Henley Perfected #2

Posted on | November 15, 2007 | 6 Comments

The other day I casted on for another Henley Perfected. By the time I’m done, I’ll have finished 2 henleys with nothing physically to show for it. Henley #1 is with Interweave and Henley #2 is going to my mother, who asked for one when I emailed her the preview page a couple of weeks ago.

It’s really hard knitting for my mother. She’s very small so I’m knitting the 32.5″ size with modifications — mainly shortening the length and the sleeves by about 1″ each. She’s very picky about how sweaters fit her — they must be neither too tight nor too loose, they must be long sleeved, and they must cover up most of the area around the neck. She’s very intolerant of itchiness in a sweater; I’m crossing my fingers that the alpaca silk will be okay. And she’s very indecisive, which means that we spent 40 minutes on the phone the other day, both of us looking at kpixie’s beautifully photographed Alpaca Silk skeins, trying to determine the best color for her. But she wanted one so how could I refuse?

I’m zipping along on this. I didn’t (gasp!) knit a gauge swatch, instead hoping that my tension hasn’t changed all that much since I knit the sample 6 months ago. I’m already about done with the back:

We finally settled on tangerine which I love. It’s such a great fall color. I hope she likes the finished product!

The Dragon Skin Wrap is ready to be sewn up. I hope to have finished pictures soon because the wrap itself really needs to go out to its intended recipient.

Too many projects syndrome

Posted on | November 8, 2007 | 5 Comments

I went into the city yesterday and finally got a copy of the winter issue of Interweave Knits. Seeing it physically in my hands was quite different than seeing it online – it feels more real somehow. And it’s thrilling to see my name in the table of contents alongside some of my favorite designers.

Speaking of favorite designers that are in the winter IK, I’m almost done with Angela Hahn’s Dragon Skin Wrap. Here it is, waiting to be blocked.

New One Planet Yarn and Fiber pattern available

Posted on | November 5, 2007 | 8 Comments

My latest design with One Planet Yarn and Fiber is now available.

The yarn called for in the pattern is Lanas Puras Melosa Fingering weight, a beautiful, handpainted, single ply 100% merino yarn. It’s very very soft and the available colorways are gently varying or very vibrant, depending on your individual tastes. The design is a mock turtleneck trimmed with large bands of a slip stitch cable and eyelet rib. For me, this was a fun knit because it has both a stitch pattern that requires a little more concentration and large swathes of stockinette. It’s slightly shaped for a more fitted look and the target ease I had in mind was between 2 to 4 inches.

To see more pictures of the turtleneck and to purchase the pattern, go here.

Dragon Skin wrap for a wee one

Posted on | October 25, 2007 | 5 Comments

I was in NYC the other day and happened to be near The Point. And look who decided to come home with me:

It took a little while to get used to. I think I reknit the first 2 rows 3 times before getting everything right. But once you set up the pattern, it’s very easy to tell where you are and it goes by very quickly – particularly since the dragon scale pattern is fascinating to watch develop. I find myself just wanting to knit one more row!

Angela is busily calculating for an adult sized wrap as we speak too, so those of us who want to wrap ourselves in scaly goodness will be able to as well!

Interweave Winter Preview is Up!

Posted on | October 22, 2007 | 22 Comments

And I’m in it! :) Or my design is to be more precise.

I’m grabbing the image from the site:

I’ll try to be more coherent later, but for the moment, I’m really really excited! :)

Donna Druchunas’ Blog Tour – All aboard!

Posted on | October 15, 2007 | No Comments

I have the honor of being today’s stop on Donna Druchunas’ Book Blog Tour to celebrate the publishing of her third book, Ethnic Knitting Discovery.

Donna’s books are always written with humor and in a great, conversational style. As a reader, I feel that I’m having a nice chat with a good friend, albeit with a friend who just happens to be a expert knitter and knitwear designer.

I’ll start out with what Ethnic Knitting Discovery isn’t. It isn’t a glossy, coffee-table book of knits modeled by pout-y, twenty year old models. It isn’t even a book of patterns per se. Instead, it’s a meticulously researched book focusing on historical knitwear from 4 main regions — The Netherlands, Denmark, Norway, and the Andes. Some of these regions may be more familiar to readers (Norwegian sweaters with their fair-isle motifs are very recognizable in the U.S.) than others, yet I managed to learn new things about even the knitwear that was most familiar to me. For example, yoke patterned sweaters (from the Netherlands) are very appealing to me visually, but I didn’t realize that their design comes from the more practical origin of thriftiness — textured stitches consume more yarn, thus long ago dutch knitters relegated their use to just a small region. And Andean knitters purl in the round from the the inside to achieve stockinette stitches on the outside (right side)!

More importantly for the knitter ready to strike out on his or her own, this book doesn’t contain detailed instructions of any particular sweater or item. Instead, Donna encourages the reader to experiment, all the while providing as much or as little guidance as needed by the individual.

The book is organized (save for the first two chapters) by region. The first chapter covers the basics of swatching, some sweater silhouettes, the concept of ease, the percentage system for determining the components of a sweater, and standard measurements for different sizes. The second chapter delves a little more deeply into the nuts and bolts of good sweater design — the importance of considering yarn type and weight, knitting in the round, basic steeking (yikes!), and working with charts.

