I was recently approached by Robin Hunter to be interviewed for her blog. While I’m not a heavy-hitter in the knitwear design world like some of her previous interviewees (Kate Gilbert, Bristol Ivy, and Faina Goberstein among them), I was flattered to be invited. Thanks, Robin! Read the interview here.
Like many knitters, I’m fascinated by cables. I particularly like traditional aran sweater cables; the overall honeycomb cable that’s often worked into a wide centre panel on the front or back of the garment was my inspiration here. I wanted an oversized cardigan or coat, and thought that overall cables in a bulky yarn would be perfect for a heavy, textured, sink-your-fingers-in fabric.
Uji is worked flat in pieces that are seamed together after blocking. I know seamless garments are very popular right now, but seams are more necessity than preference for this sweater. Although the cables give plenty of structure and strength to the fabric, Uji is heavy and needs seams to prevent pulling, stretching, and shapelessness. It’s finished off with generous buttonbands and a big cozy collar. At the last minute, I decided to add pockets, because no coat can do without pockets.
Did you notice that the two cables used on Uji are essentially the same cable? The chevron cable is the bottom half of the honeycomb cable. It seems an obvious design move now, but it didn’t start out that way: I swatched several different cable combinations (some of them nearly impossible to fit together) before I decided on these two. They’re the simplest and, I think, the prettiest of all my swatches. Occam’s razor strikes again!
Loving this blanket.
There’s sunshine bounding into every room, a little white crocus bursting next to the side door, and street sweepers roaring. But it’s still cold enough at night to use the best blanket ever. It’s a lot of knitting, but once you’re halfway, you can throw it across your legs to keep warm while you knit. I didn’t block it, and I block almost everything – I can’t explain my aberrant behaviour except that I had to use it the minute I finished it.
Pattern: Umaro by Jared Flood (Ravelry link here)
Yarn: Cascade Lana Grande (100% wool)
That’s Vogue Knitting Live, dudes! I agonized over whether I should take this trip – whether I should spend the money and precious vacation days, and whether I would enjoy going alone. So glad I did. It was my first time in New York, and I loved the city as much as I thought I would. And I loved the workshops even more.
I’m a terrible tourist when it comes to the photo-taking. I think I took about 6 photos in total, despite taking along both my digital and polaroid cameras. There just wasn’t enough time – I only had one day to see the city, and the other two days were in workshops and lectures that were just too interesting to stop for photos.
I’ve only been to one other knitting event like this and it was a bit of a disappointment. I took technique-based classes, and they’re just not for me. This time around, I took all design-based classes and they were so useful. Really, it was great all around. So for the knitting lovers and NYC lovers alike, here are the highlights from my too-quick trip:
- learned about proper fit from Laura Bryant, and loved Fiona Ellis’ class on design details
- froze my ass off on the Empire State
- and got a little crush on this guy (and the yarn is so great, too)
It’s winter twist collective time, and Uji is in it. You’ll understand my great pride at having my design included when you see what a beautiful bunch of patterns Twist has put together for this issue.
Instead of writing about the design, I’m going to tell you about the yarn in this post. It’s Briggs & Little Atlantic, and I highly recommend it if you’re like me and love woolly wool. You know, real off-the-back-of-a-sheep warm and rustic wool yarn. I used ‘natural white,’ which basically means the oils havn’t been washed out yet. It makes the yarn a bit…sticky? Not quite the right word. I think its purpose is to help with stitch definition when knitting cables and aran-style garments. And then you get the fun gross-out moment of washing your knitting for blocking, and watching the wash water become a murky yellow-brown. But your knitting blocks and dries to be a beautiful bright white, soft and slightly bloomed. I love the look and feel, and I love that B&L is a Canadian family-run mill, too.
When I was in grade 8, I adopted a wardrobe of blood red, forest green, and brown. I was trying to find my style, and these colours went naturally with my Value Village/boho leanings. I thought there was no more beautiful combination of colours.
I’ve since expanded my colour choices, although I still choose brown over black most days. And red still makes my heart beat a little faster, though there is little of it in my closet. But the red/green/brown combination (and that boho style) might be hard-wired into my brain, because when I saw this last month, I broke several of my own knitting rules:
1. Impulse yarn purchasing, which rarely works out well for me. I ordered the yarn the next day.
2. Single ply yarn, usually avoided because of pilling and fuzzing. No time for yarn substitutions, though.
3. Use of variegated yarns. This also rarely works out for me.
4. Use of novelty yarns. They’re just not my thing, and they’re often synthetic. But weaving them into knitting is such a great idea.
4. Impulse purchasing of clothing/accessories to wear with the garment, before it was even started. Yep, it’s bad.
Still, sanity prevailed. I swatched.
This tunic is a piece of art to me. I hope the style works on me – but, if not, I could hang it on the wall and in homage to my 13-year-old self.
Here’s a new pattern. Last Christmas, I made a scarf for my Dad from a nice soft bulky weight yarn. I made it in a manly brown, and I made it reversible – including the cable. If you don’t know already, let me tell you that reversible cables are just as easy as the one-sided kind – they’re just ribbed so that they show the same on both sides. Really, it’s easy! And, even better, I’ve made Greystokes a free pattern that you can download through Ravelry.
Pattern: Greystokes by Ann-Marie Jackson (Ravelry link here)
Yarn: Rowan Cocoon (80% merino, 20% mohair) in 809 Crag
I crave organization. I don’t think I’m compulsive about it, but it makes me happy to have things tidy and easy to find. My kitchen triumph, upon moving into our new house, was to order all my spices in their very own drawer. I show it to my guests, it’s part of the tour.
Here’s what I did this morning. Now I have a complete catalog of all my yarn via Ravelry. Laugh all you want! It’s not quite done, but I’ll get there.
You guys. I’ve missed you.
It’s been a busy four months, most of it not particularly pleasant or bloggable, but here are some highlights:
I finished a new design and shipped off the sample for publication. It’s good and wintry and that’s all I can tell you until November.
I took a photography course on refining your style and artistic message. It was so great – even the moments of painful self-evaluation. In many ways, it was about so much more than photography. Despite the interesting photographers in the class, the assignments, and the inspiration, what I remember most from this class is the statement: If you’re not doing what you love, why not? Ouch. Even though it wasn’t directed at me specifically, it made me feel like someone reached into my brain and poked all my hopes, regrets, and insecurities.
I watched our new yard sprout weeds as tall as me, and ran around finding all the farmers markets, consignment furniture stores, swimming holes, and french bakeries my new town has to offer. Did a bit of camping and a lot of cherry and peach-eating.
I knit a little tiny bit. And finally took some photos of this:
Which I love – it’s my favourite right now.
Pattern: Rustic by Marie Wallin (Ravelry link here)
Yarn: Rowan Summer Tweed (70% silk, 30% cotton) in Raffia