I made these mitts a while ago for my sister Sarah but I was waiting to send them until I could get a photo of them and I wanted to take a photo of them using the camera remote I got for Christmas and it's not quite six months after Christmas so I think I'm doing well. Unfortunately, the remote doesn't help the camera focus. . . .
These are Brenda Castiel's Nancy Pearl mitts. The pattern was error-ridden, but I worked it out. The mitts are lovely and worked up quickly, even though they took more brain power than I was prepared to give.
My sister wears mitts all the time, so I thought they would be a welcome gift, especially this winter. Luckily the Tinsel Toes yarn is tencel and actually feels cool, so they won't be out of place this summer.
When I opened this box, I yelped with delight and trepidation. So much beautiful yarn . . .
. . . but it's white!
Those of you who know I drag my knitting everywhere with me will easily surmise from whence my trepidation sprang.
This project stayed at home in a valiant attempt to preserve its whiteness. I had planned to steam block the sweater (instead of my usual wash-blocking) because cotton takes so long to dry in our humid climate.
I ended up washing the finished garment after all, but that's a story for another day. . . .
The Yarn Whisperer by Clara Parkes, pub. Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 2013
What secret does the great cellist Pablo Casals know about swatching? Which knit stitch is like whole-grain bread? And what does Barbara Walker's husband have in common with mine?
Clara Parkes answers all these questions, as well as others you never thought to ask, in her collection of 22 free-standing essays subtitled "My Unexpected Life in Knitting." Parkes runs the popular and useful on-line magazine Knitter's Review and is the author of The Knitter's Book of Socks, The Knitter's Book of Yarn, and The Knitter's Book of Wool---the last two being helpful tomes of use to anyone in the fiber community.
Parkes has a poet's appreciation for the interconnectivity of seemingly disparate aspects of life: an old sweater and a run-down farmhouse, a yarn stash and a flower garden, a sailboat and a Stradivarius. I have a sense of affinity with the metaphors she chooses, which are drawn from music, gardening, baking, and of course knitting. Her language dances and gallops, chuckles and sings.
This book has a lightness to it, an ease. It made me laugh and even filled my eyes with tears once or twice (the Acknowledgments got to me for some reason). And I have a copy to give away to one lucky reader.
Comment on this post by September 30 and say what kind of fiber you would be made of if you were a yarn. I'll use a randomizer to draw the number of one comment and identify the winner on that day's post. The winner will have a week to contact me with shipping information, and I'll send the book.
If I were a yarn, I would be linen. Tough and stringy when working up, but softening with use. I would like to say I'm organic merino, fluffy and elastic, but that would be a lie. Still, linen is beautiful and takes dye well. And my husband loves it.
Disclosure: Stewart, Tabori & Chang sent Kangath a free copy of The Yarn Whisperer for review. Kangath was not compensated for the preceding review. All opinions expressed in the review are the blog author's and are not necessarily the opinions of Stewart, Tabori & Chang or Clara Parkes.
We just got back from a trip to Davidson, North Carolina to bring my son home from a three-week intensive Animal Behavior class. While exploring the Davidson College campus area we walked by a yarn-bombed store sign . . .
. . . marking the entrance to a store of particular interest. The Needlecraft Center is a lovely store right on Main Street. I had not expected to go yarn shopping, but at the encouragement of my wonderful husband, I went up the front steps.
Sale yarns are on a table just inside the door to the building, still outside the store. Happily for the aforementioned wonderful husband, there were also records from The Bird's Nest (upstairs) on the same table.
Laurie greeted me when I entered the store, complimented me on the Taurus shawl I happened to be wearing, then thoughtfully left me to my own devices. I hadn't come prepared with yarn weight and yardage information, so I just drank the store in and promised to come back the following day.
The Needlecraft Center has knitting and crocheting yarns in the front two rooms, and needlepoint yarns in the back two. They have more brands than are listed on their website, including some gorgeous indie handpaints. The yarns are mostly in little cubbies or on bookshelves, with a few in standing baskets around the store. The store had an open, spacious feel, in contrast to some larger stores which are set up differently.