After a preface of the necessary tools (techniques, mini-stitch dictionaries, etc), the region chapters are divided into 3 main sections — small projects designed to serve as practice or even a large gauge swatch (hats, scarves, etc), medium projects as the individual becomes comfortable with the knitting style of a particular region (simple sweaters), and large projects utilizing most of the techniques illustrated in the chapter (more complex sweaters). Each of these sections are further divided into 3 “patterns” depending on the comfort level and design style of the individual — a visual plan containing a rough sketch and pertinent measurements, a planned worksheet where the measurements of the visual plan are translated into actual stitch and row numbers, and a step by step instruction sheet which gives detailed, written instructions incorporating the numbers from the planned worksheet.

Most invaluable in my opinion, are the many tips and hints scattered throughout the book such as Donna’s advice when picking up stitches to “[fudge] on the ’slightly less than’ side” (pg. 57). Although knitting is a very mathematical discipline, there still remain elements of art and judgment that make it very fun (and at times, frustrating).

At any rate, the enthusiasm Donna has for her subject and her readers is infectious. I’m usually a plan-most-things-out-before-I-start kind of designer, but by the end of the book, I’m inspired to try to design a little more freely like the knitters that came before me.

Thanks, Donna, for stopping by my blog. For more Donna, check out her guest post on my blog last year and her other stops on the current tour.

Super quick trip home…

Posted on | October 3, 2007 | 8 Comments

…and home is the San Francisco bay area which means I got to stop by Artfibers (aka knitters’ mecca) quickly!

Unfortunately, I didn’t have too much time. I was pretty sure I wanted some Hana – a smooth, fingering weight, luxurious plied silk – to make a camisole for a friend. But other than that, I wasn’t sure what else I might want to look for. In the end, I left just with the Hana, but I was also sorely tempted by Rush – a beautiful, painted DK to worsted weight cotton, Tsuki – a slightly thinner version of Kidsilk Haze (one of my all time favorites), and Kurosawa – a soft and brilliant merino silk blend.

The last time I was at Artfibers, the yarn still came in 50 gram balls, but they’ve apparently changed to a 250 gram cone system. They still allow you to wind off a smaller amount (in my case, 150 grams) by yourself if you wish to purchase less, but the best part of all of this is fewer ends for me to weave in at the finishing step!

Here’s my Hana. The color was hard to capture, but it’s a deep magenta or plum. My friend has stunning coloring – jet black hair and creamy porcelain skin – so this color will look great on her.

More Sushine-y progress

Posted on | September 27, 2007 | 5 Comments

I recently had 8 hours of uninterrupted car knitting time and I got quite a bit done on the Sunshine Tank. I finished one side completely and am halfway finished with the other side, about ready to start on the lacey bits. The tank takes two skeins and one skein is enough to complete one side. I’ve noticed that one skein I have is slightly darker than the other which I’m thrilled with because it means I can wear it as it fits my mood (the two pieces – front and back – are identical).

Cross posted on: Oneplanetknitters KAL.

A knit for me

Posted on | September 22, 2007 | 5 Comments

I’m a little bit tired after my 2 month marathon knitting/designing/pattern writing session. So the other day, I settled down to cast on for my first garment that I didn’t design in close to a year. It’s the Sunshine Tank by

I’ve actually gotten much further since I took this picture. I’m done with the back and have started the front.

Radiance is a tencel/merino blend and it has a subtle sheen reminiscent of silk and is incredibly soft and drapey once washed. I think this camisole will be very comfortable. And it’s has just the right mixture of plain, meditative knitting (in the body) and something a little different and interesting (in the lace bodice). The lace itself is an easily memorized pattern and has flattering vertical lines as well as a zig zag wave that radiates playfully across the bustline. I can’t wait to be finished with this and wear it!

Breakfast when the cat’s away

Posted on | September 13, 2007 | 8 Comments

My husband is the cat of course. And he’s off to NYC to interview for a job so that at least one of us can be gainfully employed. I dropped him off at the train station at 6:30 this morning and stopped by the 24 hour Dunkin Donuts/Baskin Robbins (the latter is more useful for me) for some breakfast. Usually when he’s home, we eat very healthily. Breakfast might be toast with peanut butter (gotta love those Omega3s) or yogurt, fruit, and granola bars. When he’s away though, I break out the donuts (an apple crawler, because a glazed donut just wasn’t going to do it today, is pictured below) and black coffee.

Jodi gives a really great tutorial for the bind off on her blog. It’s a pain at first, but you really get into the rhythm of it after a while. Still, it’s much slower than a traditional bind off, but the final product is really really nice. I used it because my design has a very deep scoop neck that would have been too floppy if bound off in the customary way.

Sorry for the lack of coherence. I don’t weather all-nighters like I used to. I’m getting old!

Edited to add: Oh, and the yarn I was working with for one of the projects is so delicate that it was felting like a motherf****r while I was working with it. Picture me on my sofa at 4 a.m., X-files playing in the background, trying desperately not to handle my knitting too much while I was picking up and knitting a border. I tried doing it with gloves, I tried doing it with Kleenex cushioning either side of the work area, but finally gave up and just attempted to keep my hands very very dry.

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