Friday, March 03, 2017

granny square revival + Mohonk Mountain House

It started innocently enough: I was invited to teach at the Mohonk Mountain House Knitting Weekend March 17-19th with Jill Draper, Kirsten Kapur, Cal Patch, Clara Parkes and Paula Kucera of White Barn Farm. Yes please!  I've always wanted to go to that grand old lodge in the Hudson Valley of NY, and this is a group of knitters I adore.  They'll teach knitting and I'll teach Iphone-ography and Learn to Make Granny Squares. Kirsten and I will also give our slide show/multi media Drop Dead Easy Knits talk, with trunk show and booksigning. Lovely!
Didja catch that? I'm teaching granny squares! Oh, the humble granny square. So strangely satisfying. So old fashioned but bold. So fun to play around with color and contrast.  So much not what I usually teach. 

Which explains why I thought I'd play with leftover Noro Silk Garden to make samples, showing how crocheting yarn with long color changes makes easy squares, with beautiful color but no need to stop and think about changing colors or make any decisions. 
Three squares in, I had to be honest. They looked mushy. The geometry of the granny square wasn't shining through.  I ripped out all but that one on the left, above.   I switched it, as shown on the right: Changing colors every round, mixing the leftover bits and skeins I have on hand. So much better. I figured I'd make 4 squares. 
But I can't stop. I was away last weekend, took a sweater project that went untouched. But granny squares? Oh yes.

I've moved fully into can't stop/won't stop.  How serious is it? I am starting to stalk Ravelry for small destashes because my bag o'Noro bits is almost empty. (Do you have any to get rid of? No!just kidding!  But..not really..... I mean, I'll use small amounts.....)  I'm having a blast with it.
FYI: I thought I'd be super clever and use only my iPhone to shoot these granny squares. Get it? Because those are my two classes at  Mohonk Mountain House Knitters Weekend.I really can't wait.

There are just a few spots left . Its fabulously timed to treat yo'self. See you there?


Wednesday, February 01, 2017

spontaneity & the snazzy cowl photo shoot

Knitwear designer Laura Nelkin asked me to shoot  for her while we were both in NYC for Vogue Knitting Live a couple of weeks ago. But of course! Look what happened :
Are you singing Its Raining Men yet? Go to that link Dare you to sit still- and not smile.
It's the Snazzy Cowl.  Pretty fabulous, right?

We'd decided on Times Square for the photo shoot, using out of focus bright lights big city as the background, and Laura's adorable daughter Bella modeling.
There are only so many ways to pose with a light weight cowl: let it hang around your neck, hold it up covering your smile to show off the full stitch work, lay it out flat, look down and gaze into  it wistfully holding an empty coffee mug...(JUST KIDDING, WE DON'T DO THAT POSE HERE)...or hold it up towards the camera. Done, done and done.Then we saw a group of young guys do handstands in unison on the steps.
As the handstand dudes were walking away, I scurried over to ask what the deal was. College gymnasts from Arizona, just competed at West Point, tourists for the morning.  Q: Would they mind doing handstands around a knitwear model?  A: Enthusiastic yes!

They choreographed doing flips on the steps all around Bella before we knew what was happening. Laura's heart may have stopped for a few minutes seeing feet flying near Bella's head...but they nailed it.

Next up...can I get the Rockettes to do a kickline in handknit socks? Why not?

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

sidekick hat + drop dead easy knits at vklive nyc

Join me and Kirsten Kapur with Drop Dead Easy Knits at Vogue Knitting Live  NYC this Sunday January 15, 2017 at the Dragonfly Fibers booth, NOON-3 PM  

If you already have our book,  come say hi and show us what you've been knitting from it.
 We will squeal with delight. I promise. 
I should be showing off my Sidekick Hat that I'm so so so close to finishing, knit in two colors of Dragonfly Fibers Djinni Sock . This design by Mary Lou Egan might be the most addictive colorwork pattern ever. It just flies. There's something very gratifying about seeing the squares build up, I keep wanting to knit just another couple of rounds.....
This all over pattern makes it look harder than it is, or you could say, makes me look more skilled than I am!  I (understatement alert) do not have the best memory. Yet, I haven't had to look at the chart since the eighth row. That means truly it is simple-- something you can knit while chatting, or watching, say, multiple episodes of Lilyhammer late at night.
 It is easy to track as you go, two colors, no float longer than four stitches(meaning the color not being used that is carried along the back), so you don't get all twisted up in catching long strands.  It's a good beginner colorwork project.  BTW? Colorwork with big graphics seems like it should be easy, but often isn't. Reference my stalled Passerine, to be continued at a calmer time when I can concentrate on the chart and long floats.
As far as choosing the yarn ....tough decisions!  Looking over the colors had me spinning. Kate's dyeing and colors are varied and beautiful. Contrast between the two yarns is important, and I worried about the variegated yarn detracting from the graphics. 
I settled on one almost solid neutral (Silver Fox, top), and a super bright (Oriental Poppy, bottom).  Although the pattern is written for sport weight, this fingering weight yarn works perfectly.  The range of contrast and color withing the Oriental Poppy is no  problem.  I absolutely LOVE how it looks knit in the repeats.

