Monday, April 09, 2018

FO: Solbein sweater

When my friends at Berroco Yarns, who distribute Lopi yarn from Iceland, mentioned a Lopi Knit Along , I was all in. At the time we were shooting  Lopi samples  (psst! that link is to five free patterns) in New Hampshire. Not, sob! in Iceland.  My Stopover, knit in Lett Lopi a couple of years back,  is in such constant wear that my neighbors  are ready to do an intervention and I'd been eyeing the Solbein Cardigan by Mary Jane Mucklestone.

Amy Christoffers, (aka Savory Knitting and the Creative Director at Berroco)  and I played Sweater Switch last month--she's in my Solbein and I am in her utterly fabulous modified Birkin. That's an Instagram link where she explains it all.

I like that the Solbein yoke is traditional in proportion yet modern and abstract. I love how Mary Jane's pattern samples had two subtle colors and one higher contrast. Oh did I mention I also love a sweater knit on size 10US needles? That is the charm of both Solbein and Stopover knitting up quickly.  LettLopi- which is technically light worsted weight,  airy and fluffy--on larger needles creates a light warm fabric*. The halo from the yarn--which gets fluffier with wear and washing, filling in the stitches so is is not saggy or loose. 

Cautionary Tales of the Color Confusion Variety:  at the time I cast on, the pattern was only available in the hefty print magazine version. I took the yarn with me to cast on while traveling, and quickly copied the pattern into my phone via a scan in B&W. Ooops! Turns out the grayscale version of the colorwork chart translated into not being able to tell the difference between CC1 and No Stitch spaces.  So, strictly speaking, there may be some minor differences in my yoke and the pattern.

Along the same lines-- if you choose to go with subtle color difference for the colorwork, don't spend so much time knitting in low light!  The Oatmeal Heather of the body and the Frostbite  of the yoke background look exactly the same while you are watching TV in my house, or knitting in a car at dusk ...or on a plane.... or seemingly everywhere I knit ..
With partial crew at a recent chilly photo shoot. That's Amy Christoffers again, Emily O'Neil, artist/styist and my assistant, Yliana.  I wear this sweater ALL THE TIME!
You can see my color discerning problems didn't stop me much, it's a lovely knit.

•  I converted it to a pullover by omitting the center front steek stitches and adding a stitch so the ribbing etc would work out.
•  I added a few short rows  just behind the neck- you can see them in the top photo.  
•  I omitted the hem colorwork because my hip line needs not extra decor  ;-)
•  I added length to the body. I didn't start out with that plan but it is knit top down. As I got near the lower edge, I was thinking about how my Stopover is just exactly perfect in length for my life.   I measured my Solbein against it, above,  and knit to the same hem.  This meant I ran low on my main color. Since the sleeves are knit down I saw it coming . I added an extra repeat of colorwork motif at the cuffs, as there was more than enough of the contrast color yarns. You can see that in the top photo, as well.

If you feel like a Lopi knit might be fun but the whole Lopapeysa yoke thing isn't your jam, check out Saltwater Bay Cardigan by Amy Christoffers from Knitty. It is one of the pieces we were shooting when the whole Lopi KAL conversation started :-).

* if you wear your sweaters with nothing underneath them, then you may find Lopi a little woolier than you like next to your skin- I've worn mine over a sleeves tank and been just fine. They  get soft and fuzzy and are weightless-- still lovely and warm-after washing. 

Thursday, March 08, 2018

3 things: Camurac Cardi/Drop Dead Easy Knits

When we first dreamt up Drop Dead Easy Knits, our rather fab book of stylish but not too difficult projects, we had to provide a sample or two in order to nail down our contract with the publisher. The cushy, squooooshy Camurac Cardigan by Kirsten Kapur was the first garment designed for the book. It truly deserves the spotlight.
 It's knit on size 10US needles, so it knits up quickly.  Cast  on now and without too much fuss you'll have a  dreamy pick-me-up of a wardrobe addition while it is still March.  I don't know about you but I could use a wardrobe pick-me-up about now.

In the above photos, you're seeing it knit in Quince Osprey which is delicious (plus, whoa, check out the colors in that link).  You can sub any aran/heavy worsted.  Kirsten made one in Jill Draper Makes Stuff Empire  and Mary Lou knit one in Neighborhood Fiber Company . Somehow this little pic of the three of us is the only image I can find of Kirsten in can peek the lapel texture. Below is a sweater-size bump of Empire. A Camurac waiting to emerge.

