On The Needles

I feel like I've really been cranking out the handknits lately, and when I stopped to count them up it turns out the knits really have been piling up! Here's a glimpse of a few of them:

First up are two pair of fingerless mittens I worked up for a new pattern of mine, called Huckleberry Mitts. This pattern just came out last week and is also part of my Ravelry group's current knitalong, so if this pattern is speaking to you, come on over and join us and enter to win a yarny prize!

Blue pair features Lorna's Laces Solemate

Red pair features Alisha Goes Around Panoply of Peacocks

I've done quite a bit of non-work knitting lately, too...

I ran across a new children's pattern, Edith, that's a basic tee with super ruffly sleeves, and I loved it so much I bought the pattern (about $4.00) and immediately cast on! This is the 3-6 month size in Phildar Strike. I can't say enough good things about this pattern! It's sized for newborns through 24 months, but of course you could have even more size variation by changing weight of yarn. I made this one just to make it, and have decided to send it to Jenny of Stash and Burn fame for her new wee one. I just need to find the perfect buttons first!

Next up is another baby knit, this time created for my sweet friend Lisbeth's baby, Poppy. This pattern is called Bitty Bump and costs $5.00. The pattern is sized for newborn through 4T, so loads of size options. This is one of my go-to baby knits, as it's a great match for novelty yarns (I admit it - I love novelty yarns!) and it works up in about 3 hours due to the ginormous needle size. For this version, I used a strand of Crystal Palace Bamboozle held together with a strand of Made in America Florafil Super Soft Cotton. So soft and thick and squishy and cool! I added a dark grey grosgrain ribbon for some contrast; the Florafil is a great cotton boucle that's bound with a dark grey nylon thread, and I thought it made that really pop.

I managed to knit up another Surplus Stripes cowl, this time in monochromatic shades of blue. This was completed in just a few hours last Saturday, and I decided to donate it to the box my LYS is getting together to send to the local women's shelter. Apparently most of the women at the shelter do not have cars (presumably because they had to flee the place where the car was) and are having to use public transportation to get to work, etc., which means a lot of walking out in the cold. I hope that this will help keep someone's neck warm and spirits up!

Also donated to the same box is this cute little helix-striped hat worked up in worsted weight scraps. The pink is Berroco Vintage, the green is Spud & Chloe Sweater, and the yellow is a bit of Red Heart Super Saver left over from my latest Gryffindor scarf. Surprisingly, these yarns look well together, and I was pleased with the result. I added a feather hair clip that I made myself for a bit of flair.

Still on the needles is a Cadence, from Knitty Deep Fall 2010. I've loved this sweater ever since it was first published! The aforementioned Lisbeth happened to gift me a sweater's worth of the very yarn called for in the pattern, and in a color I just love! So I had to make this happen. It's something I've sort of squeezed in an hour or two on, in between other things; at this point I have only the sleeves left. Unfortunately, I have just two and a half balls of yarn left to knit two long sleeves out of, so I'm going to have to find someone to buy a couple of extra skeins off of. If you happen to have any Elsebeth Lavold Silky Flamme in Brandy, dye lot 45321, please give me a shoutout, won't you? I'd appreciate it! This has been modified from the original pattern (which I usually do not do when working from others' patterns), and I'll be posting more about that a bit later on. I'm excited to get it finished and start wearing it!

That's it for now; the next thing going on my needles is my showpiece for Anzula Luxury Yarns, which will be on display during the February TNNA in Long Beach. What's been on your needles lately?

Hunter Hammersen giveaway update! I never heard from schwip, so I'm drawing a new winner for Rabble Rousers, and it's Kenyetta! Congrats, girl! Give me a shoutout at Sarah AT sexyknitter.com or over on Ravelry as TheSexyKnitter, and let me know your mailing address! If I don't hear from you by  December 14, I'll have to pick another winner. :)


Film Costuming for the Oscars 001: The Artist

I'm basically obsessed with film costumes. I cannot go to the pictures any more without becoming so distracted by what the characters are wearing that I forget to pay attention to the story (no, really!). Keeping track of the actual movie becomes exponentially harder for me in any film that features hand knits (almost every movie now), high-end fashions (think, Sex & The City), or couture work (frequently seen in sci-fi films and period pieces). My love for this type of clothing manifests itself in my own work through pieces like Lady Sybil and my Sexy Jumpsuit.

