Relationship of fabric to design

Well, at this point, this project has been knitted twice.  Not by choice, of course, but to eliminate too much shelf time, aka, not be worn.  I knit to wear so if there is something about a garment that doesn’t feel right or comfortable, I know its future is doomed.   I must say, the fabric that was created by this stitch was the conundrum.

The honeycomb stitch is a type of cable that is dense, especially when using Lion Brand’s fisherman wool . .  held double.  Not so much dense in weight as the pulled stitches create a kind of air hole behind it.  Maybe, you can make this out here, but dense in body.

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Leg-o-Mutton ‘THEN’

I think it is interesting to hear of what inspires each of us.  For my inspiration, I can’t think of a time when I reached for any Vogue Knitting publication that I didn’t end up wanting to make at least one item from it.  Oftentimes, more.  This has remained true for over 40 years.  Now, currently on Ravelry, such magazines, publications, designers of well-known fame as well as fledglings have ‘groups’ one can follow.  From there one can drill down and find things like KALs (knit alongs) and surprise KALs (just that, clues per week to lead to a surprise garment in the end).  These things are found in ‘forums’.  These niceties  are all meant to inspire or motivate the knitter in us.  Well, the Vogue Knitting Group is no exception.  It offers challenges, and I am right in line to accept them.

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The Poncho Wrap

Is it a poncho?  Is it a wrap?  The designer, Vladimir Teriohkin names his design Helio Poncho, which means combining form.  Whatever you call it, it could not be easier to knit and exceedingly fun to wear.  Think, a few inches of ribbing, followed by a rectangle in straight stitch with a hole in it towards one end, and ending with the same number of inches in ribbing.  When complete,  pick up stitches around that hole for a nice 8 inch cowl.  It is as simple as that.  Knitted in Homespun from Lion Brand, a chunky, curly yarn, it knits up quickly and is impressively soft..  Wear it casual with moto joggers for Christmas tree shopping or fancy it up with more formal wear for an evening out,  The photographer snapped these photos while I was adjusting the multitude of ways of wearing.  We are at a Buffalo-famed ice cream shop, Anderson’s who rents out their lot to a Christmas tree farm every holiday season.  Paul Bunyan has stood proudly for years positioned along a main drag to announce the farm’s return to the local community.  So, here we are starting out where I’ve slipped this rectangle over my head, short length in front.

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In the Pink (2 of 2)

It begins as a knitting project but somehow each garment ends up having a more involved back story.  This project was all about finding the right yarn or should I say, the right yarn combination.

Fur varsity jacket.  As quickly as I could say those words, fur varsity jacket, I was smitten.  Vladimir Teriokhin never disappoints and again here I was ready and willing to embark on another one of his designs.

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Honeycomb Slip Stitch

Last year, The Knitting Guild of Greater Buffalo brought in designer, Heather Lodinsky, to teach a skill on one of her designs.  The pattern was her two-tone slip stitch cable pullover and the skill was using slip stitches in cable work.  In my experience in knitting, I had not encountered slip stitches to be used for the design of a garment, only to be done along the edges of knitted pieces.  So, I was quick to take on the pullover with the Guild and it led me to do a self-investigation of slip stitches, in general.

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Level One Knitwear Designing, Make it Your Own

No, I am not officially a knitwear designer however the concept of designing knitwear, to me, has many levels.  When I think of top level knitwear designers, the people who come to mind are those who have had multiple original designs published in major knitting magazines.  Yarn companies hire these people to design using their yarns.  Then, there are the knitwear designers who design and sell from their own etsy shop, website, or the like.  You see many fledgling designers such as these on Ravelry.   And, then there are the knitters who have the ability to take a published pattern and make it their own with modifications, alterations, shape changing, yarn choice, color changing, to name a few ideas.   The later would best define where I am in the designing of my own hand knits.    With this particular project, this level one designer in me came out loud and clear.

