Thursday, October 19, 2017

3 things: rhinebeck style happy thoughts

1) I never get tired of watching this stop action video compilation I made from the years 2010 and 2012, when I set up a photo backdrop and made photos of what people were wearing to the NY Sheep & Wool Festival (aka Rhinebeck) in Rhinebeck NY.  Turn up the sound and wallow with me! Also feel free to post it elsewhere, I love sharing this.

2) Like so many photography projects I do, the end result isn't exactly what or why I started it. I thought it'd be about what everyone was wearing in all their woolly knitting fiber freak flag glory. (It is...but...) It's really about community and happy.
 3)This weekend the annual festival happens again. The weather's not very sweater-friendly, although I bet the morning will be chilly enough. And maybe the barns..... but I don't you? Throw on a shawl and work it! I won't be wearing my new brioche cowl, either. It was so so so ginormous, that it now looks like --see above!  I care not a bit, love the process of working with this yarn.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

3 things: about brioche

1)  Two color brioche in the round is now my my mindless knitting. Whaaaaat?  I'm not sure when it happened-- I cast on a wide tube of a cowl in early summer. I left it next to my desk.   I began picking it up during  delays while uploading files or on hold on the phone. 
 I'll be the first to admit my relationship with brioche was fraught.  I wasn't the, um, swiftest to get it, as I explained just a few months ago. Now, it's relaxing and I am addicted. Old dog, new tricks ftw.

2) Brioche is a stitch that really lets you play with  colors, which I'm guessing accounts for the popularity-- the sides reverse, you can switch color prominence.  And, it goes fast, a nice chunky instant gratification. Also?  It eats up yarn at an alarming rate. So when I ran out of the Rose and , um lets call it Dirty Ballerina colored Windham,  leftovers from my last brioche cowl in April,  I put out the bat signal. I (hahahaha) thought I just needed a teeny bit. My dear client and friend, the  crack designer Elizabeth Elliott sent me lime green and a little dark blue left over from designing her Dionisio Cowl,  I like the acid-y lime kick, though its outside my usual palette.  When that wasn't enough,  a kind and well-stashed knitter sent me her leftovers after I sought to buy  partial skeins from a Ravelry forum. Her colors are everything you see from where the marigold starts. I'm loving all these hues together  because I'm a Jill Draper Makes Stuff* fan, and this is like a visit to her studio. Possibly,  Zoe's Rainbow Sweater has affected me on a cellular level. Zoe gives this project both thumbs up. 

3) Did you know there's an other way to knit brioche stitch, if you don't find favor with all the yarnover wrapping, BRK and BRP? It involves knitting or purling into the row below. 

What I find truly amusing about this : Five years ago, I actually designed and still sell a pattern, Decibella, in brioche stitch**, knit in that manner! WHO KNEW? Not me! At the time I thought I'd stumbled upon some sort of faux brioche/fishermans stitch. I even blabbed about it online that way.  I crack myself up!  Just recently I saw a class listing for the "Knit or purl into row under" brioche technique.
Ain't knitting grand?
 I'm going to have leftovers!

* welp, it looks like Jill has just added a whole bunch of really great Windham mini sets to her etsy site, including Dionisio Cowl sets! They weren't there just a couple of weeks ago when I was scouring the internets for just such a thing!  I encourage you to  treat yo'self.  

**I'm thinking I might revisit this pattern and come up with something less super bulky. Maybe with pompoms? Or tassels? I am feeling flamboyant this season!

Monday, October 09, 2017

the rainbow sweater

Too much  ;-) ?!* 

 I had the sweetest sweater request: a rainbow sweater. Specifically a cardigan, with traditional V neck men's styling and button band, lower hip length. 
It had to have most of the rainbow colors but especially pink. And pink buttons.
We found the Go Buffalo pattern met all the requirements. Except, of course, colors.

A lot of decision making went into this one. Zoe loves wool, but only super soft wool. I love color...but not candy colored rainbow or primary stripes.  I found a fabulous Frabjous Fibers Wonderland Yarn sport weight Compass Shawl kit that had just the right combo to get me started, with a two shades of blue, a green and a perfect raspberry pink.  Lovely yarn!

The red is some Louet Gems sport left over from Sleight of Hand mittens, and my LYS had the perfect not-too-sad golden yellow- they call it curry-  from Swans Island yarn.

I hit up Dusty's Vintage Buttons at TNNA--she is at a lot of festivals and is irresistible--and brought home some egg yolk yellow buttons for the cardi. Which were passed over in favor of irridescent light pink buttons I'd also brought home, just for fun.  What was I thinking?!

