Friday, October 31, 2014

WIP: Little Bird in the Briar


A while back, I discovered a sweet little shawlette pattern called Nurmilintu, and thought it would be perfect for one of my many lone skeins of Tosh Merino Light - in particular, a skein of the colorway Briar, a lovely warm violet color.

The pattern is garter stitch with horizontal lace accents, and a little picot bind-off after the last lace section. So charming! So I cast on, and was humming right along - I managed to finish most of it in a little less than a week - but when I got to that last repeat of the lace pattern, I realized that it was tiny. Too tiny for me to wear, really. And I had a lot of yarn left over, but not enough to knit an extra repeat.


So I let it sit for a little bit - that is, until a few nights ago, when I had a brilliant flash of inspiration: I could use a contrasting bit of Tosh Merino Light to stripe the last garter section, knit another lace repeat in the new color, and do the picot bind-off in the original color. And I just happen to have half a skein of Tern left over from my Stevedore Hat! And it contrasts beautifully with Briar! Hurrah!

So I finally ripped it back and started it again. We'll see if my devious plan works, and if I end up with a cute and wearable shawlette from it. I have high hopes.

My project is on Ravelry here.

Happy Friday, and Happy Halloween!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Foundational Aesthetics: Color

projects7tartcowl6 - Version 2coral - Version 2IMGP9940

As I've found out since I embraced my inner design nerd, my biggest visual driving force is color.

I've always found it hard to categorize my design sense, mostly because it's so eclectic. I love clean lines, and I also love interesting textures; I love colors and colorblocking and contemporary & classic prints; I love elements of vintage style, and I love fresh interpretations of sartorial tropes.

I hate to use such a dull word as "interesting" to describe it, but I think that might be the best one. I like things which contain interest: in color pairing or pattern; in texture or construction. But there is also a balance struck between interest and the negative space around it: it's not merely the detail that is compelling, but the foundation which allows it to be so.

No matter the overall design, color is the final and most important piece of that puzzle. When I conceptualize a garment, its color is built into its DNA: where simplification or retooling of a design element has become a natural part of my process, color choice is much more inflexible. Just as restrictive design specifications can actually encourage creativity, I find that color restrictions allow me to fully explore a design by setting visual and conceptual boundaries and letting my ideas bounce around within them.


Now, if that isn't a justification for a large and lovely multicolored yarn stash, I don't know what is.


Monday, October 27, 2014

FO: Pip!

 pipfo5 pipfo3 - Version 2pipfo pipfo4

Although I finished Pip well before my Oregon Flock & Fiber trip - and actually wore it all that weekend! - I didn't have a chance to get proper photos taken until a week or so ago. I was super drawn to the Braeburn colorway for this design, but I was a little concerned about how it would fit into my wardrobe, since usually, I am all about blacks & cool greys, saturated tones, and specific shades of pink.

I shouldn't have worried - this color is perfect. It's a lovely shade of not-quite-orange, not-quite-red, not-quite-yellowy-green that coordinates perfectly with lots of earthy shades, and even contrasts beautifully with the color of my glasses. Which is a major factor when it comes to wearability for me, because

a) I am way too lazy to put contacts in on a daily basis


b) I like my glasses the most.

So I've been wearing this hat a lot. And working steadily away on writing up the pattern! (Stay tuned.)


(Monsieur Squishy has a lot to say about the subject, obvs.)

Details on Ravelry here.

Happy Monday!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Open Post: Creativity & Process Blog Hop

A while back, I got tagged by Ariel of Stariel Knits to be part of a blog hop. Life intervened - weddings! fiber festivals! tailoring! oh my! - so I am abysmally late in posting my response.

I don't participate in these kinds of memes very often, but I really like how thought-provoking this one is. Thinking about creativity and process is a big part of my daily life, and I love engaging with others on the topic.

In that vein, I've tagged Kat of The Wayward Knitter, and I'd also like to hear what you think! If one or more of these questions resonates with you, please share your thoughts in the comments.

Here are the questions:

1) What am I working on?
2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?
3) Why do I write/create what I do?
4) How does my writing/creative process work?

IMGP5779 jacket3

1) What am I working on?

My primary construction project is my tailored jacket for school. I'm also writing the pattern for Pip, and working on a short story with a fragmented narrative and a noir feel to it.

