The kind you find in a second-hand store

2013-Winner-Facebook-Cover

Big news y’all! I’ve had a busy few days, but on Friday I finished or “won” NaNoWriMo a day early at 50,233 words. My novel isn’t finished yet, but I hit the goal and am feeling proud. The fiancé also succeeded, so we had celebratory brunch with friends this morning.

I’ve had quite a bit on the needles to share. First I am happy to say that I finished my “raspberry beret,” which I wore today at brunch.

This is an awesome free pattern which can be found HERE. I had a few knitting attacks while working on this, which made the process take probably twice as long as it should have. Hint: read the clarification on the Ravelry page before completing. Sigh.

Thanksgiving!

Pumpkin pie anyone?

Thursday night Matt and I went to Thanksgiving dinner at an American bar. I brought the pumpkin pie, which went over very well. We met some cool people and had a DELICIOUS meal.

Thanksgiving dinner

Thanksgiving dinner

On Friday I got in a shipment of yarn I’d ordered to make legwarmers for my sister. She picked out the color herself. It’s Cascade 220 in the Tutu shade. A bit pink for my taste, but I know she’ll love them.

Legwarmers for Rachel

Legwarmers for Rachel

I also finally picked up the last skein to finish off my Rocky Coast Cardigan. I wet-blocked it last night and it’s nearly dry. I had a mini panic thinking it might stretch out, but I laid it out flat in the measurements I wanted, and it seems to be snapping back into place nicely. Can’t wait for it to be dry so I can get a photo in it!

Rocky Coast Cardigan

Rocky Coast Cardigan

I made it out of Loyal 10ply, my favorite 100% wool New Zealand yarn. It comes in some amazing colors. My raspberry beret was also made out of Loyal.

Other than that I’ve been making a gift for someone, so that’s hush hush until it’s finished. Basically my fingers are exhausted! I knit up the legwarmers at lightening speed so I could get them in the package with my family’s Xmas gifts, which heads to the States tomorrow morning!

The Rocky Coast Cardigan

Over the weekend we really started to see some scary high summer temps, so naturally I cast on a cardigan.

I’ve been an admirer of Alana Dakos (of Never Not Knitting) and Hannah Fettig (of Knitbot) for some time now. Basically anything Hannah Fettig has ever done, I want to knit. I’ve purchased patterns from both women, and one of my sisters is even getting a Hannah Fettig accessory from for Christmas.

The pair of them collaborated to bring us Coastal Knits. I’m actually having buyer’s remorse because I foolishly bought the Rocky Coast Cardigan pdf by itself rather than taking the time to really decide whether I wanted the whole book or not. Turns out I do.

Based on the comments and reviews on Ravelry, I decided to knit a size bigger than I actually require. I’d rather have it too big than too small. It’s a top-down sweater knit in one piece, meaning I won’t have to do any seaming at the sides. I started it on Saturday and after a few silly mistakes (read: not properly reading the instructions), I divided for the sleeves two nights ago and now it’s really cruising.

By now I’m sure my love of cables is totally obvious. I can tell this is going to turn out just beautifully. I love the ecru I chose (in Loyal 10ply). Matt was with me when I picked it out, and he agreed that it would look great on my coloring and be totally versatile.

I also blocked my sisters’ Christmas presents over the weekend. Now I just need to finish and block Mom’s gift. And also knit up everything for my upcoming craft fair appearance. Yikes!

When I finish Rocky Coast, I’m eager to get started on Alana’s new Sprig sweater design. She released the pattern early, and it will appear in her upcoming book. She’s generously allowed people to purchase it now, and then later get the book at the full price minus the cost of this pattern if they chose to buy it in advance. I’m definitely buying the whole book this time. Not making that mistake again!

Fashion and festivity

For the first time ever, I got to properly partake in Melbourne Cup day, or as it’s also known: The race that stops the nation.

It doesn’t exactly stop the nation. It stops Melbourne. And since those slackers get the whole day off to watch a single horse race, the rest of us stomp our feet and insist on playing too.

Part of the deal is getting fabulously dressed up (just like the Kentucky Derby or the Royal Wedding) and wearing strange hairpieces, which is most of the fun, really.

I was very excited to finally wear the dress I ordered weeks ago from Neiman Marcus over in the States. I am not at all the type to order something for a specific occasion (though I did just recently put down the deposit on my wedding dress, squee!), but my first real Melbourne Cup warranted a treat. Plus summer is long since over up in the northern hemisphere, so it was on sale. SCORE!

Perfect race day Longchamp

Perfect race day Longchamp

La pièce de résistance was my gorgeous navy Longchamp bag, which I’ve had for years and tend to bring out only for evenings out when I need space for more than just my ID and some cash. It seemed fitting for race day, non?

This year my office was doing a little shin dig, which was a lot of fun. We ate pies and sausage rolls and got to chat and catch up, plus of course we watched the race.

After things wrapped up I came home and plopped on the couch for some knitting. I’ve been rewatching Gilmore Girls for the millionth time (my all-time favorite show), and I’ve gotten to season 7. While the earlier seasons have seen countless viewings, season 7 is one I often avoid because it so thoroughly pisses me off. But, silver lining, I’d completely forgotten there was a Knit-a-thon episode! How cool is that? I’m knitting while all of Stars Hallow joins in?! (Guess you had to be there.)

Lovely light purple headband

Lovely light purple headband

I did manage to knit up this bad boy, and it’s still early enough for me to get a bit of writing done before I go to bed.

NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is going pretty well both for me and for Matt. I’m ahead of schedule on my word count so far, but if I skip tonight, I’ll fall behind and I don’t want to lose momentum. I suspect I’ll crack the 10,000 word mark tonight. That’s a fifth of the way!

