Tuesday, May 22, 2007


[Meerkat, colored pencil on textured paper, Iris G 2007]

The first real Meerkat (Timon doesn't count) I saw was from a National Geographic magazine, which I grabbed and paid even without checking out other articles. They are unbelievably cute and, according to the researchers at Kalahari Desert in southern Africa, highly socialized and very smart. For example, there are groups of youngsters who run the kindergartens/schools, where they look after the little babies and teach them various hunting skills. The lessons are even personalized; it takes less time for a smart baby meerkat to graduate from the school.

I spent the Sunday afternoon and evening sewing my meerkat, then some more time on Monday to do the fine embroidery for his eyes and nose. His name is Mango.

That's a tree seedling in the pouch he's holding. No, Mango is not a tree-hugger; he is a tree-planter instead. When he rests, he dreams that one day the desert will be all covered with trees and flowers.

Initially I wanted to practice my paper-folding skills and let him hold a huge silk daisy or calla lily. Then suddenly this tree seedling idea came to me, and I could not resist it... One of my friends once said that art is all about individual expression and it is "me", but sometimes I think art (and craft) can be more than that. And I have never been a fan of dark arts. On the contrary, I am a believer of sunshine, trees, birds and cats, and all other warm and beautiful things in life.

I'm thinking about auctioning Mango the hand-sewn meerkat and donate a portion to a tree planting organization. A little more research should be done and I need to find a way to do it efficiently. If you have any good suggestions, please leave me a message or email me at irisknits@yahoo.com. If you are interested in adopting Mango, please check back in a few days for more information, or contact me. Thank you!

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Casual Saturday II

I went shopping today, and guess what did I find?

Chocolates and Marzipan with super cute packaging! The Godiva dark chocolate "pearls" are already half-gone; I can't stop playing with the little tin. It's too short (3") to be a needle holder, but I'll find a job for it soon.

When I was little, my mother had to bribe me with KitKats so I'd agree to see a dentist. Chocolates still make me smile; go get some, and you'll be smiling too ;-).

Friday, May 18, 2007

Indigo Flowers

All right, I confess that no modification has been made on the alpaca mitts yet, I have been very busy this week! However, I'm grateful for all the suggestions, and will try lacy/eyelet rib and twisted rib sometime this weekend and report back ;-).

Somehow I did find time to disassemble the Calmer bolero...pure pleasure. That's for my first project at the CAL, where you have to use one of the listed yarns... I won't say that I prefer to design with any limitation, it's just that I happen to have some Calmer (and KSH) in my stash, and people at the CAL are really cool.

Now the detailed design process begins. [This is what I like, you document the process and try to verbalize it for others, then ask and answer questions and see how it goes.]

Currently I am into the concept of Contrast. Simplicity versus Extravagance. Casual versus Formal. Night versus Day. And the seemingly opposite elements must be united in one wearable design.

My first inspiration came from the Hermès SS07 collection. Below are some pieces that I particularly liked.

[The photos do not belong to me, and here they are used only for commenting reasons. And why do they look soooo depressed in such beautiful dresses?]

The first two handkerchief dresses are reminiscent of their SS05 collection As the river flows, an out-worldly ethereal collection featuring porcelain white chiffon dresses with fine indigo print.

Porcelain white and indigo: that's the second inspiration.

Fine china, my true love. Such intricate and beautiful tonal effects are achieved with a single color. Another example can be seen here; they are basically the same.

The original name for the white porcelain with indigo paintings is Indigo Flowers. By the way, for some unknown reason the formal translation is Blue and White Porcelain, or White and Blue Porcelain. What unimaginative names...

Anyway, that's how I decided to make a long flowy vest with a simple cut. [Look at the third shot from Hermès, my cut should be as clean. And the length should be shorter than the one in the fourth shot...not too long.] The Indigo Flowers porcelain will be interpreted by using a dusty indigo colored DK yarn (Calmer, that is) as the bones, or the background of the vest, and a silver/pewter colored lace yarn (Zephyr, in this case) to fill in as the flowers. The reason why I did not pick true indigo/cobalt blue and pure white is that I want the vest to be casual yet ladylike.

The idea of combining yarns of different weight is doable if the two can be worked on a same needle size. And I guess you've already got the solution: work the light one in a lace pattern. In this case, this is a perfect solution, for lace is what I want: light and cool to wear, elegant, stretchy. And a good lace pattern can mimic the filigree flowers on a porcelain vase.

The fifth Hermès shot echoes my idea; wispy lace looks lovely with a solid colored vest...as if it gets protected?

