Tuesday, April 28, 2009

This Lady Is Warmer

Once again, I complete a cold-weather knit on the eve of the summer.
Lady Warmer
Pattern: Lady Warmer
Construction details follow

Yarn: Berroco Ultra Alpaca; four different colours, one hank each
Lady Warmer
Inspired by this lovely colour combination, I ventured forth to my LYS and indulged in a round of "replicate that sweater".

Failing to locate the very pretty hank of Noro that ssailorss used in her knit, I had to settle for an FO lacking in that goldeny sparkle which hers so wonderfully exhibits.

I feel less goldeny goodness that I had originally envisioned, and significantly more tiger-y tinged in the colours I ultimately chose. Believe it or not, that obvious creature-to-colour combination didn't occur to me until I began knitting up the top.

I knew I wanted something with a wide neck - truly, I was thinking un petit peu wider than I achieved here (that, my friends, is for another knit).

Lady Warmer
And I knew I couldn't stand for long sleeves (but when I can I ever?!)
And I knew I wanted a palette-cleansing, stress-free knit (remember from this post?)
So, there was knit this end-of-winter alpaca/wool sweater which has been worn once and will most likely be Evening-Garden Soaked, then tucked away in the winter-clothes storage for months to come.

Construction details for the interested knitter:
Knit in my most favouritest sweater design as of late, the Lady Warmer is a bottom-up in-the-round knit, consisting of several inches of 1x1 ribbing along the bottom, body-hugging shaping, and alternating four different colours (black, chocolate brown, orange, white) in about 1" sections.
Body knit in purl stitch.
Neckline cast-off knitwise.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Drool; Or, How Fibre Festivals Make Me Drool

After some soul stealing interesting adventures through Toronto traffic and back, I'm happy and thoroughly prepared to share some purty pics of my home-takings from a day well spent with yarn and a convention centre full of knitters.
Handmaiden Yarn
Handmaiden - Casbah
Three of these sweeties came home with me.
What they will become is still a mystery, but I actually gasped when I saw its colour (which is scandalously done no justice in this photograph).

Indigo Moon Yarn
Indigo Moon - Lace Weight "Autumn Gold"
One lovely hank will become something lovely and lacey.
A choice from the aforeposted post re: purty shawls.

Indigo Moon Yarn
Indigo Moon - Sport Weight "Peridot"
And this single hank o' loveliness in apple happytimes will be (most likely) yet another selection from the above linked grand selection of necessary lace.

And to end the night off perfectly, it's now thunderstorming!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Indie Designer Day

SnowdropDesigner: Linda Wilgus
Blog: Woolly Mammoth Knits
Rav ID: linw
Some Great Designs: linw's Rav Designer Page

It never ceases to astonish me how much creativity and beauty there is out there in the knit-o-sphere!

Enter linw, and her very classy and highly wearable designs. The perfect example of her style is the Snowdrop Sweater Jacket (pictured right). This sweater has the feel of a gorgeous vintage design, but with the modern twist linw adds to all her knits. The Snowdrop is especially cool because it somehow, through an indescribable magic, makes a bulky yarn create a lovely and very soft-looking sweater.

Another good example of the vint-a-licious touch in her designs is her Bella Sera Shrug. Simple, feminine and way adorable!

And classy? Oh my! Check out her Chunky Fudge Lace Cardigan. This wardrobe staple is done up wonderfully with a lace detailing and pretty moss stitch along the edges. Here's one of my favourite lines ever written to describe a designer's inpsiration.

"There are two chunky things I like quite a bit: chunky fudge brownies and chunky yarn."

Gotta appreciate an incredible aesthetic! Can't wait to see what comes next :)

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Stash Diving; Or, What's Lurking in the Deep Dark Depths

...so begins the tale of the Stash Diving Adventures of one Canary Sanctuary - when forced by economic forces unseen into digging for fibrey gold in her own backyard...

My yarn lives in various places.
The largest of these is the hope chest.
In the dark recesses of the hope chest lies fibres unknown and knits undiscovered.
These unknowns and undiscovereds hover in the yarn netherworld of lives unlived: they question their existence. They ponder their fate.

