Friday, July 31, 2015

Indie Designer Revisit

 Designer: Ágnes Kutas-Keresztes
Blog: Agnes Kutas Knitwear Design
Rav ID: AgnesKutas
Some Great Designs: AgnesKutas' Rav Designer Page
Original Indie Designer Post: September 23, 2011

Four years have passed since I first profiled Ágnes, and she's still creating pretty, textural knits. She's been self publishing, and has had her worked featured in great places like Interweave Knits, Knitscene, and Knitty. I'm just going to highlight three for you here.

There's a lot of shawls out there, but most of the ones I see are light and lacy. I like it when I encounter a Serious shawl, one that I can wear almost like a cape, to keep me warm when the temperatures drop. Ágnes' Oversized Crescent Shawl is one of them. It's thick. It's got great texture. And it's inspired by old stone castles. Yes.

I'm also keen on Cinnamon (pictured). This cardigan is seamless, bottom-up, and has more of that eye-catching texture that's well placed across the entire piece.

And finally, want to talk about great texture? Check out her Neyera Cowl. The gull-stitch texture running along the outer edges gives a fantastic depth, creating shadows between the ridges. A generously sized cowl, Neyera can be looped around your neck twice (and I even wonder if it could be worn as a wee poncho? A ponch-ette??)

FYI: she has a Lacy Summer Sale going on until TODAY. So hurry on over to her Ravelry store to grab the deals!

Thursday, July 30, 2015


Yes, believe it friends. I've completed a Pi shawl.
You may have noticed a distinct lack of shawls on this blog. Attractive as they are, I generally can't seem to imagine fitting them in to my wardrobe.

But I've been seduced! I've been seduced by the possibilities of fringe and simplicity of knitting to embrace Elizabeth Zimmermann's classic Pi shawl.

Using Yarn Indulgences fingering I picked up at the Kitchener-Waterloo Knitter's Fair last September. This isn't even a yarn colour I'd generally purchase. So, like, everything about this project is weirdly, unusually, mindlessly self-indulgent.

I wanted a simple pattern.
I wanted to not think.
I wanted to try a new colour for me.
I wanted to experience a classic pattern.
And I SO wanted to have a fringe fest.

I used one hank entirely for the body, which as you'll see isn't huge. The bulk of the other hank was used for fringe. Each fringe length was cut to 18" (so that leads to a 9" fringe, as it's looped through each end stitch at the fringe's mid point).

If I'm bringing you over to the fringe side, can I suggest you give this fantastic article a read from the Warm Weather Accessories issue of Holla Knits? My pal Leah wrote it, and designed the LUSCIOUS Taken by the Wind shawl.


Wednesday, July 29, 2015

New Pattern: Harris

I swear, I can't forecast trends.

But it was a little eerie when I realized that I was TOTALLY ahead of the trend curve this June at TNNA. I discovered this bit of magic while watching the fashion show.
As I sat there, poncho after poncho came down the runway. And all I could think of was that sweet, cabled poncho I had designed for the Knit Picks fall 2015 collection, Harris.

Harris came out of my love of the cozy, fixation on pleats, and admiration of cables and texture. This is a garment that is sort of a poncho/sweater hybrid. It's knit in the round from the bottom up; the sleeves (cuffs, really) are picked up from provisional cast ons and knit afterwards.

Why you want to knit Harris:
  • coziness!
  • it's seamless
  • you get to play with pleats
  • it's easy to throw on for an extra layer, when you're enjoying a lovely autumn stroll outdoors
  • just take a peak at those cables and texture. Mmmm....

I'll be giving away a copy of Harris to one lucky Canary Knits Mailing List member this week. Not a member? Join here.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Knitting Tool Profile: Tapestry Needles

This is the seventh post in a year-long series1. I'll post a new one on the last Tuesday of every month, with facts, photos, and further resources about twelve knitting tools

Really, all you need to become a good knitter are wool, needles, hands, and slightly below-average intelligence. Of course superior intelligence, such as yours and mine, is an advantage.

-Elizabeth Zimmermann, Knitting Without Tears

©Knit Picks
©Kate Heck (Kate's Cauldron)
SevenYaks Etsy Shop

What is it?
A tapestry needle is a blunt needle with a large eye used for sewing up seams in knitting or creating duplicate stitch.

