Friday, January 30, 2015

Matcha Blouse, Part I


In the last few weeks, I've been following along as several bloggers - including Doubleknit Podcast bloggers Erin and Jessica - have been working through Colette Patterns's Wardrobe Architect series. Although I haven't decided if I want to take the full plunge, it's definitely been fueling my desire to cultivate a more thoughtful wardrobe - and to finally make some of the projects that have been burning a hole in my stash for a while.

First up: the Sencha Blouse, which I'm calling Matcha after the fabric of the final blouse: a beautiful silk/cotton charmeuse with the luminous yellow-green color of matcha powder.

  matchaplanning3 copy matchawip2

I cut a size 6 to begin with, and ended up making some changes. The size 6 was too big in the bust and waist, so I kept the shoulder & sleeve as a size 6, but blended the side seams down to a 2. (I like my garments very fitted, so this wasn't too surprising.) The final muslin has some ease in the bust with a figure-skimming fit through the waist and hip, which gives it a nice blouson shape. I can definitely see the 40s inspiration - I have a rayon dress from that era with a very similar silhouette in the bodice.

I'm already thinking of working this blouse up in multiple versions and fabrics, maybe in some Liberty of London Tana Lawn or silk crepe de chine. Once I've found the right fit, the possibilities are endless!

My measurements, for reference:

Full bust - 36.5 inches
Underbust - 29.5 inches
Usual bra size - 30DD/E
Waist - 28.5 inches

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

WIP: Jeyna; Or, Embracing Enough


This year, I am trying out a new thing, which is to consciously choose and value the objects that I have in my life. That doesn't necessarily mean going through and getting rid of everything, or not buying anything ever - but does mean that I'd like to focus on quality & function over instant gratification. In my creative life, that still means experiencing new materials and allowing them to inspire me - but at the end of it, thinking about items that I already own that could fill a particular purpose, instead of taking home a whole new whack of yarn (or fabric, or whatever else.)

Luckily, I work at a yarn shop, which means I get to spend a lot of time surrounded by books, materials, and people that inspire me. And then there are blogs, which I quietly but voraciously read and love, and which are always giving me new ideas and insights.

One of my favorite reads as of late is Kat's blog, The Wayward Knitter. I love how thoughtful Kat is as a knitter and designer, and she has a distinct color sense that I find really inspiring! So when she released the Jeyna shawl pattern just a few weeks ago, I immediately knew I wanted to knit it.

The proportions are lovely, and I can see it worked up in any number of color combinations, from neutral to bold. My instinctive color choice was turquoise and black - and I knew I had some black DK weight alpaca in my stash, but the turquoise had me stumped. I even went on a yarn excursion with my mom, and had decided on another color combination entirely, and was seriously considering buying it... but then that little voice in the back of my mind gently prodded me: I already own the thing that wants to be this shawl, somewhere - I just have to find it.


And lo and behold, later that night in my studio, as Lumberjack patiently listened to me go on about colors while gesticulating wildly, I had a flash of inspiration: a lone skein of Abstract Fiber Alto in a deep, gorgeous turquoise - almost 400 yards, just a little more than I needed. There it was, and it was perfect.

It's funny - even thought I thrive on creative constraints in design, for some reason I had never let that idea fully translate into my knitting life. Now that I have it in mind, though, I'm excited for the possibilities and opportunities in embracing enough.

Happy Wednesday, friends!

Pattern photos of Jeyna belong to Kat Riddell (2015) and are used with permission.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Reimagining Clothing: Plain Wool Cardigan

cardiganrefashion cardiganrefashion2

Slowly, over the last ten years or so, I've built up a wardrobe made up of mostly thrifted, vintage, or free items. The only items I don't thrift are jeans, shoes, and undergarments, because it's difficult to find the level of comfort and fit I want unless I buy them new. Goodwill and Value Village are the source of most of my wardrobe staples - and it's pretty amazing how much quality clothing you can find, very inexpensively, from places like these. And because the garments are so inexpensive, it's an easy way to try out trends or silhouettes without a huge investment - not only that, I like the idea of giving new life to clothes that might otherwise have been discarded.