Motivated to learn a new method called the two-tone cable technique, being taught at the local Guild, the sweater itself did not call to me so much.  Don’t get me wrong, it is a lovely pattern designed by Heather Lodinsky, I did not want a basic crew neck nor long, lacy sleeves.

So, I began to configure how I could re-design this pattern having the best of both worlds; learning this technique and having a garment in the end I would love.  Admittedly, the changes I wanted for this garment came quickly to me.

Design Plan

I don’t know if there is an order to the process of designing but in this instance,  the beautiful front and center cable was perfect inspiration for the long lean line I always try to obtain.  So, for that long lean look, all I had to do was extend the cable which led to tunic length. I thought  shaping at the side seams would make for a better fit.  I also knew side slits could be an option at the time of seaming.  I was drawn immediately to the idea of short sleeves with the cable pattern seen in the body to continue in the sleeves and that I would ditch the lacy fabric sleeves seen in the pattern.  I love details so I thought a provisional cast-on with an i-cord bind off would nicely frame the sweater and give it a bit of boldness at the edges where it is otherwise very soft looking.  I had the berroco lustra in my stash so the colors were pretty much chosen for me.

Use Resources for Help

Remember, I am not a designer and do not have all the measurements for different styles right at my finger tips.  Therefore, to help me in the tunic I wanted, I turned to my pattern stash, found a tunic length pattern with shaped sides in the weight of yarn I was using so used those directions and measurements for the shaping.  I give credit to Kate Davies and her exquisite eye for detail where I learned about provisional cast on with i-cord bind off when working on a different project.  Now I have that technique in my ‘tool kit’ so called upon it, here.

I could not understand the directions for the ribbing in the pattern so I used what I knew about corrugated ribbing.  I didn’t need to think about the slit along the side seams while I was knitting as slits are just seams that are not sewn closed.   So, really the major challenge came with the sleeves.

Well, I knew I wanted short sleeves.  I measured the diameter of my upper arm.  Knowing my gauge, I casted on x stitches per inch x no. of inches.  So, the corrugated ribbing fit just the way I wanted.  I knew I wanted the main cable pattern and at least one of the 4 stitch cross over patterns along either side of the main cable.  I knew I needed some more stitches for binding off along the selvage.  This gave me the number of stitches I needed in the first row after the ribbing.  Then,  I figured about two inches for the actual sleeve length (after ribbing and before armhole bind off) and needed to get to the number of stitches to follow the sleeve cap according to direction.  I knew I would be increasing and my gauge told me how many rows I had to do so.  I was home free, at point of armhole bind-off to follow the shape of the sleeve cap given in the pattern.  It became a mathematical computation to know how many rows to knit, when to decrease along the selvage to have the cap fit perfectly into the armhole seam of the body.  I sketched the shape of the cap out onto paper as it was a little tricky with the back of the cap sleeve shaped a bit differently than the front of it.

You can see some calculations and extraneous math.  Logic, math, and knitting skill came together for some lovely sleeves.  Gotta say, I am pleased.

Now, you can make plans till the cows come home but what you see in your mind’s eye might not always be what you see in person.  When I slipped on my sweater I was thrilled with all of the modifications I made except for one.  I felt the sweater was too long.

Change is Sometimes Needed

Did you ever know anyone who was a whiz at technology but the minute there is a screw-up cries for help?  Same with knitting.  The talent in any form comes if and when you are able to fix your own problem(s).  So, here I was with this ‘problem’.  Well, I thought . . . what do you see in ready-wear to help with shape, fit, and comfort?  Shirring!  That’s it!  I’ll shirr the side seams!  I took a crochet hook and worked 3 sc, (single crochet) chain 3 (for a little loop) 3 sc,, chain 3, repeat, along the inside of the side seam, threaded some durable narrow twill tape through the loops and pulled for fit.  Perfect!  And, I will flatten out when in storage so as not to wrinkle.

