a spring twist

Posted on 636 CommentsPosted in designing, lace/shawls, patterns

last friday, when the spring/summer issue of twist collective was launched, i was deep into the opening class day of sock camp and had hardly a moment to talk about our budding apple shawlette design included in the issue.

fortunately, news spreads fast, thanks to our very enthusiastic ravelry group (i love you guys!), as well as excited fans of the dyers involved in the project—spirit trail fiberworks providing neith, kollage yarns providing creamy, and the natural dye studio providing precious and angel 4-ply.

that’s a lotta yarn and we did a lotta knitting to make a sample in each one. why so many?

knitters often write to tell me they appreciate our extensive project photography and how much they enjoy exploring blog links to the wealth of gorgeous yarns available to us. i thought it would be fun to present a pretty, quick-knit project that would translate beautifully in a variety of fibers and colors, with an investment in just a skein or two of yarn (the better to try more of them, my dear!).

and what better time than spring to refresh our senses with a palette of soft colors in luscious non-wool fibers? so i set out in my usual way to create a project that would fit all of those parameters.

first step—you guessed it—swatches.

i worked up several swatches in various sample yarns i had on hand, til i came up with a set i liked in a range of non-wool fiber types, including alpaca, cashmere, silk, cotton, and milk.

i don’t remember when, exactly, i decided on these particular stitch patterns, but the moment i saw them together, i knew that they brought together a bunch of loosely-related ideas i had into one firm idea, which was now about apple trees.

in other words, up until that point, i had a general sense of the feeling i wanted to portray, but seeing the stitches together made apple buds come to mind. and since i was designing for a spring issue, that seemed just right.

the larger pattern for the hem portion is one of many “grapevine” variations; this one is particularly sensual, i think, with its sinuous movement and shading. the tiny eyelet trefoil provides a delicately punctuated field to rest the eyes on, while still keeping the feeling light and lively.

once i had my stitch patterns planned out, i did some preliminary charting and got started on the prototype in kollage creamy, in the cool, fresh canopy green color.

it was a quick knit all right and i was done in no time at all. i did see afterward that a few tweaks were in order—the insertion at the center back didn’t seem right, so i decided to change that

and while i was at it, i refined the placement of the small eyelet pattern as well. luckily, i was able to get more yarn to produce another sample that is knit exactly as the pattern is written—that’s the one you’ll see in the magazine pages, knit by our very dear friend karolyn. the changes are subtle, but they make a difference to me.

the insertion in particular is a lot more in keeping with the design. i hesitated about using it, since i would then be repeating a detail i’d used before, but my gut told me it was better for the design.

once i had the prototype knit and finalized the design, i wrote the pattern up and we got to work on samples to send to the magazine.

these were my secret projects in september and october—above you see it in pure silk precious 4-ply from the natural dye studio, colorway heather and below, the cashmere/silk version in spirit trail neith even traveled to rhinebeck with me, a delicious travel companion.

this soft blue is named chalcedony and is worn by the model on the right in this photo. the yarn is to DIE for, with a lovely density that gives the finished shawl a nice weight. i’m so sorry i didn’t get a modeled shot of it before i sent it off, but time grew short and i was traveling a lot at that point, oy. same goes for the one we knit up in a soft pink color called sugar, from the natural dye studio.

and all that was way back in the fall, before thanksgiving. i didn’t revisit this project for quite a few months, but when the pattern proofs arrived from twist, i took everything out again to take one last look before publication.

as it happened, the fruit trees were just beginning to show their buds as we put those final touches on the pattern and i was wowed by how accurately the stitch patterns mimic the look of their branches, droopy with buds and ready to burst into flower. i couldn’t help but be reminded of the shawl during my seattle stay, just as this issue went live.

one week later, i finally have a chance to sit and write a thoughtful recap of the process of designing this piece and to thank the staff at twist collective for including it in this spring/summer issue.

coincidentally, i’ve been spending some time this week with my friend erica, who is responsible for providing the kollage yarns to knit this project. we landed in dallas fresh from the windswept, rain soaked environs of the pacific northwest to find it balmy and warm here in texas.

so we decided a photo shoot would be in order. while we discussed doing the shoot, she suggested a fun way to celebrate the pattern release—a drawing for a budding apple kit.

kollage will send one lucky winner a budding apple kit, consisting of three skeins of creamy yarn (winner’s choice of color) and two sets of square circular needles to knit the piece. since twist collective has an exclusive license on the pattern, we cannot offer a copy with the kit, but i will be happy to send a twist collective gift certificate to the winner, so they might purchase it.

