Friday, November 17, 2017

post 6: 3 things rectangular wraps

Shawl wrap, stole... whatever. There's something about a rectangular length that is 1) elegant  2) also a bit like wearing your security blanket. 3) Added bonus, no shaping while knitting. 

First up, Box of Rain  from Apple Tree Knits. When I wrote about her new collection and shooting it last post,  I had too much too include. So it gets it's own lead today!
Oh, the details!  It's a beautiful center out stockinette rectangle, with lace edging.  It's the kind of thing you can wrap up in and instantly feel amazing. It'd make a fab new mom gift, to wrap herself or the baby in .

And if that much fingering weight knitting is not your jam, consider this
Laight by Kirsten Kapur--in her Shawl Book One and on Ravelry as a single pattern, in aran weight yarn.

And I can't leave out Glama from Drop Dead Easy Knits. You'd think I'd be immune to its charms, what with carting of this sizable sample around the country to trunk shows--however last week Kirsten showed me a stunning red one, also in Malabrigo Rasta, and I fell for it all over again. Bulky yarn but the drop stitches make it drape so beautifully. 

Ok that's my Three Things for this Thursday posted a few hours later than intended.  More to look at, from  links on Carole's blog

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

post 5*: Apple Tree Knits collection BTS

Behind the Scenes with Apple Tree Knits Fall Winter Collection - released just last week.  Here's the link to the patterns on Ravelry.  That's the Awestruck Shawl **by the genius behind Apple Tree Knits, Liz Capik, herself, knit in one of her gradient skeins.
We try to look serious in the photos but between shots, we crack ourselves up. Liz models her own yarn!  Usually when designers or dyers say they'd like to pose in their own samples I hesitate. It's a lot of pressure to be the client, the artist and the model, including looking fabulous. But she nailed it, right?
When Liz contacted me to start planning a shoot, she sent  a moodboard and said "autumn-ish" and Boho. And she is based in New Jersey.  Bingo. I knew we had to shoot at stylist/ creative director /writer Karin Strom's place near the Delaware Water Gap, and have Karin style it.  Done and done!
Except we shot on a hot August day, with the gardens still we had to be careful framing to make sure you wouldn't know the season. In the shot above on the brick walk, we scavenged the yard for early fallen leaves to scatter for a cooler weather vibe.  I am not sure how Liz managed to look serene and cool through all ten pieces. Some people have all the skills.
See?  This scarf, Fluidity Life, is a fave from the shoot. Not just because of the styling :-). You know how it is very very hard to find a pattern that is interesting to knit and works with--not against- a variegated handpainted yarn. This one is a fun project--click on that link by the name- it says it's started in the round, then continues knit flat. An adventure.  Liz' yarns, if you've never seen them in your LYS, are sometimes  subtle and water color-y gentle in their hues. But she's got some punch, too. 
See how UN-autumn-like it was? That's Karin Strom on the left, and my cheezin' assistant Yliana on the right. She's wearing a hat we were handing in and out of the photo for a prop, you can see it in the photo above this one.  Liz is balancing on a bucket so I can shoot her at an angle to crop out the cheery green grass.  The big white reflectors are down to try to block off green from taking over and tinting the photo***. 
I can't only show bright colors when I loooovvvve the more subtle yarns Liz dyes. This ruana is a perfect example. All of the intensely speckled yarns that have become popular this season are fun but hard to wear in garment form if you're not a bright speckled person. If you know what I mean.  
Had to include this. The only downside of shooting at Karin's Victorian farmhuse property is I want to just wander around and make pretty pictures of all the little vignettes she creates there. That's a whole 'nother story. 
and now the footnotes 
* yeah, so...the November daily blogging hasn't quite been daily.  I'm still trying. 

** That Awestruck Shawl is especially fab because she designed it to be knit with gradients and use every inch of the special yarn. You can keep going until you run out of gradient, and not waste any of a beautiful  skein, at whatever yardage you have. Love!

*** Getting on my photographer soapbox here: I often hear new photographers say "oh, you can just fix that in photo editing, it doesn't matter " -in regard to shooting with poor shadow detail, or in situations with a mixed light source that give a color cast. While it is true that you can correct, you will have much better images- and be a much better photographer--if you learn how to control light and color. You can make a flawed picture better in photo editing but you ain't never gonna make it great. Don't you want to make great photographs?
Ahem. Steppin' down! 

