Buffalo Knitting Guild Presentation, 2016

I want to capture, in writing, some of my thoughts from this last week when I was invited to speak to the Buffalo Knitting Guild’s Membership and be the first of its programming for the 2016/2017 season.  The talk was advertised as such:

Presented by Marja Coons-Torn, Holly Olmstead

Our Guild President and Vice President introduce the theme “Grow” for this year’s Knitting Guild Season with a program to help you grow your skills through photography and technology. We’ll learn tonight how to photograph our knits beautifully and stylishly, just like the top designers do! And we’ll go on an interactive journey into new technology that the Guild will be incorporating this season. 

Continue reading

A study of color and elements of design

So, my stash is well bundled now.  The ‘new’ yarns for projects continue in waiting and the scraps, which I prefer to call remnants, are bundled according to weight.  I can easily pull out the same-weight remnants and mix and match to my heart’s content.  This also helps me to get my creative juices flowing as somehow when I pair colors together, ideas come forth.  The project that this post is about has come into existence in exactly this manner.

When I purchase yarn for a project I always purchase at least one extra skein.  Many times I cut into that skein as my gauge rarely matches the gauge of the knitter who actually knitted the garment photographed in print.  If there is little yardage on a particular skein, I have been known to purchase more than one extra skein.  If the yarn is on sale, I have been known to buy out a particular color.  In doing this, that means there is typically extra yarn after a project has been knitted.  I LIKE that as then, without further yarn purchase, I can go and “play” with these remnants.

I chose to dabble with the remnants of the bulky weights that are in my stash.  By holding colors together, these three surfaced as cohesive in my eye.  They remind me very much of colors of a sunrise or sunset that we, hubby and I often see and appreciate.  The yarn came from these three projects:

Cabled Poncho

Fair-isle collared jacket  (The collar was knitted from fingering weight remnants.)

Elephant Cardigan  Each of the project links will take you to the patterns.

The red is Zealana Artisan Tui, the yellow is a Debbie Bliss chunky luxury, and the deeper blue gray color of the elephant cardigan is Rowan’s Colourspun.  Now, to add to the mix of deciding fibers, weight and content, there is always the possibility of going into another weight of yarn and holding it double.  When the Colorspun is held double, it worked perfectly as a bulky weight and was just the right shade for that sunrise/sunset appeal.  Many trials, a bunch of swatches, and research of a pattern that would be exciting to me, (fashion forward, unique, and wearable with my current lifestyle AND mix and match with existing wardrobe), I finally came to this.  Perfect, I thought.  With an understanding of construction,  planning ahead,


I knew I had enough of each remnant to pull this off.  The pattern above is actually knitted in Zealana’s Tui.

Mari Lynn Patrick is the designer of this fabulous Topper, pattern can be found in Vogue Knitting Fall 2011.  I am such a fan of Mari Lynn and have knitted many of her designs.  (At the bottom of this post is a gallery of my work with her patterns.)  This pattern has quite the unique construction and sports an inside-out appeal.  The wrong side of the knit is face up, side seams are sewn with mattress stitch on the inside leaving the seam exposed on the outside.  Rolled hems on all edges, hem, sleeve, and neckline add interesting details, as well.


I especially like that the grey is around my neck and at the pockets as it is amazingly soft and scrumptious.  Plus, I am reminded of the effort (and love) that went into the elephant cardigan for my husband.


We waited for a sunny day to show off the beauty of the yellow.  And, the temperature was perfect for this outfit.  Can’t you just imagine the sun setting in the background in these beautiful colors?

IMG_1165 (1)

Here are other Mari Lynn Patrick designs that I have worked up in recent years.  Putting together a collection from one designer, a knitter can see details that perhaps were inspirational in choosing that particular pattern.  Perhaps a designer can capture his/her imagination and collect elements that are thought-provoking and possible to create in another original way.  As the owner of this existing hand knit collection, the color palate rings of similarity.  I had not realized that.  Am I drawn to these particular shades?  It leaves me pondering and isn’t that what creativity is all about?


Yarn Fest or Yarn Fast . . . or both!

The Knitting Guild of Greater Buffalo is hosting its annual Yarn Fest.  Vendors far and wide have been invited to share their wares and tease us with their latest color ways, fibers, and other such goodies.  Knitting lessons and/or help as well as other goodies will be there and, of course, to us knitters, crocheters, spinners, and other such yarnies, we will be thrilled with the display and it will be like Christmas all over again.  Of course, I want to support this event being an active member of the organization.