Despite the low cost of much of my wardrobe, I try to only keep items that I really love - and up until a few weeks ago, I was thinking that it was time to modify or let go of this cream wool cardigan. It has a flattering shape and color - but it's also really, really boring, and I never found myself reaching for it in the morning. At the same time, it's a great cardigan, and it seemed a shame to get rid of it.

So when I was thrifting a few weeks ago and found this stained, too-big Lands End cotton cardigan with a super cute enamel detail, I decided to spend the 6 dollars to see if I could poach the elements from one cardigan to make another cardigan more wearable. A few minutes in Illustrator, and here's what I came up with:


I'm hoping that the addition of graphic, colorful details will turn this warm but boring sweater into a wardrobe staple.

We'll see how it goes!

Happy Monday,

Friday, January 23, 2015

FO: Plum Judy

plumjudy plumjudy3plumjudy2 plumjudy4

I've knit quite a few Swallowtail Shawls over the years. The first, I knit in three or four days while studying abroad in Japan - I still think of the echoey beige halls of the university every time I see it - and the second and third, I knit in quick succession the summer after I graduated from Oberlin. It's such a fun and pretty little pattern, I could knit it a dozen more times and be happy!

This Swallowtail, unlike the other two, was never destined to be mine. A while back, a few of my friend Sooz's shawls were tragically and hopelessly damaged, and I knew she was pretty bummed about it - and Sooz being a dear friend, a beautiful knitter herself, and and immensely knitworthy gift recipient, my knitterly wheels started turning.

So I chose this beautiful Pagewood Farms fingering weight from my stash, in a color that I had seen Sooz wear before (and that looks smashing on her), and bang - a few days into January, and I had a brand new Swallowtail! I finally got the shawl blocked and photographed last weekend, and this week, we grabbed dinner, and I gave her her new shawl. She sent me pictures after she got home that night, and it looks great on her!

For as much as I proclaim to be a selfish knitter, I get such happiness from sharing the wooly things I make. There's nothing quite like seeing a garment that you had this close relationship with as you made it, warming a person that you care about. In their own ways, knitted things become objects of connection and love - and I think that's why giving away my knits is sometimes even better than keeping them to my selfish self.

Details on Ravelry here.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

WIP: Alpenglühen - A Body


It always blows my mind a little, how terrifically hilarious a well-fitting garment looks on the hanger. Absent a 3-dimensional figure, shape-skimming darts fold awkwardly; ribbing throws great poofs of fabric into the body at the point where they meet; armholes & necklines gape and roll unattractively.

You would never know that this misshapen blob of yarn is actually a lovely, hourglass-shaped cardigan until you throw it on a person - and there the magic happens. All of these confounding shapes and crevices stretch and snuggle into place, gently hugging concave and convex curves alike. Something that was ugly comes alive, and in doing so becomes beautiful.

Although I've been shy of knitting sweaters for the last few years, watching this cardigan come together has reignited my love for the knitted garment. It's easy to get intimidated by the prospect of a badly-fitting sweater, and I think that's where I've been for a long time - but unlike so many other things in life, yarn has such give. You can knit it up all wrong, and still it has potential; all you have to do is unravel and begin again.

And that is pretty damn cool.

Happy Wednesday, friends!

Monday, January 19, 2015

FO: Sekku Loop

sekkuloopfo4 sekkuloopfo2

So far this year, I'm doing pretty well on my intention to clear out deep stash. This cowl took 12 days from start to finish, which is pretty spectacular compared to my usual scattered pace! So far this month, I've finished three projects: one cowl, one secret thing, and one pair of socks, and I'm hoping to bust out my Alpenglühen in the next few weeks. I don't really have any particular goals not to buy yarn, but I am hoping that by focusing on the pretty stuff I already own, decreasing my stash will be a happy side effect.

