22 November 2010

Face It

A while ago, I started a different blog to talk about another of my ongoing interests/ hobbies/ obsessions/ whatever. I've been interested in dolls in some capacity or another for most of my life & it's an interest that doesn't seem to be in danger of waning anytime soon. It's one of my several hobbies that elicit responses like "Oh, my Grandma used to do that!". Let me tell you, there are few things that make a single man feel sexier than hearing that response to one of his hobbies...but I digress.

My usual thought is something like, "I promise you that my dolls and knitting are not like those of your Grandma," but that is neither here nor there. As Davitron pointed out to me one day, my dolls--for the most part--aren't 'cabinet babies' or items that are purely for collecting and display. I'm pretty selective about which dolls I buy (for several reasons), and I tend to do a good bit of research into a type or brand of doll before I decide whether to buy one of that group. Beyond that, I usually make stuff for them. I made Irena's dress in the picture above, for example, and I've knitted more than a couple of doll-sized sweaters. Since they are, in many ways, another venue for me to be creative, I decided to stop compartmentalising and post everything here. Because, seriously, keeping up with more than one "serious" blog is more than I can deal with right now.  ;o)

The dolls in this post are Asian Ball-Jointed Dolls, often called ABJD's or BJD's for short. Dolls are usually sold naked, bald, and without facepaint or a "faceup", as it's called among BJD enthusiasts. Wigs & eyes are interchangeable and are available from various sources. Most companies make clothes that fit their dolls, and there are several 'standard sizes' of dolls, so it's also common for companies that don't make dolls to make clothes designed to fit dolls of any of the standard sizes. The faceups and aesthetic work (such as Ismael's body hair) in the pics above were done by someone else, who I commissioned to do the work. Tonight, I had my first go at trying a faceup of my own.

The subject is this "Lotus" head from Doll Zone. I got the head in a trade with another doll collector, since I wanted a blank head to practice my faceup skills, and he wanted the autographed standee I won at Dolpa in NYC. Here she is without eyes (yikes!).

Here she is with eyes for the benefit of those who are skeeved out by dolls in the best of circumstances (it probably doesn't help a whole lot, since this is still a pic of a head without a body, but I'm making my best effort here. ;o) ). People use different media for faceups, from high quality acrylic paints, to chalk pastels, to airbrush paints, to colored pencils. The guy who did Irena & Ismael's aesthetic work used pencils and chalk pastels, so I thought I'd give those a try.

As is the case with most skills, those who are good at it make it look much easier than it is. I had watched the guy do at least part of the faceup for both of my kids, and left thinking, "Oh, it's just like coloring! I can totally do that!" Suffice to say, it's just quite just like coloring.

Tonight was mostly about getting experience working with this surface & media, which I've never done before on either account. The lipcolor isn't a color I'm likely to use in a faceup I actually want to keep; it was just the best option I had on hand & I wanted to see how I might go about applying color to lips on a mouth that doesn't open & is made from an unyielding material like resin.

The cheek blushing barely shows in these pics, but it's my favorite part of this faceup by far. LOL  Overall, I'm pleased with it as a first attempt, but I definitely need to do a couple more practice runs before I try to execute a 'final' faceup on Pakko (the lovely tan guy with Irena in the first pic) or Chico (modeling the tiny hoodie in my previous post).

This was definitely the first attempt of many, & ultimately I think it looks like this will head in a direction I can be pleased with.

02 November 2010

Heavy Flow Days

A lot has happened since my last blog post. A lot more than you may think if this blog were the only glimpse into my life. I've scrambled to re-enter the world of Day Jobs, moved back to the West Coast, reconnected with a million and one people, & gotten a new perspective on more than a few things.

The 16 months prior were rough, delicious, necessary & unforgettable. Is there another way to describe living in New York City?

Since I've been back in Portland, I've felt a resurgence in the flow of my creative energy (hence the vaguely irreverent title of this post). 

I've never been one to knit for people who are not me. Some would attribute this to my Astrological sign, some would say it's because I'm the oldest, some might say it's because I'm kind of a jerk. Maybe they're all right. However, here are a couple of shots of stuff I churned out for some special guys.

Pattern: Prototype for an upcoming design
Yarn: Dream in Color Classy in "Plum Paisley"
Needles: Addi Turbo Circulars in size US7

This is a prototype for an upcoming pattern. This particular beanie is shorter than what the final design will be, since that is how the intended recipient likes to wear his beanies. I was inspired by the color (his favorite) and wanted to use a stitch pattern that would highlight the luscious variegation in this yarn while visually breaking up the colors enough that there wouldn't be much in the way of pooling.

