Friday, May 29, 2015

The Spark & The Reinvention -- "Opulent Cowl"

Shortly after announcing the release of a new pattern, I enjoy putting a post together about its design origins (the "spark") and the design process leading up to its final finished form...

My latest design "Opulent Cowl" was first inspired by this designer inspiration Pinterest page put together by Knitscene editor, Amy Palmer, for Knitscene Accessories, 2015.  The board revolved around three themes to inspire designers: "LBD -- Little Black Dress", "Capitol Couture" and "Around the Home".

"Little Black Dress" caught me and took me to the internet...

Of course, I found Coco Chanel and Audrey Hepburn... too bad about the smoking... but keep that jewelry in mind...

Next, I did some searching for "little black dress accessories", and before very long I found something that I wanted to recreate...

Photo Credit: Net-A-Porter, +Eleven Everything

I do love this kind of high fashion spark... "Foil Print Merino Wool Snood" (then available at Net-A-Porter for $270)... it made me think of a cowl that was like a piece of jewelry...

It was obvious to me that the ribbing in that snood is fisherman's rib, and the gilded ribbing is two-color fisherman's rib.  I had just seen an article on this kind of ribbing in Interweave Knits, Fall 2014.  (BTW: There is a whole lot that I can write about fisherman's rib and its relationship to brioche, and how cool it is when worked with more than one color, but I will save that for another day.)

I pulled out that magazine and I began swatching (using two colors of worsted weight wool yarn).  Then, I located some Berroco Captiva Metallic in bronze, and Schachenmayr Sun City in black and egg shell.  I made this swatch:

I drew this sketch with two length options (one like a long necklace, and one, a smaller cowl that would stand up like a turtleneck or snood):

I included the swatch and the sketch in my proposal.  About a month later, Amy Palmer sent an email that said that she "really liked" my cowl (Oh, happy day, I really love working with everyone Interweave!)  Amy said that she thought that it would be "great for the Capitol Couture story", and that she would "like to play with untraditional yarns".  Her first suggestion was a tape yarn that came in mostly soft colors and nothing near a metallic.  I told her that I had my doubts, but that I would do my best to find a yarn as close as I could get to that, and do some swatching, ASAP...

Later that day, I went to Gosh Yarn It!, my LYS, to see what they had -- and they did not.  However, the shop owner, Jill, had some very lovely ONline, Linie 346 Arona tape yarn in her personal stash and she kindly gave me a skein for my swatching.  I wound off a small ball of lighter tones in order to have two colors, and then later I tried some spool ribbon from my local Jo-Ann's.  Sad to say, but it just wasn't right.

I included this photo in my next email to Amy:

I wrote, "I am mostly back to where I was before the [latest] swatching. I would [still] like to use a metallic with a solid color."

There were a whole lot more back and forth emails with Amy. I am grateful for her relentless search to find just the right yarns.  We decided on Prism Elise in 'antique' with violet and orchid shades of Prism Petite Madison (for more information see my Ravelry project page).  Amy let me choose the length for the cowl.  I think that both the lovely yarn, and my decision to go with a l-o-n-g length, eventually lead to a very opulent cowl, indeed.
My last photos are my own from right before I sent the cowl to Knitscene.

I loved the piece and am looking forward to getting it back one day!

Opulent Cowl is just one of 33 beautiful new designs in Knitscene Accessories, 2015 which is available online and on newsstands everywhere. 

Thursday, May 14, 2015

First Look --> Knitscene Accessories 2015

Opulent Cowl

My newest published design is available right now!!!  The digital version of Knitscene Accessories 2015 just became available at the Interweave online store.  Physical editions will be on newsstands and in yarn stores in early June.

Knitscene Accessories 2015

As always is the case with Knitscene & Interweave, I am quite impressed with the styling and the photography throughout the entire issue.  But even more than that, I loved working with editor, Amy Palmer.  Her early enthusiasm for this design, and her relentless search for just the right yarn (I was pretty well set on using a metallic) were followed by a final decision of mine to go l-o-n-g and narrow.  The results are kind of breathtakingly beautiful... (don't you think?)

Opulent Cowl is only one of 33 amazing designs in this gloriously gorgeous 2015 edition of Knitscene Accessories!  

Photo credits:  Knitscene/Harper Point Photography

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Midweek Meditation

"A design isn’t finished until somebody is using it."    ~ Brenda Laurel

A couple of my designs will be finished/used very soon!

Friday, May 1, 2015

Knit Tip: What to do with mixed dye lots & kettle dyed yarns?

I have named my red vest project "Crimson and Garnet" and I have made a project page for it on Ravelry.  I ripped out the entire piece that I showed you in my Reentry post last month.

My latest photo shows my color blending in progress.

Garnet Lite Lopi & Garnet Létt-Lopi

The Garnet Létt-Lopi in my previous knitting was a bit lighter and pinker than the Garnet Lite Lopi.  And the Garnet Lite Lopi was a bit deeper red with a hint of purple.

I could not see these differences when I laid them out in the grass (approximately two years ago).

Two Reds (or was it Four?)

But it did show up in the knitting.