Celebrate by Wearing

I love my sweater.  I supported our Guild, it taught me this cable technique.  It served as design practice.  It was a perfect pattern for this yarn that was in my stash, and now it serves as a wearable garment for my wardrobe.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Little Red Wagon

I recently heard someone say of her house, “This is not a house of yarn.”  She and I were looking to repair a knitted hat and she was fearing she did not have yarn or supplies we could use.  With that criteria one would say that this home is a house of yarn.  And, I am always looking for new, functional, and creative ways in which to store it.  And, the projects.  And, the works-in-progress.  And, the knitting tools.  My goal:  convenience, cleanliness, free of dog destruction, least amount of space, variety, and attractive.  I love perusing yarn rooms and often talk to knitters about their space.  When you google yarn rooms or craft rooms, you see oodles of shelving either lining walls or mounted on walls.  I do think shelving is handy however, I was recently in a local yarn shop, Raveloe Fibers and quickly became inspired by how the yarn shop owner displays her new yarns.  She uses antique suitcases, here and there, some opened, some stacked, some vertical, some horizontal.  Something about the juxtaposition of old (antique) and new was very appealing to me and I felt added an artistic appeal to her shop as well as variety in storage.   The suitcases drew me in to want to investigate further their contents, I would think the goal of her shop, any shop.  I’ve written about organizing yarn and supplies before here, here, and here and being a kind of organizational geek, I continue to tweak a ‘system’ that works for me.  Here is what is working along with some added features, ideas that may work for you.  Hang tight, this is a three room tour!

Knitting Tools to Enhance Knitting Space (aka Our Living Room)  

My shelving bin is working beautifully for my works-in-progress.  We have found an out-of-the-way spot, away from sunlight, near where I knit for easy reach and my projects are free from dirt, dust, and dog.  I’ve added a few things to make this space even better.

Likely, you’ve thought of sewing caddies for knitting supplies.  But, did you ever think to ‘borrow’ from your hubby’s fishing supplies . . . those little boxes for holding lures are working perfectly for all my little knitting tools such as row markers, stitch markers, and the like.

Purchased from an office supplies store, a 3 ” binder is ideal for me to store round needles and is easily placed on a book case, an inconspicuous spot.   From the kitchen, I’ve pulled a ceramic pitcher as it makes a nice, decorative holder for my straights.

Another kitchen item I find useful are trays.  I think I purchased these from Joann Fabrics a few years, back.  I use a tray for each project to hold the tools I need specific to each project.  There is no running around losing time and adding frustration.  If I have more than one project going at once, which happens now on occasion, there are multiple trays.  They also make for easy, quick pick-up and fit easily into the shelving bin.

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Finished Projects Space (aka Guest Bedroom)   

Moving to the second room, the space and shelving that holds my finished projects is nothing more than industrial shelving.  Sounds awful but is working so ideally, I’ve doubled it in size replacing an old shelving unit.  Together these utility shelves offer these qualities:  keeps hand knits clean from dust and sun, can see all garments, easy access, piles of sweaters not falling over, and tucks behind door.  The flatter bins can store those speciality projects such as my Hoodie Glam providing the air and space they need to keep their shape and elegance.  I keep just one project or two in them.

Hoodie Glam as seen on Ravelry

That space can fit about 100 projects from super bulky to the finest of yarns due to those bin sizes and the room is not altered at all for its other multi-functional purposes.  Yeah!  Oh, and by the way the shelving is lightweight, easily movable, can be folded up and stored away (I’m talking about the shelving) and was put together in about five minutes by me only and the entire idea including all of the plastic bins and their covers came in under $200.00!

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Yarn Stash Space and Yarn Room Space (aka office/yarn room)   

And, the third room on this tour is my piece of heaven.  Of course, I am no different and utilize book cases for office supplies and yarn bundles of remnants put together and projects I could not get to during employment.

Yarn room tools ~  Sweater racks lean against the wall in storage, come out for thorough drying after blocking, and of course, what yarn room wouldn’t be complete without a yarn winder and swift? Having ample table space allows creative energies to flow.