Sunday, November 05, 2017

post4: the Never Fail Watch Cap

Here you have it, the Never Fail Watch Cap from Mason Dixon Knitting Knitstrips, knit in The Croft yarn on US size 8 needles. Easily less than one skein.  What is not to love?

I've already talked about how simple the pattern and how delightful the yarn. I may have whined a bit excessively about the need to make one long Kitchener seam. It really was no big deal.

An entertaining little knit, and sooo quick. Pretty sure another will be on the needles soon. But not, however in my other skein of The Croft, in the blue/green for Dave. When asked what he thought about the hat, and if he wanted one, too,  the reply was something like "It's a good one. I like it. Ummm no I don't want matching hats.......I'd really like if you'd finish my sweater though....."
See? They named it right.

As far as Dave's sweater...I have tons of knitting time this week, a Woolapalooza of Knitting Time! FOs ahead. 

Friday, November 03, 2017

post 3: felting has its limits

This right here is exactly how many felted balls a five year old will make with you before she remembers that felting little wool balls is actually quite boring.

Thursday, November 02, 2017

post 2 Nov: 3 things about The Croft

1) On Saturday I popped into my LYS , Knit New Haven w here I discovered they'd gone and stocked new yarns  without telling me. So many good ones! A shelf of The Croft from West Yorkshire Spinners especially got to me--and they had a skein out for sampling a few stitches. Boom. Done.

2)  It's Shetland wool, aran weight, lofty, soft, woollly natural sheep colors blended base. With muted speckles. Not so crazy as to be high contrast or pool. Just the right kind of speckles. And, a little lanolin sheepy whiff. I settled on two skeins in different colors--a new hat for me and for Dave.  (I don't buy random single skeins, without a project in mind. That never ends well for me).

3) All other projects immediately set aside to knit a Never Fail Watchcap from Mason Dixon Knitting Knitstrips feature.  Above is a testament to how much I love this yarn--I have knit nothing else since Sunday. And I don't love plain garter stitch.  But I should love this hat, just in time for the chillier weather.

My only point of uncertainty: I was thinking of knitting the same pattern for Dave but we've avoided wearing matching hats since we were this the time to start? 
ETA: now that I am at the long kitchener seam, above,  I can safely say Dave's The Croft hat will be a different design...knit in the round.

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

post 1*: Grand Central Scarf fr DDEK

There's a train station in New York City,
That's elegant, old and so pretty.
Waiting or onboard,
Simple knitting's adored.
Empty handed? You have my pity!**

We're talking the Grand Central Scarf by Kirsten Kapur from Drop Dead Easy Knits.

At a glance, its a  striped textured scarf with fringe. Take a closer look! I am crazy about this clever pattern. Here's why:

Instead of the expected knit back and forth on looooonnnnngggg rows, it is actually knit in the round. Yup, that's right, in the round. Mind blown?

You cast on a lot of stitches and knit around till you have the desired width of your scarf, (or run out of yarn).  Cleverly designed to have no finishing , it has a section where you let stitches drop and cut once, to create the fringe.

OK. As one persnickety and mean-spirited review pointed out, there is the very minimal finishing of needing to knot the fringes at their base.  And optionally, block it.  Shhh don't tell anyone, you could skip the blocking if it is draping nicely.
thanks to the beautiful Sarah Hunt of Fibertrek podcast for modelling.
The texture is a simple slip stitch with a good rhythm-- you'll not need any glancing at a pattern. Which is why it is great travel/waiting knitting. If you've ever knit a Honey Cowl (and holy cow there are close to 24,000 of them on Ravelry, though I think half of those were knit by Mason Dixon Kay), I refer you to that kind of vibe.  Though not the same texture. It is, however, really pretty on both sides.

Kirsten designed it using two shades of DK weight yarns but Mary Lou cleverly used a skein of Jill Draper Makes Stuff Rifton, which has long color changes-- making the project even Drop Dead Easier, by not needing to switch skeins. ***   If you fell for beautiful gradients at a festival or yarn shop recently, this might be a good use for them.


* Every November I attempt NaBloPoMo but despite good intentions, fall short.  Me+Rules = UNlikely To Follow. So I number my posts for the month and do what I do. .

** The three authors of Drop Dead Easy Knits--Kirsten Kapur of Through the Loops, Mary Lou Egan, and I- committed to blogging about each of the patterns in our book. If you visit our blogs, you'll find the posts. I said I'd do it in haven't slipped up yet.

