Friday, May 11, 2012

A fall cardigan

I don't know what it is about spring that makes me want to knit sweaters. This year I'll blame it on a solid week of cold, gray rainy days.

This is my first attempt at knitting a cardigan and I'm pretty happy with it. I looked long and hard for a pattern and finally settled on The Pure and Simple Neck-down Cardigan by Diane Soucy. I really dislike seaming, and the thought of knitting three separate pieces, plus arms, put me off traditional cardigan patterns. The yarn, my favorite Cascade 220, I bought in April at WEBS at great discount. (Hint: Cascade 220 is still on sale this month.)

I'm so glad I made a small; I'm at my heaviest weight right now since I haven't been able to bike as much this spring, and there's plenty of room for layering underneath.

I have more pictures and details on my Ravelry page.

Here's something else I got today:

My son urged me to buy it as a Mother's Day gift for myself. How could I resist? It has a. kittens b. American flags c. flowers d. glitter (which, sadly, doesn't show up in the photo) and e. high tackiness factor, something I look for in a t-shirt I wear to bed.

Happy Mother's Day!

Monday, May 7, 2012

The Duchess Effect

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I've been seeing lots of stories recently about "The Duchess Effect" or "The Kate Effect," about how the Duchess of Cambridge's clothing choices are wielding considerable influence on the fashion industry, especially over the last year since her marriage to Prince William.

While I'm not a rabid royalty watcher, I have always felt sympathetic toward Kate (I'm sorry; I can't yet bring myself to call her Catherine.) I hated how the British tabloids trashed her and her family in the years before her marriage and can't help but feeling a bit of "haa haa on you" when I see these same tabloids tripping over themselves, breathlessly covering her every move. I don't think Kate has made one misstep, which has got to be hard with potentially billions of eyes on you every time you run out for a Starbucks.

I have noticed the effect the Duchess has on fashion. Indeed, I've even fallen head-over-heels in love with a shawl she wore while shopping (I blogged about it here) and the white coat she wore to Prince William's passing-out ceremony. But model my wardrobe after Kate's? Hmmm.

First, have you really studied a picture of her? She's TINY. Not short tiny, but skinny tiny. A single thigh of mine is bigger than her torso. Okay, not really, but let's just say a lot of the stuff she wears wouldn't look good on my "curves." For example, before she was married she was frequently photographed wearing skinny jeans stuffed into boots. First, I consider "skinny jeans" to be a pair of pants I can fit my butt into after a week of dieting. Second, if I stuffed my jean bottoms into a pair of skinny boots, I'd cut off circulation to my feet. The bottom line: where Kate looks slim and chic, I'd looked like an overstuffed sausage.

Then there's the fact that you have to shop to get Kate's look. And frankly, I hate to shop, except if the shopping involves yarn ... then I'm up for the game. But people who really love Kate's look must have to spend a fortune by quickly snapping up an original the moment Kate's photographed in it (the royal blue engagement dress by Issa) or spend too much time hunting down a knockoff.

And then there's that fact that I'm 17 years older than the Duchess. I'm more in Princess Diana's generation, but NOT Prince Charles's, thankyouverymuch. It's weird because I don't think the Duchess dresses in a particularly youthful manner (a criticism she receives from a lot of print journalists who cover fashion), but maybe it's that I don't place as much emphasis on fashion as I did in my 20s and early 30s, and go more for what looks good on me and what fits the life I have today. I'm more apt to look at a pair of wellies the Queen is wearing and wondering if they'd be a good choice for summer gardening ... or should I get less sexy rubber gardening clogs? Does that make sense?

I like seeing how her fashion choices inspire others, though. The blog What Kate Wore reports on everything Kate wears and gives details on where you can buy. The green shawl that I adore has its own Ravelry group. BurdaStyle offers pattern suggestions for Kate fans who like to sew. And not Kate fashion, but an Australian pattern company developed a pattern for "The Pippa Dress." Now that's something you'll never catch me in, although Gorgeous Things did "gorgeous things" with it ... and she's even in my generation! (She looks seriously stunning in it.) Don't sew or knit? The Daily Mail frequently covers Kate and will tell you what brand she's wearing.