The stripes are six rows wide, and although Zoe is on the average/small  for her age, we lengthened the body and arms a couple of inches from the pattern's sizing for her.

This was my main knitting project in July and August , other than a couple of ongoing mindless pieces I keep around for...umm, knitting mindlessly. Which is my default mode, so this was often put aside. It was easily worth all the color switching and end weaving in to have a finished piece so appreciated by this sweetie.
 It's been to school, worn over a wet bathing suit, it was even worn before I could get the buttons sewn on. Who could resist such handknit enthusiasm. Not me. I am now on task to knit a rainbow hat with the leftovers.   Above, hanging around the bus stop.
Clearly, Zoe knows what she wants in style. Always has. I hope she doesn't cave in to conformity any time soon.
* A little excess in the photoshop department, eh? I just updated my Photoshop CC to 2017 (from 2015). There's an amazingly responsive new Select and Mask sub menu and I decided to play around a little (ummm, procrastinate  skillbuilding much?). I don't think you're going to be seeing too much more of this. was kinda fun....

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

bts: at dragonfly fibers

Behind the Scenes again! I'm just going to warn you, many distracting yarn photos follow.  I was at Dragonfly Fibers studio in Maryland last month, for the loveliest of jobs, helping them set up a permanent photo studio at their workshop and business.

Kate and Nancye make stunning yarn which, distractingly, was everywhere in their headquarters. My head was swiveling around like an owl's the whole day oooh oooh ooooh.

Their yarn is  gorgeously dyed on beautiful bases, with brilliant and subtle colors.  So their photos need to be reliably lit and consistent, to share the goodness online. I love love love consulting jobs like this, where I can apply my little slice of nerdy-photo- knowhow with talented people.  It's mindboggling to look at all the parts to running a successful yarn business.
There's sourcing and ordering miles and miles of naked yarn--and then winding it into dye-able skeins. 

And of course the logistics of dyeing and drying  large quantities, and reproducing great colors time after time.  That blue with black in it, in the photo above this one,  just kills me. 

Then it all has to be patted and  twisted and tagged before it goes out into the world. Which seems like no big deal when you've just got ten skeins in a basket.  Scale that up to hundreds and hundreds of skeins...and there's a whole lotta twisting going on.

It's the organizational side that would kill me, personally. (That and choosing names for the yarns, which Kate has amongst her super powers). So many laundry baskets and storage bins ready to roll. Obvs prepping for Rhinebeck NY Sheep & Wool is going to require many many many bins.
Dragonfly Fibers doesn't have a retail shop at their studios but there is an area that is set up store-like, if you happen to be by on a studio visit. That's their colorway Beaches, which stopped me in my tracks.  Though I didn't bring those home with me, you'll be glad to know I didn't leave empty handed,. And I managed to control my chronic indecisiveness by choosing one skein and asking Kate to choose a second for me.  I'll share it in another post. Oh, ok... spoiler: my beauties are Low Tide and Poseidon, which tickles the mermaid in me no end.
A very very good version of  Christmas ? 
I swear this was just sitting around. Love love love love love.  We used their yarn in a couple of projects in our book , and I've since knit my favorite hat from Drop Dead Easy Knits, my Sidekick in their yarn.  Dragonfly Fibers yarn is stocked in many shops, and of course they sell online,  but if you happen to be at  festivals  this season...definitely stop by. 
PS. They are killing it with the new photo studio we set up, as seen on Instagram yesterday. When they launch a new website, prepare to be wowed!

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

passerine hat : finished

Finally !  Blocked and gifted. The Passerine Hat.  In the loveliest Starcroft Fog yarn from Maine island sheep.
 I will be honest with you, it is not a fun knit. Working with this yarn that I love, and knowing the giftee would appreciate it got me across the finish line. The birds are charming but the pattern is one verrry long chart . You knit across the verrry long chart twice per round. Within the chart, there's no rhythm or repeating sequence of colors, as in most colorwork. There are, however, very long floats. This means you have to  catch the contrast strand along the way. The chart was wide, so knitting it off my phone wasn't working, and that's my preference for knitting on the go or on the beach.   How shall I say this? The project didn't match my knitting lifestyle. (I say this tongue in cheek, really, who could pull off saying that seriously? Please read with a slight whiiiine in your voice)
However, it's kind of true. Above,  in my lap, the triumphant decrease to the crown. On a 5 hour train ride to DC,  I got the last ten rows of chart knit, and completed the hat. You can see it's pretty puckery pre-blocking, but it flattened out nicely. (Also you can see how my knitting matches my dress. Snaps for that!)
I betcha there are a ton of unfinished Passerine hats in the knitting world, hiding away in project bags near and far.  I'm happy to say my sister loved it and it looks perfect on her, and yes... I put some birds on it. (had to be said. Right?)