Lastly:
How thrilling is it to see PussyHats taking off? How're yours coming along? I've scavenged up the last couple of pink skeins here and am awaiting acquisition to knit more bulky last minute hats. Hot tip: Dragonfly Fiber  is offering their pinks at 15% off. through Sunday 1/15. I think I know what I may bring home from the weekend.

Friday, January 06, 2017

the pussyhat project

 1:30 am on January 1st,  I cast on a PussyHat, in support of the Pussy Hat Project .  I wanted to start 2017 right.
Even though I had to rip it and start over at 9 am (thanks bourbon drinks by the bonfire at midnight! love ya too!), it felt good. I can't attend the Womens March on Washington  January 21st  but I am thrilled that my sister Marla will be wearing it there. 
Also thrilled that this act of Craft Activism is spreading across the country. HuffPo coverage here, and lots more links and info roundup over on the MDK website today.  

Through knitting a hat, we can support the bodies and cold heads, and the efforts of those marching in Washington. It's a way to connect physically and concretely.
The original free pattern by Kat Coyle is simple and knit flat. An evening's easy effort if you knit it in a chunky* alpaca, as I did.  It doesn't take much googling around to find versions knit in the round, crocheted, ribbed all over, roll brim etc. Kat is a fabulous artist and designer, profiled in CraftActivism, a connection I loved making when I photographed her for the book. (I know! I get to meet the best people, I am very lucky).
On Facebook, source of false info daily (seriously, can that be their motto?) I read some  knitters whining that "they had to buy a kit" to make the Pussy Hat- FALSE. Free patterns plus whatever yarn you want to MacGyver together.  Don't have pink? use another color. Or get some pink Kiwi Koolaid and make it pink. 

Lastly, I read a popular knitpodcaster asking if it trivializes the Womens March. NO. It does not.  If you click on over to the original project pattern PDF there's some info about why the color pink and the pussycat ears.  Aside from the symbolism, The Pussy Hat Project offers knitters a way to contribute in the way we love best. By the work of our hands.  A feeling of unity and a visible symbol that will be quite media friendly are not trivial. That is what large assemblies in Washington are all about. A sea of pink pussy hats on the national mall ? yes.
My sister Marla sent this selfie when she received hers in the mail, last night.  If you see her, say hi. (she's @marlaatelierista on Instagram, if you like Reggio-inspired art education, public activist art, lots of color and joyful photos)

Are you knitting one? If so , which pattern and any mods how did it turn out? While typing this I agreed to make a fuschia one for a stylish friend. I need to do it right!

* for my chunky alpaca pussyhat, I cast on 38 stitches, on size US9 needles, more details here

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

mostly hats: the gift knitting roundup report



For a son's girfriend, I asked if she'd like a hat, and if she had any preferences.  She requested silvery grey and black. She likes it a lot! It even got an "oh wow" from the fairly knit-jaded son himself.
Pattern: Eau Claire Hat by Melissa Schaschwary
Pompom: un-naturally black rabbit fur. All the  LYS sold out, as did online sources, what with furry pompoms all the rage. Luckily furry pompom key chains are a thing, too. After ordering one online and de-chaining, it worked out quite nicely. 
Notes: I love this pattern. Want one for myself. This was knit in Cascade 128, chosen for its color, softness and twist, and of course, weight. It was such a speedy knit, I swear it took me longer to secure the pompom than to knit it. I could have done one more repeat for a slightly slouchy hat but I was worried I'd run out of yarn. It fits great as is.
Two custom colorwork hats. These are a blast to knit. 
Pattern: Headford Hat from Drop Dead Easy Knits is a perfect blank template. Add stripes, or fair isle style graphics, or whatever stitches you want.   Well, yeah, of course I am biased, by being co-author of the book,  but I swear, it really is an ideal launchpad of a hat. And cute as a simple solid too.  I am predicting more of these in my knitting future.  Colorwork makes a knit fly for me. I guess I like the immediate gratification of seeing the picture form?
 Notes: the owly one is for my bro-in-law who likes a tight fitting beanie style, and requested something quirky or fun this year, when queried for his annual hat. It's in the mail now, crossing my fingers that he'll be happy. 
the snowflake one is for Yliana, my unofficial foster daughter who is 21 now and in her own apartment, an all around good egg, that one. She commented that snowflake motifs were appealing to her this winter, so I went with it, and I know she likes these colors.  It's actually  dark red and a light grey, but it reads as white. Color is so fascinating, isn't it?  This hat is slouchier in length from cuff to crown and knit at a slightly looser gauge than the owly hat. (and, yes, I did only shoot it with the jog showing? why??? I do not know!)
All of the motifs are from 150 Scandinavian Motifs by Mary Jane Mucklestone.  I page through this book all the time obsessively plotting more hats and yoked sweaters.  One of a few brilliant purchases I made toward the end of 2016.  (my electric teakettle is another, if you are wondering) (and my dozen remote control votive candles, hyggely as they are)

