Posted on | November 9, 2014 | 8 Comments
For years, I have resisted the siren call of spinning. I had too much on my plate with designing and just couldn’t afford to give any of my time away to one more hobby. I used every excuse in the book. It takes too long to spin yarn. Why spin it when you can buy it. I can’t afford a wheel and I HATE spindles. I live in a NYC apartment, I can’t possibly fit a fleece in here!
Well, it seems that I have succumbed to the wheel. Hard.
It all started when I got this great idea on the drive up to Rhinebeck. My friend and I had taken a spinning class together at Brooklyn General about 3 years ago. She stuck with it and I did not. While I was trying to ignore the wheel, she was busy taking classes, buying up a closet full of fleeces, and just might have had an extra wheel I could work on. I thought it would be a great idea to buy a fleece and she could walk me through the steps required to process it and help me a little with my spinning. I think she was secretly waiting patiently for this day to come.
So I bought a fleece! I purchased a 5 pound natural grey Border Leicester/Corriedale cross. What does 5 pounds of fleece look like? Like this. It took up just about all of the available floor space in my living room.
If you follow me on instagram, I’m sure you’ve seen some of my progress already. So far, I’ve managed to wash a bit of fiber (In my bathtub! With a kitty litter pan!), learned how to card, made a huge pile of rolags, and have spun up two very uneven, but tolerable skeins of yarn.
I have to say, it’s quite a process to turn a greasy sheep into some beautiful yarn! My goal is to turn this fleece into a sweater quantity or two of yarn. I say go big or go home! This means that I need to practice up on my consistency skills, and most importantly, not get discouraged in the process. It’s hard learning something new and the frustration of it not being perfect is a hard hurdle to overcome. I have to accept this and just enjoy the process, especially the experimentation side. I’ve found over time that I don’t allow myself enough time to experiment – whether it be with my sewing or knitting or selecting a new book to read. Since my time is precious, I just want to get right to it. I don’t want to waste time on a project that might fail, try a technique that might not work out, or pick up a book that might not be good. Honestly, this can be absolutely paralyzing! I end up not starting at all, the yarn sits instead of becoming a sweater, there are piles of fabric everywhere, and good books to read that I’m missing out on.
Maybe spinning will help me to let go of this irrational fear I have of failure. Some of our worst mistakes can also be our most important learning experiences! Is this something you have experienced with your crafting as well? If so, how have you overcome it?
Posted on | October 26, 2014 | 7 Comments
Bedford was a nice, easy project to bring me back into the world of knitting. After analyzing my wardrobe over the past few months, I realized I was in serious need of some comfy, cozy pullovers in my wardrobe and this pullover fit the bill.
I knit Bedford up in the suggested yarn, Brooklyn Tweed Shelter in Snowbound. All of Jared’s colors are beautiful, but I can’t seem to get past his fantastic heather grey pallet! My friend Kathryn will tell you that when shopping for yarn, heather grey is my downfall every. single. time.
I only made a few fit modifications to the pattern. The body is knit 1″ longer and I cast-on fewer stitches for the sleeves. Since I’m on the petite side, the cuff and muscle proportions need to be just right so I don’t look overwhelmed by the sweater. I did make a silly mistake though that ended up with me re-knitting the yoke. When I modified the cuff CO numbers, I looked at the wrong set of final numbers for the muscle, therefore I ended up with 10 less stitches than I wanted. I didn’t notice until I had BO for the neck and tried it on for the first time. It fit, but the upper raglan sleeve area was a little tight. Rip, rip, rip! I kept the smaller muscle (I have my limits) and reworked the decreases for the raglan. Perfect!
When knitting the sleeves, I also worked them inside out up to the join so I could knit in the round instead. I’m not a fan of working purl stitches in the round, especially since my purl stitches tend to be a little looser than my knits. Also, it’s much faster! When I got to the yoke join, I just flipped each sleeve right side out and continued with purl stitches. Easy.
My gauge was a little off from the pattern, but when I tried a smaller needle, the resulting stitch did not look nice and my gauge was too tight. A nice looking stitch was more important than getting gauge, so I went with it. I knit a large gauge swatch and wet blocked, but of course I forgot to take my pre-block gauge (shame on me!). I knit up the 34 1/2″ size and ended up blocking it out to 36″, which is about 3″ of positive ease. In this case, I wanted the body of the sweater to grow a bit, so all ended well.
I absolutely love my new sweater! It’s been finished for a week and I think I’ve worn it three times already. Plus, heather grey goes with everything. Total win!
Posted on | October 22, 2014 | No Comments
What can I say that hasn’t been said before? The weekend was awesome. It was even more awesome that I didn’t have any commitments this year. I could wander at will without a schedule to follow and actually got to sleep in on Sunday morning for the first time in a few years!