*** I cast on for  Grand Central in Rifton, too, but idiotically decided to work it from both ends, for the stripes, rather than just knit through it. About halfway in I realized my folly: I had a frustrating tangle from the two end knitting (so. not. easy.). Plus, Jill had spun this yarn so the color changes repeated, her colors were so thoughfully and gracefully appearing yet  I was ending up with matching sections instead of stripes....It was not working. If you use a color changing yarn, just go straight through it and let the dyer do the heavy lifting.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

NY Sheep & Wool: Postcards Rhinebeck 2017

New York Sheep & Wool was a daytrip for me this year.  It was, as you've no doubt gleaned elsewhere, unseasonably warm.  Also unusual, I only had dark sunglasses (prescription, I am Ms Magoo), no normal specs, so my picture making was...interesting.  SO. VIVID.
With sunglasses turning things extra bright, I peered over and saw that indeed, longtime fave Nanne Kennedy of Seacolors solar dyed up some strong hues this year at her farm. Love love love.
It's always all about the people and What They Are Wearing, for me. More love love love.
There's the full view of Cal Patch* of Hodgepodge Farm and friends from the Ulster County Spinners in their Dottie Angel Frocks.  Head-to-toe handmade love.
The talented and beautiful Kristy Glass, first thing in the morning when one could wear wool...for a the shade. Her YouTube channel has this year's 90+ minute Rhinebeck Sweater roundup online already...get your popcorn and settle in. She's the best knit world interviewer/supporter/video star. She interviewed me about the shawl I was wearing. My sweater stayed in the car. I'd declare Yoked Sweaters the Big Thing this year and Boyland Knitworks Sunset Highway the most worn.
Things I didn't buy but will:(L) White Barn Farm's gorgeous Home yarn, in the colorway Remains of the Day. Will be ordered as soon as I choose the pattern it deserves. (top R) Eco dyed woven wool from Rwanda, at the Umva LongRidge Farm booth.  bottom right: Dragonfly Fibers. Swooooon.
Another view of an Umva shawl, and then, something I DID buy, Bristol Ivy's stunning book Knitting Outside the Box. The designs are like her, beautiful and smart. The book is gorgeous and full of skill building, thoughtful, inspiring  essays on ways to make innovative shapes and drapes. In my fantasy world, I take it with me to a cabin in the woods on a snowy weekend and dig in, by the fireplace.
Hugs! (or...neck locks...)That's Cal Patch running into  my Rhinebeck date Beverly Army Williams. I highly recommend attending with an excellent travel buddy maker friend--but go find your own, you can't have her, she's mine;-) Such a fun day exploring and ooohing and aaaahing and hugging...
Here's Beverly and Thea Colman, Ms Baby Cocktails herself,  at the Jill Draper Makes Stuff after party.  Thea's helping Beverly choose yarn to make her newest release Rye and Rum Punch--not that you can see much of it, but Thea is wearing it. She helped select the contrast colors in Windham. This was vicarious shopping at it's best, I am crazy about that sweater. To the queue!
More from Jill Draper's** studio in Kingston---clockwise from upper left: Jill Draper herself, looking 1940's glam,  Misa Erder and Karen Clark (ChooChooKnits) in a mind boggling show of knitting genius. Misa designed and wore her cowl Market Day. 
Karen surprised her by sweaterizing it. (!!) On the bottom left, Misa considers two Empire bumps. This photo, made in a  dark-ish corner at dusk, doesn't  do credit to Jill's dyeing.  That one on the right was SO GOOD. Something like this but, y'know, even better.
Being the bon-vivants that we are, next stop was the Mason Dixon Knitting MDK Pie and Cider Party in the woods.
It was a no shoes party.  The lovely The Wooliers sisters won Best Prepared, in their knit slippers.  Check out that view of the shoes on the front entry porch: in which we confirm  the Venn diagram for MDK and Wearing Clogs is almost totally overlapped circles. Notable exception, my high rise Tevas.   My motto: Sandals till the freeze forces me into boots!
Ann and Kay cut the pie, the cider flowed. It was a lovely way to end the day.

* Cal is an amazing maker and teacher--that link is to her etsy shop but you might want to surf around and see if you can take a class from her, or find her vending at a holiday market.

** If you are clicking over in the days just following the festival, Jill may not yet have refilled her etsy shop, but don't worry, it'll be back in a few days....

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!