It's a sweet hat, just go in prepared!

A few notes: the yarn I chose has a slight halo, which softens the outline of the birds a bit but also covers the contrast if a catch shows--so overall a win. I added a few rounds in the decreases, to make it slightly slouchy and less beanie.

Friday, September 22, 2017

keynote pullover: drop dead easy knits

When choosing a sweater to test, 
I decided the Keynote was best.
The yoke's fun to knit,
It has a great fit.
(I never give mine a rest.)*

Back with another limerick lede spotlight on a pattern from  Drop Dead Easy Knits by Kirsten Kapur, Mary Lou Egan, and me.  This time, we are talking the Keynote Pullover by Mary Lou Egan.
Here's our model Josephine wearing it, in the book. This sweater is knit from the bottom up, with the decorative sections of Moire stitch taking place at the cuffs and at the yoke.  (Moire is a series of eyelets, very easy, with a fawncy sounding cables or tricksy moves) . 

Mary Lou, who attends a lot of conferences for her day job, designed Keynote as  the kind of sweater you might knit on quietly while listening to presenters, making the body and sleeves, doing all the stockinette. Not too attention getting in the audience, no need to check charts or juggle multiple strands of yarn or anything like that. Then, join it  and do the yoke in your hotel room later, when you want to pay a bit more attention to the row counts. 

I loved it from the earliest swatches, and offered to test knit it in the same yarn Berroco gave us for the book: Fiora, in a silvery grey. Wow, do I love it. It's a cotton/viscose/alpaca blend that knits up well, has a nice drape and best of all--you can throw it in the washer and dryer and it comes out looking seriously good as new.
Don't let the lighting fool you, Mary Lou and I were wearing our matching silver grey  Keynotes last October at NY Sheep and Wool Festival. We were well aware how dorky that is--but it did show off how this sweater suits a good range of body type. She is tall and slim with broad shoulders, while I am short and rounder and have average/narrower shoulders. 

You can easily substitute any DK weight yarn, like Tosh DK if you wanted a woolly version,  or a very snuggly one of Malabrigo Dos Tierras (wool/alpaca) or Berroco Ultra Alpaca Light  or if you want something wool-free, awesome feeling and machine washable, there's Berroco Remix Light. And, though I personally have not jumped on this bandwagon, this sweater would be a good candidate to turn into a fade, using skeins of handdyed, speckled yarns, if you've been toying with the concept but not sure which project to adapt.

Meanwhile, you'll find me here there and everywhere in mine. Seriously--someone tell me to change my top!
 with Kristy Glass when I was on her podcast. Is she not adorable? You can really get a good view of my yoke if you follow the link to her YoutTube channel, while I bobble my head and blab. Also you can see, above, that mine fits a bit more tunic-style than the model's version. Since it is knit bottom up, you can determine the length to armpit pretty easily as you go.
And here's a silly group selfie at the end of a photo shoot, and I am once again in my Keynote, bottom right.I wear it working, a lot.

If you've got one knit or underway, share it on Ravelry with us!We love love love seeing what you make from the book and where you wear it.

*if you check on Mary Lou's blog Yarnerinas or Kirsten Kapur's blog, Through the Loops, you will see that we're working our way through the book, sharing thoughts and ideas about the patterns. We jokingly said we'd do them in limerick, and I am , characteristically, the one who is taking that joke too far.

Thursday, September 07, 2017

to do list (3 things on thursday*)

Finishing up this rainbow sweater is top on my to do list. As you can see, there're irrefutable signs of cool weather.  I started it right around July 4th, so a Labor Day almost-finish is a nice symmetry.

It's a special request from sweet  Zoe,  could  I say no? She's so anxious to wear it that she reminds me to work on it every day. She tried it on as often as she could , while it was being knit, top down. It looks done to her, but I keep insisting " The ends! I need to weave in the ends !And buttons!"
So that's #1 on the knitting /crafting/non-work to do list.
# 2 is more fun than end weaving--I only start new projects when I finish one already in progress, lest I tip into crazyland.  I'm leaning towards a nice slouchy Farmhouse Cardi for me. Zoe thinks it should be a hat for me, to match her sweater, with the leftovers.

#3 accept that the season is changing. This is a state of mind to-do item.  We had the last full moon of summer neighborhood ladies skinny dip last night , the annual event that signals the end of summer to me. I'm working on it.

* I'm going to try joining in the 3 things on thursday. I've always enjoyed reading the Think Write Thursdays but the concept of a writing topic assignment was just too much for me . However--3 things? 3 things! I can do that. More info over on Carole Knits.