 Lady Sybil, inspired by Downton Abbey

Sexy Jumpsuit, created for Vogue's Magic of Mohair contest

Next year, I plan to do more work like this, with the intention of moving into full-time couture work sometime in the next couple of years. It's long been a dream of mine to be able to work in film costuming, and even though that dream is somewhat of a long shot, I thought I would start by educating myself about the costumes Hollywood loves. Enter this new blog series, which I'm going to title "Film Costuming for the Oscars". See, I've decided to make it my goal to watch every movie nominated for an Academy Award in Best Costuming in the last ten years. I thought I would go in reverse chronological order, which means that up first is 2011's Academy Award Winner for Best Costuming (along with a whole bunch of other things, including Best Picture), The Artist. If you have Netflix, it's currently available to watch that way, at least for now. While I don't intend this column to be a movie review, I will say that I found this movie fairly interesting, from an artistic point of view. Filming a silent movie in black and white (okay, it was actually filmed in color and then translated into black & white later on) in the 21st century? That takes gumption.

Okay, on to the good stuff!


Film: The Artist

Costume Director: Mark Bridges.

Of Note:
  • This film was costumed in just eight weeks - fairly typical timing for a Hollywood production.
  • Many of Peppy's costumes were newly sewn from vintage dresses used as patterns.
  • George's costumes were a mix of newly made and altered, existing suits.
  • Extras were clothed in authentic vintage pieces that contained wear or damage typically found in antique garments.
  • The coat that Peppy dances with in George's dressing room was altered for the scene; a large gusset was added under the arm to accommodate for Peppy's movements.
  • Although the final film was black and white, some of the costumes were made in colors because of the variation of greyscale on screen.
  • LeLuxe Clothing, which provided a few of Peppy's costumes for this film, will also be providing some costumes for the upcoming The Great Gatsby (and if that film doesn't take the Oscar for Best Costuming next year, I'll eat one of Peppy's hats).

Additional reading: From Sketch to Still: Lush Costumes and Art-Deco Set of The Artist (Vanity Fair); Interview with Mark Bridges (Clothes on Film); Movies: The 20's Roaring Again (LA Times)

Favorites From the Film:

This appears to be silk chiffon (my alltime favorite). It is simplicity in itself, but I love the shape and movement of it!
 This piece was purchased from an online retailer (which means you can buy your own) and modified by Mark for the film. I love the idea of modifying existing garments, and have been doing a lot of that myself this year.

 This was onscreen for mere seconds, but was too fantastic not to mention. Look at that SKIRT! Look at the BEADING!


 The millinery in this film was incredible. I felt like I was pausing the screen every 3 minutes to stare at another gorgeous hat!

This coat caught my eye. The detail on the back is particularly creative!

It's worth mentioning that the men's costumes in this film were just as outstanding as the women's, and there were a LOT of men to costume.

Another great headpiece! Also, I'm thinking of cutting my hair like this.

Looking for the winners of Hunter Hammersen's giveaway? Random.org tells me that the winner of The Knitter's Curiosity Cabinet is IrishSapphire, and the winner of Rabble Rousers is schwip! Congrats, you two! You have until December 8th to email me (sarah AT sexyknitter.com) or send me a Ravelry message (TheSexyKnitter) to claim your prize. If I haven't heard from you by then, I'll have to draw a new winner!

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Things You Need: The Knitter's Curiosity Cabinet by Hunter Hammersen

Today's featured author is Hunter Hammersen, whose work you may already be familiar with through her wildly popular first book, Silk Road Socks. Today, though, I wanted to share with you a little bit about how much I like her latest couple of books, The Knitter's Curiosity Cabinet and Rabble Rousers. Let's start with Curiosity Cabinet, shall we?

This has such a gorgeous cover I've been leaving it out on my coffee table ever since it arrived!

This book contains twenty patterns, each inspired by a particular variety of flower or plant. What I find incredibly ingenious here is that there are two designs for every inspiration - one sock pattern, and one accessory pattern. Even better, instead of developing one stitch pattern and applying it to a pair of socks and a coordinating accessory, Hunter has actually taken the time to give each design has its own unique stitch pattern that relates back to the inspiration. Brilliant!