277350_689644125524_1379466514_o IMGP9945

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Both my design and written work are driven by narrative and thoughtful simplicity. I try not to use two words where one will do. I like to use textures and patterns that evoke certain feelings about an object without straying too far into the literal, appropriative, or derivative.

Hitting upon beauty - whether in a well-turned phrase, or an unexpected color combination - is an intuitive and visceral experience for me; on the other hand, I like to understand the source and context of things I find meaningful. I think both are often expressed in my work.

 hike2 spring5

3) Why do I write/create what I do?

Because I have to. Indirectly, the creative process is a big part of my emotional self-care. I'm an introvert with a frustratingly high sensory input, and absorbing the emotion of everyday life can be really overwhelming for me. When I'm making or writing things, it allows me to interact with the world in a way that processes and releases that input.

lightdark3 day1.6

4) How does my writing/creative process work?

I always start with an image. It may be a particular moment in time, or a detail of a garment, or a combination of color and texture. Sometimes the image is clear; sometimes it's a feeling without focus that I have to work to define and expand upon. Usually I go through a few drafts, streamlining the details as I go.

Editing is probably both my least and most favorite part of the process: it allows me to focus on what I really want to express, but it can really hurt to kill your darlings. This is one place that my perfectionism can be an asset, though - if I love something, but I can tell it obviously doesn't work, I throw it away.


Thanks for reading, and happy Friday!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

FO: Mother of Pearl Mitts

welted mitts weltedmitts2weltedmitts3 weltedmitts4

Unlike every other project I ever work on, this one was really quick: pattern and yarn picked out, knit, ends woven in, and photographed - all in about a week! High five, self. High five.

Details on Ravelry here.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Tailored Jacket: A Body, Constructed

 jacketday3 jacketday3.2

Today, I spent the day at my tailoring teacher's house, reconnecting with my love of wool. (As if it ever really left!)

And, to my surprise, I got a pretty astonishing amount done. In five hours, I finished building the pocket; interfaced the shoulder and lapel; connected the shoulders and side seams; built the sleeve; built the collar; set in the collar; pressed up and sewed the mitered sleeve cuffs. (It makes me tired but proud just looking at that list written out.)

This morning, I had a bunch of pieces of wool pinned to a hanger; tonight, I have a jacket that - though unfinished - I can put on my body.

So much further to go, but so much progress nonetheless!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

On Mentorship

lining lining4

The rain has come in for the fall. Yesterday I spent the afternoon sewing together my jacket lining, marking seams with white chalk and easing charmeuse into itself. Next week I go in for another private class with my tailoring teacher, and I'm preparing what I can before then.

Lately I've sensed a sea change in my creative life. Graduation is close and I have a backlog of design ideas; at the same time, I'm feeling a pull to words that I haven't felt in a long, long time.

In another life, I had a daily notebook and would go on frantic two-day long binges, writing short stories. I had an English teacher from my community college who became my unofficial mentor after I started dropping off short stories in his office for critique, months after my creative writing class had ended. I still find myself writing a sentence and wondering what he'd think of it.

It also makes me think about mentorship in general; although it's common among young creatives to have a mentor in their craft, some of the sparkle of mentorship seems to fade once we've crossed the threshold into adulthood. Yet, it seems that encouragement of growth and reflection is such a positive force for any creative person - or really, any person, in any field - that it seems a shame to leave it behind just because we're no longer young or in school.

It's part of why I like to tell all of my knitting students that I believe in them, as cheesy as it is - because anyone, of any age or skill level, can benefit from knowing that someone is on their side. Because it can, and does, make all the difference.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

WIP: Mother of Pearl Mitts

mitts mitts2

In an effort to clean out my deep stash, I started a pair of Churchmouse's Welted Fingerless Gloves out of some Manos Silk Blend I got years and years ago at Smith's, my local yarn shop in Oberlin. The colorway is Adobe, but it always reminds me of mother of pearl: the dark, textured outer shell and the pale pink glow of the interior. The yarn is knitting up without any pooling, and the cleverness and brevity of the pattern is keeping me on my toes.

The weather has turned in Seattle recently: the leaves are starting to fall, and in the daylight the streets seem larger and brighter - leaves carpeting the sidewalks; empty branches reaching towards the sky. The rain has come, too, and with it a cold bite to the air that can only be cut with a thick layer of wool.

And so, with a little knitting, I'll have another line of defense ready to tuck into my jacket pocket soon enough.