Sewing supplies  (a must for knitters) ~  I’ve asked for the closet door to be removed for quick, easy access.  That’s a fabric shoe holder hanging from the clothes pole.  It makes perfect storage for all kinds of sewing supplies.  A thankless job is to sort those buttons.  I’ve worked through about half of them.  The container below the tray has dividers separating size, color, style, etc.

Your more typical yarn containers are here.  Those Guild bags are ideal for sorting and holding projects.

Hubby was so thrilled when his Brooks Professional saddle arrived and I was so thrilled with its box!  Perfect for yarn scraps!

I had in the back of my head that inspiration of antique suitcases.  Not an easy combination, creativity and function, however when I was in Dick’s Sporting Goods recently, I saw this wagon.  It stopped me dead.  Yes, a wagon meant for hauling sports equipment or camping supplies, my mind went immediately to THIS!

I love the concept of the traditional red wagon.  I love the concept of its sports-like nature.  Somehow  its attitude brings my interest of health and wellness into this space and I appreciate it even more.  Just look how this newest addition fits in against the wall!  Keeping open to using containers not necessarily meant for knitting has given my space a unique feel unto itself.

I do enjoy organizing and am always interested in new and improved solutions in the handling of this knitting ‘obsession’.  I work hard to capture the beauty of the process but at the same time want to  be respectful to the space of others.  Share and share alike if you have any ideas that are working particularly well for you!

 

 

 

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,

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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?

 

A Gift Idea

Please join me in welcoming guest, Tom Melby.  He is the owner and director of an animal shearing equipment company called Clippers Ireland.  He says, “I am passionate about wool, and recently created an infographic entitled ‘The Complete Beginners Guide to Knitting’.”   He has asked for it to be posted here on Holly Knits thinking that readers might enjoy.   I am wondering if it can serve as inspiration for gift giving . . . a gift of a set of lessons, or a package of knitting inquiry or a box of yarn . . “touch me, you’ll fall in love with me.”  You get the idea.  And, of course I am happy to give Tom the spotlight as anyone who is passionate about wool is a friend of mine!

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Checkered Cowl

What’s more difficult . . . finding a ready made present or finding a pattern to make your loved one something special?

Recently, I met up with a dear friend, a Mom who was determined to find the just-right item to knit for her daughter.  Where do you begin?  Well, we chose to meet in a local yarn shop and chose to keep the project small.  Keeping in mind the recipient’s tendencies towards tailored suits, the needed attire for her work, we looked for a cowl or scarf pattern that would compliment such an outfit.  We perused a variety of pattern books as well as found samples of knitted garments, similar to what we had in mind.  The samples were not necessarily of the patterns we were looking at but served well as inspiration and gave us a sense of weight and texture of the yarn used.  When we came across this pattern, Checkered Cowl designed by Olga Buraya-Kefelian in the book Scarf Style 2, we stopped and thought how much we liked its features:  the striping, the lacy effect, and the use of fingering weight.  We thought this item would make a lovely gift.

I remembered having some fingering weight, Lorna’s Rose in my stash that had lost its intended purpose.  I loved the pattern as much as my friend and thought it might be fun to knit one, too.  It would be our own KAL (knit a-long), that is two people knitting the same thing with the intent of helping and encouraging one another.   At a recent fiber fest, written about here, I purchased one skein of Hedgehog Fibres Sock in graphite for the second color.

Don’t be fooled by what seems simple!

I am always amazed at no matter how experienced you are or what size or skill level the project, there is always something new to learn:

Dropped stitches:  You knit the scarf in two colors for the horizontal striping and then when finished knitting its length, you drop stitches (every 6th) to get the vertical striping.  It immediately transforms from a plain striped scarf to the lacy appeal of this checkerboard.  The stitch drops quickly and easily in the first 3 – 4 rows, but I had to ‘pick’ at the sides of the stitch to unravel it completely to the end.  This actually took more time and diligence than expected.  I used a blunt darning needle to do this so as to avoid splitting the yarn.

