Black Skirt Waistband Tutorial


Have you ever put in a waistband?

Me, neither. But this is why it's nice to have a good library. I just pulled copies of Vogue Knitting and Shirley Paden's Knitting Design Workshop and searched "waistband" in the index.

The skirt was knit from the bottom up. As you can see from the above photograph, you must transfer your live stitches to a length of waist yarn to begin. (I had already knit a generous one-inch waistband casing complete with one purled turning ridge in the middle.)


I then folded, steamed and pinned the casing to the wrong side of my garment (using those fabulous KA bamboo seaming pins). Here comes the tricky part. 

To graft the casing to the private side of your piece, you must whipstitch each live stitch to a purl bump. The photo shows my tapestry needle grabbing a purl bump and waistband stitch. Then you do it again. And again. And again. It's a bit tedious and in black, blinding. But the books have photos and there's nothing to be afraid of.

Once the waistband was secure--all but two inches of it--I inserted one-inch knit elastic, the really soft stuff (cut just smaller than my waist measurement and with a one-inch allowance for overlap), into the casing with a large safety pin attached to the leading end. With some scooching and zhusshing, you can get the elastic to circumnavigate the waist and lie properly inside its new home. Once you have the elastic in place, overlap it, stitch the ends together with gusto and finish whipstitching.

Remove cat hair from black skirt.

Go shopping for textured tights.

More to show as the week progresses!

Knitted Toy Vampire Bat Pattern: No guano, no glory

This is a sad tale of bat fail.

Late last year I was asked to contribute a pattern for a toy bat to Vampire Knits. Ever game for a challenge--and intrigued by this vampire-themed project--I set about the task of knitting and designing a cute, ready-for-his-close-up bat. After some back-and-forth with Genevieve, the author, and her editor at Random House, we settled on the above iteration. Batty flew off to New York for his photo shoot and that was that.

Then the news came: There were too many projects for the alloted pages and Batty got cut.

Oh, Bloody H-E-Double-Toothpicks.

But, having spent a career in publishing, I'm well aware that guano happens. And the final Vampire Knits, just released this week, is darling--packed with lots of clever, sexy, toothsome projects. If you have a knitting Twilight fan on your Halloween list, or someone with a gothish bent, this is a wickedly fun gift.

Back to Batty. So rather than let the poor thing become a tortured cat toy, I thought why not put him to good use? Enlisting the graphic design wizardry of Jeff Phillip-Strain of Sage Creative, we've developed a PDF pattern to sell on Ravelry--all proceeds to benefit Bat Conservation International, an organization that conserves bats and their habitat.

So fill him with stuffing, catnip or a light rubber ball and there you go. Just in time for All Hallow's Eve!


Finished object: Ballband Dishcloth

Recently we attended a dinner that was so out-of-the-ordinary (menu, table linens, place cards, Alsatian wine and cuisine, wordly dinner companions conversant in Alsatian wine and cuisine), the hostess deserved something a little extra than the annelid-riddled apples we proferred at the door. Hence the Ballband Dishcloth.

Of course, when we received the invitation, Mitch yelled up from the basement:

"Where's Alsace?"

I thought a minute, then yelled back: "I dunno. Near Belgium, France, Germany, Italy and Switzerland. Somewhere. Didn't it have something to do with WWI?"

We wikipediaed it, and as is often the case, the answer's complicated. It's a region in France that borders Germany and Switzerland; the culture is a rich casseolet of French and Germanic influences. And the food, ideal for a brisk alpine night: The classic dish, Choucroute Alsacienne, is a hearty assemblage of potatoes and pork of various kinds on a bed of mild sauerkraut, served with mustards. Comfort food Alsatian-style.

It was all made even more comforting by the wine, rich, golden, whites--Tokays, Rieslings, a splendid Gewurztraminer--that added cool sweetness to the warm meaty meal.

Nights, like this, as you know, are heavenly. Guests chatted about the food, a slice of moon punctuated by Venus shone through the windows, ragged mountains loomed in the distance.