When I returned to the store (I actually returned twice---once between swimming and dinner that same day and once the next morning) I was surprised to learn that Laurie had visited my blog and had been researching my shawl. How flattering!
With Laurie's help, I chose some buttery-soft Louisa Harding Grace Silk & Wool to swatch with as well as some discontinued Berroco Suede. I'll have to think up more excuses to visit the Charlotte area so I can visit this store again!
photo by the wonderful Jeff Roland
This week's Malabrigo Quickie is one of my designs!
Ochos Locos can be worn as either a scarf or belt, and the super-bulky Aquarella works up super-fast.
I loved working with this yarn. It's so many of my favorite things: hand-dyed wool, thick-and-thin, fair trade . . . and gorgeous! The colors are amazing and I had a hard time choosing between them.
I settled on Indy which is described as "Brownish Golden Yellow, Greens, Wet Blues and Violets." Sounds like a walk through the forest after a good rain. The mix of colors looks like watercolors, blending beautifully and flowing into one another. Garter stitch enhances the blending.
Ochos Locos is written to use two balls of yarn at the same time, so you could easily use two different colors. The pattern includes special two-color instructions, as well as variations for rounder holes and longer holes. I had so much fun with this pattern, I couldn't resist cooking up alternate versions.
Thanks to Alex at Malabrigo for yarn support, and Jeff for photography.
Finally! Photos of Taurus being worn.
Over a wrinkled shirt which I tried to iron with the retouch function. . . .
This is the prototype. The back "zodiac circle" is smaller in the actual pattern, so it lies flat. But I'm definitely going to use the larger circle as a design element in a future shawl. I love the way it hangs. I don't think I'm wearing the right shirt to show it off, but it really accentuates my waist when it hangs like this. I also love the way the Green Sheep Fingering feels against my skin, and the way it keeps the chill of the air conditioning off. This is my new go-to shawl. Just in time, too, since my daughter stole my old one!
I finished my Unique Sheep Zodiac Club design a couple months ago, but am just writing about it now. It's been busy around here---children's activities as well as my own work (both knit design and music) and I haven't managed to sit down and write.
The design is for Taurus, and the shawl is in the shape of the Taurus symbol. The head is a Zodiac wheel with twelve sections. There's a pillar-and-post division between the solid center sections and the alternating mesh and solid outer sections. The edging is a leaf-and-bud lace I developed when I couldn't find anything that exactly suited my needs. The pillar-and-post pattern is repeated on the left "horn" of the bull, and the leaf-and-bud pattern winds down the right.
Kelly Eells evolved this colorway from the Cafe Bouquet colorway from another Unique Sheep club. I didn't capture the greenest portions of the shawl, but I think the orange is fairly accurate. I enjoyed watching to see what color the next bud would be as the knitting progressed.
Every time I wear this shawl, my husband comments on it. I think it's mostly the color, but the shape is very flattering on me and I know he gets a real kick out of the bobbles.
I'll have to post modeled photos of the shawl after we take some. The pattern will be available for sale to non-club members around December.
The Unique Sheep has accepted one of my designs for next year's installment of the Zodiac Club. I'm not allowed to say which sign I'll be depicting, but I think it's okay to tell you I'm very excited about this particular shawl. More about this closer to the time.
Holly and Lars from Suburban Knits wanted to do something to materially help those affected by the recent (and ongoing!) tornados in Oklahoma. To that end, they decided to sell an eBook of 20 donated knit designs and donate 100% of the profits to Other Options, Inc., an Oklahoma charity and food pantry.
The Meandros Scarf is included in this collection, along with patterns by designers such as Anne Podlesak, Stephannie Tallent, Annie Modesitt, and Ray Whiting. Suburban Knits plans to offer this eBook only until August 31st, so get yours while you can!
Having witnessed a handful of infamous hurricanes and their aftermath, I understand how important it is for neighbors to do what they can to assist those affected by natural disasters. Please support this eBook, k*tog. It's an admirable project for a good cause.