So what do you think about all this "Duchess/Kate Effect" business? Do you think it will wear off? Do you catch yourself admiring certain clothes Kate wears or would you rather not be bothered? Please comment below. As for me, I'm sure I'll keep watching but I don't see myself patterning a wardrobe based on another person's look. I am, however, going to cast on that shawl. Kate seriously ripped off my style.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

That's Bond, Sir James Bond

Yesterday I spent another dreary, rainy day with my knitting, watching Casino Royale (the remake) and Quantum of Solace, both for the nth times. And yes, I can't wait until November 9th, when the next Bond film, Skyfall, will hit the big screen here in North America. (You lucky dogs in Britain get it two weeks ahead of us.) I've got a lot of anticipation riding on this installment: Sam Mendes directing, starring roles for Ralph Fiennes (!!!) and Javier Bardem, not to mention more of broody, rough Daniel Craig and the always-a-pleasure-to-watch Judi Dench.

I've also been catching up on my show biz reading this weekend, and just learned there's another guest star scheduled for the film: Queen Elizabeth! According to The Telegraph, Bond will be receiving a knighthood in Skyfall, and the Queen has agreed to participate in filming the scene. How cool is that? I'm also loving that the London Olympics will somehow play a part in the film.

I hate to get my hopes up -- I've had some big Bond disappointments (A View to a Kill*? The Living Daylights?). On the other hand, with all this great casting and a top director, how can they miss?


*A View to a Kill, imo, has one of the best Bond songs. Duran Duran rocks it 4 ever ... just don't judge the song by the video. That hi-tech Walkman, LOL!!!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Babies maybe!

I've been noticing a robin flapping and fluttering away whenever I get out of my car. I stuck my camera close to what looked like a nest in our holly bush and got this. I hope those cracks mean they're hatching soon!

Have a nice weekend. :-)

Happy May!

For some reason my blog got all screwed up and I couldn't figure out what had gone wrong. I spent days on checking code, permissions, etc., but finally my web host figured it all out (not enough permissions on one directory) and now I'm back in business.

Woo hoo!

Here in the northeast we've had days and days of cold, gray, drizzly rain, the kind of cold, gray, drizzly rain that makes you want to curl up on the couch with an afghan, a cup of tea, and a good book. Or, in my case, knitting:

Socks, finished before the rain started. (Raveled here.)

I frogged the pullover I was knitting up with my Drumlin Farm yarn and cast on Topiary, a large shawl designed by Michele Wang for Brooklyn Tweed.

A top-down cardigan that's turning out beautifully (I've got about 5" to go on the body). I'm going to use some pewter buttons from an old moth-eaten cardigan.

And last, a pair of socks I need to finish by the 15th for a German World Cup fan. :-) (The quarters are just to hold the heel down, which was curling up.)

I've also been thrift shopping since I've decided my wardrobe needs a bit of refreshing.

This, a blue and green floral Bill Blass duster I picked up for a song at Savers. It's not really my style, which is why I bought it. I need some style!

When it hasn't been raining, my son and I have been on our bikes, checking out the many trails running through our town. We are soooo lucky to have the Reformatory Branch Rail Trail running right alongside our property. We can hop on our bikes and be on an adventure in less than 60 seconds. We love looking for wildlife (snakes especially!) and identifying wildflowers. Thanks to a new knitting podcast I've become addicted to (the Knitting Pipeline, "the knitting podcast with a Celtic flair"), I've figured out what all those white flowers are crowding the banks of the trail:

It's garlic mustard, a noxious weed that will actually poison the soil in woods so that no other plants will grow there. Now that I know what it is, I see it everywhere ... even in my own garden! On Earth Day, people actually go out in the woods and pull this stuff up, it's that bad. Of course, the first thing I thought was, "Can I eat it?" You can, but the plant contains a measurable amount of cyanide, so I think I'll pass and content myself with pulling it up and discarding it for now. Anyway, thank you Knitting Pipeline for the ecology lesson ... even my 10-year-old knows what it looks like and eagerly helps me pull it up.

I hope wherever you are, you're enjoying spring ... rain and all!