Fun Facts
Maggie Rhigetti has a number of great pointers about tapesty needles:
  • "Plastic yarn needles have a surface finish that tends to 'hang up' in the yarn and slow one down as well as stretch the stitches."
  • "Oversized needles to more damage than good. The needle should be small enough to slip into a stitch without stretching it or splitting the yarn."
  • "Needles with a shop pointed tip, such as darning or crewel needles, are a definite no-no. They are made to split yarn, and will do so." 
Elizabeth Zimmermann has some, too!:
  • "Tapestry needles are all right for fine wool, but they cause knitting worsted and teh heavier wools to bulk up behind the eye, and to have to be dragged through the fabric. So hunt up some larger ones." 

Further Reading
Knitting in Plain English, Maggie Righetti

Knit Picks Bent Tip Tapestry Needles
Kate's Cauldron

Seven Yaks

1Read the others here.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Great Northern: Design Profile #2

Oh, the Log Lady.
I wasn't surprised in the least when, upon comparing notes, Leah and I both found design inspiration in this oddball character.

The Log Lady often wears large, cozy, traditional colourwork sweaters akin to the much beloved Cowichan. That sweater style is perfect for this character and for the show in general.

Developed in the southeastern area of British Columbia nearly 100 years ago, Cowichan sweaters are a wonderful meeting of European colourwork knitting and the indigenous people's fibre arts style, symbols, and motifs. Of course, the town of Twin Peaks is situated pretty much right there, across the border from BC in the States.

This type of sweater also has a vintage look; it reminds me very much of fantastic pattern books from the 70s and 80s, but of course stretches much farther back than that. Just google "cowichan sweater mary maxim" for some fab results.

I've always known I wanted to design the perfect Cowichan-style sweater. Something with hefty yarn, attractive colourwork, a zippered front, and cozy textured collar. I've also always know that if I was going to do one, it was going to be a super fun 21st century oddball sort. Just like me!

This all leads to my own Log Lady sweater for the Great Northern collection. It's a worsted weight. It's long sleeved and cozy. And it features neon and neutral yarn from the wonderful British Coloumbia dyer RainCity Knits. She's absolutely the first person I thought of when the Log Lady sweater started coming together.

People, I can't wait to knit this and wear the hell out of it!

Friday, July 24, 2015

Indie Designer Day

Designer: Sarah Ronchetti
Blog: Sezza Knits
Rav ID: sezza
Some Great Designs: sezza's Rav Designer Page

This New Zealand designer has designs for the whole family! All pieces are stand out in their classic, comfortable, shapes and styles. I'll show you three.

She has a lot of fun socks, but I think Summer Strawberries (pictured) are my favourite. The pretty lace detail running down the leg and on to the toe, coupled with the texture surrounding the leg and ankle, make these appear to be a fun knit and great FO.

My sister just had a baby, so all those fun baby knits are getting my attention! I particularly like Jamie's Hats because it has that super fun shape (and DOUBLE pom pom). I will refrain what I always seem to when I see cool baby/kid knits: I need this for me. Kids don't get to have all the fun!

And hey, this might be the first (one of the first?) men's knits to be featured on an Indie Designer post, Alec XL. This is a classic men's henley pullover, with some handsome texture and instructions for optional collar.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Great Northern: Scariest and Funniest Twin Peaks Moments

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Twin Peaks is full of both the very scary and the very funny. Here are my top three favourite scary and funny scenes from the show.

Scary Scene 1:
The one where Bob comes right at the camera. Poor Maddy.

Scary Scene 2:
The one where Laura screams.

Scary Scene 3:
The one where Leland Palmer gets possessed by Bob, and forcibly dances with Donna.
Leland's image in the mirror reflected as Bob is possibly the creepiest.
But hey, there's so many more scary scenes! Check out this video with a few more selections.
And now, to lighten the mood with my favourite funny scenes!

Funny Scene 1:
The one where Albert Rosenfield and the sheriff are super macho and grab each other in a fight-threat hyperbole.