Heather Dixon's "Glastonbury"
This issue of Clotheshorse is so enticing, I just had to post about it. (All photos are by Peter Demuth and courtesy of/copyright Clotheshorse magazine.)
The collections are each introduced with a runway report by Creative Director Heather Dixon. In two pages, Heather conveys the essence of the story---the colors, shapes, patterns, and textures she and Editorial Director Mindy Brown were looking for as they put together each issue.
The reports are brief editorials followed by analysis of several designers' current lines along with inspiring and representative runway photos.
The first collection this season is Ice Cream, with "lighter than air fabrics." The Raspberry Ripple skirt, by Mindy Brown and Mari Chiba, is a quintessential example of this texture. Worked in cool linen with tiers of lace at the lower edge, this garment clings to the form without sticking. Linen actually wicks heat away from the body---a perfect choice for a story inspired by cool treats.
Also featured is Marika Simon's Peach Melba, a crochet confection with puffed sleeves. It's so cute, it makes me want to learn how to crochet! Other notable patterns in this collection are Lidia Tsymbal's Very Vanilla and of course my own Cherry Cheesecake.
The Tribal Sport collection is full of items that would be fun to knit as well as wear. I absolutely adore Rene Dickey's cardigan, Della (click on the photo at right for a larger view). The diagonal rib provides chevrons that fit your form as well as the theme. The buttons are also perfect.
Susanna Ferguson's Naana is a cool cotton dress that looks extremely comfortable. Mindy Brown's Ogo is a swingy purse with tassles, and Gyorgyi Suta's Sapelle, below right, is a work of art.
Skirts, a hoody vest, T-shirts, and a fringed clutch make up this issues Festival story, the next collection in this issue.
Mountain Jam is Jane Howorth's contribution---a crochet lace fringed top which looks great over a camisole. Clotheshorse provides no descriptive text to accompany the designs, putting pressure on the photographer to show crucial elements. In this case, you have to go to the magazine itself (not the pattern archive) to see a good view of the sleeves, which have shoulder slits in the tops.
I adore Elena Ferrari's Field Day skirt. I'm clearly going to have to learn to crochet.
Besides the pattern collections, Clotheshorse also runs personal interest stories, product features, yarn shop close-ups, and interviews.
The last collection in this issue was inspired by the art game Spirograph. Mindy Brown's Equation looks like it would be warm but soft next to the skin in a silk-cashmere blend. Modeled over a skin-colored camisole and black pants, the crossover stitch and attractive color pooling really make this top stand out.
My Transverse didn't fare quite as well over the same camisole---perhaps the celery green of the lovely ribbon yarn is too pale to make the pattern pop, but I was able to get some photos of my own before shipping it off, and I can assure you it's a cool and versatile garment.
The entire collection is noteworthy, but Melissa Lemmon's Tangent, with I-Cord loops, deserves special mention. A fun piece that would be a blast to knit!
Here's my other recently published design: the Cherry Cheesecake Purse in Triple Dip stitch, which is basically a rib interrupted by giant garter stitch ice cream scoops.
It's unlined, so there's no sewing involved, but it holds its shape well and objects don't tend to poke through because of the density of the knitted fabric. A removable frame allows you to make several different designs of the same size and use the same frame for each. The rods of the frame slide through channels knitted onto the purse body, then the end caps are secured.
My daughter has already claimed this sample, but she'll have to wait a year for Clotheshorse to finish showing it off. Suri Merino by Blue Sky Alpacas was a dream to work with, and the Dawn colorway is yummy and fat free.
I doubled the yarn for a denser fabric, and the purse holds its shape well. I couldn't find a chain I liked with lobster claws at the ends, so I tried connecting it to the frame with beads, wire and pliers. It was fun, but I'll need more practice before turning to professional jewelry making!
You can get the pattern directly from Clotheshorse here.
Hi! I'm Kangath---
knit designer, musician, writer, and mother
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