(this was all erica’s idea, so please be sure to tweet her @kollageyarns to let her know how cool you think she is!)

if winning a kit like this sounds like the bees knees to you, please leave a comment at the end of this post by 5pm EST on sunday, april 10. we will announce the winner on monday.

til then, have a great weekend; i’ll be working at the DFW fiber fest all weekend, so please stop me to say hi if you see me there! we have more treats and surprises coming up next week and i’ll actually have some time off from work to blog as well, so stay tuned.

camp is not just for kids

Posted on 19 CommentsPosted in book reviews/events, designing, lace/shawls, projects, spinning and fiber

ahh, sock camp, where we don’t sleep in tents or bunks and we don’t knit socks (we DO do scavenger hunts and crafts, however). we do camp right around here—silk, cloth napkins, afternoon tea . . .

ok and maybe funny hats, too, heh.
we have had quite the fiber adventure this year, with special guest anna zilboorg in the house to bring a new twist to camp events, starting with spinning on day 1.

when she introduced newbies to wheel spinning with silk hankies.
debbi handled those who wanted to try their hands at spindling

while steph spoke and demonstrated the many wonders and uses of silk fiber for spinning and knitting.

it was at the end of that first afternoon that we all dissolved into fits of laughter as we watched each other take on a completely different spinning activity—hula hooping. i turned out to be pretty good at this for a rookie, but no match at all for JC briar, who has the pants to prove it (and that’s enough said about THAT).

my camp class this year is about lace (surPRISE!)

so each day i meet with one of the tribes to talk about identifying lace fabric, how to make it, and to work through a small in-class project of lace cuffs worked in the round. i think everyone enjoyed this year’s class a lot; we got to try yarns that we might not otherwise have tried (these being dedicated sock knitters), on needles we don’t often use, in colors that were left completely to chance—always a good recipe for pleasant surprises.

the afternoon and evening activities keep us all together, but not necessarily busy, so i’m getting lots of good knitting time, too. sorry to say, not on socks this year, but plenty on other projects.

i have one sleeve nearly completed on my cable and rib cardigan (same pattern as david’s christmas sweater). i’m using woolen rabbit grace in colorway scottish heather for this one and i couldn’t be happier—just look at that stitch definition. i can’t wait to have this one ready to wear (though it may have to wait til next fall for a serious outing). barb is busy back home knitting the pullover version in briar rose fourth of july, too.

the weather here is cold and miserable this week, unfortunately, but that has been inspiring for my sweater knitting, haha.

i have this little boy’s whitfield shorty almost halfway done now, can you believe it? once again i’m working with beautiful woolen rabbit yarn, this time it’s the frolic superwash worsted in colorway jungle book. SO cute; everyone here is drooling over both sweaters.

that is two sleeves and a front piece;. i think i have enough yarn to knit a back piece, but i may just need for david to bring more yarn to our meetup next weekend in dallas. as steph would say, i actually think i am underyarned on this trip.

i tried to be judicious about the amount of knitting i brought, based on all i did NOT get done on my last trip. but as luck would have it, i am plowing through what i brought (two sweaters, a secret project, a scarf, a neckwarmer, and probably something else, but i can’t remember). so far, i have finished the scarf and neckwarmer and half a sweater, plus half the secret project, PLUS the sleeve of my cardi.

in my excitement over finishing my scarf (which was just a little more than half done when i left home), i thought it would be really fun to block it as a group activity this evening, but when i ran that by the group, i got a very mixed response, so maybe not?

i may try to do that myself in dallas though, so i can get some nice modeling shots.

same for this neckwarmer; it’s all done except for a nice bath and blocking; karolyn even helped my pick out some very pretty buttons at churchmouse yarns that other day. but i have yet to soak it; hopefully, i’ll feel more like doing that in dallas, when i have a bit of free time in my room.

and that’s not all the knitting i’ve done, either—we had a wonderful class with anna zilboorg the other day, where we knit a sock from her favorite method, free sole knitting.