Pattern: Prototype for an upcoming pattern
Yarn: Malabrigo Sock Yarn in "Cordovan"
Needles: Hiya Hiya bamboo DPN's in size US0

Pardon the crappy blackberry pic, but I haven't had the chance to finish this particular hoodie, let alone set up a proper photo shoot. This little hoodie is knit seamlessly (is there any other way to knit a pullover?) at a finer gauge than I ever thought I'd willingly use. I'm working out some of the shaping and construction finessing that I'll have to use on the final design, but it'll keep Chico warm enough, even if parts of the fit are a bit wonky for now.

Here's a progress shot of Chico modeling the hoodie when it was just a pullover and didn't have a hood yet. He's such a good sport about it!  ;o)

15 August 2010

I'm Still Here, I Promise!

Hi! It's me, TricotChico...not sure if you remember me? I knit, & sometimes I write about it? I try to post pictures? You remember! Yay! =oD It's been quite a while since my last post--.longer than I ever wanted to have between posts, but y'know, sometimes creativity just flows in different ways & it's best to go with it. My creativity has been flowing in directions that don't always involve yarn, though it has definitely been on my mind. But, I digress...

My mind has been a lot of places lately, with many things going on & many changes afoot. Among the places (times?) my went was Medieval Europe, & I was considering creating a series of knits inspired by aspects of Medievalia that capture my imagination. So far, I'm working on a piece inspired by chain maille. 

Of course, my mind isn't content with one idea for too terribly long (see previous, re: a million little hobbies), & now I'm considering a group of pieces inspired by varying aspects of different eras. Every decade or so has its notable styles & shapes, no?

I'll do my best to write more about my knitting at a shorter interval than this post came, but I'm making another cross-country move in a few weeks. This time I'm going back the way I came & returning to Portland from NYC. Hopefully, it'll be a good move, & as long as there's yarn, how can it not be?

Hasta luego, my little TricotPhiles.

29 June 2010

So Much Beauty (Growing) in Dirt

I have a lot of hobbies. Like, a lot of hobbies. My dad used to say that I lose interest too easily, but I think it would have been more accurate to say that I gain interest too easily. When I see something that intrigues me, I want to know all about. 'Ravenous' would be an apt word to describe my manner when I'm exploring or researching a new topic that excites me. 

Miniature African Violet "Rob's Squeeze Toy"

For a long time now...twenty or so years at this point (file under: "things you realise that make you suddenly feel old"), one of those interests has been flower gardening. Living, as I do, in a Brooklyn apartment with no dirtspace at my convenience, this has come to mean "container flower gardening". Fortunately for all involved, I rather enjoy growing several kinds of plants that are quite content to grow in a little plastic pot, one of them being African Violets.

African Violet species Saintpaulia ionantha

Who knows why we are drawn to the things that we are. For me, I think these little plants charmed me with their near-endless profusion of flowers that freaking sparkle--not in a dumb Twilight-ey way--when you look at them up close. If you've never noticed this before, I highly recommend that you check for yourself next time you see African Violets in a reasonably well-lit room (& some varieties 'sparkle' more than others). Regardless of where it began, though, I was more than smitten when I stumbled upon the photo archives of the African Violet Society of America. It wasn't long before I was hunting down sources to buy young plants & leaves of my favorite varieties.

Miniature African Violet "Rob's Squeeze Toy"

The pics I've shared here are all (coincidentally, I didn't plan this, I swears it!) plants that I grew from leaf cuttings. Some of my absolute favorites are not in bloom at the moment, but that just gives me a reason to make another post like this down the road, no?  ;o)  

Miniature African Violet "Honey Blue Ace"

Like the African Violets we're all likely familiar with, these are mostly hybrids of different Saintpaulia sp. varieties that have been in cultivation for decades. The one exception in my collection is Saintaulia ionantha, which I've always loved as an example of tropes like "less is more", "classic beauty" & other things that mean that something doesn't have to be super complicated in order to be interesting & beautiful.

African Violet "Funambule"

I hope you've enjoyed this mini-tour of what's happening on my plant rack right now. I promise, there will be talk of knitting again soon. ;o)

22 June 2010

Happy Birthday, Etsy!

Last Friday (18 June 2010) was Etsy's craft party in celebration of their 5th Birthday. I had never been to one of their craft parties before, so I wasn't sure what to expect. Also, I neglected to bring my camera. (sad trumpet sound here). Needless to say, it was lots of fun & I definitely hope to make their craft parties a part of my regular social repertoire.

