Friday, November 29, 2013

Indie Designer Revisit

Designer: Atelier Alfa
Blog: Making Things
Rav ID: al-fa
Some Great Designs: alfa's Rav Designer Page
Original Indie Designer Post: October 7, 2011

In my original profile of this month's indie designer, I described her work as an exercise in fantastic manipulation of interesting shape.

That has continued, with a focus on publishing pullovers and cardigans. So I've decided to feature the very pretty Pebble Stone Cardigan. Texture galore! And, I'd argue, located in exactly the right places. It's top-down and seamless (my favourite construction!) and hello! Pockets! Everybody loves a good pocket.

A basic pullover with great texture and shape, ridgy
features great little ridges, dancing across the front of the knit and ultimately placed wherever your heart wishes. This is a technique that can be applied to any ready-made sweater or cardigan, and comes with detailed photos and step-by-step instructions for the ridges.

Finally, there's the OrganiX cowl or scarf. It has that great shape and texture that this designer plays so well with, and the added benefit of looking almost like wood grain! Check this one out, people. It's a lovely scarf or cowl. Something very suitable for gifting for men or women :)

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving: Embroidery, Family, Friends

Some of you may be having something of deja vu: I did just ramble on about my love of Thanksgiving near the beginning of October, when us Canadians celebrate the holiday.

I love this day so much, I take every opportunity to celebrate it. For those who are unhappy about the commericalization of Christmas, I think some parts (well, the secular ones at least) of Christmas are now best found at Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving's always been a time for me to be joyful; spend time with family and friends, and simply revel in how lucky we are. Be thankful, it's right there in the name! And, I think, quite importantly, this celebration is free of any necessary gift-giving. (I love giving gifts, but there is something to be said for a holiday where the excitement and joy comes almost exclusively from time spent with loved ones).

Anyhow, I love Thanksgiving. Yes, established. It rules.

I also love learning new things. So, when my friends Allyson and Katie let me know they were starting the holiday-based embroidery pattern business Red Letter Day Stitches, I was excited and intrigued. Embroidery is a skill I've been wanting to get into for quite a while now, and the free pattern stich-a-longs they've been hosting to start the business have be a fantastic way to get in to it.

Have you ever thought of trying embroidery? Perhaps you already do; it's quite likely. We're a crafty bunch around here.

I've recently finished the ADORABLE Let's Talk Turkey.

So, to celebrate this lovely holiday, here's some images of my turkey (who I may have named George. Don't know why. It just fit). Aaaaaaand, a giveaway!

The Giveaway

I'd like to know if you've ever tried embroidery before: comment with your answer on this post between now and December 4th to be entered to win a Primary Subscription to Red Letter Day Stitches!

The Primary Subscription includes six holiday patterns and a 2014 calendar. So cute! An embroidered calendar!

Good luck everyone!

The winner will be announced on December 5th.

And here is my completed George. Not sure how I'll be using him... Pillow? Turkey dinner napkin? (hehe, I'm mean!)

Monday, November 25, 2013

Paridae: What Two Samples Can Tell You

You may have noticed that I model a lot (almost all!) of my patterns.  This is mostly because when it comes to taking photos and needing a body to try-on-as-you-go, I'm the easiest person to get a hold of!

That said, it is always valuable to see a particular garment on a variety of bodies. So I'm very pleased that a good friend of mine has agreed to model Paridae!

Seeing Paridae in a couple different sizes (and yarns!) gives great information, and visually describes things like:
  • the way the grouped increases for bust and hips lay on different bodies
  • what different yarn fibres and colours can do for a pattern
  • where the length of the sleeves extend for different arm lengths
  • the interaction between standard sizing on two people of the same height, but different sizes

This last point is particularly useful, and my friend and I are the same height, but are each modeling different sizes.

Me, in a size S; Zen Yarn Garden yarn
My friend J, in a size L; Knit Picks yarn


The yarn used for the size L is Knit Picks Wool of the Andes Worsted Tweed, in Rabbit Heather.