Until one day, when they are plucked from obscurity and pulled triumphantly to the light of the incandescent bulbs which shine out upon them from the great ceiling fan!

Oh yes, there is a purpose! They shout.

And then I knit with them.

I'll introduce you to my first re-discovery:Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool

Two skeins of Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool in a lurvely purple (methinks it's the colour "Lava"), purchased just about a year ago (if my foggy haze of a brain serves me correctly).
Weight and Yardage: DK, 175 metres/skein, total: 350 metres

With this in mind, what would you knit? I'm thinking a short and very mini cardi, to add to my quickly-growing-and-soon-to-be-overflowing number of short cardis.

Or, a fantabulous cowl?

Perhaps a kicky beret?

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Projectus Interruptus; Or, How Wile E. Coyote Inspires Blog Post Titles

PhotobucketSometimes all you need is a proverbial palette-cleanser...

Been burned by the frogging gods and therefore have retreated into healing-knit mode.

Enter the new project, Swirlette. I've had a general desire for a knit of this kind for about two years, and now is the time to deploy the saved-up energy for a stress-free projectus interruptus.

The name is way boring, way mondo boring. I searched in vain for an interesting, insightful and illuminated name (mostly on the site in this footnote)1, but have possibly been stopped by the Fates and pointed in the direction of simplicity. Just to keep me on the stress-free track.

I have ideas. Top-down raglan for interesting yokey fun, simple swirly increase design, and the loveliest shade of creamy goodness for yarn (that's Berroco's Pure Merino, to be specific. The name? Meringue. So cool).

I'm keeping this one on the aforementioned stress-free track by entering this project sans-note making. I find the whole recording-of-every-step-thing slightly tension inducing under certain circumstances. The nervous energy of Corvidae and its steep lace-learnin' curve are on hold.
Now, it's all about the soft, lurvely yarn and the simple pleasures of a top-down raglan.

eta: Even before this post has been posted I've had to eta this here tidbit.

Upon a visit to my superfun LYS, I came across some more Berocco (this time Ultra Alpaca) that this crazy magpie couldn't resist. The result - I now have two projecti interruptus (and feel free to correct my on my made-up Latin). I'll give you a looksee in soon-to-be-posted-posts.
1 For more super duper fun with Old English and it's wackiness, check out Old English /Modern English Translator.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Indie Designer Day

Picot ScarfDesigner: Carolyn
Blog: So Much Yarn, So Little Time!
Rav ID: cmeknit1
Some Great Designs: cmeknit1's Rav Designer Page

I like me a good picot; it's real fun to do, but I have difficulties successfully incorporating it into designs. Pictured right, you can see that cmeknit1 has no such problem with her lovely Picot Edge Scarf. Texture plays an important role in this knit, and you can see her fantastic use of the element in her other patterns as well.

Take for example her recently published Big Fat Fern Afghan. Super bulky yarn is used to great effect in this lovely lace blanket. It's very inviting - I can't help but picture how cozy it would be on those chilly nights!

Lacey texture also makes a great appearance in another of her recent patterns, the pretty beret Raspby. She's written this fantastic line in her pattern description notes:
The wide 2x2 ribbed brim gently hugs your head without matting down your hair.
I must admit to greatly appreciating a designer who takes avoidance of hat-hair into account!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Sexy Vesty gets KALed

Sexy VestyStarting today is a KAL for Sexy Vesty on Ravelry's Anthropologie Forum.

Talk about flattery!

If anyone has been thinking about making this one, joining the KAL is a good way to bounce ideas off others and share progress. I'll be popping in from time to time, and as always, will be happy to answer questions!