Two Dye Lots

"Knit Tip":  Whenever you DO need to knit with two or more skeins that are not from the same dye lot, knit two rows with dye lot ball #1, and then knit two rows with dye lot ball #2.

You could alternate with each round if you are knitting in the round.  But when knitting back and forth in rows, alternate knitting a right side and then a wrong side row from one skein and then from the other.  Just carry the unused yarn up the side.

I used this same technique when knitting my Color of Flowers pullover with the kettle dyed Canopy Fingering yarn.

Detail Kettle Dyed Canopy Fingering

From the Kelbourne Woolens website:  "The unique blend of fibers [in Canopy] are spun into a smooth yarn and then kettle dyed, and the different way the fibers absorb the dye creates a beautiful depth of color with subtle heathered tones."  And on the yarn label: "This yarn has been intentionally hand-crafted with subtle texture and color variances... In order to achieve optimum results, we encourage you to alternate skeins for an overall blended effect."

That is why you can see two balls of yarn in my work in progress photo.

And that is why the colors blend as well as they do in the finished sweater.

The Color of Flowers


Sunday, April 26, 2015

Round Two (& Three) FO's

FO photos...

Detail Petite Double Dutch

Petite Double Dutch

My Petite Double Dutch was knit with Isager Alpaca Merino 2 on US size 3 needles.  This yarn is finer than the yarn that I used for my pattern sample and I liked my swatch with the Isager knit on smaller needles.  The finished shawl is approximately 43" long and 9.5" wide.  This was my second Double Dutch.

Another Rosebud

My latest Rosebud was knit with baa ram ewe Titus , the same yarn that I used for the swatch that I sent to Interweave as a part of my design proposal.  This was my second Rosebud.

(Perhaps you will view this last photo with eyes that are kinder than my own.)  My sister shot this with her phone during our last meal (a very late lunch) in NYC.  I was wearing my third Paper Lanterns shawlette.

I did make all three from the same yarn and on the same needles.  Blue Moon Fiber Arts owns the original sample.  My sister was gifted with my second one for Christmas, and I finally finished one for me to wear in March.

In January, the rights to this design came back to me.  But as in most cases with third party publishers, I am not allowed to sell the Blue Moon Fiber Arts version of the pattern.  I am currently in the process of writing a version using my own template and with my own photography.  (Mr K took several dozen photos of me wearing the shawl last weekend.)  (I kept thinking that only a fool would use me as a model... but the good news is that I am getting better at photo editing.)

I will let you know when the pattern becomes available.  As always, thanks for reading and happy knitting! 

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

A Spring Fling -- The Weather and The Rest

I was the one to name it a "Spring Fling".  I thought that giving a name to my trip to join my sister while she was in New York for business was part of the fun.  It was still hopelessly cold and snowy in the northeast when we began our plans.  I was certain that it would have to be (at least a little bit) warmer in New York in (early) Spring.

I was right.  It was a little bit warmer, but it was still cold and windy on the days we were there.

Turtle Pond, Central Park

My only photo from our walk through Central Park was of a frozen Turtle Pond.  I had told my sister that I had never spent much time in Central Park and that I would like to walk through it, and we did.  We walked on or near 79th Street and we made a stop at Belvedere Castle which (I learned from the next link) sits atop Vista Rock -- the highest point in Central Park.

From there, we walked to the yarn shop, Knitty City.  That space was smaller than I expected, but packed full of all the yarns you could imagine.  And there were books, and needles, and hooks and buttons, and trinkets, and more customers than I would have expected on a weekday afternoon... but that makes sense, if you think about it... NYC.   

A major highlight of our trip was to see the Broadway musical Kinky Boots.  It was all about "be who you are" and "accept other people for being who they are" and I found it very uplifting.  My sister had previously seen and liked the (not musical) movie.  The Tony award winning score was the solo work of Cyndi Lauper, and we all know that "Girls Just Want to Have Fun", and we did.

Of course we had a couple of fantastic dinners, and we found time to visit a few of the shops at Rockefeller Center.

On our last day, it was a bit warmer, but it rained in the afternoon.  We decided to spend the day at the 9/11 Memorial and Museum.  The memorial fountains are spectacular.  Do you remember my post that included an aerial view?  There is still a lot of construction all around the site.

I thought that everything about the museum was well done.  Though we were in the museum for hours, there was no way we could see and read about everything.  Truthfully, it was incredibly overwhelming emotionally and I am not sure that I could have stayed longer.  Just two photos, because I had some issues with my camera that day.

I am already looking forward to my next trip to New York which will be in May.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

A Spring Fling -- The Art

For the better part of three days during the week that followed the Spring Equinox, I was very lucky to join my sister while she was in New York on a business trip.

On Day 1 we were at the Guggenheim Museum, and I came home with these photos from that beautiful place.

It had been a good number of years since I last visited the "landmark" museum designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.  The work of conceptual artist, On Kawara, was displayed throughout the central, spiraling part of the museum.  I won't try to describe On Kawara -- Silence.  Instead I will quote from the Guggenheim web page:  "Through radically restricted means, On Kawara’s work engages the personal and historical consciousness of place and time."  (That does sum it up very well in just one sentence.)