Anyway, the dishcloth was knitted from the Mason-Dixon/Elmore Pisgah pattern of recent fame in Blue Sky Alpacas Skinny Organic and Pakucho Organic Cotton. A small token of appreciation for a night to remember.



Finished object: Tree of Life Knitted Pillow

Ready for a little pillow talk, anyone?

The above is a long-delayed wedding gift for a couple who live in the mountains. I used the intertwined-tree motif from Nicky Epstein's Tree of Life Afghan and some Araucania Chunky I scored on sale. As you can see I framed the motif in a border of seed stitch (seeds, get it, trees.come.from.seeds--soooooo metaphorical) and knitted a corresponding seed-stitch panel for the back.

After blocking, I tucked in a 14-inch pillow insert, seaming with mattress stitch.

I hope it finds a place on the couple's leather sofa amidst a jumble of afghans, kitties and other pillows.

Finished object: Baby kimono

If one goes to the trouble of knitting a baby sweater, what with all the attendant sewing in of ribbons and velcro snaps, one might as well pull together an entire outfit.

Start them out right, I say.


Heartbreakingly Cute Baby Kimono from Mason-Dixon Knitting in Lionbrand Cotton-Ease, color Blossom.

Knit Baby Hats

Twins, again! Darling wee girls in need of fashionable headwear. The above chapeaux were interpreted from hat patterns in Jil Eaton's MinnowKnits and knit from good old Kertzer Super 10. 

Esthetically sensitive, Stanley isn't convinced of my color choices.

What to wear when eating yak

Mom knit this little confection for me from Textiles a Mano Rocky Road and Loopity Loop. It's the Raveneli Vest by Jeanne Abel, another clever knit-in-the-round-from-the-outside-in sort of thing. That people can think in these spatial terms renders me speechless. Mom, too. She had no idea from whence she was knitting until she bound off. Cute, isn't it? Kind of Haight-Ashbury-by-way-of-the-Mongolian-Steppe.

Speaking of Mongolia, we supped on our first yak burgers Friday night. Yak is an extremely lean meat, apparently high in Omega 3 fatty acids and other beneficial goodies. It doesn't sizzle on the grill but rather squats, browning slowly in its own time. Cook it quickly and I suspect you'd end up with hockey pucks.

Overall, we were impressed. It produces burgers that are dense and light tasting--yes, a bit like poultry but with the texture of beef. We served it with grilled potatoes and a salad of mixed greens, basil and pine nuts in a balsamic vinaigrette. A peach frozen yogurt sundae followed.

Yak, it's the new bison.


Knitting Finished Object: A Clever Vest


Meet Elysium. She's a clever little vest from TroubleDog Designs, a miracle of short-rowing for extra cuppage in the proper spots. I am in awe of people who can think architecturally. Jennifer Dassau, who designed this piece, imagined a vest knit side-to-side in three dimensions (and no seaming!) then realized it. Extraordinary. To have that kind of spatial intelligence, well, you could just kick Google Maps to the curb couldn't you? She fits like a glove, too. Maybe a bit too much like a glove, but that's the prude in me talking. 

Check out the short rows!

The yarn was a dream: Voodoo in the Africa colorway, a DK-weight, merino superwash from Creatively Dyed Yarn. Though it makes for a darling garment, the variegated yarn obscures those sweet short rows. Next time, a semi solid. 

All in all a tremendous success. Elysium is a great summer project: Not-too-heavy, easy-on-the-brain, and perfectly packable.





Finished objects: Twin booties


The gift knitting has been lagging. It's a miracle that the children for whom the above are intended aren't college freshmen by now. There's a wedding gift to finish--months delayed--a graduation gift, and more bambini coming. If only I could put the cats to work.

Finished object: Crocheted Hemp Market Bag

I needed an emetic a palette cleanser after Grrrrrrreta. Something small, different and undemanding. With the weather trending warm and the farmer's markets about to start, I thought a market bag would be just the ticket.

Stash shopping produced some leftover hemp and a Ravelry search unearthed this pattern. Mine's slightly abridged, given the amount of yarn on hand. Don't you think it will cut a lovely swath through the market filled with beets and bristling with kale?

Happy shopping, everyone!