Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Minimalist Couture

I've always wanted to teach a knitting class that combines gauge and fiber information with fit and fashion.  The class that connects the dots.  It's a class that will take more than a few weeks.  Like anything done right, it's not instant gratification.

Minimalist Couture begins this Saturday at Wool & Co. in St. Charles.

This is my dream class.  It breaks all the rules.  

“Haute couture” actually means high-fashion clothing that’s made-to-measure by hand, start to finish.

Sounds like hand-knitting to me.

I call this class Minimalist Couture because students will learn what's necessary to knit the sweater they love to wear.  It will fit.  The fabric will drape properly.  The finishing touches will be ooh la la.

We’re going to talk a lot and test-drive yarn and stitches a lot and then go shopping for yarn+pattern.  We’ll talk some more at that point about whether the design and stitch pattern marries well with a particular yarn.  We’ll test-drive some more. We'll begin with top-down designs because top-down knitting is perfect for trying the garment on and adjusting as you progress.  Like they do in the Paris ateliers. 

This Saturday students will bring a sweater or jacket or blazer that fits.  You know the one -- you wear it because it makes you feel good because you know you look good.  We’ll figure out why it’s such perfection.  Then we’ll measure all of us.  We’ll compare the measurements to the garments that fit us and talk about something called “ease.”
And off we go...

Breaking the rules.  It’s so much more fun that way.



Shimmy, Take 2

Finished blocking Reverse Psychology overnight: 
The color is really quite blue, but I haven't quite got the hang apparently of the new iPhoto thing.

BTW, you can click on any photo to magnify.

Yarn:  Tahiti in color 7617 Bermuda.
Beads:  Aqua TSL 6/0 from stash.  Designer Mindy Ross used a different color aqua bead in her Fringe with Benefits in this Tahiti colorway, which looks quite effective.

Here is RP modeled by Artemis:
I'm quite taken with the little curl on the end:
Hey, this photo color looks about right.  Wonder what I did?

And a couple of close-ups of one reversible bit:
Finally, Artemis also modeled Fringe with Benefits:

 I really nailed the colors in this photo. 

That's it for today.

Tomorrow I have a bit of a surprise for some of you out there -- something that thrills me no end.

All best,

Monday, May 18, 2015


Ever buy a pattern off of Ravelry, read it as bedtime reading (yes, you do that) and fall in love with the writing?  No?  OK, maybe that's just me.  But I ran across Fringe with Benefits and this description right at the cast on: "shimmy bead" up to the stitch on the needle.

I've pre-strung beads (there's only a handful pre-strung in this pattern; the remaining are hooked on, phew) lots of times but never following a pattern that describes the process so well.  That darn bead does actually shimmy up the yarn.  (And if you're not careful, will shimmy right back down again, but we're all careful, right?)

After reading "shimmy bead," it was destined that I'd make Fringe with Benefits.  By happenstance (or my trip to Churchmouse Yarns last month), I had three skeins of SMC Tahiti in a new color, Wildfire:

It was a bright and beautiful day during our visit to Bainbridge Island and Churchmouse.  Or maybe I would have picked the brightest color anyway.  Hard to tell. My sister-in-law was along for the trip and I could swear she shaded her eyes during my purchase, but again, maybe I was imagining that.

For those of you who have nothing better to do than track all of my projects, you'll remember that I made this out of Tahiti that I nabbed last year in a color called Marble, a.k.a. black-to-white gradient
in what appears to have been a conservative streak, color-wise.

This particular Fringe with Benefits is destined as a gift.  I've photo'd it as best I can, though I think I'd have to be at least a foot taller to get the entire thing in one frame (I was standing on a stool as it was).  Here it is showing all but the really cool beaded edge:

Really cool beaded edge:
Close-up of beginning edge, including the shimmied beads:
I had such a good time making this design that I went back to Mindy Ross's designer page and picked out Reverse Psychology, which is now finished out of more Tahiti in a color called Bermuda (two island countries in one yarn name; can you beat it?).  When Reverse Psychology is blocked, I'll add some photos.  But Fringe with Benefits is hogging the blocking table at the moment. 

I've now begun a second Fringe with Benefits out of some Apple Tree fingering silk gradient (there happened to be a shawl-size skein in the Ready to Ship section that apparently had my name on it).  But I'm going to make this Fringe also reversible with some of the stitch patterns Mindy Ross used in Reverse.  Got that?  Concatenation of patterns.  Shimmy.  Today's knitting words.


Friday, April 10, 2015

On Amazon

OK, everyone, my digital novel is on Amazon:  Everything Is Fine Until It Isn't
Easy to find, great read, check it out.  You can read it on Kindle or get the Kindle app for free and read it on your iPad, iPhone, etc.

What I need from you is to read and then post reviews on Amazon.
Thanks.  You all are wonderful.


Saturday, April 4, 2015

I made this

The creative process is a peculiar thing:  sometimes the lights are all on and sometimes they dim.  The more technique you know, the brighter the creative lights.  But technique isn't everything.  It's just experience.  You're probably muttering about now:  just experience?  Hard-won experience, but once it's yours, it's yours.

The last time I posted I'd made this book:

Yesterday I finished this sweater:
Artemis is modeling Murasaki Akai from the book Knit Kimono Too.  It fits her pretty well.  It fits me perfectly.  And every time I wander through my studio and see the sweater on Artemis, I think, "I made this."  Sure, experience led me to get the gauge just right.  To change the order of putting together the back so I could try the the back + fronts on for fit before picking up from the armholes for sleeves. 
To alter the sleeve stitch-decrease to row ratio so the sleeves fit me.

To add a three-needle-bind-off up the side seams and underarms so that the vertical vs. horizontal motif continues throughout the sweater.  And to figure out how to pick up and knit for that three-needle mod so that the seams hang just right.
To weave in the ends while knitting so I didn't have a zillion ends to weave in during finishing.

Experience also dictated that I work the first version of this in the yarn the designer used, Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece as a test-drive of the design.   Because somehow I knew I was going to make this more than once.  I have a plan for Murasaki Akai version 2, but it will have to wait for wool-knitting weather.  Suffice it to say it will be two colors of sport weight solid and one self-striping.

Writing and knitting shine the creative light on each other for me.  And occasionally there's an "I made this!" moment. 

Had to share.