I think height/length is an often over-looked aspect of sizing. Certainly, getting your horizontal measurements (bust, waist, hips) correct is very important, but here you see what standard sizing dictates for the vertical, as well.

If you're anything but the standard size (which most of us likely are!), you may be interested in modifying your knit garments. The CYC standards are what knitwear designers generally follow; knowing where you line up within that chart is a useful tool.

Interested in purchasing Paridae? You have a few options:

You can buy it on Ravelry in my shop
You can get it in a kit from Knit Picks (the modeled version above, on the left)
You can get it in a kit from Zen Yarn Garden (for 20% off from now until December 31!!) (the modeled version above, on the right)

Yarn: Zen Yarn Garden Serenity Worsted
Yarn: Wool of the Andes Worsted Tweed

Friday, November 22, 2013

Indie Designer Day

Designer: Sarah Jane
Blog: Sarahsstuff
Rav ID: SarahJaneDesigns
Some Great Designs: SarahJaneDesigns' Rav Designer Page

Mind blowing crochet ahead!
This week's designer has a great selection of designs. First I'll show you the Frostberry Hat. So cute! I love that texture. Perfect knit for this time of year.

There's also the pretty Geminio Neckwarmer. I love the frill, the lovely curving lines, and especially that this is a neckwarmer that comes in five sizes! Very cool.

Finally, I'd like to point out her great collection of wrist warmers/cuffs. Collected in one publication, Cuffed, you can get yourself nine different designs including the delicate and girly Clotted Cream and the wonderfully structural Woodland Realm Cuffs.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

How We Keep Away the Cold: Thick Chill

I love to see people's FOs!

Thick Chill is a great pattern for this time of year. Quick and easy to knit (two strands of bulky yarn held together makes the going fast!). Perfect for yourself, or for last-minute gifting too!

Here's a few of the great Thick Chills hanging around on Ravelry!

© aesniego

aesniego's Thick Chill Hood
"Easy to knit even with the bulky yarn. Looks amazing and feels like it will be extremely warm for the early morning Northern Michigan Winters!"

lalaithbr's Lilly's Thick Chill Hood
I like how she's wearing it in this pic. The hood has just the right amount of extra room and give to be equally warming around your neck, your head, or your shoulders.

lomeraniel's Thick Chill
I really love how people wear this simple piece differently. Whenever I wear mine (which is often, now that it's getting chilly out) I always keep it up around my neck. I'm going to try wearing it down on my shoulders, as that seems to be a pretty popular way to style it!

judi1212's Thick Chill hooded cowl
I love her thoughts on the cowl, which I happen to agree with!
"Winter weather has come to the Northeast and I gotta tell you this is WARM. I knew needed something for the cold dog walks and this hooded cowl is great."

Incidentally, it looks like grey(ish) is THE colour to knit your Thick Chill in. I need some grey bulky yarn STAT!

Thanks to all the lovely ravellers who agreed to be featured in this post!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Indie Designer Day

Designer: Sandra J├Ąger
Rav ID: stoperror
Some Great Designs: stoperror's Rav Designer Page

Looking for incredibly cute, thematic, colourwork hats? You have totally come to the right place this week, my friends.
I've included a photo here for you of Sea Breeze beanie. I think it's a great example of the kind of work stoperror does.
So much so, that I'm not going to yammer at you with superfluous superfluity, I'm going to stick to giving you a bunch of cool links:

Like piranhas? There's a beanie for that.
Looking for a bunny-based hat? There's a beanie for that.
You like horse racing? There's a beanie for that.
Cats hunting mice? Beanie for it.
Enjoy golfing? Beanie for that too.
Sunshiny sunflowers? Beanie!

She has close to 450 (yes, four hundred and fifty!) designs, many of which are hats, but plenty of which are other accessories. My total favourites are the Unicorn beanie and the Raccoon beanie. Anyone want to knit them for me? :) Gift-giving season is coming!