And if the last few weeks are any indication, it's already happening. Yeahhhh!

Details on Ravelry here.

Friday, January 16, 2015

FO: Talus

talusshoot talusshoot2

Although I finished my Talus hat design sample a while back, it's been a challenge to get it photographed in a way that I'm happy with! I'd done two different shoots with it, neither of which really showed the hat off very well, and I was getting frustrated with my somewhat limited wardrobe options.

But it ended up working itself out, because last week, I went on a thrifting excursion and majorly refreshed my closet with some new-to-me sweaters... and when I went to fold this kicky Missoni-esque blouse after washing, I realized that it fit the feeling I wanted for the hat perfectly!

I didn't want to do a "look, it's trees, I'm in the woods!" kind of outfit, so instead I decided to pair the hat with something more modern and graphic. Also, because it's winter in Seattle and everything is either dead or concrete, it's been difficult to find a background that the hat didn't blend in to! Then I remembered this wall, just down the street from my work, and realized it was just the right color. So last weekend, Lumberjack came with me over to Greenwood for a quick photoshoot, and now I have the pictures I wanted.

I'm working up the pattern right now, and hoping to whisk it off to test knitters soon!

Details on Ravelry here.

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

WIP: Sekku Loop

sekku sekku2

This skein of Sekku, a discontinued cotton blend laceweight from Noro, has been sitting in my stash for about five years - one of my many treasured skeins from my college LYS, Smith's. Over two years ago (yikes) I decided to knit it up into a Multnomah shawl, but I found myself really frustrated with the yarn. I found a knot that significantly shifted the color changes, dropped the project for over a year, and finally took a hard look at it and decided that such a lovely pattern would be better suited to a less needy yarn. So I ripped it out, and gave it a quick steam, and forgot about it.

I was cleaning my studio last week and rediscovered the yarn, wound into a cute little ball, and decided to give it another chance. When I touched it, I immediately knew that it didn't want to be knit - it wanted to be crocheted! I thought an open, lacy crochet stitch would showcase the rustic hand and long, subtle color transitions of the yarn, and a cowl would be a great accent piece for all those beautiful colors.

And I was right! I used the same pattern as my Tart Loop - a free pattern from Bad Woman Yarns in the Wallingford neighborhood of Seattle - because I wear it almost constantly. This project has gone blazingly fast, and I've been feeling a newly rekindled love for Noro - the unusual yet perfectly balanced color changes, the gentle thick-thin character of the yarn, the delicate yet tangible weight of the finished fabric.

It's funny how sometimes projects have to percolate for a while in my brain, and it's really nice to have one of them come to life so quickly - and so successfully.

Happy Wednesday!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Creating Space, Part 4: A Bright Little Nook

nook2 nook3nook4 nook

In the past few weeks, as Lumberjack and I have talked about some of our intentions for our relationship and life in the next year, I've been coming up with some ideas to make our home a more welcoming place to be.

It's important to me that form and function exist together in equal amounts. A beautiful space that feels stiff, or has no storage space, just doesn't work with our lifestyle - but at the same time, I am super aesthetically needy, and a space that is functional but ugly makes me feel uninspired and sad.

Especially with the short, dark days of winter taken hold, I really gravitate towards bright, colorful decor. As much as I appreciate a clean, neutral palette, I find it too limiting and impractical for our daily life - I love color, and I can't imagine living in a house without it! So instead of going for a straight-up minimalist look, I've been thinking a lot about working with a more eclectic, bright aesthetic that still relies on white space and functional, high-quality and/or handmade items.

With that in mind, I've been combing thrift and consignment shops - Ballard Consignment is a favorite! - for colorful vintage and contemporary art, accessories, and furniture. It's important to me that this process is slow and thoughtful, and relies on reusing and reimagining old things as much as possible. I have a lot of issues with the high-volume, low-quality manufacturing and consumption patterns that have become so prevalent in this country, and because of that, I'd like to put our money towards local and sustainable goods as much as we can.