It also happens that I’ve spent many an hour these last few weeks taking down my own yarn stash.

stash scrap

When I say taking down, I mean taking off the shelf every yarn ball I’ve ever purchased and making sure it is used to its and my best advantage.  I’ve set a goal of not purchasing any new yarn this year, an actual yarn fast!  I’ve been talking about this is recent posts, specifically here.   Aside from the bundles of yarn I’ve created and re-created for current and wearable garments, I’ve also gone into the remnant stash, organized it by characteristics of weight and color to see what I may discover.  Four projects have surfaced from this effort having successfully completed a bulky topper designed by Mari Lynn Patrick as seen in Vogue Knitting Fall 2011 using remnants from three projects and await cooperative weather for a photo shoot.

This is Debbie Bliss Donegal Luxury Tweed Bulky, one of the three yarns used.

Here is the second project that I am currently knitting utilizing worsted weight yarn, remnants from nine recently completed projects.  This will be a fair isle coat designed by Yoko Hatta as seen in Vogue Knitting, Fall 2013 and pictured, below.



I’ve got all the yarn organized in this fabric box for easy retrieval and color organizing.

It seems like a yarn fest and a yarn fast are unfortunately at opposing ends of one’s actions.  So, I’ve been trying to figure out how to support both and I think I’ve come up with an idea!

Truly, the bundles of yarn in my collection for specific projects are a done deal in my mind, meaning I am not going to touch them.  However, I’ve also decided that the remnant yarn, no matter how planned at this moment, be given permission for freedom of change, to allow myself creative flexibility.  This means that when I am at the yarn fest, no matter how efficient or well planned I feel my future plans are in utilizing my yarn,  in particular the remnant stash, I will be open to looking at and purchasing small amounts of new yarn that could supplement, maybe add texture, or color to the ideas I have or put me in a new direction that might be even better!  This will make the event fun for me while remaining within the grasp of my goal.

Here is an example of yarn that was slated for one thing but has perfectly fit the bill for another.  This is not an easy thing for me to do and I am beginning to enjoy this process of change.  This is Berroco Lustra that is being made into a two-tone cable sweater, design by Heather Lodinsky.  More about this when completed.


So, with one month or so to go and acceptance within myself for some play,  excitement is building for Yarn Fest 2016!  Hope to see you, there!

ON the Runway, 2015

From couch to runway…  Well, let’s just say I have always been a private knitter.   For years I’ve knitted right here in my house, wherever it might be, in the location that was designated by the family as Holly’s knitting spot, and pretty much under the same lamp that has traveled with us from one location to another.  The lamp itself blinks due to age or an ill kept electrical connection and we need to turn over the cushion of the seat often to prevent the sag that ultimately is formed.  I do not belong to a knitting group (currently, but that could change) as I’m too tired after life’s responsibilities to find and get to one and I do not take my knitting with me when I travel or to work.  Teaching does not allow time for knitting (what the heck job does?) and I like travel time to be reflective in nature.  These are the habits that I’ve developed and we all know that people are creatures of their own habits.

Continue reading

Why Knot

Oh, what a fun project this was and how creative is this designer, Mari Lynn Patrick?  She continues to amaze me with her flawless details and unique designs.  The front and back of this sweater, found in Vogue Knitting, Holiday 2011 are shaped a bit differently so that the front will have enough fabric to fold and tie as you wear it.   There are so many details that must be pointed out… How about the chevron pattern is simply made with increases down the middle of the front and back?  That is it, no fancy color blocking or counting of stitches and rows, just an increase down the middle that causes the stripes to pull upward!  How ’bout the fabulous additional ribbing along the sides so that when you pull the knitted ties tight, the sides conform to your shape making it very flattering and figure forming.  How ’bout the  little knitted patches on the inside at the point of the ties where there would be added stress due to the pulling!     How ’bout this is perfect for utilizing stash and one could stripe away in any configuration according to the yarn he/she had?   The ivory here is leftover from my houndstooth suit (I had just enough) and the blue is from an aborted project.  Both yarns are in worsted weight for gauge purposes, however are of different brands.   I was wondering how that would work and with a little blocking, ended up not being an issue.  And, how ’bout this design is easy to fit due to the ties that can be the final adjustment at the end?  Now, I will admit due to the fact that the front and back are slightly differently shaped does cause some element of surprise to the general structure of the garment but that might be the only draw back.  This pattern just might have to be revisited down the road as I continue to knit and create more stash.