Day 2 (while my sister did her work thing) I walked to the Museum of Modern Art where I spent the morning trying to see as much as I could see.  It really was a lot!  I took pictures of a small fraction of what I saw.  Before starting to put this post together I realized that I did not know the names of much of what I photographed.  Happily, I did find some names at the MoMA website.

The Olive Trees ~ Vincent van Gogh, 1889

Bridge over the Riou ~ Andre Derain, 1906

The next three shots are from Making Music Modern: Design for Ear and Eye.  This was a bright and colorful exhibit that made me happy.

The medium used in Crowhurst is "gouache on gelatin silver print".  It is an image of "the 'Crowhurst yew,' located on the grounds of a twelfth–century church and said to be over four thousand years old."  The image was rather breathtaking, and I found that "four thousand year" thing kind of mind boggling.

Crowhurst ~ Tacita Dean, 2006

I liked this pairing of two works of conceptual art.  I am sorry that I am not able to give you any names on these.  I do remember enough facts about them to safely say that both involved life, death and mortality.  I don't want to get anything wrong, so it's probably best that I don't try to say more.

The "medium" for the last work, Sallim, is "steel frame, perforated metal plate, caster, aluminum venetian blinds, knitting yarn, acrylic mirror, IV stand, light bulbs, cable, electric fan, timer, garlic, dishes, hot pad, and scent emitter".

Sallim ~ Haegue Yang, 2009

The "knitting yarn" was actually a piece of crocheting.  All of the yarn ends floated gently in the breeze from the fan.

Sallim Detail ~ Haegue Yang, 2009

An interesting piece.  Of course I was intrigued by the yarn.  But the multi-layered meanings of everything put together were a bit beyond me, so I searched online and from this page I learned that "for her sculpture Sallim, Yang reproduces a full-scale model of her Berlin kitchen. Sallim (roughly translated from Korean as “running a household”) considers the noncommercial space of the kitchen as a site of preparation for action and the organization of life."

I did see a lot more, but this is enough for now.  (I need to get back to my kitchen or my knitting because there is work tomorrow.)  I love the way that modern art can give you a lot to think about.

Sunday, April 12, 2015


reentry,  noun
1. an act of reentering.

2. the return from outer space into the earth's atmosphere of an earth-orbiting satellite, spacecraft, rocket, or the like.

Also, re-entry, reentrance, re-entrance
From See

Two Dye Lots
Let us look at this and begin again.

Can you see the line?  It starts near the "y" in the caption and runs at a slight angle up and to the right in the photo.  The color to the right of the line is a bit darker and richer -- the color to the left it is a bit pinker.  These color differences came about because the yarn I used was from two different dye lots.

You know about dye lots, right?  Yarn manufacturers dye their yarns in batches and give each batch a lot number, so that knitters can be sure that the color will be the same (or as close as possible to the same) when they knit anything requiring more than one skein of the same color.  They just need to remember to check the dye lot numbers.

I have know about dye lots since I was a little knitter.

(But this project was different, or so I thought.)

I began this vest more than one year ago.  I wrote a blog post nearly two years ago where I talked about my plan to use this yarn for the vest.

Two Reds (or was it Four?)

The colors are Crimson Red (left) and Garnet Red (right).  Two skeins are Reynolds Lite Lopi (which has been discontinued), and the other two are Ístex Létt-Lopi.  The Lite Lopi (one of each red) was leftover from a sweater that I had made for my daughter.  I purchased the Létt-Lopi (one of each red) because I liked the two reds together and wanted to make myself a vest with them.  I planned to use the Garnet Red on the lower part of the vest and the Crimson red on the top.

From that blog post more than one year ago:

"They are all different dye lots, and in the case of the crimson, they are even two different color numbers.

I don't think that will matter."

(Well, I was wrong.  It did matter.)

Some of my original plan was edited.  At some point, I decided to use a few rows of colorwork at the actual change of color from the Garnet to the Crimson.  They were completed and are on the left in the first photo. 

The dye lot line is a problem for me.  I can see it.  I do not like it.  And something different must replace it.

(I need to decide what to do with this project because I do not have enough "knitting on the needles" right now.  I am as lost as I could be if I were in outer space for a while.*)

(I need to decide how much of this to rip out and what to do next.)
(If you have any ideas, please let me know.)

* True disclosure:  I have NOT been in outer space.  But I have had been lost at times because my day job recently became more demanding.  More than anything else, I need to knit.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

April Fools' Day

I am generally not a snow lover, but I do always say that snow is very pretty on trees in the sunshine.  The first photo was from my back deck this morning.  (The sun was just beginning to rise over the mountain behind.)

The second photo was shot through my front window.  Missing in both photos is the sparkle-in-the-sun thing that was going on out there.  (Like a whole lot of glitter.)

The transience of this beauty was the best thing about it.

This April Fools' Day is very sunny with temperatures around average, and (thankfully) average (now) is (actually) warm enough to melt the three inches of snow that fell here yesterday.

There are a lot of birds outside, but I have not seen any flowers yet.  I will be searching for flowers in the days to come.

I hope that spring has found you!