Monday, October 13, 2014

FO: Waving Lace Redux

 wavingsocks wavingsocks4

At long last, my Waving Lace socks are done! It took way too long to knit these, but now that they're finished, I couldn't be happier with them. They're a beautiful color, which sets off the lace just perfectly. The yarn, Intrepid Otter TWIST! in Mother of Dragons, which was super lovely to work with: its snappy twist and soft color variation is exactly how I like my sock yarn.


The Saga of the Socks can be followed here:

And details on Ravelry here:

Waving Lace

Edited to add: Also - the shoes are Chie Mihara, in the style Wespa!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

A Yarny Weekend at Oregon Flock & Fiber Festival: Part 3 - Vendor Highlights!

Last but definitely not least, I wanted to share some of my vendor highlights from OFFF! There were so many great vendors that it would be impossible to write about them all, so here's a small collection of my favorites.

off24 off28off26 off25

Woolgatherings - Hand-painted and dyed roving in a wide variety of fiber blends.

I'm still a novice spinner, and walking into this booth was like walking into the most wonderful sweet shop: color and texture everywhere, neatly portioned and displayed beautifully. I was especially inspired by the shaded alpaca/silk blends, which had a black base overdyed in different hues: color that evoked beetle wings; the shimmers across an oil slick; the color of a crow's wing.

off18 off37off19 off38

Three Fates Yarn - Yarn and spinning fibers, hand-dyed in gorgeous, saturated colors.

I found out about Three Fates Yarns on Ravelry a while back, and was intrigued by her beautiful, jewel-like colors. So it was doubly awesome that I not only got to squish some in person last year at Knit Fit, I also had the chance to meet Stephania - who, as it turns out, is a fellow Obie and friend of Ariel's!

We caught up again at OFFF, where she let me run loose and take a million pictures of her beautiful yarn and roving. I am in deep, obsessive love with her color sense; crystal-clear, sophisticated, and bright, every braid and skein practically sang with color. I'll definitely be visiting her booth again at the our upcoming local fiber festival, Knit Fit.

(The vendor list for that event, by the way, looks amazing. If you're in the Seattle area, I highly recommend checking it out.)

off20 off39off23 off21

Sunset Fibers - Handpainted spinning fiber in soft shades and bold colors alike.

I loved the way the braids at this booth were all hung in a row, gently swaying in the wind, in a glorious, squishy cascade of color. Each braid felt as though it had its own story: lush autumnal tones spoke of the turning season; bright greens and purples echoed lime popsicles and super-soaker fights; blurred neons made me want to put on my roller skates. I loved that although they were all so different, there was an overall sense of cohesion between all of the colorways.

off35 off34off33 off36

Shaggy Bear Farms - Fiber farm specializing in farm-to-needle yarns and fibers.

Note: Although Shaggy Bear's website is under construction, their yarn is available at Northwest Wools, a lovely little shop in southwest Portland. (If you stop by, please tell the owner, Jackie, hello - she was so welcoming to our little group!)

This was one of the first booths I went into, drawn in by the subtly variegated and super soft yarns hanging on the outer walls. They had a wide range of fibers and yarns from an impressive 25 different types of wool-bearing animals! The wool/silk blends in particular were absolutely beautiful. The colors were luminous and complex, evoking the highlight and shadow of a whole object: alpine flower, rusted door, tortoise.

off29 off32off40 off30

New Hue Handspuns - Spinning fiber and handspun yarns - particularly laceweight!

I have a deep and abiding love for handspun yarn, which started almost six years ago when my mom sent me two skeins of Spincycle for my birthday. Since then, I've grown to love handspun of all weights and types, but have found it particularly difficult to find handspun laceweight yarn - one of my favorite weights to knit with.

So imagine my delight when I came across New Hue Handspuns, and she had not just one skein, but a whole variety of colors of handspun laceweight! Swoon. Each skein was finely spun, reading as one color from a distance, but slightly shaded in its plies upon closer inspection. There was also beautiful hand-painted fiber and heavier weights of handspun, all of which shared the same earthy, delicate colors and lovely texture so clearly shaped by someone's hands.


A huge thank you to all of the vendors, designers, and yarn people who were gracious enough to chat with me and allow me to take photos for this series. I had an amazing time at the event, and it was really fun to write these posts about the community I love so much!

And thanks to you, readers, for following along with my adventures at OFFF. I hope to see you there next year!


A Yarny Weekend at Oregon Flock & Fiber Festival

Part 1: Animals!
Part 2: Yarn People!