Continue reading

Inspiration as Guide

Anyone out there having the challenge of choosing their next knitting project?  I used to  have the conundrum about four times a year, every time I received a new Vogue Knitting in the mail.  And, I thought I was inundated with choice, then!  Now, with Ravelry, social networking, and independent designers both far and near and accessible to the masses,  the choice nowadays really is overwhelming!

I have written about this before, the criteria for choosing the next project (see below).  In reviewing my own list, I have come to realize I left something out.

  • immediate excitement of pattern or construction of a project
  • challenging in some way
  • can be paired with existing pieces in current wardrobe
  • has a purpose or becomes a focal point
  • must be a style that works for me
  • original and hopefully not able to be found in a clothing store

Inspiration, I left out inspiration.  Somehow, when I am perusing patterns, I notice I am talking to myself.  (In teaching “workshop methodologies”, the gurus call it eavesdropping on one’s thinking).  I am thinking… does the pattern remind me of something / someone / somewhere?  Does it bring back a memory?  Is the color / style reminiscent of a garment of long ago?  Does it speak to my emotional being in some way?  The second I saw the equestrian vest in Vogue Knitting Early Fall 2010 designed by Mari Lynn PatrickI knew this project would find itself into my wardrobe.

It was 1965 when I was introduced to, what I now call, my heaven.   Is this not the cutest picture?  I am the “equestrian” in the middle.

1965 - age 7

A camp.  A horse backriding camp that I would return to for the whole of my entire childhood, about one hour away from where I was living, and to the place I feel I learned how to ride horses (the obvious), but also how to grow socially and emotionally.  Set in the rolling hills of Western New York, Camp Sprucelands was a haven for making friendships, developing an understanding of animals and their needs, and growing one’s independence.  Every summer for years and years, I would return, counting the days till I got there, kicking and screaming going home for the then upcoming school year.

Below, is my first blue ribbon.  (first place for you non-equestrian folks)

first blue ribbonb

A camp for the striving equestrian, boys and girls learned how to ride horses, English or Hunt Seat, and to take care of them.  We were called horse masters and if we were really lucky, we were invited to be part of such things as drill teams and show teams.  That led us to the barns at privileged times such as 4:00 in the mornings (and that is a good thing) and back to the barns in the evenings.  Activity centered around such tasks as bathing horses, braiding manes and tails, and saddle soaping leather goods.


Below, circa 1967.  Looks like a horse show with my number tied to my waist…


Below:  teenager.  But, I do wonder where my hard hat is.

age 13ishb

Again, in horse show garb…


I was proud to represent the camp at a local County Fair.  You can see the horse’s mane braided, below.

Erie County Fairb

So, when I turned to that pattern and saw the beautiful model in her jodhpurs in that barn with her stylish Equestrian Tunic, I knew that would be me… again!


happy at campb

and now.


Let inspiration be your guide as you surf the net, explore patterns, and attempt to choose YOUR next masterpiece.

Equestrian – Finished Project

Equestrian Tunic

I am hoping to share my latest project with you before the calendar year turns over… if I can get my thoughts together in a fluent manner to “publish” this, I will have just made it.  No apologies for the lack of new posts, I have come to accept that some months are simply busier than others.

Again, a Mari Lynn Patrick‘s design from Vogue Knitting Early Fall 2010, here I am in my beautiful new Equestrian tunic, very shapely in its cutaway pieces and finished off so thoroughly with rolled edges along all sides, ribbed capped sleeves, and shawl collar with one button closure.  I love the color of the merino/possom/silk blend “Kauri” from Zealana, however the finished photos show more of a greenish hue to the garment than I expected which I actually like.

Continue reading

Ribbed Bib

Time has found me ready to post a project I completed this summer.  I am writing with a heavy heart, however as I pause to think about others coping with deadly destruction of unfathomable proportions, those battling the loss of their homes due to wind, water, or fire and I pray for their recovery, hopefully sooner than later.  It is bittersweet that while others are suffering, I find myself with this luxury of time.  This pattern had been in my head for near ten years, a beauty (I think) from Vogue Knitting Holiday 2003, designed by Mari Lynn Patrick.  I just love its simple yet sophisticated styling.

Continue reading