Pinus Silvestris Hat is one of my favorites

I particularly loved all of the little extra pretty things throughout, like the antique, hand-drawn illustrations depicting each of the inspirations. These are so pretty, you'll be tempted to rip them right out of the book and frame them! (But, you know....don't.)

The incredible collection of flora illustrations really makes this book quite special!

The front of the book has a lovely intro section all about the history of curiosity cabinets. Who knew that today's variety of decorative hutches had their beginning in science? Not I!

I am so happy to have added this book to my library; not only is it incredibly lovely to look at, but it also contains so many lovely patterns that I have a feeling I'll be referencing it often for quick gift knitting. I'm also thinking that I need a pair of these Dianthus Superbus Socks for myself!

Loasa Lateritia and Dianthus Superbus socks show off Hunter's interpretation of their namesakes

The Knitter's Curiosity Cabinet is available in hardback for $26.95 from Amazon, or as a digital eBook for $18.95 from Ravelry. About half of the patterns are also available individually for $6.00; check Ravelry for more details.

Also new from Hunter is her very newest book, Rabble Rousers. This is a 7-piece accessory collection in the same beautiful style as the previous book, this time in a much more condensed 24 pages.

Another gorgeous cover!

Talk about bang for your buck! This collection retails for only $12.95 in print or $10.95 for digital, and odds are, if you like one of these patterns, you like them all. (That Clamor cloche is really calling my name! The beauty!) Once again, each knit is styled and photographed absolutely beautifully, making this a book you'll really want to show off. 


Hunter has generously offered a print/digital combo of The Knitter's Curiosity Cabinet and Rabble Rousers to two lucky winners! To enter, leave a comment below stating which book you'd prefer to win.

If you're on Twitter and would like an extra entry, tweet the following:

"Enter to win a FREE copy of Knitter's Curiosity Cabinet or Rabble Rousers from @TheSexyKnitter & @HunterHammersen! http://tinyurl.com/huntergiveaway

Winners will be chosen via the Random Number Generator. I'll announce the winners on December 1st, and the winners will each have 3 days to claim their prize or I'll select someone else.


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Tutorial: Four Strand Braided Yarn Scarf

I looked over at my basket of leftover yarn the other day, and realized it was full to overflowing. Bits of this and a few yards of that were piling up in absurd quantities. I started asking myself that age-old question: "What am I going to do with all these leftovers?"

So many leftovers! What's a girl to do?

I know there are a lot of patterns out there that call for using leftover skeins. A lot of you are knitting up Beekeeper's Quilts or thinking about a Surplus Stripes, but those patterns call for a single weight of yarn. If you're like me, you have all different weights of yarn in a large variety of colors and fibers that wouldn't necessarily look great together in one project. What to do with those?

I decided to get a little crazy. I snatched up all my leftovers, grabbed a pair of scissors, and cleared out the floor of my studio. I wound up with the most amazing, luxurious, warm scarf ever:

And what do you wear with such a big scarf? Jeggings, thigh-high boots, and a heavily beaded tee, naturally!

 This project is fabulous for leftovers, because you can combine absolutely anything and it will still look great! I happened to have quite a few strips of felted cashmere that I added to mine, but I've also gotten great results by adding some ribbons and novelty yarns, too. Anything goes, and the more textures and colors you add, the better it looks! This style is right on trend for winter, and we're seeing a lot of these oversized scarves on catwalks all around the world. Of course, the more yarn you add, the thicker your finished scarf will be, so keep that in mind! I used a LOT of yarn and cashmere for the project pictured here, so if overly-huge catwalk scarves aren't your thing you will want to use less yarn. Just stop adding yarn when you can bundle the lot together and have the thickness you want!

So thick and warm! Wrap it around and around for an infinity scarf, or let it dangle.

Here's how you do it:

Step 1: Clear out a large section of clean flooring; you'll be using a space about 2 feet x 8.5 feet for your strips. Starting at one end of your space, roll out your leftovers into strips about 100 inches long, staggering them evenly across a space about 2 feet wide. When you get to the end of your ball and have a piece that's less than 100 inches, set it aside. You'll wind up with something that looks like this:

This is the step that takes the longest, but don't worry! The rest goes MUCH faster.

