Saturday, February 28, 2009

New Obsessions: Or, I Desire Sharper Needles

embroidery book
Because I do not have hobbies enough: here you see some recent additions to the canary library re: crafty happiness.
I did my "research" and picked out two well-reviewed guides. The top one you see here is by Aimee Ray, titled "Doodle-Stitching: Fresh and Fun Embroidery for Beginners."

Being an impatient being I immediately plunked myself down on the couch after this book's arrival and whipped out the ol' embroidery floss and sewing basket. In a few easy-to-follow steps I began stitching like a crazy woman, and completed a cutesy bookmark in an evening (subsequently gifted to the mère for Card-and-Chocolate Day on the 14th).
embroidery book

The second book pictured here is slightly different, and I can't wait to use it! It's "Sublime Stitching: Hundreds of Hip Embroidery Patterns and How-To" by Jenny Hart. Included are even more stitch step-by-step instructions, as well as a significant compendium of reusable iron-on transfers to follow for your own embroidery experimentations! I'm particularly enamoured by the wee pies and other foods that I'm sure will make their way on to a very unfortunate apron very soon.

cross stitch book
And certainly, it never hurts to add some cursin' fun to your otherwise outwardly conventional & conservative crafting. "Subversive Cross Stitch: 35 designs for your surly side" has some rather hilariously juxtaposed sentiments. You can check out some of the designs featured in the book here, along with some other, rather delightful, additions.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Indie Designer Day

Designer: Margaret
Blog: W Czasie Wolnym
Rav ID: antymalgo
Some Great Designs: antymalgo's Rav Projects Page

Though antymalgo has posted only six knits on her Rav Projects Page, I think they're a wonderful example of a designer's unique, and signature, style.

Pictured right is her green leafs cardigan. A wonderful use of large lace texture with garment shape. I particularly enjoy the way the leaves "fade out" along the neckline; a rather graceful way to end/begin a continuous lace pattern.

Her flair with necklines is continued with her white sweater, which features an all-over lace scallop pattern, extending up into a voluminous turtleneck. Here she's understood the importance of lace and shape: the layers of neckline and scalloped lace are a perfect marriage of design elements.

The simple white has my favourite neckline of the three. It's retro-glam with its extra-long-wave-of-a-fold that curls up behind your neck. I'm sure that it would do a fantastic job of framing the wearer's face and adding some chic-itude to your outfit!

The designer informs me her blog will be in English soon.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Alright, Arethusa

Here's one that was a mighty monkey on me back.
Pattern: Arethusa
Yarn: a few balls of Patons Classic Wool, in a pretty heathered pink
(I think it was about 3 balls)

I saw someone wearing a sweater that had purty garter ribbing around the yoke. My attempts to replicate that didn't really live up to my expectations, but Arethusa is a wearable knit nonetheless.

Generally I shy away from the pink yarns, but this one floated my boat. The heathering of the pink made it more palatable for me. I wanted a lighter-shaded yarn to show off the garter rib details, and was impatient as this was the only good option - colour-wise - sitting on the shelves of Michaels at the time of my impulsive and impromptu yarn purchase.

I started out keeping notes on it, and I have decent ones for the entire body. But the neckline had to be re-done, and I never ever liked having to redo things. Thus, you have a unique knit, which was once a monkey-upon-back, but has morphed into a garment that I'll give a 8.5/10 on the wearability and happiness scale.

I could (and would, if knit again) improve on the neckline.
Unfortunately, it pulls a bit right at the bustline, which you can sort of see in the photo. I would also improve on the sleeve-ribbing, and use a needle that's a step down in size so as to avoid the slight puffy-outiness that the sleeve currently sports.
(In an odd piece of trivia, Firefox underlines "purty" as a spelling error, but takes no issue with "puffy-outiness". And here I was thinking I'd coined a ridiculous term!)

