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!

The Fan Enough headband tutorial

Crafty Football Blog HopWelcome to the knits by emma entry for the 2013 Crafty Football Blog Hop! Crafters from various disciplines have gotten together to bring you some projects that will get you geared up for a great season. There’s a reason we love this time of year, so get in touch with your creative side, and while you scream at the TV all of Sunday afternoon, GET CRAFTING!

Anyone who has actually met or spoken to me is probably aware that I am a massive Green Bay Packers fan. Growing up in Minnesota as the daughter of a hardcore Cheesehead and Wisconsin native wasn’t always smooth sailing amongst the throng of rabid Vikings supporters. But my sisters and I never lost faith in our boys and taunted and heckled our peers right back, knowing our team would (and does) always come out on top!

For this tutorial I decided to design a piece that combined my love of the Green and Gold with my passion of knitting headbands. This was designed to be unisex. It’s also a quick little project and would suit most any skill level.

Fan Enough headband

Fan Enough headband

Fan Enough headband

Materials used:

  • 1 skein in main color (MC) – approx. 54m (Debbie Bliss cashmerino Aran 50g ball)
  • 1 skein in contrasting color (CC) – approx. 63m (Loyal machine-washable DK/8ply)*
  • A 5mm, 40cm circular needle (US size 8, 16” circular needle)
  • 1 stitch marker (SM)
  • 1 tapestry needle

    Perfect Packer-colored yarn

    Perfect Packer-colored yarn

Gauge and tips:

18 sts and 24 rows for a 10cm square

I chose two different yarn weights because of the colors available at my local yarn store, but this headband would best be done on *two Aran/Worsted weight yarns. The DK will knit up looser on a 5mm needle, but it shouldn’t be so loose that it becomes holey. Knit consistently, don’t pull it too tight or it won’t stretch as nicely over the head. Always change colors at the beginning of a round. Pay close attention to which rows are in MC and which are in CC.

Pattern instructions:

Cast on (CO) 74 sts in CC and join in the round. Place SM to indicate the beginning of a new round. (TIP: I sometimes cast on an extra stitch and knit the first and last stitch together [k2tog] when joining in the round to make it smoother and firmer)

CO in CC, then purl in MC to create a lovely striped effect

CO in CC, then purl in MC to create a lovely striped effect

Rows 1-6: Purl in MC

Row 7: Purl in CC

Rows 8-11: Knit in CC

Rows 12-17: Purl in MC

Rows 18-23 Purl in CC

Row 24: Purl in MC

Ends to be woven in

Ends to be woven in

Rows 25-28: Knit in MC

Rows 29-34: Purl in CC

Bind off (BO) loosely in MC (TIP: I recommend this article on Crafsy)

Weave in ends using tapestry needle. Take care when weaving in the loose ends; you don’t want to make it too tight, especially in the CO and BO areas.

Block lightly if need be.

IMG_2274 IMG_2269

Be sure to check out the rest of the blog hoppers below. I can’t wait to try out some of these great ideas myself. Happy crafting everyone, and GO PACK GO!

Always carry a pen

I’m sure the other writers out there subscribe to this motto as loyally as I do. To be caught without a pen is absolute suicide. You never know when inspiration will hit, you never know when a networking opportunity will strike. Won’t you feel foolish meeting a key player in your industry and not being able to offer a pen when he/she inevitably isn’t carrying a business card. How else will you get that elusive contact information?

It also isn’t a bad thing to be the first to proffer a writing utensil every time the “Does anyone have a pen?” scenario occurs. It will make you look organized and professional, whether you feel it on the inside or not.

But who knew that having a pen could be crucial to solving a knitter’s dilemma? As I’ve mentioned before, I am completely enamored with cables. I love cabling in my knitting; I think the effect is just stunning. Yesterday morning I decided to have a crack at knitting on the bus during my commute. Lately I’ve been listening to podcasts on the bus, as I am someone who feels easily queasy when trying to read. I LOVE to read, and still attempt to do so nearly everyday. But often I don’t make it all the way to the city before the dizziness sets in.

So there I am, all the way at the back of the bus so I can spread out a little. I take my needles and headband-in-progress out of my bag, when FACEPALM. In a “could have had a V8” sort of moment, I realized I hadn’t brought my circular needle (my alternative to a cable needle). However would I work the cables efficiently? I knit one cable without a needle, but it was so slow and tedious with the rumbling of the bus, that I quickly gave up, resolving to solve this issue later at the office.

Enter: The trusty pen. Before we’d even reached the city, a light bulb went on. Of course!  I thought.

Pen cap to the rescue

Pen cap to the rescue

So I gift to you all, in my infinite wisdom, another handy cable cheat: the pen cap. When I got to the office, I finished working the row I had been in the middle of, before setting it down to begin my work day. I hate leaving knitting open in the middle of a row. It would have just eaten away at me until lunchtime.

Surfer's Paradise in progress

Work in progress

So while I wasn’t at a logical stopping point, at least I had finished the row. I proceeded to use the pen cap while knitting on my lunch break as well. Just goes to show, there are myriad reasons why you should always carry a pen.

The back of the finished headband

The back of the finished headband

Just as a sort of P.S. I thought I’d include an image of the finished product from the back. A provisional cast on leaves the live stitches on either side. Using kitchener stitch, you can graft the two ends together in a clean and nearly invisible manner. My advice: when picking up live stitches that have been twisted and cabled, TAKE YOUR TIME. Stay focused and pay close attention. Also, of course, count your stitches so you know that there is an equal number on each end. When done properly, it can turn out so wonderful. I’m really pleased with how this turned out, and you can’t even tell where the two ends meet without very close inspection (and a keen knitter’s eye). Plus the lighting in this last photo captures the true color much better than the overexposed lighting in my office. Let me know if you try this method and run into trouble. I use provisional cast on and kitchener for most of my headbands.

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!