[Click to see a larger picture. Hey that's not me, I do not look like her!]

You see, I love the color combination--one can still see the reference to porcelain, but it's quite subtle and misty now.

The back is not shown in the sketch above; I plan to use a large area of lace. The vest can then be worn with everything backless or strappy, thus making a day-to-night transition smooth easy. I'll see if I can get that shawl effect.

That's all I have for now. Feedback, please! You see, I am supposed to answer questions regarding this design ;-).

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Two UFOs

I just realized that it's been a while since I talked about the UFOs in the house. There are actually quite a few, but, like Macavity, they tend to be very mysterious--

But I tell you once and once again,
Macavity's not there!

[Macavity is my all time favorite from the famous book. I've always wanted to sew one for myself. Someday it shall be done.]

The truth is, I have a huge grey tank and several dark-colored boxes hidden in my attic...where the UFOs live undisturbed. But, alas, every time I visit my LYSs, or go online shopping, I sense their presence and wrath and can't help feeling a bit uneasy.

The first UFO should have become a bolero, had my fervor not burned out before all the seams were sewn.

The yarn used were Rowan Calmer and Classic Elite Patina. Like everyone else, I adore Calmer. Patina, on the other hand, is a so-so summer yarn which splits.

Now that I become a brand-new member of Create Along, I have a good reason to resurrect this beautiful yarn. I can enjoy the tactile pleasure of knitting with Calmer once again.

Sketches and progress will be posted both here and at the CAL, so stay tuned ;-)!

The other UFO is merely two days old. I once bought a ball of Lenox from WEBS, when it first came out. It's baby alpaca soft, but I cannot say I am a big fan of alpaca. Then a couple of days ago, I picked it up for a quick bedtime project, thinking that maybe I should design a pair of beginner mittens, knitted on two straight needles with minimum skill requirements.

My plan was to start with a lacy edging which then becomes a rib pattern. And the two mitts should be identical, like EZ's Norwegian Mitts. I even named them Latte. [Is this crazy? I name most of my knits!]

It did not work out...

Help please, I really need some help. Now it doesn't look right to me, with all these ribs going up and looking bulky--not in a cozy way. What changes do you think could rescue it?

Thank you in advance--I appreciate your help, or just any opinions on this UFO.


Monday, May 14, 2007

Pencil Sketch camisole pattern, size S for now

Whew! It has been more complex than I thought--all those shapings. After looking up the guideline compiled by Craft Yarn Council of America, I decided that Pencil Sketch should be called an Experienced pattern.

If you wonder what the guideline looks like, here's a sample.

I need more time tweaking the instructions for larger sizes, so please bear with me if you feel somewhat disappointed. Please check back later and I'll do my best. [The truth is, I am allergic to many kinds of pollen and a field trip on Saturday made me uncomfortable.] Coming back to our topic--if you happen to wear a size S, or feel comfortable modifying/resizing patterns, or just want to get the flavor of the basic pattern, please help yourself and download it here. I, as always, will be happy to answer your questions ;-).

This is the hyperlink to the .pdf pattern downloading page:

I wish to thank all of you who had encouraged me to write up a pattern for the tank.
The dandelion says: Have a great day!

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Casual Saturday

I don't have much to say about knitting today, for I am working on the Pencil Sketch pattern. And there are some "secret projects" that cannot be talked about at the moment. So I thought for a while about what to post, then decided to show you some prints of paintings that I LOVE. These are all done by one artist about three hundred years ago. I do not even dream about creating beauties like these or anything close, but then, he lived a simple life and expressed all his feelings through painting (and some calligraphy, too), a lifestyle that I know I can never practice.

By the way, these paintings of flowers make unique mother's day e-cards.

The exaggeration and humor in the painting below really captured me.

Have you noticed that little bird?

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Knitting for men; Sky Scarf Pattern

[Sky is the blue/cream one on the right.]
It's no secret that men are hard to please when it comes to handknits. As far as I know, there are several books on this topic, such as Men in Knits: Sweaters to Knit That He Will Wear and Never Knit Your Man a Sweater(Unless You've Got the Ring). Both books are very cleverly written, and most of the featured patterns are classic and practical.

If I summarize what I have learned over the years, there are a few basic, foolproof points.

1. Always ask before starting to knit. Most men do not wear a hand knitted tie.

2. Make him specify what he likes in great detail.

3. Use soft, basic, machine-washable yarn in safe/classic/boring colors that match his wardrobe.

4. Take measurements and modify the pattern for a tailored fit.

5. Get him to try the WIP at every stage.

That's all... and welcome, my friends, to add more to the list!

