The Unique Sheep asked me to design another shawl for their Zodiac Club. Last year I designed Taurus (in the shape of the Taurus symbol), which is now for sale to non-club members. Pisces features fish done in picture lace and repeats of the constellation Pisces along the border.
This crescent shawl fits wonderfully. The shape ensures that it stays on during all but the most vigorous arm movements, and the Tinsel Toes yarn drapes beautifully.
The colorway is one of Unique Sheep's signature Gradiance dyes. The result looks like it's been knit in one color and dipped in another. I used leftovers from this Pisces gradience colorway for the Sarah Wolbert mitts.
The shawl pictured here is the prototype. In the actual pattern the fish are spaced differently and the border has the constellations swimming in some of the garter waves that cascade down the sides of the shawl. (Thanks to test knitter Kelly Eells for the idea!)
This design was a real struggle, but now that it's finished it's a quick knit. There are both written instructions and charts for the garter wave edging and top, and charts for everything else.
One club member finished it in less than a week. The tencel in the yarn makes it feel actually cool to the touch, and this would make excellent beachwear. I plan to write another version with more garter waves in place of the lace fish. It should be ready by the time pattern sales open to non-club members.
Unique Feet: Men's Socks from The Unique Sheep by Laura Lough, photography by Kristen Caldwell, pub. Cooperative Press, 2013
These past few years, I have learned a little about the process of producing a knitting book. It is after all a production, much like theater, with many hands and talents coming together---and many deadlines as well.
I knit a couple pairs of socks for Unique Feet, one of which was the Heraldic socks by Janine Le Cras. Laura sent me Tinsel Toes yarn in the Sand colorway. I ran out of yarn.
Normally this might not be such a problem, but I had misplaced my gauge swatch and Laura had misplaced the recipe. The new yarn didn't look much like the original, but we thought careful photography could avoid calling attention to it. The foot wearing the two-tone sock might be photographed partly inside a shoe, or behind the other foot.
But Janine's sock pattern is a joy to work and bliss to wear (according to my husband, who refused to take them off after trying them on---I had to remove them while he was sleeping!). I have another pair in process in my knitting bag right now. (And yes, they adjusted the amount of yarn required!)
Unique Feet is ostensibly a pattern book, but like all truly good pattern books it teaches as well. Erssie Major's Naughty Norwegian Socks pattern and the Wedding Kilt Hose by Janine LeCras include calf shaping for "bulging calf muscles." The Naughty Norwegians also have a deep heel and slightly narrower foot.
Laura also cautions against making men's socks "too pointy in the toe." The incredible design feat (believe me, I tried not to use that word) at right fits the bill. It is Charles Voth's Super Hero, with a construction that "takes you on a daring caper."
As Laura says in the chapter "Sock Basics," many sock patterns are supposedly "one size fits all." Even women's feet come in such an assortment of lengths and widths that this is a strange idea, but the problem is even greater with men's feet. All the patterns in this book are given in a variety of sizes, but if you want to knit one of these designs for a slightly different size than the ones given, Laura has tips to help with that.
These Cuffed Boot Socks by Katya Frankel are a great way to keep snow and debris out of boots. The socks are shaped before the heel flap for a better fit. Unfortunately, no rear view is provided---so we can't judge for ourselves.
Maybe it's just my digital copy, but the photography in general seems overprocessed or something. (I'm not expert enough to pinpoint the exact problem.) Stitch patterns are difficult to see, socks aren't sufficiently smoothed, and not enough attention was paid to things like the toe of one sock being a totally different shade. Disappointingly, the stitch pattern is barely discernible on Lobug's addictive Diamond Moss socks.
This is my absolute favorite design in the book---another Charles Voth. The laces are done in the color named for him!
The introduction to this book explains the motivation behind it, then continues with "Sock Basics" which contains much more information than its length would have you believe. The project section starts with simple toe-up, top-down, and time-saver patterns, then quickly ramps up speed with texture, construction, and colorwork designs.