And just one more, seasonally-appropriate pic: the Deer Family beanie.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Hinterland: Autumn

The air is crisp and your needles are out. It's the time of year knitters revel in, with your hand knits coming out of storage and the pleasant task of picking your favourite to wear each day is upon you.

Hinterland: Autumn is a celebration of this most wonderful time of year. Each of the three patterns is designed to complement your autumnal outdoor experience. Included is Paridae, Soft Rime, and Rustling Ruffles.

all three patterns for $9.99.

There’s nothing better than a hooded sweater in the autumn!  Paridae is a comfortable, cozy sweater that wraps you in warmth, with sleeves long enough to pull over your fingers when sipping that hot apple cider, and a hood generous enough to keep your head and shoulders warm without the dreaded hat-hair. 
Knit from the bottom up, the sleeves are attached at the yoke, with decreases leading up to the hood making this a practically seamless sweater!

Zen Yarn Garden, Serenity Worsted, 75% superwash merino 15% cashmere, 15% nylon,  175 y / 160 m per hank, Terracotta, 7 (8, 10, 11, 12, 14, 15, 16) hanks
4.5 mm (US 7) circulars (approx 16” / 40 cm length) and dpns
18 sts and 24 rows = 4” / 10 cm in stockinette
XS (S, M, L, XL, XXL, XXXL, XXXXL) / Bust 30 (34.5, 38, 42.5, 46, 51.5, 54, 58)” / 76 (87.5, 96.5, 108, 117, 131, 137, 147) cm
4 1.5” / 4 cm toggles, scrap yarn, stitch markers
increasing, decreasing, Kitchener stitch, I cord

Soft Rime
Bonnets are cute, quick, comfy, and universally flattering. Wearing Soft Rime will keep your head and ears warm on your autumn walks. Tie up the laces for an extra bit of warmth when the winds start to blow! 
Knit in one piece from the ties up, Soft Rime uses short rows, simple texture, and grafting to finish off this seamless knit.

Malabrigo, Worsted, 100% merino, 210 y / 192 m per hank, Natural, 1 hank
4.5 mm (US 7)
20 sts and 24 rows = 4” / 10 cm in stockinette
One Size; see Garment Schematic for details
short rows, decreasing, Kitchener stitch

Rustling Ruffles
Rustling Ruffles will accompany you on all your beautiful walks this autumn! The chill in the air won’t nip at your fingertips as you stroll, the last bits of sun filtering through the last leaves on the trees, and the rest crunching pleasantly underfoot.
Simple increases and decreases create rows of ruffles, and a flip-top to the mitts mean that you can have your fingers free at a moment’s notice! The cuff extends several inches up your arm, ensuring that there won’t be any chill getting between your jacket and mitts.

Lorna’s Laces, 100% Superwash Merino, 215 y / 197 m per hank, Monkey Shines, 2 hanks
2 mm (US 0) dpns
30 sts and 44 rows = 4” / 10 cm in stockinette
one size
scrap yarn, stitch markers, stitch holder
increasing, decreasing, Kitchener stitch

What's in the ebook?
The ebook contains Pariade, Soft Rime, and Rustling Ruffles. It also has complementary information about the collection's inspiration, information about the Carolinian forest zone, and an extensive annotated bibliography.

The ebook is $9.99 CAD. Paridae is $6.50 CAD. Soft Rime is $5.50 CAD. Rustling Ruffles is $5.50 CAD.

Where to Purchase
You can buy the patterns individually or all together in the ebook on ravelry.

Thanks to my great tech editor, Holly Priestley, and my kind and talented photographer, Mark!  

Monday, November 11, 2013

The Riveting Life of a Museums Professional

I don't talk a whole lot about my day job; here, I'd like to connect my Batman to my Bruce Wayne for ya'll.