Funny Scene 2:
The one where Andy knocks himself on the head.
Nearly any Andy scene is funny. But this one sends me way back to my childhood spent watching too much Three Stooges.

Funny Scene 3:
The one where Lucy and Andy have an inappropriate sperm talk in front of a repairman.

What are YOUR favourite scary and funny scenes from Twin Peaks?

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Announcing the Beach House KAL

Have you had your eye on Beach House?

Now is the time to get your copy, because not only is it on sale from now until Aug 2 at midnight. There's also going to be a KAL for it in August!

This is the perfect hot-weather knit because it's small, fast, and looks great in a cotton/linen yarn. The open mesh is light on your lap and easy on your wrists, and the blocking is pure magic!

The KAL will begin August 10 and run for four weeks. There's fun! There's company! There's PRIZES! Get in on this, cause it's gonna be a good time.

You can head on over to the Holla Knits ravelry group to participate!

Monday, July 20, 2015

Great Northern: Lucy Moran

Today I'd like to share with you a bit about one of my favourite Twin Peaks characters, Lucy Moran.

The show is populated with unusual residents, written to reflect common narrative tropes found in American television. These characters then serve the ultimate purpose of underlining the un-reality of the mythos from which they sprang.

This makes the show fascinating to watch; but that sort of intellectual stimulation seeped in near unrelenting emotional darkness can get to a gal. Characters like Lucy Moran snap the episode back to a space where comedic relief (albeit a dark sort of humour) can occur.

Lucy sounds, acts, and looks like a stereotypical lovable, air-headed blonde (I'm sure her last name is a "moron" pun). She works hard at her job as receptionist at the sheriff's office, fulfilling all types of unusual requests from laying out perfect towers of doughnuts for the men and sorting through files in search of pet bird owners. Every time I knew there was a scene with Lucy in it I felt an emotional sigh of relief, and wondered what sort of disarmingly honest things she would say or do.

Her intimate relationships with two men in Twin Peaks provide the show with romantic narrative foils, and do much in skewering idealized notions of the innocence of young love. She and Andy are one of the only couples who achieve a happy ending, while at the same time being two of the most apparently bumbling and well-meaning characters on the show.

Lucy's character is reflected in her clothing. You'll most often find her with some of the wackiest, most over-sized 90s sweaters the show has to offer. Her clothes tend to overwhelm her, emphasizing her small size, and embracing an over-done replication of that era's "professional wear" for women. Her large clothes, paired with her small, high voice, create a cutting dichotomy in this sweet, benign figure.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Indie Designer Day

Designer: Tonesen design
Blog: TonesenDesign
Rav ID: tonesen
Some Great Designs: tonesen's Rav Designer Page

I think this designer's work is best stated by the designer herself! Here's a quote taken from her Designer Page on Ravelry:
"A Norwegian who is very interested in kofter (cardigans) and their history. Because of this interest I started the Norwegian group “Koftegruppa” on Facebook in 2013.
I am huge fan of patterns and typical shapes from decades before the 80’s. That is what inspire me in my designs and my redesigns."
She has seven designs right now on Ravelry, all sweaters with beautiful colourwork. I'm going to show you two.

First up is the pictured Kvistymre. This is her most recently published design, and I think it shows off her vintage and traditional sensibilities quite well.  

Second, I want to point you to Skogstjerner. This is a colourwork yoke sweater, as opposed to an overall colourwork sweater like Kvistymre above. The reason this sweater really caught my attention was her fun choices in yarn colour for the sample. Greens and orange a white!

Head on over to her Ravelry Designer Page to read and see more!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Handmade Fashion Challenge: The Pieces

You are a maker. You are passionate. You are up for a challenge.
Want to join the challenge? Check out the details on this post.

Last week I went over  my answers to Jean's Style Guide.
This week, I want to show you the choices I've made!

And sticking to the rules, I'll also post this declaration on Instagram with the hashtag #hmfc2015.