Men and women are from different planets, and the way we look at clothes and accessories reflect the differences. Women's fashion is composed of many elements--original ideas, ever-changing color palettes, fancy textures and shapes, decorative details, etc, etc. Men's fashion, on the contrary, is all about quality fabrics and fine tailoring.

How many sweaters, cardigans, and camisoles do I have? I don't know, I just keep buying more. And I always ruefully recollect the ones that I did not buy. How many sweaters and vests does Leopard have? Less than ten. And he always says no when I beg him to try a new one. But even Leopard likes a well tailored, hand knitted vest which he wears to work. Of course it took much longer than any of my sweaters to knit. But for me, it's rewarding to see him wearing it, knowing that it will accompany him for many years.


Sky Scarf Pattern

You can download the free pattern here, in .pdf format, for personal and/or non-profitable use.

This is the hyperlink to the pattern downloading page:

As usual, if you prefer copying and editing, just help yourself here:


Iris G
The name of this scarf, as you may have guessed, comes from the colors. Knitted from three skeins of an Aran weight, easy-care yarn in a rib pattern, Sky makes an excellent guy’s scarf. [This one has seen 4 long winters already.] Use serious colors such as grey, black, and/or navy to make a dressy scarf, or pick some fun color for a playful one.

Skill Level

Finished Size
Length: 50 inches (127 cm)
Width: 6.5 inches (16 cm), unstretched

• Approximately 150 yards (135 m) of Aran weight yarn in color A; 77 yards (70 m) of aran weight yarn in color B. Shown in Filatura Di Crosa Zara Plus (wool, 77 yd/70m per 1.75oz/50g ball), 2 balls in #02 off-white, 1 ball in #04 light blue
• One pair size 8 (5 mm) needles, or size to obtain gauge

14 stitches and 20 rows = 4 inches (10 cm) over Stockinette stitches

k, p – knit, purl
st, sts – stitch, stitches
RS, WS – right side, wrong side

With color A, cast on 30 sts.
Row 1 (RS): P2, k3, p2, k4, p2, k4, p2, k4, p2, k3, p2.
Row 2 (WS): K2, p3, k2, p4, k2, p4, k2, p4, k2, p3, k2.
Repeat the two rows for rib pattern throughout.
Work until piece measures 15 inches (38 cm) or until there are a few yards of A left, end with a WS row.
Join color B, work two rows with B.
Change to A and work two rows.
Repeat the above four rows twice more. Cut off A and work with B for 15 inches (38 cm), end with a WS row.
Join another ball of color A, work two rows with A.
Change to B and work two rows.
Repeat the above four rows twice more. Cut off B and work with A for 15 inches (38 cm).
Bind off in rib pattern.

Weave in ends. Block lightly if desired.


© Iris G 2007 – All rights reserved
Visit Iris at http://irisgknits.blogspot.com/ for more designs and discussions.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Water Lilies Gloves Pattern

A pair of beaded fingerless gloves with knitted picot edging. The lace pattern resembles the beautiful flower, and the crystal beads shimmer like little drops of dew. Knitted in a lace weight silk/merino yarn on size 4 needles, Water Lily is quick to knit and comfortable to wear.

Finished Size

To fit average sized woman’s hand (size 6 to 7)

Palm circumference: 6 inches (15 cm)

Length: 5.5 inches (14 cm)

The overall lace pattern makes the gloves stretchy.


• Approximately 100 yards (90 m) of lace weight yarn. Shown in JaggerSpun Zephyr 2/18 lace weight (wool/silk, 630 yd/570 m per 2 oz/60g skein), 1 skein in violet
• One set of size 4 (3.5 mm) double pointed needles
• Stitch marker
• Tapestry needle
• Small amount of waste yarn
• Approximately 100 glass/crystal beads in lilac, azure blue, and lime green or colors of your choice
• Beading needle

Skills needed

Cast on, bind off, knit in the round, knit stitches, decreases, pick up stitches.


$4.75 - you will be sent a link to download the pattern as a .pdf file (160 kb).

Thank you,


Sunday, May 6, 2007

Water Lilies (2007)

Water lilies, beads on silk/merino, 2007, is in full bloom after blocking. Unfortunately, as I said before, it is quite impossible to capture the dance of the sunlight on those crystal beads.

Frankly, I can't be more pleased with this design. The length and the fit are just right, and I like the contrast between color and texture of yarn and beads. The very subtle picot edging brings both decoration and elasticity to the cast off edges.

