there's a 'hey I circled my boobs so you can find them' sort of thing going on.
A lot of the effect can be avoided by knitting a larger size. But you gotta think of this stuff if you have Boobs of Doom like I do.

Paria by Kate Gilbert
What looks like a pretty standard pullover, gets kinda interesting when you look at details.

Texture that helps give an illusion of an hourglass figure. And lots of visual interest. Especially helpful for those of us with boobs of doom that don't wanna circle them. It's done with DK yarn, so it won't take the rest of your life, either.

Tignish by Luise O'Neill
Nice shawl, done in heavier, season-appropriate yarn.

Portiere by Fiona Ellis

Pullover with cabled detailing on body and wrists. This'd be a good starter project for cable knits.

Courant by Barbara Benson
This one gave me a real "whaaaaat?" moment. Yes, that is two color lace.
Double the color, double the fun. Double the warmth. I suggest using two related colors, like you see here. If you go the black and white route, it may really confuse the eye.

And there you go. Why business models matter. And why we need more magazines like Twist Collective and fewer of the old school on-paper stuff. Hope y'all learned something.

By the way, critics who claim I just sit at a computer and make smart remarks? This took two and a half hours. Bite me.