The party was held at the "Etsy Lab", as they call their offices in Brooklyn, New York. In addition to the DJ & snax (they provided a yummy spread to round out the tasty nibbles that partygoers brought to share), there were several stations set up with supplies for assorted craft projects, sitting areas, a photostation, & lots of crafty people for hobnobbing, networking, and sundry hanging-out-with.

I think my favorite 'craft station' was the Screen Printing project, wherein one had the opportunity to screen print one's very own Etsy tote bag! The Etsy staffers were super helpful & friendly in assisting all the people who wanted to make their very own must-have bag of summer. Here is mine, and the uppermost pic on this post is the imprint (pre-printed on every bag) on the other side of the bag. It's really a generous size, ample for carrying any of the craft supplies an Etsy seller or patron would likely need to schlep all over town. The strap is a good size, too; it fits comfortably over my giant man-shoulder. Just kidding; my man-shoulder isn't really giant.

The buttonmaking table offered another simple-yet-fun craft. I had never operated a button press before & either it's more complicated than you'd expect, or I'm not so good with following directions. It's probably a combination of the two (but really it's likely mostly the latter). Whatever the source of the kerfuffle (which I narrowly escaped from with my life!), the result was the cute & commemorative 1" button above. 

I picked up the additional buttons (shown above) at the registration table because who doesn't love schwag? I know I do! Other craft stations included an opportunity to make your own party hat (I didn't partake; I really don't have hat-face), mini bunting banners, and a glass-painting station to decorate your very own glass candle holder. Besides the schwag, though, it was really inspiring & reassuring to meet other crafty folks (like Jenny of OverallBaby) who had an idea & ran with it. Aside from the sheer gumption & drive that it takes to create a small business where the focus is something that one really enjoys, I think it's incredibly hopeful to remember that this was Etsy's 5th birthday, & they're still growing!

I don't currently have an Etsy shop, though I've been toying with the idea, & there's nothing like meeting awesome creative people who have done it to give one a push in that direction!

As I wrap this post up, I want to assure you that, yes, the fabric background in a couple of the pictures is, indeed, shiny. It's also stretch fabric. Somehow, in all of my fabric-shopping adventures, I managed to never choose anything that appeals to the photographer in me as "appropriate" for a photo backdrop. The shiny stretchy remnant that I bought to make into doll pants was the best I could find.


"First World Problems", as they say.

01 June 2010


I recently noticed that my knitting pattern "The Natural" has more than 100 projects on Ravelry. I'm not gonna lie: this is pretty awesome! It's always lovely to be able to make something that you enjoy & then see it so well received (like the one member who has knit it no fewer than eleventy-pi times!).

Of course, this is totally a "could not have done this without you" moment, so THANK YOU to everyone who has downloaded the free pattern PDF (download it now!) and knit this project. Hopefully you'll continue to enjoy the part where I enjoy doing what I do.  <3

Also, the pattern is still available in French!!! How cool is that!?

"Les explications sont aussi dispondibles en Francais. Merci beaucoup a Marina Orry pour faire et oufrir cette traduction sur son blog!"

19 May 2010

Belacqua Cardigan

"I want to wear that!" is precisely what designers want to hear people saying about their work. This particular design came from thinking of what I hope women would like to wear, while adding a few design elements to make it more interesting to knit than one might think on first glance.

Pattern: Belacqua Cardigan (buy now)
Yarn: Universal Yarn Classic Worsted Holiday
Needles: Addi Turbo Circulars in sizes US5 & US7

I love Seamless Sweater Construction, & this cardigan definitely uses it! Knit from the bottom-up, the finished sweater is reverse-stockinette, acheived by knitting the sleeves in the round "inside-out", so the primary stitch used is still the knit stitch. The cable detail on the sleeves is worked across a band of purl stitches. When the finished sleeve & sweater are turned "right-side out", you see a lovely reverse-stockinette body with the knit-stitch cable detail centered on each arm.

The body, meanwhile, is knit flat, with simple decrease/increase shaping along the button band to create a gentle, asymmetric slope in the placket. The public side of the placket includes a baby-cable detail, for added interest, and to echo the cable detail in the sleeves.

When sleeves & body are joined, the knitting continues in the back-&-forth fashion (rather than in the round) with raglan-style decreases to create shoulder shaping. Once you've decreased to the flattering boat-neckline, you'll continue knitting to complete the asymmetric shawl collar, which mirrors the modern slope of the button band, while nodding to the long history of shawl-collared sweaters.