This year started off like the last few, in line first thing for a Jennie the Potter mug. This years theme? Dinosaurs in sweaters. Awesome.
The next task involved the fleece sale. With the help and knowledge of my friend Kathryn, I secured a nice Border Leicester/Corriedale cross in a pretty grey. Rolling this five pound fleece out in my small living room is going to be comical! I should have enough for a sweater or two along with room for error. I haven’t spun much in the last year and am not quite as consistent as I would like. It’s going to be quite a journey, but I’m really excited!
The rest of the weekend was spent securing necessities (more Soak anyone?), visiting with adorable sheep, and eating more than my share of lamb sandwiches and apple cider donuts. The line for the donuts was a little insane this year, did the secret finally get out how awesome they are?
And finally, it was nice to catch up with old friends and meet a few new ones as well. There really is nothing quite like Rhinebeck weekend and I love my knitting community! 2015 can’t come soon enough.
Posted on | October 14, 2014 | 1 Comment
Today I have a special guest on the blog, Alexis Winslow, author of Graphic Knits: 20 Designs in Bold Beautiful Color. Alexis’ book demonstrates not only her superb knitting and design skills, but also her love of color and graphics. I first discovered Alexis when she published the Delancey Cardigan, which not only had strong graphic elements, but also was very cleverly constructed. It’s been interesting watching her come into her own as a knitwear designer these last few years and getting to know her as a friend. Welcome Alexis!
MW: Can you tell my readers a little bit about yourself and how you learned how to knit?
AW: I’m originally from Norman, Oklahoma and moved to New York City in 2007. Now I live in Brooklyn and have a wonderful day-job working as a printed textile designer. When I’m not at work I spend every possible spare moment designing knitting patterns and writing about it on my blog, KnitDarling.com
I taught myself to knit from some very crude directions I found on the Internet when I was about 16. I began creating my own knitwear designs about 10 seconds after that! At that point, I was already very into sewing, and created a lot of my own clothing, so knitting was just another interesting tool for expressing myself through fashion.
MW: Many of your previous designs have a bold graphic element to them. At the beginning of the book planning process, did you know this would be your focus?
AW: Well, no. I actually had no idea what the book’s focus would be until after my proposal was accepted! Basically, my idea was to create a well rounded book that any knitter could pick up and find something they were excited to make. So I tried to stay true to my own knitting desires and only included things I really wanted to knit– things that represented my own personal style. I worked with an acquisitions editor at Interweave who looked everything over, and came up with the working title “Graphic Knits,” which ended up sticking.
MW: I’m always interested in how other designers organize their design ideas in the book planning process. Can you talk a little bit about what it was like to plan 20 designs for Graphic Knits? (For example, did yarn or sketches come first? How did you decide on a color pallet and yarns? Were all designs set from the beginning or did you add and change as you went? Were there any designs that were dropped because they just didn’t work?)
AW: I always begin with a sketch. Sketching new ideas is one of my very favorite parts of the process. I bet I did a hundred or more little quick sketches of design ideas for this book. After doing a few rough sketches of an idea, I’d make a nice drawing of a person wearing the garment to put into a proposal plate. The plates were basically a collage of info with supporting images of yarn, swatches, or possible colorways. I made at least 40 plates for the book, and picked the strongest 30 for my proposal.
Sketching is one of my strongest skills and I really rely on it to inform my design choices later in the process. I get a pretty good idea about how I want the fabric to behave from my sketches, which helps me decide about yarn. Though of course color is very important, it almost always comes last for me. I usually pick yarn first, then see what the best colors are in that line. Of course I also wanted variety in the book, so I thought about that too. I actually tried to start the book with a palette, but that quickly went out the window!
After I signed my contract, I had a year to write the patterns and knit all the samples. I didn’t order all my yarn at the beginning. Instead, I tried to think ahead a few designs, and ordered yarn along the way. This kept me excited about the book project as a whole, and also left room to add a few new designs along the way. My proposal had 30 designs, and I could pick 20 for the book. Somewhere in the middle, I had a few new ideas that I just had to include, the Danae mittens, the Trilogy Cardigan, and the Germander Shrug.
MW: Do you have a favorite project from the book?
AW: Maybe Laszlo or Trilogy. I also really love the Woodstar Hat and Mitts set. It’s too hard to pick!
MW: Color work can be rather intimidating to someone who has never tried it before. Are there any projects from the book that you could recommend to a color work newbie?
AW: I’m glad you asked about this, because it gives me the chance to talk about the design you knitted the sample for, the Sweetness Pullover. This pullover features a cute polka dot Fair Isle pattern around the shoulders. I think stranded color-work is easiest when it’s worked in large rounds, in memorizable repeating patterns. Sweetness has all those attributes.