When you get this many colors together, they stop trying to match and just play nicely!

Step 2: Using one of the not-quite-100-inches piece that you set aside in Step 1, gather up all of the ends on one side about 12 inches down and tie tightly together, wrapping the yarn several times around the bundle. Knot yarn and let the ends hang down with the other tails. Do not tie the other side!

All bundled up!

Step 3: Gently separate your yarny bits into four fairly equal sections (don't overthink this; eyeballing it is fine). This may take some coaxing if you've used fibers that stick together, so be patient. The key word here is "gently"! Go slowly and you won't end up with a giant tangled mess.

Evenly divided sections (roughly)

Step 5: If you mentally divide the project down the middle longways, you'll see that you now have 2 sections with 2 strands each - 1 section on the left, and 1 section on the right. Take the right strand from each section and cross it over the top of the left strand from the same section. This is what you'll have:

Step 6: Now we're just going to focus on the center 2 strands. Take the left center strand and cross it over the top of the right center strand. Ignore the other 2 strands alltogether. It will look like this:

Step 7: Repeat Steps 5 and 6 until you have 12-14 inches of loose strands left. One thing that I found helpful in avoiding tangles during this process was to gently gather up the entire length of the strand I was crossing and lift it fully over the strand being crossed. If you attempt to cross just a portion of the srand, the yarns will become entangled and trust me, you don't want that.

You'll start to see the braid pattern emerge after just a few repeats

Stop when you have roughly the same amount of ends left as you bundled together in Step 2.

Step 8: Repeat Step 2, bundling the remaining loose ends of yarn. Trim ends on both sides and pat yourself on the back - you're all done!

I hope you've enjoyed this little tutorial and would love to hear from you if you decide to make a braided scarf of your own! No need to limit yourself to a 4-strand braid, either; this technique is easily applied to 3-strand braids and 5-strand braids, or any other braid you come across! Depending on the amount of yarn you decide to use, you should expect this project to take between 1-3 hours start to finish (mine took closer to 3). Can't wait to see what y'all come up with!

'Til next time, stay warm!
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Things You Need: Step It Up Knits by Vickie Howell

Ooooooh you guys, I got a copy of this book in the mail from the publisher, and it's one of those books that just made me go "Squee"! Vickie Howell has hit it out of the ballpark with her latest book, Step It Up Knits, chock-full of 25 beautifully styled knits for men, women, and children.

So many projects to pick from!

Vickie's signature girly-punk style comes across loud and clear all throughout this book, from the chic navy nail polish she sports in the techniques section (a fat 30 pages, including some unusual techniques like needle felting, below) to the funky-yet-wearable styling of the knits themselves. Even the font choices, book layout and paper choices all screamed "Vickie" to me! (Hot pink patterned endpapers, anyone? How fabulous!)
The techniques section is generous on photos and covers some techniques you might not already know! 

I know what you all want to know: What about the KNITS? Are they amazing? Are the photos going to make me want to knit them all, pronto? The answer to these questions is yes. Yes, you are, and they will. Take a peek at some of my favorites, below:
I love the way these socks are styled! Here, Leg Bone and  Sock It To Me are paired with cute booties and tights.

Every single pattern in this book was photographed with such jaw-droppingly gorgeous styling that I've become a fan of Vickie's all over again! I will say that this book sports a much different vibe than her previous books, so even if you weren't so much into those, I still think you're going to want to give this one a look. This book to me feels like a cross between Vogue's old Knit.1 magazines and an issue of Rowan. In my opinion, that's the best of both worlds, and I'm excited to have added this book to my library.

Boasting mostly accessories, the few garment patterns in this book are not to be overlooked. Here, Fair Weather, a fabulous Fair Isle cape, and Vested Interest, a textured-and-sequined layering piece.

This is a book you're going to want to set out on your coffee table and show off to the world. You'll also want to keep it handy for the upcoming gift-giving season, because there are a ton of quick-to-knit accessories here! I'm thinking I probably know someone who could use a Cable Ace or an iLace uLace...how about you?

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