A note on the name: while I was working on the sample for this one, I had an (admittedly) hard time thinking of a name that matched the chic lines of the sweater & elegant sparkle of the yarn (which is eye-catching, but not "too much"). Then, one night I sat knitting while re-viewing The Golden Compass movie, and it came to me. It's a very pretty movie, & appeals to my quiet Steampunk leanings (& can we talk for a minute about how yummy Daniel Craig is in tweed & scruff?). The book, however is flat-out amazing! I remember very clearly reading it on MAX one night in Portland, Oregon on my way to Tuesday night knit night at Twisted. I was reading the bit--I believe I'm remembering this correctly--the bit about the battle as Lyra is leaving Bolvangar leading the Children's Emancipation Front away from Bolvangar, and I simultaneously almost had a panic attack (because it was just that good!) & considered--brace yourselves--I considered skipping knit night! YES! IT WAS THAT! FREAKING! GOOD!!!

Alas, I did not skip knit night that night, but I assure you I did read well into the night when I got home. But I digress... as I sat, knitting & watching The Golden Compass, it occurred to me that this was precisely the sort of thing that Ms. Coulter would want Lyra to wear (were she a few years older) to, perhaps, a casual dinner at the home of a well-to-do friend (because you know Ms. Coulter has more than a few of those!), or maybe as a wrap on a cool autumn evening.

As always, you can buy the pattern PDF in my Ravelry store, or you can buy it right here via PayPal, using the "buy it now" button below.

Belacqua Cardigan pattern PDF $7.00

01 May 2010

A Moment for Self-Appreciation

Last night, a friend of mine introduced me as a "fiber artist" and I immediately rolled my eyes, stammered, and said something to the effect of "well, I mean...I knit". It's not the first time I've pooh-poohed my own creativity, skills, goals, or self, but it was probably the first time that I immediately realised that I need to quit with the downplaying.

Jill's Raspberry Beret (Ravelry link)

Sometimes, when I need to figure out the next right thing for me to do, or if I need to assess a situation I'm in, I'll think of what I'd tell one of my friends if they were in that situation. The first thing I'd tell my friend would definitely be, "stop that! Ain't no-one gonna think you're awesome if you don't!"

I knitted Wolfgang's mini-'Cobblestone' sweater (R). His friend Jacob (L)
served as a fit model while I was working on it.

The funny thing is, though, that I do see the awesomeness in my knitting. Separate from the fact that it's just freaking amazing that a person can take some yarn & manipulate it into a Raspberry Beret, a sweater, mittens or whatever, well, that's kind of awesome in itself.

The (in-)'famous' Wild Thing hoodie

Aside from that, though, there are definitely a few pieces I've made give me little choice but to appreciate my own skill & creativity. Not in a narcissistic way, I think, more in a healthy, "hey! I'm really good at this!" kind of way. Don't we all need a little of that from time to time?  ;o)

The Viking Balaclava I made for Corey, way back when
I had time to knit for other people

So I'm posting pictures of some things I've made, most of them are 'old news', but all things I made. Almost all of them were made either with no pattern, or with a heavily-modified pattern.

07 April 2010

Matsudo Pullover

One of the great laments of Those Who Knit for Men is that they (men) only want 'boring' sweaters; they must be blue, black, or grey in plain stockinette, and maaaaybe they can have a stripe across the chest or something. The Matsudo pullover is one of my offerings to appease all parties involved.

Pattern: Matsudo Pullover (my own)
Yarn: Fibra Natura Sensational (Superwash Merino Wool 100%), shown in 'Ultra Violet'
Needles: Addi Turbo Circulars in sizes US6 & US8

The search & experiments that led me to the texture pattern you see in the Osmundiale Beanie & Wristers (shown below) also yielded this subtly textured patterns stitch. As with the texture in the Osmundiale set, this one uses basic increases & decreases to manipulate the "grain" of the fabric. One of the things I like so much about this texture is that it's super subtle. From a distance, one might think this is just another pullover. With closer inspection, however, you can really appreciate the gentle visual shifts that are created by the way the knit stitches lay.

All in all, it makes for a very wearable pullover (in 7 sizes, from a finished chest measurement of 33" to a finished chest of 57") that is still interesting to knit, as the pattern shifts regularly throughout the body to create the "meandering" effect of the stripes. This meandering was reminiscent (for me) of the spiraling branches of the Curly Willow (Salix matsudana, named for Sadahisa Matsudo, and so was this pullover, albeit a bit more indirectly).