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Herringbone Slouch

I enjoy a good "fast-off-the-needles" project, and this was one of them.
Herringbone Slouch

Pattern: Herringbone Slouch
Yarn: Mission Falls Superwash 136 (one ball each colour)
Needles: 3.25 mm dpns

Herringbone SlouchMission Falls makes a lovely yarn. The colours are fantastic and the wool itself has a great soft and springy factor. I was going for a knit fabric that would be substantial enough to keep you warm, and the needle size coupled with the extra-layer provided by fair isle make this a cozy knit.

Though honestly, I was sort of hoping for a more "slouchy" effect than the one I got. I'll just have to get my hands on some lighter-weighted yarn and give it a go.

On an unrelated note: As you've probably noticed, I've been messing around with my template and creating a new look for the blog. While it's very fun, I must admit that I know very little about this stuff, and am sure that the page could appear rather, uh, messed up on other screens/browsers.

If you notice anything funky (and that's the bad funky!) please drop me a line and tell me I've gone awry.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Indie Designer Day

Designer: Breean Miller
Blog: breeanelyse
Rav ID: breeanelyse
Some Great Designs: breeanelyse's Rav Designer Page

This designer has an array of garments, but I was so taken by her various neck accoutrement that I've made it the focus of my profile - but please check out her designer page on Rav for the others!

I'm stunned to see that there's only about 12 people knitting her extra chunky neck warmer (pictured here). How cool is this knit? If you have a single gorgeous biggy button, this would be an awesome way to display it!

Once again I'm taken in by deceptively-simple design and texture with her keep me warm cowl. Stitch variation used with fantastic results! Once again, only 6 people knitting it? Why haven't more people seen her work? (and, as a side note: I'm of the belief that ruffles are a very difficult design element to incorporate into a knit. I think this would be - dare I say - one of the best examples I've seen of good ruffle).

And, it comes as no surprise that a marriage of knitting and ribbon makes me a happy knitter. Her Neck Truffle is a good example of balance between design elements: the ribbon adds a flair to the knit that would be too much if paired with an overly-complicated design aspect, such as particular cables, intricate bobbles, n' such. The modest stitch with chunky yarn is exquisite.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


My Ravelry Store

Herringbone Slouch Avatar
Herringbone Slouch

Bonfire Briar

Sexy Vesty Avatar
Sexy Vesty
Corona Avatar
Lucania Avatar
Flying Fox
Flying Fox
Le Lapin Noir
Le Lapin Noir
Hew Avatar
Golden Armwarmers
(voted best of Craftster 2007!)
Anne Elliot Spencer
Anne Elliot Spencer

Herringbone Love

PhotobucketCurrently WIPed are a pair of armwarmers I'm affectionately calling "Herringbone Slouch". Here they lay in the mini-project basket. I fell in yarn-love with the Mission Falls 136 on my last trip to a semi-local yarn store, and picked up just one ball of each colour, not knowing what exactly they'd become.

The yarn is wonderfully soft. I'm dreaming of a whole sweater of Mission Falls now!

And, hopefully before Persephone makes her triumphant return, I will actually have one of my two neglected fair-isle sweaters completed.

I don't know what it is, but I'm clearly on a colour-work kick.

And I have plans for more. Oh yes... Knit Picks' Palette yarn is turning my mind-crank.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Elements and Principles of Art: Shape

A continuation in the discussion of Elements and Principles of Art in knitting...

Art Element Definition: The external surface or outline of an object or body.

"Object or body" - knitting's the object, and you're the body. And it's all about shape. (and bird is the word! Yes yes, stupid joke.)

Onto the funbits!

I've decided to use examples from the knitting mag giant Knitty to illustrate a few basic "shape" concepts. There is a lot more that I could say on this topic (sleeve shape, neckline shape, length of garment, etc...) but I fear of exhausting the reader with my tendency to verbosity. I'll stick to the overall garment/torso shape!