(At the same time, we need to be mindful of our budget, and sometimes that means compromising on some aspect of that philosophy on certain items, especially big-ticket furniture like tables and couches. Which can be frustrating, sure, but it's also the reality.)

So a few weekends ago, I found this little corner shelf, which is the perfect size and shape to take advantage of the landing of our second-floor staircase. It now houses not just cute things - Lego figures, a little collection of silk flowers - but also high-usage items like mailboxes, card & photo storage, pens & pencils, and coins.

That, combined with these amazing framed vintage Vogue covers - which will eventually be hung on the wall! - have turned what was a dark, empty corner in our house into a bright, functional space. It makes me smile every time I look at it - and that's exactly what I wanted.

Other thoughts on creating space:

Part I: Minimalism, Stuff, and Reclaiming Space
Part 2: Studio!
Part 3: Bookshelves for the Aesthetically Needy

Happy Monday!

Friday, January 9, 2015

Photoshoot: Bad Religion Jacket


Standing on the floor of a crowded concert, there is this moment when the world feels as if it has turned to black and white: when the room is dark and hung with smoke, and the crowd is moving like a many-limbed animal, and the lights of the stage are so bright that you can't keep your eyes open.

marisajacket4 marisajacket3

The floor and the air and your chest pulse with sound. The air is heavy with heat. And when the right notes hit, you can feel electricity humming through your skin.


 Afterwards, you walk outside into the night air, and the cold of it shocks your lungs. Noise still echoes in your ears like radio static, and color has settled on the world again: the golden backlit hot dog stand outside the venue, the shimmy cobalt dress and spindly black heels of the girl hailing a cab, the smeared red and blue and green of sirens and traffic lights on the wet pavement.

marisajacket8 marisajacket7marisajacket6 marisajacket12

And in the ebb of darkness, your calves aching from dancing and the roots of your hair damp with sweat, you nod wordlessly to the mop-headed strangers ducking out of the venue door as you wait for your friends to appear. Their eyes are black with the recognition of that same feeling you're feeling, out here in the dark:

tonight we were here, you and I, and we were cool.



Photography: Cory Ellen Boberg
Model: Marisa Rockett
Bad Religion Jacket: Designed & constructed by Marisa Rockett

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

FO: Anniversary Socks

anniversaryfo anniversaryfo2

I actually finished these socks sometime last week, but it wasn't until the weekend that I had time and daylight to get photos. (Who knew that graduating takes so much work??)

This pattern is Anniversary Socks by Nancy Bush, which I knit and loved once before, and always meant to make again. This time, I used one of my favorite yarns, Ella Rae Lace Merino, and bumped up the stitch count a bit. I've knit four pairs of socks from the Lace Merino now, and although it's not the hardiest yarn I've ever used, it makes for a wonderfully soft and delicate sock. I find the extra darning is worth the prettiness.

And honestly, these particular socks are so beautiful that I wouldn't mind having a drawer full of them!

Details on Ravelry here.

Monday, January 5, 2015

New Year; New Focus

I'm a constant list-maker and dreamer of harebrained dreams, so I really like thinking about New Year's intentions. (Live every day like it's New Year's, yeahhhhh!) I also think that part of the magic of creativity is in the moment, so instead of listing specific things I'm going to make and do, I've been thinking about some general things I'd like to explore this year.


Focus on sweaters, knitting from sweater stash in particular.

I finished two garments in 2014, both of which I ended up very happy with - and both of which I modified heavily. Sweaters are a category of knitting in which I'm not 100% confident in my skills, mostly because of lack of practice, and I'd like to change that. The best way to learn is to jump in, so that's my plan!


Continue to focus on clearing out deep stash; reconnect with its beauty and purpose instead of seeing it as a burden. And if it truly is a burden, get rid of it.