Theme: 1970s Glam

Piece #1
Knit Crop Top

  • Check out the bottom right image in that mosaic there. That's a cute crop top I knit for myself right before TNNA this May. I've had dreams of doing up more, and with colourwork, even, so I think this is a great opportunity for that.
  • Why does this fit into a) 1970s glam and b) something I want/need for my wardrobe? The 70s were way big on crop tops, don't ya know! (have a looky at my extensive 70s inspired Pinterest board). Also, I've come to realize that I LOVE wearing skirts, but I'm not happy with how most sweaters look with a skirt on me. So, the solution is to get a sweater that ends right where the skirt band starts: the natural waist!

Piece #2
Sewn Crop Top

  • See most of the answers to #1 for my reasons. The pic is the top one on the left in the mosaic; that's a crop top I sewed for myself last year.

Piece #3
Sewn 70s Skirt
  • Pretty self explanatory. Go 70s skirt go! I have plenty of vintage patterns, two of which you see in the middle left image in the mosaic. So, my question is: which skirt should I sew?

Piece #4
Crocheted Poncho
  • Ahhh, the poncho. I decided that my 1970s Glam wardrobe needed one of these because, in all honesty, shrugs/wraps/etc... get a lot of use from me. They're very hand to have at work, as it's pretty heavily air conditioned and can sometimes get chilly. I figure a poncho does the very same thing, especially the one that I have in mind to make.
  • You'll notice in the bottom left image there that I already have at least ONE granny square crocheted. This is in keeping with the rules, where you're allowed one WIP. So far I have about 15 squares; I calculate I'll need something like 330. So, yah. Time to get crocheting!

Monday, July 13, 2015

Great Northern: Design Profile #1

When Leah and I started comparing notes and brainstorming cohesive designs for Great Northern, she was a bit surprised that I found inspiration in the character and wardrobe of Norma. I'll be speaking more in a few weeks about why I like Norma so much, but for now I just wanted to touch on one of the patterns I've drawn from her.

The working name for this one is Norma's Henley; she's one of the characters who's often dressed in some classy, vintage threads. One scene in particular caught my eye: she's wearing a great, structured pullover that has the classic lines and shape of a Henley. This type of top was quite popular in the 1970s, an era of fashion that I'm particularly fond of, and remains a basic in many wardrobes today.

I wanted to take the enduring modern tradition of the Henley and remake it for the contemporary knitter. This sweater will be the sort of thing that you'll wear for many years to come, with flattering shaping details for the waist and bust, long set-in sleeves, and delicate neckline detail.

Want to keep up to date on all things Great Northern? Just sign up for the newsletter here.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Indie Designer Day

© E. Cummings
Designer: Katy H. Carroll
Rav ID: Katinka
Some Great Designs: Katinka's Rav Designer Page

There's lovely accessories from this week's designer, each with eye-catching texture.

Here's just three:

The Carver Scarf (pictured) is one of Katinka's most recently published designs. I'm a great proponent of scarves, though I know many people aren't super keen on them. But check out this one! It's got such great surface texture, adding visual interest to a piece that could easily be unisex.

Her Emmeline Wrap is designed with knitting and wearing ease and comfort in mind. Worked from tip-to-tip, there are never too many, cumbersome stitches on the needle. You also get the pleasure of seeing that lace border block out, and turn into gently rolling waves of yarnny texture!

And finally, get a look at her Pollina Cowl. This is a tall, slouchy cowl (one of my favourite types!) in a fingering weight. It uses attractive leaf texture and beading to make this one classy cowl indeed!

Katinka has very kindly offered a coupon for all Canary Knits readers! Now through the end of July you can get 30% off all patterns in her Ravelry store with the coupon code CANARY.

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Handmade Fashion Challenge: The Style Guide

You are a maker. You are passionate. 
You are up for a challenge.
Want to join the challenge? Check out the details on this post

Last week I announced the Handmade Fashion Challenge, hosted by myself and Jean Chung.
One of our motivations in holding the challenge was to encourage people to make things for themselves. Things you'll actually wear.

This sort of mindful making takes time and planning.
Jean wrote up a very interesting Style Guide to help you on your way.

I've filled out mine here. It's been very helpful in refining my ideas and revealing items I actually need and will wear.

Will YOU join the challenge?

Style Guide
1) Go look at your closet and take out everything you wore last week.
Easy! I usually am too lazy to put stuff away until the end of the week anyhow!

