Thursday, August 27, 2015

WIP: Brick

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A while back, I picked up a skein of squooshy Blue Moon Fiber Arts Targhee Worsted from the shop in a bright, bright red called Brick. On my very long to-do list is to reformat my older patterns, and part of that is knitting up and photographing some new samples. This one, Blake, is the first scarf I ever released as a pattern on Ravelry, and it's so simple that it barely qualifies as design - and yet that's part of what makes it such a wonderful knit: the repetition of knits and purls, the subtle texture, the comforting simplicity of the final product.

And there's the story behind it, too. This scarf is the one that my mom taught to me when I first started knitting, as I awkwardly practiced the difference between knits and purls. I could remember what knits looked like well enough, but got hung up on purls. I had to constantly remind myself that they were the opposite of what they sounded like - not like the smooth, nacreous surface of the pearl itself, but more like its coarse origins: the sand in the shell, the craggy ocean floor.

I knit the scarf over and over again throughout my late teens and early twenties, always as gifts: for friends and lovers, in colors that made me think of them. Evergreen. Black. Sky blue.  Not all of the relationships stuck - in fact, most of them didn't, except for the long-haired, guitar-picking dude who would later become my husband - but the knitting did. The lopsided gait of my hands gradually became more skillful, and after those scarves I turned to bigger and more challenging things - always with the memory of those first tentative stitches, that feeling of ambition and awe at the possibilities that lie in a ball of wool.

And that was maybe the biggest gift of all.

Happy Thursday, friends.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

KAL Announcement: Sweet Root

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This week, The Fiber Gallery announced our fall schedule, which includes a sweater knitalong, and I'm so excited and proud to say that my design is the featured pattern! Say hello to Sweet Root, an almost-seamless cardigan with a tailored fit and an Estonian-style lace detail. This sweater has been my baby for the last few months, and I'm so excited to finally be able to share it with you!

For this design, I wanted the shape to be flattering to a variety of body shapes and sizes - and for the size range to reflect that as well - so I designed it with a range of sizes from 28" up to 60". The fit is tailored in the shoulders with optional waist shaping in the front, and straight shape in the back for an easy fit and swingy shape. The sleeves are knit on seamlessly using short rows, with a full shape and gently gathered cuff.

It's knit in Tracie Too from Imperial Yarn, which was the most wonderful, sproingy, crisp & wooly yarn to work with! I was really inspired by the color palette, which features sophisticated neutrals and colors, ideal for garments with a tailored feel.

Sweet Root will be available exclusively at the shop in early September, with a KAL kick-off date on September 19th from 4-6 pm.

Non-local folks will be able to download it starting in November. I'll be sure to keep you all posted as soon as it becomes available!

Happy weekend, friends!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

WIP: Magic Lupine

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In between my secret projects, I've been knitting on a third Lupine shawl, this time in a coveted skein of Tosh Merino Light in the colorway Magic. Lately, I've been exploring more of the sparkly, Lisa-Frank-tastic style of my '90s youth, which means splatter-dyes and neon and everything funky - which has been fun, and also sort of complicated in weird ways.

I was a pretty serious kid, and even though I did have a sticker book to rival the best of them - I had sparkly, fuzzy, and scratch-n-sniff stickers, organized by type and motif in a Lisa Frank dolphin sticker book, thankyouverymuch - I didn't ever feel like I was cool enough to really participate in trends or fashion in general, so in a small way, I'm attempting to reclaim that experience a bit. (Okay, the current '90s throwback nostalgia is helping too!) It wasn't until I started going to fashion school that I admitted that I even cared about fashion, since my experience of it had been so fraught with feelings of exclusion and inadequacy - some of which was handed to me through media portrayals of beauty and worthiness, and some of which came from an internal sense of perfectionism and self-criticism. Either way, fashion was a very negative thing to me for much of my life, and I'm still sorting through a lot of my beliefs about and experiences of it.

So in my daily making & fashion life lately, I've been trying to explore and challenge those things that we all hear and internalize in childhood, which are reinforced over and over again throughout our lives: you have to be pretty to pull off short hair; being skinnier is always better; women can't have body hair, because it's gross; your hips look big in that dress, and nobody wants that, right? And what I'm finding is that I'm not just enjoying the opportunity to play with fashion and beauty that has felt off-limits to me in the past, I'm also finding that a lot of it feels authentic in ways I didn't expect, which is pretty fucking cool.

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 In other news, Monsieur Squishy is still on a twice-daily dose of rattie antibiotics, but remains more or less his cranky self. He has become somewhat more personable during his convalescence, but I think his true opinion of us has changed only slightly: Lumberjack and I are still his annoying humans, but now we are his annoying humans who also give him tasty yogurt twice a day.

Good boy, I guess?

Happy Wednesday, friends!

Friday, August 7, 2015

Coral Moment


Today I am thinking of the tactile qualities of memory. The color of the sky the day I graduated from college; now four years past, but the memory still as hot and blue as the day it happened. Sitting on the fire escape at the school last summer, when the rain rolled in and my ballgown laid in a heavy pile of silk and pins on my work table. The feeling when a customer says that dress looks nice on you, and I think of Sufjan Stevens crying on stage while singing about his mother.

I've been having trouble writing about much of anything for the past few weeks. Secret projects and private matters both have been taking up my time and energy lately, and although they're not all that mysterious, they're still not mine to write about. So instead, I've been grasping for things that are real - wool, cloth, soap and water - and feeling alternately perplexed and joyful at the state of things.

And lately, this skein of yarn is one of the wooly things that's been sitting on my table and asking to become something. My friend Michael is quite a gifted spinner, and a few weeks after I admired this beautiful coral wool/silk on his wheel, he brought it to the shop and asked if I'd like to have it. (Would I??) Yesterday afternoon, I was taking photos of it in the dining room and realized how perfectly it matched my outfit - and after a rough day, that was a really nice little moment.

Hope you have an equally nice moment today. Happy Friday, friends.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Exclusive Release: Lupine at The Fiber Gallery!

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Seattle-area folks, the Lupine shawl pattern is hot off the presses and now available exclusively at The Fiber Gallery! The original sample is also at the shop for the month of August, so feel free to come on down and pet it. And for non-local folks, the pattern will be available for purchase from my Ravelry store starting September 4th.

The original is knit up in one skein of Malabrigo Mechita (which I highly recommend if you haven't tried it already!) but it's a great fit for Tosh Merino Light and other variegated or tonal hand-dyes as well. I have a whole bin dedicated to unicorn barf yarns in my stash - which are so beautiful, but can be absolutely confounding when it comes time to knit them up! - but this pattern has played very nicely with even the wildest of variegated yarns so far.

Thanks in abundance to my amazing test knitters, and to everyone who has squished the love button on Ravelry even before the pattern was released! I can't wait to see your versions knit up - please feel free to tag me on instagram @cory.ellen, or pop on over to the indie.knits Ravelry group to share!

Happy Wednesday, friends!