it’s the coolest thing—you start at the toe with a little knitted band of 4 sts and work a short row toe box on top. then you knit straight up to the ankle

next, go back to the toe and knit the bottom half in the same manner, this time creating a gusset when you get close to the heel

then you work the heel turn and the heel flap

join it all up afterward to form a leg and knit till it’s high enough to meet your requirements—voila

very cute, right?

another camp project we’ve all been knitting on is this baby blanket for a special wee bairn know to the resort community. every chance we get, a group of us picks up the blanket project to work a few rows (there are also pairs of booties and hats going around the room)

that photo was taken on the first evening when the blanket was just a small thing and the next photo was from after lunch the next day (i think?).

this is a really, really fun project to work on in a small group; it feels so nice and close to take part. it works best if everyone seated knits at about the same pace, but it doesn’t get wrecked or anything if that’s not the case.

you can see how nicely it’s growing there . . . but if you really want to see something cool, check out the movie clip i uploaded to youTube on the knitspot channel—it’s way more interesting to see it in action.

today is the last day, sadly, so it was a quiet afternoon of paper crafts and group chat

i made a few buttons to bring to my littlest niece and nephews when i visit them in austin in a week or so (i can’t wait!).

tomorrow i’m traveling to dallas and will be back the next day with more news; possibly tomorrow night if i can. i have a couple of good news items you’ll want to see, but i need to run now for a very important date.

where the grass is green

Posted on 29 CommentsPosted in book reviews/events, designing, lace/shawls, projects

it seems like weeks ago that i landed in seattle—i’ve been on the go ever since—but it was actually just a few days back. this part of the country is in the midst of spring blooming season and wow, just WOW.

everywhere you look, something is bursting open.

no small thanks to the temperate climate and the wealth of rain—because believe me, there is a lot of that out here, especially this week.

actually, the first couple of days weren’t quite as wet as the last few have been, which gave me plenty of time to enjoy the city with cookie, who i met up with upon landing here last tuesday, along with our dear friend karolyn, whose birthday it is today—happy BD karolyn!

we headed immediately to bainbridge island for lunch and a trip to the yarn shop. there, we introduced karolyn to her first sushi meal, which i think she enjoyed (that’s just one of the beautiful sweaters karolyn has knit for herself this past year; she’s the speediest of knitters). after that, we headed for churchmouse yarns & teas, where we wiled away an hour or two, browsing the yarn selection and dawdling over buttons.

we managed to find ice cream in very close proximity to the yarn shop (imagine that), so we indulged a little on a treat to end the afternoon. it was so good to see karolyn; i always wish we lived closer.

next, cookie and i headed back to our very charming vintage hotel in queen anne, where we settled in to a beautiful room, complete with sitting room and kitchen—we had no idea it would be so nice (the staff is terrific, too; we highly recommend it).

we had a nice evening of knitting and talking, catching up on gossip and news. i have actually been knitting a LOT on this trip—i got this gray lace scarf nearly done on the flight out and finished it up here at camp. i just have this one crummy photo in the hotel room, but i’ll try to take another today, when the light is nice.

what i really wish is that i could block it and take modeling shots here at camp, but i don’t know if i can make that happen . . . i considered doing it for my talent show entry last night, but thought it would probably take too much time, hee-hee!

the next day, we enjoyed a special treat when we met up with wendee from hazel knits and her assistant julie, first to enjoy a delicious pizza lunch at via tribunali in georgetown, followed by a visit to the hazel knits studio for a bit of afternoon-into-evening dyeing.

wendee makes the nicest yarn—really nice—and also works very hard to make her business a success, so we all had a lot to talk about; sometimes it feels really good to talk shop with another small business owner.

once we were back in her studio though, it was all fun and science—we spent several hours experimenting with dye and different ways of using it on yarn.

she was excited to show us around the studio and share the projects she’s been working on lately. it’s a snug space, but extremely well organized and wendee certainly cranks out a lot of yarn here.

here is just a sample of some of her gorgeous colorways, knit up into a sock display . . .

we each mixed a different colorway and then used it in two separate processes. our yarn wasn’t set or dry enough to take away with us, but i’ll show it to you once i have it back at home.

haha, this is my favorite photo of the day—we look like lucy and ethel in the chocolate factory here.

