Project Swapway: Designing a Cape

A few months ago, I joined a Steampunk Swap in the Odd Duck Swaps group on Ravelry.  My swap target (or “spoilee”) was very talkative and fun, so I got loads of ideas for what to make for her.  One thing she mentioned caught my fancy right away as a great opportunity to set a design challenge for myself.

The inspiration started with a page of illustrations of Victorian capes that my “spoilee” had posted.  One caught my eye immediately.

Victorian Cape

Victorian Cape

So gorgeous!  I loved the high neck, the tailored look, the weighty drape of the luxurious fabric (presumably fur, in the original).  I imagined that this would be a lined cape that would keep a lady warm on the coldest winter strolls, and yet be easily tossed aside for a waltz with a beau.

So then I started to think about how to put my own spin on it.  A steampunk cape with a bit of my own flair.  I toyed with the idea of buying fabric and sewing, but I really wanted to knit it.  A yarn with a good drape should mimic the weight of the fur better than even faux-fur.  And what would a knitted cape be without a heavenly lace trim? Continue reading


Thinking about body shape and sweater design

I’m at an age where the body starts letting you know that while you’re a long way from old, you’re not young anymore either.  I’m at a point where there are some grey hairs peeking out, where skin is changing texture, where minor health troubles are more persistent, and above all, where body shape starts to really matter in terms of clothing selection. Continue reading


Project Swapway: The Steampunk Swap

Over in the “Odd Ducks” group on Ravelry, knitters get together and have swaps akin to secret santa.  You get someone’s name, answer some crazy questions, research your “spoilee’s” likes and dislikes and make them something wonderful that they will hopefully really enjoy.  Presumably you get the same treatment in return, and craft exchanging occurs.  The Odd Ducks pick crazy themes on which to have these swaps, and I recently joined their “Steampunk Swap”.  What a fun group of Ravelers lives on that forum!

I hesitate to divulge too much information here, just on the odd chance that my spoiler peeks at my blog and happens to also be my spoilee. Continue reading


Adventures in steampunk

I have been obsessing lately about the style known as “Steampunk”.   And you know what?  Today (June 14th) is International Steampunk Day!

timetravel watch

Time travel watch

Imagine an alternate history of the world where clockwork and steam remained central to technological innovation instead of moving on to more electrical and electronic technologies.  That’s where the idea of steampunk jumps off from, and from there various authors, costumers and enthusiasts have explored a myriad of speculative “what if” ideas.  Sometimes it leads to fantasy worlds where quasi-magical inventions are created on the spur of the moment by gifted inventors (such as in the webcomic Girl Genius).  Sometimes the inventions are more believable like the Nautilus in Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Continue reading


Yarn like improvisational jazz

For my recent birthday,  I self-indulgently bought myself two kinds of really cool specialty yarns:

Habu Textile’s Wool Stainless Steel A-148

Habu Textiles Wool Stainless Steel

Habu Textiles Wool Stainless Steel

It’s a thread-thin yarn which feels soft like wool, but has a memory.  You can essentially finger-block it on the needles to whatever 3-d shape that you want.  It’s very cool, and it’s a natural for making jewelry and other artsy accessories, but I’ll post more on my adventures with it another time.

Today I want to talk more about the other specialty yarn that I bought myself:

Continue reading


When in doubt, make it a tea cozy

I think I’m going to adopt this as my new knitting motto:  ‘When in doubt, make it a tea cozy’.

Once upon a time, I bought a bunch of a favorite yarn when it was on sale.  I think we’ve all been there, where the prospect of great yarn overwhelms all rational decision-making and prudent project-planning. Continue reading


Knit your own electronics

In the new Knitty for Spring/Summer 2010, there is a thrilling-looking new project for a felted bag.  But not just any felted bag, a bag that displays your knitting chart electronically.  Basically, the bag has LED lights sewn into it, connected to a special computer chip (available here) with conductive threads.  You can upload onto the chip a pre-programmed lace pattern, a row counter program or you can program in your own charts for your projects.  The LED lights then display which stitches you need for that row by flashing quickly, flashing slowly, lighting solid, etc.  Continue reading