Part the first: Ease.
The great old topic of ease. I like me my negative ease, because it's a lazy-knitter's way out of the conundrum of creating a flattering garment shape. If your knit hugs your body, then your silhouette will generally be flattering. Don't believe me? Think of it this way: unless you want to look like a box, cube, or other rectilinear form which is not found in human nature, then perhaps you should stay away from tops that'll create that shape on your body. Denying the curvilinear forms of your body doesn't particularly flatter. Take as an example the knit on the right, Yosemite. Great demonstration of negative ease.

But don't get the idea that I'm totally down on positive ease! Pictured left is Sea Tangles. Note how this knit (through a lovely combination of yarn choice in colour and weight) does not deny the body shape, though it has positive ease. It can elegantly disguise parts of ones' torso, if one chooses to do so, while at the same time allowing your shape to exist beyond the ethereal loops and stitches of yarn. It is not a heavy curtain of fabric: its lightness is key.

Part the second: Waist definition. Photobucket

"But I don't like my waist!" You're not looking in the right place. Your waist is where you put it. Take for instance the shape created by defining a woman's "natural" waistline, in the knit pictured right, Starsky. Nice clear line (there's another element!) straight across the smallest part of (this particular person's) torso. If you want to emphasizes your waist at the "natural" waistline, then a belt is a lovely way to create this silhouette shape. Another way of creating this shape is by emphasis (that's another design element for another post!) Clicky the linky here, and you'll see a good example, in the waist-ribbing of Cherie Amour.

PhotobucketAnother place to place your waist is right under the bustline. This works out nicely for those who aren't interested in definition at their natural waist. Take a look at Belle Epoque (pictured left). High waistlines allow the garment to fall away from the body, disguising most of your torso while still allowing your body to have a shapely silhouette. Another great Knitty example is Dahlia.

Part the third: Shape Echo

Line (as discussed last week) can work wonderfully with shape by constructing an illusionary contour to redirect one's eye. Shapes can be implied - shapes that aren't even there in reality, or shapes that are perhaps not as pronounced as you can make them appear. PhotobucketLooking at Twist + Shout (pictured right) one will note right away how the negative space of the bottom triangle points up towards the waist, echoing the bottom-half of an hourglass (the shape so oft desired). There is also the texture (that's another element!) of the cables, pointing your eye up in a truncated triangle. Great design to illustrate this concept! If you'd like a gander at another example, head on over to Knitty and check out Mr Greenjeans. This design has the added bonus of the negative-space of the top half of the hourglass.

Shape is fun - go out and play! :)

Friday, February 13, 2009

Indie Designer Day

Designer: May
Esty Shop: Ohmay Designs
Rav ID: ohmay
Some Great Designs: ohmay's Rav Designer Page

In light of the upcoming changing-of-the-seasons, I thought it might be nice to feature a designer who's creations are beautiful, decorative floral whimsies!

Pictured right is Poppy, an interesting combination of different yarn-types. I'm particularly taken by the (what I believe is) funfur stamen.

May also has flower necklaces; Does He Love Me is a very pretty daisy, made even more interesting by its lack of petals on one side, seemingly having been picked off while repeating that childhood refrain "loves me, loves me not". I love it when a knit has a narrative!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Pattern Publishing

PhotobucketAn Open Letter to my Dear Readers:

Hi all!

Please be assured that the recent appearance of a "for pay" pattern does not, in any way, mean that I won't be publishing free ones any longer.

I have benefited a great deal from all the wonderful free knitting resources online, and am honoured and very proud to be able to bring a bit of my own brain-creations to everyone on the interwebs and share them for free.

A lot of time and effort goes into creating knitting patterns. My decision to charge for Dolce and not for others is based on these factors.

If you have any questions, comments or concerns, please contact me.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Canary On Yarn

PhotobucketTurns out the best kind of canaries and the best kinds of yarn make an adorable couple, though perhaps not a happy one.

Here you see Butters, the unfortunate fowl who was chosen as subject for my evening-time amusement.

On an unseasonably warm and rainy Wednesday, I thought I could bring you a dose of funtimes.