Azel Pullover and Big Wool Little Hat for Zoe-- adorable factor off the charts, right? Also - intense pink fluffiness off the charts. It's knit in Rowan Brushed Fleece, which is so light and fluffy,  to the point it barely holds its shape. The light fluffiness has made it a huge hit with Zoe, so no complaints from me. The design is  a rectangle folded over, a tube of mistake rib for the turtleneck and some buttons holding the sides closed below the arm, it actually doesn't have much shape, anyway.
Buttons from Pins and Needles in Princeton NJ. I don't think I could have found a better button for this one! They're mix and match flowers on the hearts. The design is for buttonholes along the edges but given that they aren't functionally necessary, and heart shaped buttons can slip out of bulky button holes easily, I skipped making buttonholes and just sewed them on through both edges.  
 
The whole shebang is a hit. Suits her, doesn't it?

There's one more hat, but it's in the mail and I'll wait to show it. Let's just say you'll be seeing a lot just like it between now and January 21st! My CraftActivism friend, the wonderful  Kat Coyle and the Little Knittery are making it happen!

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

POP UP ! wood print sale

I'm trying something new! A POP-UP sale of some of my photographs on wood.
I've been selling these as limited edition prints on wood by special order for a couple of years but I thought it'd be fun to share them online for one day for a few days.  Why not?

All the INFO and DETAILS are on the order page here. Except it is unlikely that you will receive them before Dec 24th.

At first I worried that printing photographs on maple would be gimmicky or look tacky--but with some careful choice of which images I use, I love them.  The wood is lovely and heavy, and there's a keyhole so they are ready for hanging. The grain shows through the lighter parts of the imagery--which is why the choice of photo is so important. The finish is a matte laminate so it goes with the modern natural vibe.
These are 6x6" square, and are 1/2" deep.  
And I'm going to make all this disappear soon! Kind of fun. Let me know what you think!
Order from link here, or you can email me with questions gale@gzucker.com .

Back tomorrow with the usual content :-)

Monday, December 12, 2016

it's time for Trip Mitts' return

Trip Mitts-- a pattern you can knit (in multiples) before the holidays.For yourself. or not.
Do you listen to the Twinset Designs podcast? I'll confess I am a slacker  in the knitting podcast department--I am picky picky about who I listen to. And I just plain forget to seek and listen.  Which is a shame because there are some brilliant podcasters out there, making a great mix of friendly chat, smart ideas and knitting information that inspires and illuminates. 
 I was lucky to be part of an interview with Ellen and Jan of the Twinset, when they caught me and my co-authors at Rhinebeck, (photo swiped from Twinset Jan's IG feed , thanks Jan!), this is Team Drop Dead, in which two of us are wearing matching sweaters, the Keynote Pullover. To be upfront, Twinset Ellen, 2nd from left,  is our tech editor (she is amazing!) and we have been friends for s few years. However, I still think their review of Drop Dead Easy Knits, in Episode 85 with our interview,  is well worth a listen.
I was thrilled that Ellen mentioned my Trip Mitts at the end of the segment--she'd tech edited them when they were going to appear in our book.  They got cut. We had more than enough content, and an editor thought they were too rustic.
It was understandable-- I know my design sensibility is on the brux side. I released the pattern alone,  last year. And since the season is nigh for quick knits that make great gifts--and quick knits to wear on your poor cold hands--I'm bringing it back for your attention.
The pink ones are knit in Anzula Oasis. And the blue ones are some handspun wool and a teeny bit of a marigold yarn for the closure.DK weight for both, but you can sub almost anything. See the project page to get what I mean! Stashbusters, for sure.