Happy Knitting!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Indie Designer Day

Emerald VestDesigner: Deidre
Blog: D.A.R.Kreations
Rav ID: lunarchick
Some Great Designs: lunarchick's Rav Projects Page

Firstly, there's the irresistible Emerald Isle Aran Vest. This pretty knit was inspired in part by some Medieval prints. That is entirely up my alley. Not only is the yarn one of my faves, it's in an entirely perfect shade to complement the designed cables and overall "feel" of the garment. Medieval prints indeed!
Fortunately, lunarchick mentions on the project page that it may be written up and offered for sale. This, I'm sure, would be a popular knit!

It's really cool when you can see a particular designer's aesthetic in her designs. This fanciful/historical bent is continued in her Stormy Glen Cowl/Hood.

Not only is lunarchick adept with cables, she can knit a sweet lace too. Check out Phantom's Delight (a fantastic name, btw).

And, I always enjoy a good mod. Here you can see her version of Jezebel's Rock-a-billy Sweater based on Marnie MacLean's Astoria. That fair isle? So cool.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Elements and Principles of Art: Texture

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

Texture is the feel or appearance of an object or material.
You can apply this element to a knit in a number of ways.

Firstly, you can choose a particular stitch, or number of stitches, to create a textured surface. This garment, Fern Cardigan by Zeitgeist Yarns, pictured left, is a great example. The over-all stitch pattern makes for a visually interesting and terribly inviting knit!
Coupling a couple o' textures successfully may be tricky, but Zeitgeist works it out quite well with an attention-grabbing fern lace as the main focus, and a subtle moss stitch for edging (incidentally, I really like the pairing of moss and fern lace styles and names. They were made for each other!)

The yarn you choose can do a lot of the work for you when creating texture in a garment. There are many varieties of textured yarns out there, I can't even begin to tackle that thoroughly. So, I'll keep it to just this sweet wee example.

The lightweight, halo-creating yarn used in this knit, Cropped Lace Top from Vogue Knitting Holiday 2006 complements very nicely the varying, all-over lace texture.

One of the key ideas I keep in mind when choosing/designing knits is "what is the focus?" There are many elements that work together when creating a design (and analysing them via the elements and principles of art makes my organizational brain happy). The cropped top has used a neutral colour and classic shape, thus focussing attention onto its texture by making the other elements play "supporting roles".

PhotobucketAnd for a very clear example of design focus, we've got the Gathered Pullover from Interweave Knits Winter 2007. Simplifying other aspects of the top means that the texture, almost anywhere you placed it, would be the focus. In this instance, it's even placed front and centre. That's where you're meant to look, and it's a very flattering design indeed. Draws attention to your face (shape of neckline, as well as cable itself). I've seen some lovely mods, where people have moved the cable down to just under the bust.

One day, when my knitting hours have miraculously multiplied and I knit this sweater, that's where the cable is going for me. Draw attention to the smallest part of your torso, and the garment will flatter!

Saturday, April 04, 2009

The Tale of the Crafty Crow - Part the Second

Lace Plotting, and wrapping my brain around it:

When I decided that the crow silhouette was the image I wanted to lace-i-fy, out came my much-used book of knitter's graph paper. I am very attached to this wee book. My Stitch n' Bitch Design Journal is one of the best crafting book purchases I've made. I've used it so often, it's about full, and time to buy me a new one.Photobucket
There's most probably a better way of creating a lace design, but like my favourite show inspires, I like to "make stuff up" (see picture of one of the Mythbusters, right. I dig the shirt!)

So with a little trepidation, I jumped forward into my lace design experiment. With unfortunate results.

Here's what happened:
The YOs were placed on both the right and wrong side of the knitting. Problems arose when I realized that the decreases I made alongside the WS yarnovers rendered these very yarnovers moot. Not a hint of the lace-created-space showed up! Still on my to-do list is search out the reason why these decreases did absolutely no good for me.

Other than that, my experiment succeeded.

Well, sort of.

Unrelated to any sort of lace learnin', I had to frog the whole damn thing because I drastically underestimated the width, and now have to start anew with an additional three inches of cast on stitches.

What I have discovered, though, is that the lace will end up being a lot more subtle than I had originally anticipated. This may be good, and it may be bad.

All remains to be seen.