~Linkys with Randomness Connextions to Funtimes~ qualifies for the funtimes because it allows you to create your own login and "Lookbook", archiving your fashionistical tastes.

Etymology Online has edified me personally in regards to the lovely English language and how freakin1 weird it is.

1. 1563, "sudden turn of mind," probably related to O.E. frician "to dance". See more by following the link! You like shoes, you like here. is fairly self-explanatory. Though I will add that sometimes it's very fun to just shop by colour.

(speaking of which...) Colour Lovers can play and have funtimes at COLOURlovers. Mood enhancement 101.

Some day I'd like to own a dog. Until that day, I have the Dog Breed Selector at Animal Planet (the best one I've ever come across!)

Monday, February 09, 2009

Elements and Principles of Art: Line

A continuation in the discussion of Elements and Principles of Art in knitting...

Art Element Definition: A line may be defined as the visual path left by a moving point.

Line is a pretty easy concept to transfer from the visual art lexicon to the knitwear one. You often may hear people talk about the "line" of a garment (usually followed by a mention of the shape - that's a post to come later!)
For knitting, line can appear as an element in a variety of ways. Colourwork is an obvious example. Stripes, especially those converging to a centre-point, can be very flattering, as can the adept use of lovely fair isle in a yoked sweater. The image right is the Sugarplum Pullover from Handknit Holidays.

This element is also quite powerful when used in texture. With something like ribbing (straight lines) or cables (lovely curved lines!) as well as a well-placed yarn-over (as seen in this lovely lace sweater by iSeL) you can create a knit that's certain to direct attention to your favourite features.
line sweater - on blogWhile I prefer to focus on the positive, it's hard to ignore the prejudices against horizontal stripes in a discussion on line. These prejudices are fairly well known - but I personally haven't discounted them from sweater design. It's like those great "tough love" fashion experts Stacy London and Clinton Kelly espouse, the pattern (size) should match the person (size). Though I would love to don me a thick-striped sweater, I believe my frame would not support it!
Shalom Cardi - on blog
Since we're all wonderfully different shapes, being unique human beings and all, one can't exactly come up with universal truths when it comes to flattering clothing. If I were going to put my vote in for anything, I'd say lines that direct attention and focus to your face would be the universal-flattering factor. Right, you'll see a lovely example of lines directing attention to one's face - and this includes the curved lines of the yoke as well as the straight lines of the rib! (the Shalom Cardi, by meguerite.)

A simple suggestion to consider a garment's elements (in particular, its lines) and what they're (quite literally) pointing to, will let you know if it's worth knitting for yourself, or if perhaps its a pass.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Indie Designer Day

Designer: Hanna Breetz
Blog: Ever Green Knits
Website: Eco-Friendly Knitting
Rav ID: evergreenknits
Some Great Designs: evergreenknits' Rav Designer Page

I enjoy when designers talk about some of their influences. Take evergreenknit's Woodland Collar (pictured here). Informed by the texture of tree bark, this neckwarmer is a lovely combination of garter and cables. I love his quote about the knit itself:
"It uses the gaps created by the cable crossings as buttonholes, so that you can creatively button it at different places to vary the look and functionality."
Informative and inspiring and I like the practicality!

Storm Cloud Shawlette was the design which first brought my attention to evergreenknits. A floaty, dreamy and very pretty way to keep one's shoulders warm! (her blog has some lovely photography!)

As you might have noticed, I like creatures of the feathered kind. Thus I couldn't write her profile without drawing your attention to this sweet knit, Quack - Knitted Duck Toy. Just take a look, and *grin*.

And for your educational pleasure, I suggest checking out her site Eco-Friendly Knitting. Here's a wee description of what you'll find there

Green Values: reviews the different qualities that can mean 'green'
Green Fibers: talks about the environmental impact of different fibers

Yarn Chart: provides some basic eco-info for over 100 different yarns

Resources: points you towards books and websites with more information