Why I Work in Museums
I'm part of the Education staff for an art museum.
I have an Honours Degree in Art History and History, and I like to say (without lie, I tell you) that art was about as far away as I could run from math.1 Working on this sort of degree you get a lot of "what are you going to do with that?" and the rather annoying assumption that you're obviously going to be a school teacher.  Ever since I was a wee girl, and I paid my first visit to a history museum (that is, they were all dressed up in old timey-stuff), I knew that was the future for me.

What I Do in Museums
My knee-jerk reaction to the "school teacher" label isn't to say I don't teach art/history. I do that all the time, but the difference between the classroom and the gallery is incredible. In the museum, you're a novelty; you aren't the regular teacher, and you're likely not teaching in the regular way. You get to interact with people for a very short period of time, and only hope that you've added some value and planted some seeds that will eventually produce a positive connection with the arts on a spectrum from grudging acceptance to what happened to me as a kid, one of those who knows that's the job for them.

I'm going to do a quick bit of mythbusting here: not all people who work in museums are called curators. Here's a list of different roles within the museums field. I fall under Education. It's fun over here. Us Educators get to interpret those exhibitions the curators put together, ie: elucidate the value of what can sometimes be convoluted and hard to access concepts, making meaning from and connections to objects, or (in the case of an art museum) works of art.

I also get to blog for my museum! Want a looky-loo?

What Makes Museum People Laugh

Stuff Museum People Say

My favourite is "bleed away from the artifact!"

And the hilarious tumblr When You Work at a Museum. I'm in STITCHES here, people!
1 And to think, I do stupid, stinky-face math all the time now. (But shhh, don't tell my dad.)

Friday, November 08, 2013

Indie Designer Day

Designer: Sara Gresbach
Blog: Front Porch Knitting
Rav ID: addiesma
Some Great Designs: addiesma's Rav Designer Page

I can't  believe that I haven't known of this week's designer for years. A quick scroll through her rav designer page shows a talented, professional, technically-tight knitter. Someone who creates solid, reliable, classic pieces that you'll love and wear forever.

Case(s) in point:

Sugar Snow (pictured) is a beautifully simple vest. Something a woman of any age could wear, and very helpfully pictured throughout its pattern page with a variety of stylings. Belted, open, with a shawl pin at the neck or the waist, this is a great looking garment.

Gift knitting ahoy! Check out the Atwater Mitts, something you can quick(ish)ly knit for those lucky enough to be on your seasonal-giving-season list. Also, there's a pretty wide size range for a pair of mitts, from x-small to large.

One of my favourites are Boot Candy Boot Cuffs. Quick, functional, and totally cute, these cabled boot toppers would fit perfectly in a stocking and/or small gift box. Just sayin.

Looking to knit for a teen? I'm thinking Hoodsie would likely please. Again, it's a pattern with a good solid bit of knitting, stuff that won't go out of style any time soon. Something to throw on over top your outfit when going out for your adventures, to keep you just that bit warmer.

Finally I'll point out the Kaleidoscope Cowl. Mostly because it's so pretty. Check it out!

ETA: Now really, finally! I wanted to show you her latest pattern, Flambeau. Check this one out!  A fantastic colourwork cowl - with wee herringbone happening. I love it!

Thursday, November 07, 2013

VKLive: Chicago!

This weekend I had a whirlwind trip to Chicago for Vogue Knitting Live.

It was a fantastic weekend, filled with runway shows (the BEST reason to go to VKLive, I'm thinking), classes, lectures, museums, friends, and pints! (good lord, you can't forget about the pints!)

This was my first time at any VKLive event, and my first impressions were: glam! It was in the Palmer House Hilton, which is an amazingly beautiful space.

I was most excited to see the runway shows. There were six throughout the day on Saturday, and I was able to make it to most of them.

They were handing out little bags of mini skeins at the Malabrigo show. Very exciting!
It was an interesting experience to see the samples, some of which I was familiar with from photographs, in motion. Details in motion, drape, and dynamism made this my favourite part of the event.

There were classes and lectures galore. The package I purchased came with one class and one lecture; both of which I found educational and enjoyable.