I have a hard time relinquishing control of my sample knitting, but this pattern was straightforward enough that I had no worries. Of course you did a beautiful job, and also saved my butt, so I am eternally grateful!
MW: If you could spend one hour with a well known knitter (past or present), who would it be and why?
AW: Elizabeth Zimmerman, because duh?! She’s the first famous designer I ever knew. For the first 10 years of my knitting life, her book, Knitting Without Tears, was like my bible. She was so innovative for her time. I’d be curious to know what she’d think about we modern knitters. Also, she seems like a fun lady to share a drink with!
For those of you going to Rhinebeck this upcoming weekend, Alexis will be signing copies of her book in Building B from 9-5 Saturday and 10-5 Sunday. Make sure you check out her book and say hi!
By Alexis Winslow
Posted on | October 6, 2014 | 1 Comment
On Saturday night, I went to the opening party for Gauge x Tension, a fine yarn pop-up in Greenpoint. I had such a good time!
GxT is run by Michele and Melissa and will only be open on Saturday and Sunday right up until the week before Christmas. Except for the weekend of Rhinebeck. because well, Rhinebeck!
The shop was cozy and well curated with unusual yarns that I haven’t seen on my usual travels. Some of the yarns include Tanis Fiber Arts, Western Sky Knits, Sleep Season Goods, and Jones and Vandermeer. Brooklyn Tweed and Quince were also well represented. It was nice to see Quince Owl in person, it’s not what I thought a wool/alpaca blend would look like at all. And was lovely, of course.
GxT is also carrying a bit of roving and Catherine Lowe notions, of which I picked up a box of knitting pins. I am a knitting pin convert ever since taking Catherine’s class at VK Live last year.
I found 7 skeins of BT Shelter in Fossil that wanted to come home with me to make Michele’s Ondawa. I can’t wait to get started, but have to finish Bedford first. Perhaps I will start swatching on my commute since Bedford is in that awkward, too big to carry around stage. It also happens to be in the “I’m Mad at It” stage. It’s my own stupid fault. I was too lazy to get up out of bed and grab two more stitch markers and ended up decreasing on the wrong stitch. It was on the back and I’m sure no one would ever notice, but I would know. That’s enough reason to rip for me. So rip, rip, rip back to the join it went and markers were added. Anywho.
If you’re in the NYC area, I highly recommend checking Gauge + Tension out while it’s around. Unfortunately it won’t be around for long!
Gauge x Tension
110 Meserole Ave
Sat 11am – 7pm / Sun 11am – 6pm
Posted on | October 2, 2014 | 2 Comments
I’ve been knitting! Aren’t you proud of me?
It really has been forever since I’ve posted a sweater project here. I think the last one I finished was…….I can’t even remember the name! I think it was back in January.
I started working on Hane while I was in Florida and when I returned I immediately cast on for Bedford. Not only am I back to knitting, but I have TWO projects on the needles! Although I will admit that Hane has taken the back seat to the wonders that is Bedford in BT Shelter.
When Jared created this yarn, the man certainly knew what he was doing. I think I could happily knit with nothing else for the rest of my knitting days. Watch out cashmere.
Bedford is going by just quick enough to enjoy, but just slow enough to savor. While my fingers sometimes pine for something a little more advanced, I’m enjoying the ride here. I’m also enjoying knitting for myself without deadlines hanging over my head. It’s taken a long time to get to the point of even wanting to knit, it’s been a bit of a rough haul.
But enough about that! Fall is here and Rhinebeck is on the horizon. It’s a good time to be a knitter.
Posted on | September 26, 2014 | No Comments
It’s been a doozy of week, but it’s Friday! Here’s a few interesting links for the weekend.
– Wooly Wormhead wrote a very good post about the true cost of a knitting pattern and what goes into it to create one. I’ll give you a hint, it’s a lot of work!
– Jean Paul Gaultier says good-bye to the RTW world with his last show tomorrow. My favorite quote from the article:
Maybe this is someone finally acting on the belief that what the cycle now demands from designers — to be creative and original about every two months — is not sustainable. Maybe it is someone making a choice, and just saying no.
– And we’re back again this week with another post from Into Mind. Four shopping fallacies and how to avoid them. Shopping smart is a win/win. Biggest one I have learned working in the industry is expensive does not equal quality. For example, the $195 70% Acrylic sweater I posted about on twitter this week.
– Last, but not least, I leave you with How to Hardwire a Light Fixture. This is just one of those life skills that is good to know along with changing your own oil and knowing how to change a flat tire!
Posted on | September 23, 2014 | 6 Comments
When I was in design school, slopers were a way of life. I couldn’t go anywhere without them and they were updated every year to fit the dress form for each class.