i’m afraid we stayed pretty late into the evening—late enough to snack on this yummy shortbread that julie made—and i hope we didn’t keep wendee up too far past her usual bedtime, but we really enjoyed our day with her. i’m anxious to see waht my yarn looks like as well . . .

i’ve never spent time in seattle before, but as i mentioned the other day, i was lucky enough to arrive at that height of cherry blossom season, so my morning walk the next day was a thing of beauty.

queen anne is a great neighborhood for walking, with classic, well-kept homes and plenty of interesting nooks and crannies to explore.

first i headed toward the arts center area, where the ballet, and metro arena are located, along with some public gardens.

like i said, everything was just coming into peak bloom, offering a spectacular backdrop to a vigorous and hilly walk.

i’ll take this kind of snow any day over the snow we had at home the night before . . .

this part of seattle offers a variety of butt-busting hills (my personal favorite), and i looked for those as i headed back.

and of course, where ye will seek, ye shall find—i was both amused by and grateful for these crenelated sidewalks, which i hadn’t seen before, as i climbed. i wish they had these everywhere that hills exist; they are fantastic.

our end of the neighborhood was blessed with a series of hills that put my legs to the test (in a good way), but were worth every ounce of effort for the they views revealed, once i reached the top.

where i was just under the space needle at the one end of my walk, i was now looking down on it from above and afar, along with the harbor; so cool.

just about at this point, i started to feel the rain come down, so i made my way back to the hotel to grab a hot shower before breakfast.

just across from the hotel was a gem of a restaurant, toulouse petit, which was so good that we ate there twice in two days

once for late-night dinner and once for breakfast the next morning, haha. the menu is quite different for those two meals, but deliciously varied for both. the decor though, might even top even the food—it’s incredibly inventive.

that’s my eliza neckwarmer project, BTW, which is also now finished and ready for blocking (i really should try to get some of that done while i’m here).

after breakfast we took a hike to an urban oasis—can you guess where we are now?

i mentioned to cookie that i’d never been to an REI store and she promptly whisked me off to one, here in seattle. wow, it’s like a little island of forest and mountains, right in the middle of the city.

ok, i know it’s still a commercial property and still all about selling stuff, but i thought it was great that they put so much thought into making it pretty and peaceful—it even sounds nice.

and so wrapped up our visit with each other in the pacific northwest—cookie was off next to vancouver island and i was headed to sock camp, where i am now. MUCH news to show and tell from here, but i’ll save that for next time.

don’t be surprised though, if in the meantime, you see me hula-hooping on twitter—yes, that really happened.

and apparently, what happens at camp does NOT stay at camp any more, haha!

cherry pie sock

Posted on 20 CommentsPosted in patterns

i spent the last few days in seattle where, coincidentally enough, it is cherry blossom season and beautiful floral compositions grace every nook and cranny of the city and flower-petal snow showers fly through the air (sorry, new york).

i also happen to be at sock camp this weekend, where we are kicking off the first classes this very morning (no pun intended)

as luck would have it, i’ve got a sock pattern to release that fits these festive events perfectly. this sock was designed for a woolgirl club last summer to celebrate the life and work of julia child. my design was paired with this pretty sugar and spice yarn by miss babs.

it features a pretty piecrust edging around the top and a vertical ribbed pattern of cherries strung along the leg and over the foot.

it’s surprisingly easy to knit and looks great peeking from under the hem of an airy summer dress or over the top of your favorite open shoe.

shown here: size medium, in miss babs yummy sock, colorway sugar and spice. miss babs will have the color ready to ship on April 7th and you can email her to place an order for it until it is up on the website. It won’t take her long to get some dyed for those who want some!

the yarn is delightful to knit with—despite its tight twist, it knits into a soft, dense fabric with a lovely surface to cuddle your toes; it’s really quite wonderful.

to purchase pattern or view complete pattern information, please click here to visit the product page in the knitspot pattern shop.

many thanks to jen at woolgirl for including me in the great women club last year; i was thrilled to represent julia child in the lineup and have a chance to work once again with miss babs delicious yarns. thank you as well to my friend helena, who modeled the sock for us on such a chilly early spring day.

i know i owe you a good post and there’s so much more to tell—but i’ll be late if i linger, so tune in later for more . . .