2) If your outfits from last week could talk, what would be the 3 words that describe your work, position, authority, personality and style?
feminine, bold, artsy

3) From the last week's wardrobe, which one was your favorite outfit, and why? Which was your least favorite?
I find that I'm happiest when I wear dresses or skirts. 

4) Plan your capsule wardrobe. Capsule wardrobe should be something that would fit into your luggage if you were to live out of a suitcase for a month but still look fashionable and put together. There are several approaches based on your answers from the last 3 questions.

a.  If your last week's outfits are basically shirts and tees in solid/muted colors over black pants a.k.a. "BORING", build your new look around basic items with cardigans or vests so you can layer and change the look. Take a look at the color wheel, and locate the color you frequently wear. Pick the color directly opposite from your "frequently worn" color. Make the new garment in that color.
Hmm, I think I'm the opposite of boring. If anything, I have to tone my shit down. But to be honest, I do think I would find more use out of a few neutral-coloured pieces, especially where skirts are concerned.

b. If you found yourself saying something like, "I have nothing to wear!!!" more than once last week...  Make something really eyecatching: Dresses with bold prints, skirts with embroidery details or lace, flowy blouses.

c. If you realize you have 50+ tops and shirts but only 2 pairs of pants that work with your daily outfit or you have fancy dresses but very little comfortable outfits, make something that would fill the "hole" in your closet.
Oh yes! I have holes in my wardrobe! I could definitely use more neutral skirts/skirts I can wear sweaters with (ie cropped sweaters).

d. If your favorite/least favorite outfits were based on fitting issues, make something well-tailored to your shape. Take correct measurements of your body!
Fitting issues are indeed a concern, and something I hope to get better at through this experience.

e. If your favorite/least favorite outfits were based on practicality such as "it's cold in the office but all I have is thin cardigans and skirts that bare my legs", make shawls or jackets to include in your daily wardrobe.
MOST of my clothes are work clothes. I am also part polar bear. So generally, I need semi-professional stuff that someone working in the arts can wear to the job.

f. Develop a theme around the 3 words you have from Question 2. Do you need more serious outfits? Beachwear for vacation or weekends? Fun, flirty outfits for any upcoming holidays?
I always need more work clothes!

g. If you are still wondering what you should make, make something challenging: Sew a pair of jeans perfectly tailored to your shape; knit elaborate beaded lace piece or cable sweater that will wow your friends; make something from vintage patterns; mix up several patterns you have to create a new look.

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Great Northern: Sneak Peeks

I wanted to give you all a behind-the-scenes glimpse at some of the swatches and sketches I've worked up for my designs in Great Northern.

When drawing together these pieces I kept in mind a few key elements: wearability, vintage femininity, versatility, and bit of gently playful absurdity. Twin Peaks itself is more than a little gently absurd, so I wanted that atmosphere of unusual beauty to inform my designs.

I'll be speaking more and more deeply about the different designs in the coming weeks. For now, I wanted to give you a taste of the textures, details, and general aesthetic that these pieces align with.

Interested in keeping up to date with Great Northern? Sign up for the newsletter.

Monday, July 06, 2015


It's no secret: I love me my camping.
I got to get away for the first of a couple such trips this summer about a week ago, and I just wanted to share my camping joy with you all.

Some of the fun tips and tricks I use gathered on my Pinterest board.

I went yet again to one of my favourite places on earth, Algonquin Park. My husband and I stayed for three nights, and you had to pry me away on that 4th day.

It rained only one day, but yikes, those mosquitoes were OUT in full force. I had to buy one of those netted hats to keep them off me face, and spray copious amounts of repellent.

I did get to see a bunch of new birds, which for this bird nerd, is pretty exciting. There was a Loon who liked to paddle past our campsite early in the morning, and a Blue Heron who made me laugh with his goofy antics. Dude actually tripped on something in the river and was all like, "no! Hey! I'm good! Totally meant to do that!"

SO HAPPY with my fireside word search.

We hiked four trails, and I was extra motivated to cover that ground when I discovered you can buy trail badges! Oh holy crap! My inner Girl Guide was super pleased about that. I picked up one badge for each trail I've done, and an currently trying to figure out the best use for them. Blanket? Backpack?

