Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Design Notebook: Talus Hat

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I picked up just a few special skeins at Knit Fit this year, including this gorgeous skein of YOTH Big Sister in the colorway Oyster. I had been on the search for a light neutral dk weight for a hat design that has been kicking around my head for a bit, and this misted grey hit all the right notes.

So the other day, I pulled out my stitch dictionaries, fired up my Excel charts, and grabbed a few leftovers to swatch.

My first swatch - the blue - was in leftover Hazel Knits Lively DK, and I started off with the Christmas Trees motif from Barbara Walker's A Treasury of Knitting Patterns (page 202-03, in case you want to take a peek). The stitch pattern as I charted it was huge, the ribbing didn't flow into the pattern, and I wasn't happy with the proportions of the center tree to the little trees. But the swatch gave me enough information to see what I wanted to change.

So, I tinkered with the chart, moved the trees together, shifted the ribbing, and voila! The second swatch - the pinkish purple - was done in a bit of Anzula Cricket, and as I saw the pattern emerging, it just made sense. Which, as weird as it is, is even more gratifying than making something that looks pretty: making a thing that, when you look at it, appears to have overturned something essential and correct in our dimensional space, simply by existing. It is the greatest feeling.

And it will be a good hat, I think.

Happy Wednesday.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Tailored Jacket: Closer & Closer

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Last week was positively full of jackets: on Wednesday, I worked on my jacket with my tailoring teacher, and Thursday, Sparklepants and I went on our photoshoot adventure. With the days so short, it's hard to get photographs before the light fades, but today I finally managed to snap some photos of my jacket progress.

I was under the silly impression that I might finish last week, but even though I didn't, I got a lot done: I started setting in the lining, sewed on the facings, and finished up some details on the contrast collar and lapel. Whew!

Now that the collar is almost done, it's really rewarding to see it all coming together. It's starting to look like a real jacket! And although there are things I would do differently on my next tailored jacket - making the sleeves an inch or two longer, for starters - there are lots of things that I'm really proud of with this piece.

And with a little luck and a lot of work, it should be done sometime in the next month or so!

Happy Monday.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Photoshoot: Melancholia Jacket


Fall is always a bittersweet time of year for me. Each year, the end of October marks the anniversary of the murder-suicide that changed the course of my life. (This year, it's eight.)


In fall, the days grow shorter, and the light of day is tempered by shadows. In some moments, it's easy to fall into darkness completely.

And yet, in marking this time, I feel a sense of comfort. Every October will be another October since the magnetism of my world shifted, just as every November ticks off the years since I refused to let that violence destroy me.


And as strange as it is, there is also comfort in recognizing others who have touched the rim of that same darkness, and chosen to turn their profound despair into beauty. My tremendously talented housemate and dear friend Melody Hirsch designed and constructed this jacket, inspired by the film Melancholia, to reach into the darkness and call it by its name.


So when she asked me to take her jacket into the woods on a hazy Thursday, and told me the story of its origin, of course I said yes.

Happy Friday.

Monday, November 17, 2014

A Yarny Weekend at Knit Fit!

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The other weekend, I met up with my yarny friends Sooz, Ariel, and Kat at the Knit Fit market on Sunday. Along with some of my favorites on the festival circuit (Three Fates Yarns! Abstract Fiber! Yarnarchy!) and the local shops that I love (The Fiber Gallery! Tea Cozy Yarn!), there was a nice variety of independent dyers and designers, with booths and booths of beautiful yarn and yarn-related goodies. And even though I only got to stop by for a few hours towards the end of the show, it was an incredibly welcoming place to be. I've loved both of my experiences at Knit Fit, and I'm excited to see what next year's show holds!

So without further ado, here's some of my vendor highlights from the show.

Beautifully shaded colors inspired by nature

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Portland-based Bumblebirch has been on my radar for a while now, so I was really excited to see her name on the list of vendors. The booth had weights and colors that I hadn't seen in person before - worsted and DK-weight, gently variegated floral colorways - and I had to restrain myself from taking home one of each. The colors are clearly influenced by the natural world, and gently shaded, as if viewed through fogged glass: fallen leaves, the morning sky when it's about to rain, an iris bowing on its stalk. Swoon.

Sophisticated neutrals & deep, arboreal hues

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I first encountered YOTH on a trip out to Tolt Yarn & Wool when they had just debuted their line of one-of-a-kind colors, and I've been watching with excitement for the last few months as they've grown and added more color to their lineup of repeatable colorways. I absolutely love their aesthetic: it's a gorgeous, distinctly Northwestern balance of practicality and worn-in beauty. And their yarn lines - DK & fingering weight merino/cashmere/nylon blends, charmingly named Big Sister and Little Brother - are wonderfully, squishably soft.

Hazel Knits
Vibrant, beautiful, color!

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When I'm looking for a specific and flawlessly-executed color, I look to Hazel Knits first. Her color catalogue is a most magical paintbox, each shade evoking its name perfectly: Beachglass; Stick o' Butter; Vamp; Hoppy Blonde. The depth and clarity of each color practically sings, in a palette ranging from earthy neutrals, to pastels, to brights. And with an expanded range of weights - from sleek laceweight Filigree Silk, all the way up to ultra-squishy worsted Cadence - it's an exciting time to be a Hazel Knits enthusiast!