Stay tuned for the exciting third part in the Tale of the Crafty Crow - rectification of lace mistake makin!

Friday, April 03, 2009

About Me and This Here Bloggy

Wee MeAs you can see, I've been rawking the needlecrafted garments since 1983.

I’m a self-professed magpie who is easily distracted by sumptuous yarn and constantly rifling through piles of paper and scribbling design ideas on them.
I am also apparently addicted to run on sentences; this may perhaps be traceable to my love of superfluous punctuation, general attraction to words and a dedication to delivering information in the most convoluted manner possible.

Oh yes, and perhaps you're interested in my knit cred.

I started learning from books about seven years ago. I quickly discovered that writing patterns was mondo fun, and so made the jump into the scary, scary design waters.

Got comments, questions, suggestions or just wanna drop me a line? You have a couple options:

Email me here: canarysanctuary at yahoo dot com

Message me on Rav here.

Indie Designer Day

PhotobucketDesigner: Stephanie
Blog: Inspired by Life
Rav ID: eyeloveit
Some Great Designs: eveyloveit's Rav Projects Page and her Rav Designer Page

This week's indie designer, Stephanie, finds inspiration in the same place I do: designer fashion. She's looked to such names as Anthropologie and Fossil, with incredible knit results.

Her Quirky Queen Cardigan is so fabulous, I'm not sure where to begin! Inspired by an Anthropologie design (which you can see if you check out her blog post here) I personally think she's done the knit better than they did.
Check out the texture, the kickass buttons, the sculptural loops and cables (and let's not forget the lovely yarn decision - oh tweed, can you ever be wrong?) Applause all around for this fantastic design.

There are many others you should check out:
September, an adorable cardigan, comes with a tutorial. It features the same kind of textural/cable sensibility you see in the Quirky Queen. My favourite bit of this design is the subtle integration of a "waistline" right up under the bust. She achieves this through changing the direction of the cables. Cool, eh?

A similar cardigan, Bianca, and an adorable Cropped Sweater Jacket are unmissables too. Check out her whole Rav Projects page!

And, as an added bonus, here's some thoughts from the designer herself:

"I’m a self-taught knitter - I bought a booklet and studied it over and over until it made sense.

I am recently kind of obsessed with hand dyed & hand painted yarn. I plan to spend the summer dyeing up my own and possibly setting up an etsy account to sell it.

I also make jewelry, though knitting takes up most of my creative time."

I'll certainly be watching for an etsy store in the future! Keep us updated :)

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Shawl Plannin'

Thanks so much to everyone for your wonderful suggestions on my last post! You've given me great ideas (added to the list are Purity, Hanami Stole, Onerva, Lumiruusu, Gail (aka Nightsongs), Sunshine and Shadows and Lady's Circular Cape.) - I'll divulge the final decision soon.

I got a few good questions and pointers too.
Which one best matches the wedding dress style?/Some might clash with lines of dress.
Unfortunately, the dress is not settled upon at the moment. Oscar de la Renta has a lurvely one, but, not having any pocket change totaling around $7,000, I'm going to have to come up with another solution!

And something I never thought of:
The shadow of the pattern on your skin can look like acne or other weird skin things, so beware.
Yikes! I'm very glad this point was mentioned. Skin rashes may not be the best look to be giving oneself.

In the meantime, thoughts now wander to the yarn. I'm treating myself to it (if it is discovered) at the much-anticipated Knitter's Frolic at the end of the month. I find it helpful to have a plan, even if a simple or sketchy one, upon entering any drool-inducing, yarn-filled fantasy land knitter convention. The focus keeps me from being overwhelmed by all the yarn and project possibilities.

FYI: the photograph shown here is a work by artist Arnauld Maggs. He took photographs of an original copy of Werner's Nomenclature of Colours (1821), where Werner is concerned with standardizing colour names for more accurate categorization in the science/biology/zoology fields. You can read more here, if you like.

ETA: Here's a DUH moment for you: the reason I've added this here particular picture is because the shawl will be red. Lovely, lovely red.