As you can see in a bit of a sneak peek up there, I brought along a wee bit of knitting. Well, it was actually a LOT of knitting, which ended up being a smart choice, as most of Sunday was spent all cozied up in the tent.

On the way back home we had to stop at the delicious Kawartha Dairy. I got two flavours: chocolate peanut butter and raspberry-lemon-lime sherbert. If you can believe it, I actually like the sherbert better.

How about you? Are you going camping this year? Have any Ontario parks you can recommend?

Friday, July 03, 2015

Indie Designer Day

Designer: Melanie Mielinger
Blog: Melanie Strickt
Rav ID: Mellimi
Some Great Designs: Mellimi's Rav Designer Page

This week's designer has a great mix of shawls and sweaters. I'm going to point out three.

First up is Color Bomb (pictured). This is a fun shawl with colour blocking, striping, and the added detail of mesh openwork within the colourful stripes. I really dig this take on the basic shawl!

Second, I want to point out YoHo. This shawl relies on a mix of textures for visual interest. And to add a touch of uniqueness to it, Melanie's included a bobble fringe detail to the edge. Yes! Bobble fringe! I love it!

Finally, there's her Kelli cardigan. This simply shaped, traditional open-front cardigan has a cute lace panel on the back and a pretty, delicate textural detail at the waist.

Check out more of Melanie's patterns on her Rav designer page!

Thursday, July 02, 2015

Holla Knits Summer Blog Tour Part Two

The Holla Knits blog tour for the Summer 2015 issue hits Canary Knits again! This time I'm showing you a bit more about my design, Beach House.
It's an oversized crop top, essentially a box shape with a fun pleat detail at the back neckline and easy-to-memorize mesh pattern in a seamless bottom up knit. Some short rows and garter stitch keep you on your toes for an enjoyable knit and FO.

Check out this video to see different ways to wear it, including:
  • over a dress
  • with a pencil skirt and blouse
  • under a sweater with jeans
  • over a cami and shorts
  • with a crop top and shorts
  • over a bikini

And hey, now that I've shown you there are SO MANY ways to wear a crop top, you know you want to win your own copy of Beach House yes? Yes!

Just comment on this post for your chance to win. Tell me how you'd style your Beach House! And please don't forget to leave me a way to contact you, preferably your email address or Rav ID.
A winner will be announced on July 8.
Good luck!

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Handmade Fashion Challenge

You are a maker. You are passionate. You are up for a challenge.

Use your talents to create for yourself and participate in the Handmade Fashion Challenge.

Jean Chung and I are both dedicated makers who love fashion and the fulfillment and pride a maker feels when wearing their own handcrafted items.
Creating because it brings joy is fantastic; but creating mindfully, with a critical eye to what you actually wear and will find practical use of in your wardrobe is even more powerful.

Here’s the details on the Handmade Fashion Challenge.

WHY: Your clothing should be relevant to your life and impart positive energy into your every day. We want to encourage you to make pieces you’ll actually wear this fall/winter, and share the experience with your fellow crafters on Instagram!

WHAT: Mini collection of your choice of 4 pieces for your wardrobe fall/winter 2015 wardrobe. Anything, any craft, any skill level you want. But definitely something you’ll use.

WHERE: Instagram. The visual format is straightforward and the hashtaging allows everyone to easily share with each other. You can participate by announcing your planned pieces, photograph your progress, your finished items, and anything in between. Just remember to hashtag #hfc2015

WHEN: July 1 - October 31, 2015.

PRIZES: A winner will be drawn from the pool of participants who have completed their challenge.  

HOW: To be eligible for the prize draws, you MUST post finished garment photos of each piece you’ve created by October 31, 2015 with the hashtag #HMFC2015. YOU ARE ALLOWED 1 WIP; the three other items must be new projects.
Winner(s) will be announced on November 3, 2015.

Take the HMFC2015 Style Quiz to help you refine your wardrobe!
Instagram: take fun and interesting photos with the free apps Aviary, Fused, Rookie, Instagram Layout, and more!
Thoughtful wardrobes: read more on the helpful Coletterie