Spincycle Yarns
Handcrafted yarn, dyed and spun in Washington

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Okay, I'm gonna be blatant here: I love Spincycle. My mom sent me two skeins of BFL Worsted for my 20th birthday - back when I was a wee knitter! - and I remember being absolutely captivated by its color and texture. I've been a fan ever since. In the last few years, Kate & Rachel have brought their signature color sense to locally dyed, small-batch millspun yarns that capture the organic color shifts and unexpected beauty of handspun, with the advantages of accessibility and quantity offered by millspun.

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I also popped by my friend and coworker Ann's booth to say hi. As anyone who has read my poetic waxings about materials will know, I have a liiiiittle bit of a button obsession - and lucky for me, Ann brought her whole awesome collection of vintage buttons to the market! I swooped up some stunning cut glass buttons with gold leaf accents, because apparently I'm a large, girl-shaped magpie.


Overall, I had a great time running around, taking pictures, and talking with friends, dyers, and designers! If you're out of state - or local and didn't get a chance to come - and interested in checking out a wonderful selection of independent dyers and makers, I highly recommend that you check out the Vendor page. And maybe you can come next year! (Wink wink, nudge nudge.)

A huge thank you to every vendor who graciously allowed me to take photos and chat, and to all the coordinators and volunteers who make this great event happen!

Happy Monday!

Friday, November 14, 2014

WIP: Custom Fit Blouse

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I bound off Suki yesterday and, of course, needed something else to work on, so I picked up the Custom Fit sweater I'm knitting for work and busted out a few inches on it.

My coworkers have already knit some beautifully fitting wooly cardigans and pullovers as examples, so I wanted to go in a totally different direction by making a more blouse-like sweater in a cotton yarn.  I chose a fitted, mid-hip length, short-sleeved shape, knit in Cascade Ultra Pima in an ultra-girly pink shade. A great fit is one of my nerdy passions, so I'm excited to see how this project turns out.

Happy Friday!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Pattern Release: Pip

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Oh hey - it's a Pip!

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Namely, it's a Pip pattern - now available on Ravelry for $5.00 - with a brand spankin' new format! (Many thanks to my awesome test knitters, without whom I would be adrift in a sea of pie and indecision.)

I'm really happy with this little hat, and I'm so excited to share it with you! Happy Thursday, friends!

Shameless Ravelry Buy Now Button

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Tales from The Fiber Gallery: Merger Cowl

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A while back, I worked up a little stripey bias cowl as a sample for The Fiber Gallery, the yarn shop where I work. Since then, we've knit two more in different yarns - each using just two balls! - and today, I finally remembered to bring in my camera and get some pictures. (The yarns used, from left to right: Rowan Colourspun; Fibre Company Acadia; Rowan Mohair Haze.)

The pattern is called Merger - it's free and available exclusively at The Fiber Gallery. If you're local, come say hi and pick up a copy!

Until then, the cowls will be hanging out and having a cowl party. Or, you know, whatever cowls do when we're not looking.

Monday, November 10, 2014

FO: Pipette

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As I was writing up the pattern for Pip, I decided to knit a second sample to make sure that I remembered all of the details. I grabbed some yarn from my deep stash - some hot pink Classic Elite Waterlily, a yarn which is sadly discontinued - and got to knitting. Just a few days later, and blammo: hat!

It also just so happened that we were on the eastside for Lumberjack's grandma's birthday, and she lives less than a block from my old school, which I haven't been to in about ten years. The school isn't there anymore - I think it's a church building now - but the building itself is exactly the same. It was raining, but we managed to get some good shots on the south wall.

It was weirdly fitting to be taking photos at the same place where I first took photography classes when I was thirteen, on the grounds where I took lots of dumb pictures of my feet. I probably have a picture of this wall somewhere in my boxes of negatives!

And on a totally different note, I like that Pipette isn't just a feminization of the name Pip, it's also a laboratory instrument. Go science!

Details on Ravelry here.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Of a Different Stripe


So Little Bird still needs a bath, but when I went to take photos of my newly striped Suki, they were sitting next to each other on the table and it was sort of amazing to see how different they are, even though they're both grey + warm hue striped shawlettes.

This one of the things I love so much about yarn: the ability to tell completely different stories based on choices about color and texture.

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Little Bird is exactly like she sounds: petite and delicate, the colors slightly blurred, like the grainy-soft color of a sparrow's wing. I had never thought of Tosh Merino Light as a rustic yarn before, but in many ways it is: the fabric it creates is gently uneven - almost pebbled - even though the yarn itself has a smooth, luminous core.

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Suki, on the other hand, is all sophistication. There is a softness, yes; but it's a different animal entirely. Though there's depth and texture to the color, it's the polished kind: it's a purebred stallion to Little Bird's wild wing. It's classic, perfectly balanced in its simplicity and luxury - which is usually not quite my style, but I'm enjoying myself so damn much that I don't care.

Happy Friday, friends!