posts tagged: san francisco

the spinster slouch

pepperknit | spinster slouch

Andy Goldsworthy’s art piece Wood Line inspired me to post a picture to Instagram with the caption “sinuous.” The Spinster Slouch by my friend Val is also most aptly described with that word. I love the way the ribbing seems to dart this way and that on the hat—achieved by crossing 9 stitches at a time.

pepperknit | spinster slouch

I grabbed this yarn—Malabrigo Arroyo in Regatta Blue—and cast on for the hat when I was on my way to the movies one Saturday. I worked on the ribbing on the subway and before the movie started, and then it was my go-to project for the week. The following Saturday I cast off, a finished hat in hand. I worked the cable crossings 4 times because I didn’t read the pattern closely enough and worked the first crossing too soon, and then I wanted the ribbing to be back to normal before I decreased for the crown (this would make sense if you were knitting it). Also with this yarn and needle combo (size 5 needles), it needed that extra length. I wanted a toque more than a slouch in any case, and my yarn was not nearly as drapey as the luxury blend of silk and yak that Val used in the original.

pepperknit | spinster slouch

The hat proved quite useful on a trip to San Francisco, where despite the May date it was frigid at times (note my wool coat!), and particularly on this morning at the Presidio to visit Goldsworthy’s art pieces. (He has 3 others in the park; one was closed to the public because it was a weekday and we hadn’t called ahead, but the other two were easy to see.) Photos were taken by my old friend and professional photographer Andrea Ismert, who I got to spend the day with!

plantain tee

Maggie told me to make it, so I did. She’s never led me astray before, and I’m so pleased with the results of letting her boss me around!

pepperknit | plantain tee

She specifically said to make a Plantain Tee (free with newsletter sign up!) in a bamboo jersey. When I was at Mood shopping for fabric for a dress to wear to a wedding, I stumbled upon the bamboo jersey section. When I got a staff member to cut the dress fabric for me I spontaneously said, “and let’s add a yard of something from over here… how about that one,” picking a color somewhat blindly. Yes, it’s in the teal family—what else? I gravitate to that color when I’m looking for color, what can I say.

Turns out to make the Plantain in any sleeve length but short you actually need more than a yard, but I didn’t know that, so I’m glad I only wanted short sleeves anyway right now! I cut the pieces out using the pattern pieces for the size 40 in the bust and the 42 for the hips, just grading it out as smoothly and evenly as I could. The bamboo was kind of slippery and quite stretchy, so getting the fabric set for cutting was somewhat stressful, but it seems to have gone well enough.

I used my serger to sew all the seams, and that went very smoothly. I didn’t topstitch the collar because the seam sat flat, and I don’t really have the best tools for topstitching. That’s why I had major issues with the hemming: turns out I am kind of terrible at hemming. When I made my Union St. Tee, I did a zigzag for the hems, and it came out great with no effort at all. So I guess I thought it would always be that simple. I secured all the hems on this Plantain with the zigzag, and wow it looked like utter crap. I sent Maggie a photo and she suggested it might “block out,” to use a knitter’s parlance, but I really thought I just did a bad job. So I picked out all of the hems and redid them, using just a long straight stitch, my walking foot, and extra care to not stretch the fabric AT ALL. The extra time to pick out the stitching was frustrating but definitely worth it, because the hems are drastically improved.

pepperknit | plantain tee

In the end, it’s pretty successful! It’s amazingly comfy, I think the deep scoop is flattering but not too revealing, and I definitely will want ones in other sleeve lengths. (I’m not sure about the elbow patches—looks cute, yes, but I fear my skills in sewing them down will just make them look like I hurriedly covered actual holes or something.) I don’t exactly know what’s happening on the back in that photo—it looks like it’s pulling in odd ways? But then, we’d just gone up and down a ton of stairs and were sweaty and maybe that was affecting it. Jason says it looked pretty normal when not frozen in a photo.

I wore it today as we explored the Sutro Baths and Land’s End in San Francisco. I’m a loyal (obsessed?) listener of 99% Invisible, so I’d heard the episode about the Sutro Baths. I honestly thought, from the podcast, that they would be remote, requiring some effort to find, and you’d not really be able to walk all over them—but I was very wrong. They’re part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area (“Sutro District”), so there’s an info center and free bathrooms, and paths all around. Sure, it’s on the far western edge of the city, but we just hopped on the 38 R bus down Geary and it took us right to them! The ruins are on the edge of Land’s End, which has paths leading to amazing views of the Golden Gate Bridge. It was a fun place to visit on our first day of a trip to SF.

pepperknit | sutro baths

pepperknit | seal rocks

pepperknit | land's end

pepperknit | plantain tee

reversible rib shawl

This pattern is a real blast from the past for me. I remember seeing both Rachel and Laura‘s versions six and seven years ago. I want to refer to them as if you’ve all seen them, but that’s probably not likely, is it? Just because that time of my life is vivid in my mind doesn’t make it so for everyone else. It’s not as if I can say “you know that pattern that everyone is knitting?” anymore. They did it years and years ago. Neither of them even blogs anymore! I’m the one who’s super late to the game. I even started knitting this shawl a year or more ago; in some ways I’m late even to my own game!

But let’s ignore all that because this is just a really pretty pattern, and I finished it, and I wore it, so it’s time to blog it. Lily Chin’s Reversible Cabled Rib Shawl, from Vogue Knitting’s Winter 1999–2000 issue. (I must point out that it’s my friends’ photos that are used as the project photos for that pattern on Ravelry. It’s not as if they were tiny blips in the history of this pattern.) It’s most magical when viewed through sunlight, I think.

I had the perfect yarn (Mango Moon’s Capra, in fog) and no real deadline, so I started knitting it last summer, just to have something on the needles and a potential shawl to wear to an event if one came up. It was great mindless knitting, perfect for working on at lunch at work. Other projects took priority, so it sat around, but wasn’t far from my mind. Then we got the invite to go to San Francisco for a friend’s wedding, and where else do you need a nice warm wrap, ideally in a color called “fog”?

In the week before we left I pulled it out, worked on it for a few more hours, and got it to an acceptable length so I could bind it off and bring it along (I never measured it, just wrapped it around me with the needles in). I got to block it with a real steamer while on a photo shoot, which was a nice bonus, as I’m not sure my iron could have handled it. I did modify the pattern, casting on one fewer repeat across to make it narrower because I didn’t want it to completely overwhelm me.

Jason and I headed out onto the pier behind the Embarcadero, where the reception was held, to do this quick photo shoot. It was downright COLD out there! Having the shawl was entirely necessary. The rest of the weekend I wore a jacket and even my Stripe Study, it was so chilly. Perfect weather for a really perfect weekend. It was Jason’s first visit to SF, which I’ve been to dozens of times, and it was fun to be touristy and see all the sights. We are eager to go back for more tacos and more visits with friends!