The color is off but you can see where the stitches are dropped thus far.

Carrying yarn:  The carrying of the unused color up along the edge of the scarf was uncomfortable for me.  I was taught that carried yarn ought only be carried in a horizontal direction, across the back of the knitted fabric, never carried up.  However, this prevents weaving of many ends had the yarn been cut with each color change.

Kitchener stitch:   This is the only seam and brings together the live stitches on the short ends. By doing so creates the loop of the cowl.  Kitchener stitch, like all stitching, takes practice to match the tension of the knitting.  It creates a beautiful weave where the seam virtually becomes part of the knitting.

You cannot make out whee the seam is.

Blocking:  I chose to ignore the directions as written.  I laid the piece flat side down, texture up while in a rectangle shape (before sewing it in a loop), on a damp towel, spraying lightly with water.  I let it dry and then sewed it up.  This allowed the beautiful texture to remain, unharmed.

I think the cowl is lovely and matches the weight of my balloon hem, zip up the front, tuck pocketed style rain coat.  Whatever your aesthetic, this cowl seems to work!

More Project Photos Here

I scream, you scream, we all scream for schematics

In looking through the lens of a knitter, a schematic is a diagram of the fabric’s shape you are creating.  A thorough schematic  has measurements included in both horizontal and vertical directions, otherwise known as width and length at key ‘fit’ points of the garment.   Those measurements on a schematic are typically posted in inches as well as centimeters.  These measurements inform how the garment will ultimately fit in the eyes of the designer.  Also, the schematic is meant to match the written directions of the pattern.  The purpose of a schematic is to clarify those directions for the knitter.  A schematic also serves well when one surfs knitting patterns.  One look at a schematic immediately forecasts the shape of the garment.  It is hard to believe that there continues to be patterns without these informative diagrams.  I have been both challenged as well as successful in the making of a project due to the schematic of a pattern.

The schematics below are from five different projects of mine from the past few years.  These schematics range from “WHAT! You’ve got to be kidding” to “WOW, I’m impressed!”  Stop for a moment and see if you can see what is wrong or really great about each of these:

FIRST

Problem:  The measurements say centimeters, however along the hem, are in inches.  Every measurement should be in BOTH inches and centimeters.  This caused minor angst in the time it took to figure that out and, of course, some unit converting.  The result is below.

More Here on this Project

SECOND

Problem:  No measurement for the circumference of the neckline.  I was pretty happy with this schematic, although minimal in content, until I had difficulty with the stitch count around the neck.  I could not pick up the number of stitches the pattern recommended.  If there had been a measurement on the schematic, I could have used that measure to better understand how many stitches I should pick up in accordance with my gauge.  I ended up guessing and hopefully the little cardigan will fit the baby comfortably.

More Here on this Project

THIRD

Problem:  No measurement for the armhole or shoulder or neckline or width of sleeve at hem.  All of these measurements really matter.  A garment too tight in the armholes will sit on the shelf in my wardrobe and not be worn.  I solved this by knowing from past projects how wide I wanted my sleeve to be and knitted that sleeve width, accordingly.  My experience solved the problem where the schematic fell short.

More Here on this Project

FOURTH

WOW is all I can say!  This is the most thorough schematic I have ever seen!  Almost overkill!  The knitting of this project was smooth sailing.

More Here on this Project

FIFTH

This is also a very thorough schematic and is likely what has inspired me to write this blog post.  In this case, the pattern’s directions did not match this diagram.  Without the schematic and my ability to re-create a life size pattern, I would not have known how to proceed with the project.  The schematic was the sole key to the fit and success of this project.

More Here on this Project

These hand knits actually are my wardrobe, as well as part of my heart and soul,  as early as the point of yarn purchase.   So, the expectation of success at the end is of the utmost.

In looking through the lens of a (potential) knitwear designer, I will remember the importance of a thorough and accurate schematic in the planning and writing of a pattern.