I guess that's already Three Things about the Camurac Cardi . This Three Things on Thursday format* really  helps me squeeze out a blogpost. This week I'm going for a bonus round ! Three MORE things:
1) Initially, this wonderful throw-it-on anytime cardi and the Westerloe dog sweater were to appear in the same chapter,  so they were designed with coordinating stitch detailing. Sweet!
whooooshhh! Is that the sound of you rushing out to get yarn for a Camurac PLUS a Westerloe so you can match your furry friends? I hope so.

2) Camurac is a skiing resort area in the French Pyrenees.  This pattern appears in our chapter "Cold Hands, Warm hearts"-- warm pieces,  lovely to have in your lap as you knit in cool weather.  Mary Lou did some heavy lifting for pattern naming, finding chilly locations around the globe. They had to be pronounceable and not already overly represented as pattern names.  Seriously, go search Aspen or Chamonix or whatever popped into your mind first as a cold weather locale, on Ravelry, and see the number of designs that got there before you.

3) This pattern is knit flat and pieced together. That's right, on good old straight needles. No overdeveloped biceps needed to work that stockinette in one weighty piece. The seams provide structure. No Saggy Sweater Syndrome, a problem striking so many of us who adore big slouchy cardis.

If you've knit a Camurac cardi--or any pattern from Drop Dead Easy Knits-- could you do us a solid and post it on Ravelry? We adore seeing what knitters do with the book!

* Carole Knits and AsKatKnits  are the brains behind the Three Things on Thursday, the beauty of it is, you can choose any topic you wish for your three things. Controlled anarchy!  If you feel like joining in any Thursday inspiration strikes, post the link from Carole's blog, near the bottom.

Thursday, March 01, 2018

3 things :about Las Vegas

Last month I was in Las Vegas. My reason was so weird that Uber drivers laughed at me.
I was teaching photography (for social media,  and Iphone-ography)  to yarn shop and yarn industry folks at the winter  TNNA tradeshow.  I was thrilled to be there! But you know how  it sounds. Keep in mind another trade show in town that same week was the Adult Entertainment Awards (ie PORN STAR OSCARS!) just one hotel over.  Ha! After telling us that, the same chortling uber driver offered to make a stop at a weed store straight from the airport. I guess we looked like we needed to loosen up?
I had a grand time talking about photography and yarn together, as I always do, given the opportunity. We had really wonderful students, it was two full days of good classes.

Three things (and more) from my trip to Las Vegas
1) After spending the day coaching our students to be fabulous on Instagram,  I cozy up with Elvis
I was co-teaching with writer/writing professor BeverlyArmy Williams, left, we have become excellent travel buddies as we've been taking our workshops on the road.

2) Wandered around the Strip , joking that we looked like the Sister Wives On Vacay in the Bright Lights.  You know the general population just doesn't wear hand knit shawls that much, do they?  Blown away by the conservatory gardens  in the Bellagio , theme was Year of the Dog Chinese New Year.

This was my first time  realizing how many creative people must have tons of work here--this had to take days and days to create.  The people figures are all made of flowers and are easily 20 feet high. The big husky was animated and a story high.

A highlight was joining Beverly in seeing an old friend of hers, Johnny Miles, perform a central character  in Cirque de Soleil,  Mystere. What a show! We had fabulous seats.

Johnny Miles in character, magenta tux,  at the Mystere finale
Beverly and Johnny Miles, sans makeup, after the show. Who'd know?

It was a spectacular show, truly. We got a tour of behind the scenes afterwards, on all the levels of the stage and backstage. This theater was built specifically for the show. It has live music and people who fly through the air playing drums and doing artful acrobatics and so much staging and costuming. Again I was blown away by the creative work opportunities in town.
Quick peek at the costume shop backstage for Mystere. There are full time salaried artists and costumers (plural) working there. Yes, I DID want to touch everything but mostly restrained myself.

3) Got out to the desert!
Another freind who's a frequent accomplice in travel and work, designer Mary Lou Egan, was also teaching at TNNA. We had to do  a quick hike. Las Vegas is densely developed --but after the last ring of new neighborhoods it is all desert. It was only a 15 minute drive to Red Rock Canyon.
 The start of our trail. Definitely not in New England here.

 Mary Lou showing off her just-off-the-needles September House sweater.

We were so happy to be out in the sun and seeing the odd-to-us plants and landscape.