I have a lot of beautiful yarn. It's pretty cool to be able to pull out almost any color of yarn I want to play with, or to wander upstairs at midnight and start a new project. At the same time, it's time to clear out old yarn and the ideas & plans attached to it, which takes up its own kind of space.

jacketprogress2 talus

Continue to focus on thoughtfully designed and constructed garments.

There is nothing more satisfying than designing something, and bringing it to life almost exactly as you imagined it. I have a lot of ideas that have been shelved for a while, and this year I want to make room for them. Before, I always had school in the back of my mind, but now that I've graduated, I have the freedom to explore these ideas.

I also think that in the last year, I've come to a new understanding and appreciation of my design aesthetic. Although it's continually growing, shaped by new influences and ideas, I feel much more confident in describing its core: clean and graphic, with thoughtful details. I hope to keep that in mind as I move forward in my work.


Focus on connecting with others in ways that feel meaningful, and finding a balance between new adventures and intentional down time.

One of the challenges of working in such a vibrant, community-based industry is that sometimes I have to put pressure on myself to Be More Social. As seems to be common with creative folks, I have a medium-wide streak of introversion and social anxiety - but as I learned from my ballgown experience, being social is actually really awesome for my creative process (as well as my interpersonal relationships.)

I draw a ton of inspiration from reading blogs, going on trips, and even just sitting around chatting with friends and acquaintances, and I love hearing what kinds of things people are passionate about. So even though sometimes the thought of a party with tons of people and loud noises doesn't sound very appealing, I almost never regret going. At the same time, relaxed alone time is important too.

So my hope is that this year, I can expand my horizons a bit more socially, while still honoring the fact that I like having dance parties alone in my house while eating cake, and there's nothing wrong with that.

Happy Monday, and Happy New Year!

Friday, January 2, 2015

WIP: Minty Fresh Alpenglühen

alpengluhen alpengluhen2

On Christmas day, while we ate aebleskivers and drank mimosas at home in our pajamas - which is, in my opinion, the best way to spend a holiday - I cast on for a new cardigan, a pattern called Alpenglühen. Because I like to live dangerously, I didn't swatch, and just went ahead and cast on for the 40" size. I also decided to throw in some extra shaping in the front, and change up the cable detail at the center front... needless to say, I am a paragon of immorality and bad sweater-knitting habits.

(I swear I will do better next time. Maybe.)

And on the subject of immorality, the yarn is some Malabrigo Worsted I've had sitting in my stash for about five years. I have a bad habit of getting sweater quantities of yarn and never knitting them because I'm afraid of screwing them up, when really, the best way to learn how to do things well is to screw up. I tell my students this exact thing every week - how failure is an opportunity, how it builds skills and confidence to fix or adapt your mistakes - and yet I can't take my own advice, because... well, because I am a paragon of immorality and bad sweater-knitting habits.

On the other hand, my sweater does look pretty good so far. I guess yarn crime does pay, after all.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

2014 Knits

So, as is customary, here's my year-end roundup of knits for 2014. I have a few more that are finished, but not blocked or photographed, so I'll have to get crackin' on that in the new year!

So how'd I do?


1 blankie, for baby friend Hayden

miralda3 - Version 2 leafandnupp4 taygete baktus neckblanket7

5 shawls & wraps

coral tartcowl
saltcreekcowl20 saltcreekcowl7 - Version 3 saltcreekcowl2
terra terra9

7 cowls

plaited3 weltedmitts2

2 pairs of mitts

krista2 ohzelda5

2 blouses

grocks3 wavingsocks6 plumeriaFO3

3 pairs of socks

gifthat - Version 2 quincy3 saltcreekhat3pipfo pipette4 talusFO6

6 hats

That's a total of 26 projects - a huge improvement over last year's 12 - including several finished long-term WIPs.

That's 10,348 yards, or 1.96 miles - oops, math error, it's actually a much bigger, nicer 5.88 miles! - 55 skeins of yarn in total.

Hopefully I continue this trend in the new year!