In sum, it's full of solid information and innovative socks in a variety of men's sizes. Great work!
Disclosure: Cooperative Press provided this copy of Unique Feet to Kangath for review purposes. 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 Cooperative Press, Laura Lough, or the designers.
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.
Moon Mirrors in Tide Pool and Fire Thorn
My most recent tapestry knit design, Moon Mirrors, received a little bit of attention when I first posted about it, but I wanted to point you to this tutorial detailing one method of tapestry knitting.
There are several things I like about this technique. First of all, I love the look of strands! Worked in a pattern as in the upper portion of the scarf at left with just little sprinkles of raspberry peeking through, they're simply delightful. The purl side is also pretty cute.
But it's the ability to make large shapes that really excites me. Those long horizontal lines in the moons are done by stranding the moon color in front of the work instead of catching it on the back side. Watch the video! I still have some refining to do, but I'm enjoying the construction of designs that read well on both sides.
I've been asked to contribute a design to The Unique Sheep's Zodiac Shawl Club. I can't give you any more details right now, but I'm thrilled to be working with Laura and Kelly. They were some of the first indie dyers to catch my eye, and I appreciate the evocative names they give their gorgeous colorways almost as much as the fabulous dye jobs themselves. I'll tell you more as soon as I can.
I have collected a few things for a giveaway, and I discovered I really enjoy putting together items with a common theme. To enter, simply post a comment by September 1. If you're on Ravelry you can also give me your RavID. Comment numbers will be put through a randomizer, and I will announce the winner September 2. If I have your RavID I will notify you--otherwise, you will have to contact me with your address. If your prize is unclaimed by September 10, I will choose another winner.
I'm giving away a copy of the "Alice" sock pattern by Janine le Cras, a skein of Pima Petite from The Unique Sheep in the Lily Pond colorway, a bar of Queen B soap, and an incredibly cute tapestry cloth convertible project bag.
The project bag is approximately 9 1/2 x 10 1/2", has a velcro closure, and can be used as a backpack or tote.
I have two more assignments for Clotheshorse and the Dream in Color sweater all due on the same date---and soon. I'm in the last stages of three independent knitting projects and I'm trying to find time to upload my eBooks to Patternfish. Something serious has gone awry with my website modifications. The kids just started back to school and sundry activities, and I have upcoming violin performances to prepare for. So how do I deal with pressure? I knit!
Sheep Fuzz from The Unique Sheep in Gold Dust
Now, it may seem nonsensical to knit in order to take a break from knitting, but it feels good.
For one thing it's mohair, which has a special relaxing perfume---musky and slightly floral. For another thing, it's someone else's design, so less thought is involved and there's less investment.
I'm adapting Forest Fiesta from Knit, Swirl by Sandra McIver. Wonderfully meditative.
One of the wonderful friends from upstate New York is Dave, with whom I studied and performed Shakespeare while I was living there, and who still performs (and has recently started writing (well, not writing Shakespeare, but writing short stories and plays)).
Four years ago I secretly determined to knit him a pair of period stockings, complete with garters. I had another friend secretly obtain measurements, and I cast on. I knit the cuffs using the two-at-a-time method, which I decided is not for me. Then I had a stroke.
I regained my ability to knit. Slowly regained my ability to knit slowly. On size 000 needles, these were never intended to be a quick project (Dave is 6'4"). But I lost heart in the project for a while, daunted by the immensity of the task.
Then I started work on them in earnest. I finished the motif on the backs of the calves and had my husband try them on. A bit tight for him. I emailed Dave himself for measurements, which turned out to match the covert figures from my friend.
Here is one being modeled by someone a little smaller than Dave. They look pretty good, if I do say so myself!
Yarn is Verve by The Unique Sheep.
Hi! I'm Kangath---
knit designer, musician, writer, and mother
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