I know this is a long post but I can't end without sharing some things I loved  at the trade show.
First,  I sampled the  new Addi Flexi Flips needles. 
Three short needles with a bendy center section. Each needle has one super pointy and one more rounded tip. You keep your small circular knitting on two of the needles and knit with the third.  I loved it! They are a little pricey, but for me, worth it. Awesome for sleeves, socks and hats. Haven't yet decided which size to get though.
I did purchase an Atenti  bag, mine is bucket style.  I can roll down the top inch or so and it stands up on it's own, holding a whole sweater (almost done! btw)  easily.  I have been wanting one every time I see them, they are beautifully made in the US . I love the fabrics they use - mine is a brocade, with an olive green suede lining and straps.  Its a family business. I had to visit their showroom space at TNNA.  (Check them out at your LYS, they make a lot of styles). 

phew that's a lot! It's nice to be back to blogging, I'll try to at least do the Three on Thursday (more linked from Carole's blog page).

Thursday, January 18, 2018

3 things: what i'm knitting now

The sub-title of the post should be: for better or worse.  I'm really jazzed about  a number (greater than three! a cornucopia of knits!) of projects I have going on,  but these three are actively being knit on this week.
My Jane Jacobs Shawl from I Knit New York.   I am having fun with this! Mosaic knitting over a large surface is new for me. It flies by magically. My only issue is indecision about colors. I need to swap out for the next section.  Designer Kirsten Kapur gave me the heads up that in mosaic knitting, subtle contrasts get lost--more so than in garter stripes or stranded colorwork. Who knew??  Being friends with the designer has its advantages, but now I am fretting the colors.  I think the next section will be blue (see yarn options at top) with black squares, then with grey with squares and end with the purple with lightest silver/white squares. Or....maybe not...

Bonus: on an episode of the Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, there's  a scene with Jane Jacobs, on a  soapbox in Washington Square Park. I sputtered in excitement as I watched " Hey I AM KNITTING A SHAWL named after her".  I may have repeated it three times.  (any wonder non-knitters think we are crazy?)
TWO I finished Dave's sweater, Zacapa by Thea Colman. I love everything about it except the fit is messed up.  Entirely MY fault, NOT the pattern's.  Dave tried it on fresh off the needles,  I thought all it needed was a good blocking. So I wove in ends, finished seams, blocked it thoroughly (3 days to dry, no joke, it is heavy yarn ).  Now it is obvious the sleeves and shoulders are all wrong.  My first saddle shoulders will soon be my second saddle shoulders ;-) .  I have lost my zip to work on this but he loves it, so I shall seek zip and rip back soon . Quite a ways back. UGH.  It's beautiful Jill Draper Makes Stuff Middlefield yarn , far too nice to leave unworn and neglected!
If you are thinking " wtf ? scribble lace in south florida flamingo and green?" , I hear you. Though we are calling it seaweed green and mermaid pink.  It is a gift for someone who is all about such foof and flair.  I want to make something that she will love.  Back in the day  (so far back, pre-ravelry) I knit at least two Loopy & Luscious Wraps .  This is a narrower version as a scarf, in the venerable KidSilk Haze and a skein of really lovely but intensely pink Soul Wool merino. Both skeins have been here a while.  It became obvious to me they need to be this gift.
The scribble lace cranks off the size US15 needles--I watch a little TV and work on it at night for an hour or so-  it'll be done soon and then I can leap onto one of three sweaters for me that are in the plans. And on my Make Nine.  And calling to me every time I walk past the yarn.

Not unrelated--Berroco is running a Lopi KAL starting February 1st.  I am so in to Lopi-Along.  You? 

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Lucy & Ethel Cowl: Drop Dead Easy Knits

It's time to shine a spotlight on the Lucy and Ethel Cowls from Drop Dead Easy Knits. Design by Kirsten Kapur

When we brainstormed a pattern name that referenced two friends that were fun and colorful (as the cowls are) and had slightly different styles (as the cowls do), we leapt on Lucy and Ethel. But we didn't know they knit!!!  And I don't think they are faking it, you can find Lucy knitting on several episodes and sometimes just for the hell of it.  Links to I Love Lucy episodes for your wintertainment* right here
Two simple stitch patterns make up the design.  Like everything in the book, they are simpler than you'd think , and more stylish than you'd expect from a pattern that isn't hard to knit.  Worsted weight**, so they go fast .
The longer style can be loopy, I always think of that one as Lucy.  Or for a quick knit and less volume, the shorter cowl Ethel is a great choice.
The cowls appear in a chapter of patterns we presented as great for knitting in multiples to give as gifts to your friends. We wanted the photos to give off a buddies vibe. You wouldn't know it from this photo, but these two had just met. We had to use the top photo, with the hat hiding the smile, in the book, so that the focus stayed on the knits and not the beautiful happy faces.  I don't think photoshoots need to be dour affairs-- we like to goof around a little while we work.