The class I took was "Reading Between the Lines: What the Pattern Doesn't Tell You!" with Patty Lyons. She is a fantastic teacher! With a subject that might otherwise be tedious (there was math involved, people!) she kept it interesting, and answered questions very well.
The way she summed certain things up really struck me, and I had to jot down a few quotes:

"A pattern is instructions on how to make that thing. It's not a knitting how-to book."

"Patterns are written with an assumption of knowledge."

"We have to think of our knitting as a fabric, not just yarn."

And to top it off, she made a very good case for ALWAYS doing a swatch. It gives you ver important information on at least three points:
1) gauge (of course!)
2) colour (do you really like this colour of yarn for this project? Or does the varigation fight with the pattern?)
3) texture/content (same as point #2: Don't let your yarn fight your pattern!)

There was also a Marketplace. You may be shocked, but I didn't really do all that much shopping while there. I did promise a gift for a friend, so picked up this cute project bag from Yarn Pop by Top Shelf Totes.

To be honest, the Marketplace was much smaller than I had envisioned, and I'm pretty sure that's mainly because I'm coming off of a Rhinebeck high. The two events are quite different experiences.

I was impressed by a number of the yarn dyers that were there; in particular, I drooled over the colourful hanks of Neighborhood Fiber Co. Oh boy, did I ever. I can't believe I walked out of there without any.

There were a few art installations in the Marketplace as well. The only one I got a snap of was the sweet little minis you see below.

So far I've covered the runway shows, classes, and lectures. On to the friends and pints!

The effervescent Allyson Dykhuizen was the reason I came to VKLive Chicago int he first place. It was great to see her again, and meet lot of other designers from Holla Knits!
Katie, Me, Laura, and Lily
Laura, Allyson, Lily, and me!

You can read Allyson's post for a bit of a VKLive review as well. The bloggy people were Allyson, Katie, Laura, and Lily. We headed out to High Dive!, a bar with AMAZING Greek fries (holy crap, they were so good), and hung with (the un-blogged) Kirstin and Sarah.
Ghost and the Darkness at the Field Museum.

And while this may be turning into a monster post, I don't want to leave out the funtimes I had with my dude! We were able to visit the huuuuge Field Museum on Sunday. It was awesome. Taxidermy galore. (I tried to find a taxidermied lovebird. Because I'm great that way).

The city is just so damn handsome downtown that a walk around made me wish I lived closer so I could visit often. It also doesn't hurt that the beautiful autumn colours are still out, with loads of trees dancing around in golds and scarlets.

We also got to see the Cloud Gate by Anish Kapoor. It makes me like him even more.

Have you ever been to VKLive? Any other knitting event, like Rhinebeck or Stitches? What did you think of it? How do they compare to each other?

Friday, November 01, 2013

Indie Designer Day

Designer: Sharon Slarke
Blog: knits the journey
Rav ID: WakefulKnits
Some Great Designs: WakefulKnits' Rav Designer Page

This week's designer first caught my eye with Virgo Vest (pictured). Not only because of the whole "ooo! I'm a virgo! Does that mean I'll love this?!" thing, but also because, yeah, I really do like that vest! I really dig the texture, which she carries forward into her other work. That and a great sense of fun!

Her Hayley Ear Flap Hat shows off this fun and texture. Chunky knit with pom poms and ear flaps! Yes please!

She can also do solid, sturdy, beautifully classic work too. Check out the Bea Fair Isle Pullover. She has the fun in the punny name, and the gorgeousness that is a well-executed fair isle knit.

And a little bit about her:
Stitch ‘n Bitch Nation inspired me to design. Being an analytical thinker and persistent with problem solving (where knitting is concerned, anyway) means that I keep pushing on. A lot of design seemed fairly logical to me. Shirley Paden’s Knitwear Design Workshop revealed a lot of mysteries with step by step instructions.
Do you have Stitch n' Bitch Nation? How about Shirley Paden's Knitwear Design Workshop? They're both great books.

Go check out more of her work on her rav designer page!