To my disappointment, my mother does not want another pair of indoor gloves. Maybe it's because she hasn't seen them yet? Water lily is one of her favorite flowers, and she always likes silk. I hope she'd change her mind when she opens the gift box next Sunday.

We went to a friend's place for dinner yesterday, and as a result, I did not finish the pattern for the gloves. The mysterious WIP cannot be called a FO, either. I can't believe no one of you have replied... all right, I'll show it next time, and the blog contest stays open for another two days. The winner gets to pick a pattern, be it Aegean or Water Lilies. Hi there, give it a try!

Friday, May 4, 2007

I'll just call it a day

Now all that I want is another shot of espresso...

The new design is not completely done yet, although I have been working on it for the entire evening; approximately 5 hours. Look at this huge mess! it's my signature behavior to cover my work area with materials and notions. Apart from what you can see, there are skeins and balls on the floor, and several huge reference books lying around. Sometimes I myself find it hard to believe ;-).

Now I got an idea. The work-in-progress can be seen in the photo, it's the blue/brown thing with buttons on it. Can you guess what it is?

The first one who provide the correct, or close enough answer will get the octopus bag pattern (in pdf format, via email) for free. Because the pattern for Water Lilies has been written and only needs proofreading and formatting, you can pick that one, too. Water Lilies gloves are also on the table, I'll have to block them tomorrow.

The correct answer will be given on Sunday. By then the WIP should have been finished, and I'll post photos of the FO, so you can check back!

Going to my moka pot! By the way, my favorite is Arabian Mocha Sanani. What kind of coffee do you like?


May 07 Update:

On Knitter's Review Forums, Kim posted her little girl's answer: Peter Rabbit.

My friends, I give you Peter! He is actually a crayon and stationery box, I'm lining him now with calico fabric. I wish to say Thank You to all of you who had played, it's so much fun! Please come back to see Peter as a FO soon ;-).

Have a great day!


Thursday, May 3, 2007

Feeling Crafty

Have you noticed that I finally have an avatar? A kingfisher, that is. Entirely hand sewn. By me!

I believe it's the weather. Spring has finally arrived in my little town, the air infused with sweet, sweet acacia scent. Birds are singing everywhere, and look like they are taking their time enjoying the breeze and the sunshine. Daytime gets longer-- a bit more time for me to knit and sew. Lovely.

Kingfisher is among my favorite bird species. Joyful, swift, smart, and look at their shiny colorful outfits! What I particularly like is that they decorate the interior of their nests with fish bones selected from their dinner table; they must be so proud of themselves.

Here, K is resting himself in the shade of the needle holder.

Birds' talk:

The Lord of the Eagles: "What is finer than flying?"

K: "Why, fishing!"

Beware my friends, more sewing-related stuff, especially FOs, might be coming!

Now back to knitting. Now and then I take a look at the number of downloads of my Malabrigo gloves pattern. Although I haven't received any feedback yet, I'm glad to see the number rising. Recently I also have done a design for Hand Jive Knits, in Darlene's beautiful merino fingering yarn.

So, in the mood for designing and knitting gloves, I started this:

This is one of those knits that have a name far before they are finished. Water Lily for one, and Water Lilies for a pair. Petals, color, crystal beads. Mood.

I used to think that there is no such thing as "the photo doesn't do it justice"; now I have to buy it. Well over thirty shots, and the glistening crystals are all laughing at me... I give up, Water Lily!

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Natural knitting

If you have been here before, you'd know that I love natural fibers and textures. My hands can tell the differences, and there is a very close and intimate feeling which had grown from my childhood days.

Therefore it is needless to say how happy I am to see the return of eco-friendly processed yarns and fabrics this year. Most fashion and craft magazines even featured "go green" themes. [Take a look at this and this.] Like other newly developed products, their price tags are generally high, and their color selection, styles and inventories often limited. Nevertheless, the growing market demand should help reducing cost in near future.

Last Saturday I talked about plans to swatch sample skeins from Sarah. The first one I picked up was this naturally processed, coffee-dyed lace linen from Punta del Este Yarns. My hands liked the texture so much that soon a supposed-to-be-simple swatch became this:

The color and strength of the linen allured me into making a crate/box that can stand on its own. I thought, if it wouldn't stand up straight, I could dip it in starch solution to get it right. And since I love lace, a lace panel went in there.

Then it came to the point when the box needed a strong rectangular base. Paper folding helped me get a doable solution. I made a flap from one side, then did some three-needle bind off all around--voila!

I always smile at this shot. Sleeping peacefully is a mini skein of silk.

And that was a warm and lazy April afternoon...