Just like Ethel and Lucy!
* I know you may be reading this in Australia or somewhere else southern hemisphere, and it may not be winter where you are....but frankly, it is SO WINTERY here that I can't imagine anything else today. Sorry! I have midwinter January brain.

** The samples shown are in The Fibre Company Knightsbridge yarn, which is lovely llama and silk , but I'd also knit them in Berroco UltraAlpaca--it has some of the same heathery colors and wool/alpaca loft and an insane range of  color options. I just fell down the rabbit hole of choosing...Barley and Cerulean? Zinc and PeaSoup? or GrapefruitMix??? aaaaghhhhhh. What would you choose? 

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

I Knit NY: bts with Kristy Glass Knits

 On a summery early October day (remember summery weather? )I was in New York shooting the excellent brand new book I Knit New York* from One More Row Press--the first in their series of Knit Like a Local.

I was so focused on my work that day, I didn't realize Kristy had filmed us in action, including my very enthusiastic two thumbs up to the model, somewhere around the 7.20 mark on the 10 minutes video. 

And as long as we're all video-sharey today, here's our beautiful and multi-talented dancer model Becca, doing her thing with her band, the Gentlemen Brawlers. 

 I bet Kristy didn't know I caught her in action too.....

Shot while the model was changing, and as you know , given 10 minutes, knitters gonna knit.I have A LOT more to say and share about this book, so I'll be back on the topic soon.

* You can order the book online or if you are coming to VKLive in NYC this weekend, stop by the Backyard Fiberworks booth and get a signed copy from Kathleen Dames and Alice O'Reilly, the talented partnership behind this project. Bonus-see the samples and get some of Alice's yarn :-) ** If you do not follow and watch Kristy Glass Knits channel, you are missing out on some of the best knittertainment around, as well as seeing great interviews, meet people,and see books and ideas reviewed by this talented and passionate social media rock star.

Saturday, January 06, 2018

Make Nine 2018

I've been having a fine time over on Insta looking at Making Plans of the Multitudes. Did you know you can follow a hashtag now,  as well as a person?  I added #MakeNine2018 to my feed and poof, inspiration-- and aspiration-- out the wazoo.

I wasn't going to put one together myself but it's amazing what a snowed-in day leads to....

1. September House Sweater from Kirsten Kapur (pattern releasing soon) .

2. Amy Louise Shift by Ellen Mason, Odacier .

3. Solbein by Mary Jane Mucklestone, as a pullover.  I'm indecisively hovering over All the  Lopi to pick colors. Side note: It's in Making No. 4 Lines, which is SO GOOD.  I could Make Nine from it alone.

4. Dottie Angel Frock from Simplicity. The company's pattern photos are white bread twee but look around online and you'll see great versions. Again, indecision abounds, this time for fabric choices.

5. Farmhouse Cardi by Savory Knitting, Amy Christopher. Ok, so I started this near the end of 2017 but it had to be put aside, so it's 95% a 2018 knit. In Jill Draper Makes Stuff Empire. With vintage buttons. Why am I sitting here blogging when I could be working on it???? ;-)

6. Jane Jacobs Shawl by Kirsten Kapur from I Knit New York, released yesterday! I cast on late last night, could not resist, in  this Backyard Fiberworks .  You can see the sample at VKLive in NYC, at the Backyard Fiberworks booth--and get signed print copies of the book.  I am quite biased, as the photographer but it is a gorgeous collection. I could easily Make Nine from this one too.

7. Brioche.  I really enjoy going round and round in 2 color brioche. I have a lot of beautiful yarn. I think you know where this is going......there will be more brioche.

8. Metamorphic Dress by Sew Liberated. I am crazy about this dress. I've yet to see a version that I don't love. If I can  get the proportions right, it will be a major part of my wardrobe. (It's reversible so that's doubly true).

9. I can't show it  yet but Berroco Portfolio 5  (link is to Portfolio 4, which is no slouch ) is coming out in a couple of weeks.  I'll add the link when it's clickable. Again I am biased since I shot it, and it's one of my favorite series of photos ever so....obvs I need to knit from it.

Anyone else do one of these? leave your link in the comments!