Matsudo Pullover

This pattern will be available soon wherever you find Universal Yarns (distributors of Fibra Natura, which you can also buy on their website). Naturally, Ravelry members can also buy & download this pattern from my Ravelry Store, and anyone can buy & download the pattern right here by clicking the button above. Thanks again to my friend Melissa Diaz for modeling for me, and to my roommate Yimka for modeling for me at the last-minute!

04 April 2010

Osmundiale Beanie & Wristers

Hey there, I wanted to give a quick look at some of what I've been working on.

One of my goals has been to create hand-knitting patterns for men's garments & accessories that are both wearable for a wide range of guys, and are interesting to knit. To that end, I've been playing with some basic techniques to create textures in knitted fabric that are engaging for the knitter, and not too overwhelming for the guy next door.

The Osumundiale Beanie & Wristers set is the result of some of these early experiments. This set uses a texture pattern that is created entirely with simple increases & decreases, & each piece is very wearable for Men and Women.

Pattern: Osmundiale Beanie & Wristers set (my own)
Yarn: The S/M set is shown in Universal Yarn Deluxe Worsted Concord Tweed (Wool 90%, Acrylic 7%, Viscose 3%) in 'Gold Spice'.
The M/L set is shown in Universal Yarn Deluxe Worsted (Wool 100%) in 'Dolphin'.
Needles: Addi Turbo Circulars in sizes US5 & US7

Both accessories come in sizes S/M and M/L. The S/M wristers are, effectively, a Men's Small/Women's Medium, and will fit a hand approximately 7.5" in circumference. The S/M beanie is sized to fit a head approximately 22" in circumference.--which is appropriate for most heads, really. The M/L wristers fit a hand about 8" in circumference, making them a Men's Medium/Women's Large. The M/L beanie is really for those of us with 'large craniums', as I like to explain it, and will fit a head approximately 24" in circumference.

While I was developing this stitch pattern, the symmetric horizontal lines that are created by the paired decreases reminded me of the doubled leaflets of the Cinnamon Fern (Osmundastrum cinnamomeum), so I felt it made sense to give the knits a name that reflected their inspiration. The instructions for the beanie & wristers both come with options for the ribbed edge or the rolled edge treatments shown, and the beanie includes instructions for a more fitted version, as well as for the slouchy version you see here.

I love the way the slouchy beanie shape & rolled edging form a structural counterpoint to the very regimented & linear stitch pattern, while the ribbed edging provides that fit & structure that many people love w/their knits.

These & other patterns (to be blogged soon) are currently available in my Ravelry store. You can also ask for the Osmundiale Beanie & Wristers Set pattern wherever you find Universal Yarns, which you can also buy directly from their website. These accessory patterns will be available bundled into one pattern in stores, or you can buy them separately in my Ravelry Store. You can also buy these patterns with PayPayl by using the links below, even if you are not a Ravelry member. The cost of the bundled pattern is the same as what you would pay if you bought both the Beanie & Wristers patterns individually (in case you were curious about that. I know I would be. ;o) )

Osmundiale Beanie Pattern

Osmundiale Wristers Pattern

Remember, you don't need to be a Ravelry member to use the "buy now" links above. ;o)

Many thanks to my friend Melissa Diaz for modeling the Beanie & Wristers for me! She's also wearing the Matsudo Pullover that I designed for Men & Women--the pattern for that will be available in the next day or two, so y'all come back now, y'hear?

01 April 2010

Hello (again).

Hello, everybody!

Whether you've just discovered me, or whether you've followed me here from Splendor Knitting, welcome to the new TricotChico blog!

This is the place to watch for new knitting patterns & projects by Homero Luna (aka 'TricotChico'), so stay tuned; there's plenty of wooly hotness just around the corner! :o)

Here's a blurb about me, in case you're completely new here (welcome!): I'm a 30-something guy living in Brooklyn, NY. I started knitting in 2007 because I wanted a Gryffindor scarf & couldn't find one in stores, so I figured I'd just make it. While working on that project, I started thinking of other clothes & accessories I also wanted, but had a hard time finding, & decided I would knit those, too. I soon realised that most knitting patterns for men's garments & accessories were not my style. I ended up designing most of what I knit, and eventually decided to share these designs with others.

This blog will be a place to share my thoughts on knitting & designing stuff that is both wearable & interesting to knit, as well as a venue for people to buy & download my patterns.