I always wanted to make one to fit myself, but the method we used to draft them was a shortcut. It only really worked if you wanted it to fit a dress form. At one point I tried the Vogue Sloper, but I got frustrated with the fit and gave up.
Then came Craftsy and Suzy Furre’s skirt and bodice sloper classes. I picked them both up on sale a few months back and was fascinated with the amount of detail she went into, plus she is a fantastic teacher. I was so excited! I could finally draft my own sloper.
Of course, there was just one problem, I needed someone to help me measure myself first. A few weekends ago, I finally enlisted the help of my friend Kathryn to get a proper measurement session in.
Before I could get to the sloper, I first needed to draft a moulage. This is a very tight fitting bodice with no ease, it fits the body like a glove. Here was my first attempt.
Not bad by any means, but still needed a few adjustments. My back measurement was way too long and my side seam was a little high. I made the adjustments on my draft and cut out a second. Once I got my second moulage on, I realized very quickly something had gone wrong in the shoulder area. I had forgotten to add in 1/2″ to my front armhole. Whoops! So here is my third attempt.
Much better overall, especially on the back, but still had some pesky wrinkles in the armhole area. I removed 1/4″ from the shoulder and cross front to fix it up forgot to take a picture! Well, you get the idea!
After I was happy with the fit, next comes the drafting of the sloper. This is where a certain amount of ease is added to make a more comfortable fit. The neck is brought out and down, the shoulders out, and 1/4″ – 1/2″ is added to the side seam.
Here she is, immortalized in oak tag! I’ve already used her to help make some adjustments before cutting a muslin or two. I’ve also been reading up on pattern drafting. I’m so happy to finally have my own sloper! I don’t think I’ll ever need to buy RTW ever again!
Posted on | September 15, 2014 | No Comments
Here are a few links that I found enjoyable this week and hope you do too! I love that knitting is back in the mix again. With the weather getting cooler, I have once again found myself in my favorite chair knitting away after dinner.
– I’m having a Fall sale! In celebration of the Autumn Equinox, I’m offering 20% off all neoknits patterns (including collections) until Tuesday, September 23. No code needed, the discount will show up when you add them to your cart. Purchase from my site here or from Ravelry here.
– Speaking of Fall, here is a resource list for how to prep your wardrobe for Fall.
– Scruffy Badger shared a great info graphic on her blog this week about textile waste in fashion and how we as makers help to reduce waste. Every little bit helps! It’s in UK figures, but I think it’s still very relevant information.
– Have you seen Ysolda has a new pattern subscription available? Each pattern promises to be a great gift for all of your knitworthy people. By the way, Christmas is only 14 weeks away!
Happy weekend and happy knitting!
Posted on | September 3, 2014 | 2 Comments
Three weekends ago, when my friend graciously let me takeover her apartment and use her cutting table for the day, I had two things on my agenda. The first was to cut out my Bombshell, the second was to cut out my muslin for McCalls 6696.
I figured that while I was there, I might as well cut out my Betsey Johnson fabric for my second Saltspring.
Since Bombshell was stitched up in record time, I moved onto my 6696 muslin. My muslin was stitched up in a night and fit really well (more on that later). So that just left my Betsey Johnson Saltspring and with summer coming to an end, it was now or never.
As with my maxi version, no fit corrections were needed. The only thing I did this time around was to eliminate the zipper. The zipper is nice to have on the maxi version, but since I could easily slip it over my head without opening the zip, I skipped it this time around.
Since there is no zipper, the back can be cut out on the fold. Of course, I forgot while cutting the back that I needed to take out the seam allowance. Whoops! At least I remembered by the time I got to the lining. Thankfully, the crinkle chiffon was so light that the extra eased right in along the neck and waist without a problem.
I changed up the construction order a little bit since I didn’t have a back seam and finished everything up with french seams. That’s the one thing I skipped on the maxi version, I was very lax with my seam finishing and I’m paying for it. There are little whisps of polyester at the cut edges that annoy me to no end. Lesson learned. Laziness does not pay.
The bottom layer is all in one piece, instead of a free hanging lining. This made it a little easier to put in the pockets. The hem is finished in the same way as the first version, but I’m wondering if I should have finished it a little differently. I feel that it gives the edge a little too much body. My husband says I’m just being my usually picky self. Actually, doing it this way was kinda taking a gamble. Two layers being sewn together, one of them being crinkly chiffon? This could have gone wrong in so many ways! My careful cutting paid off and both edges matched up and were the same length. I’m lucky the thing falls correctly at all.
All in all, love the print, love the fabric, love the dress. It may only get worn two or three times this year, but it’s one less dress I need to make next summer!« Recent Entries — Previous Entries »