Itching for prep

Ever wake up and realize your wardrobe needs a makeover? (or a lobotomy?) I feel like that’s been me the last two years.

Growing up a Minnesota girl, the preppy fashion scene was hardly on my radar. It seemed to nest in a mythical boarding school realm and the far northern east coast regions I had never visited.

Then I went to university in small town Virginia, and suddenly prep was everywhere! Popped collars, pants that looked like patchwork quilts and ensembles akin to horseback riding uniforms. I get nostalgic thinking about my capris with little turtles on them or my endless supply of polo shirts.

After graduation I moved to France for two years where it was all about black and converse sneakers (neither of which did I choose to wear). I tried to maintain my own identity, but the prep look in a small country town would have pegged me as “l’américaine” instantly, and I really wanted to immerse myself in la vie quotidienne of Decize (my little French town).

Following my stint in Europe, I came home for a few months to say my goodbyes and pack up the bare minimum before again relocating to Perth, Australia.

During my time in Perth, I have not been able to devote much time money to developing my personal style. It’s changed a bit over the years, but simple and classic is definitely my scene.

Lately I find myself wandering into preppy clothing sites on my lunch break, desperately wishing I didn’t have to order things all the way from America. I blame The College Prepster. It’s her fault I’m drawn once again to the prep.

Here are a few staples I simply MUST to get my hands on.

LL Bean boots - perfect for rainy Perth winters

LL Bean boots – perfect for rainy Perth winters

I have never owned a pair of these but have always wanted to. I put them in my “shopping cart” nearly every time there’s a string of grey rainy days. We’re entering Perth summer pretty soon, but next winter I’m taking the plunge and just getting them.

Jcrew

J. Crew embroidered cap

Let’s face it, there will always be bad hair days. Most of my caps are ruined from being worn during my hot summer runs. I really need a clean classic one for all occasions.

Bracelets from Kiel James Patrick

Bracelets from Kiel James Patrick

I love the entire bracelet range from Kiel James Patrick. These are sturdy and well-made and are 100% American. What could be preppier than sailing? And speaking of KJP…

Seafarer collection

Seafarer collection

I am loving the new collection. I do not own nearly enough collared shirts anymore.

Other sites I’ve been trolling are Vineyard Vines, Ralph Lauren, Madewell and even Brooks Brothers. Sadly many sites do not ship to Australia. I’m going to have to get creative, not to mention look for online bargains. It’s all about the look, not the tag.

One thing I never gave up was my puffy vest. I love it and still wear it all the time, even in Australia. The vest trend seems to be more dudely over here, but I don’t care. I also have a beautiful pair of tall brown “riding” boots, which are a wardrobe essential.

I recently bought a very tame Lilly Pulitzer dress for Melbourne Cup (a popular Australian horse race that the whole country celebrates), which is the first sign of my dipping my toes back in prep-land.

At the end of the day I just need to mix it up, and the classic preppy look never goes out of style. I need to start making some new wardrobe investments. Are you due for a change?

If at first you don’t succeed, just go to bed

There are two types of people in this world: morning people, and night people.

If you ask most people, I’m sure they would say, “Oh, I’m not a morning person.” To this statement, many nod in recognition, declaring war on anyone and anything that would deprive them of a little extra shut-eye in the early AM hours.

Then there are people like me, who basically stop functioning around 10:30pm (sometimes earlier). One reason for this is that I am accustomed to getting up early to fit in my workout before I head the office, usually seated at my desk by 8 o’clock. Another is that I am a slave to the sun. Even on weekend mornings, the blaring light through my bedroom curtains tells me it’s time to get up by 7:15 at the latest.

That being said, I am also at my most clear-minded and productive between about 7:15 and 10am. Fortunately for my employer, this mostly falls while I’m at work. Unfortunately for my knitting, my free time usually lands in the late evenings.

Last night I fell prey to my own stubbornness, as 11pm came and went while I refused to set down my knitting. I reached the row that I had deemed would contain two buttonholes. Now, I’ve learned to do buttonholes in the past, but I have not applied them much in my own knitting, and that fact combined with the late hour was a recipe for disaster.

This was a beautiful cream merino headband, and the third I had made this weekend as samples for my knits by emma line. Before I go any further I just want to say I have found yarn love. I have heard others express love for yarn, but I had yet to truly experience it myself. For my line of headbands, I will be using exclusively Australian 100% chunky merino by Heirloom. The best part is it’s apparently machine washable (though I still need to test them). Here’s a little preview for you, lovely blog readers.

New headbands in Moss and Slate

New headbands in Moss and Slate

Last night I just couldn’t seem to calculate the spacing and number of seams for my buttonholes. I don’t know what was with me, but it was as if I was too sleepy and frustrated to get it right. Every time I failed to make them look as perfect as I wanted, I ripped back about 4 or 5 rows, re-knit to my place, and tried again. (Thankfully my beautiful Australian merino is so durable, that there is no visible evidence of how much I reworked the final section of this headband.)

Eventually my poor fiancé begged me to give up and resume in the morning. By the time he’d protested for the third time, I conceded it was time to throw in the towel and go to sleep. All day at work I itched to get home and try again. This afternoon I got it on the first try, and proceeded to “try on” my knitting in front of the mirror.

After all of that effort, heartache and lost sleep…I like it better without the buttons! I ended up ripping back AGAIN and finishing it off with a mattress stitch. I will probably try it with a provisional cast on and kitchener next time just to see which way looks better for the pattern. There’s a little sneak peak of the finished product in my instagram over on the sidebar, for anyone who wants to check it out. It’s amazing how such a simple headband can cause so many problems. Thankfully I love the end result!