30 October 2010

Twitter Sweater, week 1

Two skeins Blue Moon Fiber Arts Geisha in Downpour (1990yds) US6 circ ndl Stitch markers 1/2 yd elastic 18st/26r over 4" st st

CO40sts provisionally. Work flat: Purl row, knit row, p row, k 3 rows, pm, join to work in rd & k 3 rows; pick up prov sts & ktog w/next rd.

Cont sleeve: dbl sts every other rd 3x. Work even over 160 sts for 3". K1, k2tog, k to last 2, ssk. K rd. Rpt 2 rds til 66 sts remain.

Work sleeve even until measures 20" from decreases. Set aside. Work 2nd sleeve same as 1st. 

I may have to set the Twitter Sweater project aside for a little while, since I'm going to have a table at the kids' school Craft Fair in December.

27 October 2010

I'm in!

Yes, a sweater design of mine will appear in the Deep Winter issue of Knitty! As you might imagine, I am beyond thrilled. Details will have to remain under wraps until January, but I hope it is well received and leads to more good things.

Speaking of online knitting magazines, have you seen Tangled? They're bi-craftual (knitting and crochet). Good-looking patterns, some free; sweaters look to come in four sizes and cost $6.50; accessories are $5. Neat stuff with yarn made from t-shirts called "Tarn". I thought the skirt pattern in knit or crochet was pretty interesting.

If that weren't enough, Ennea Collective also recently joined the interwebs. Their focus is on knitting, spinning, and weaving, really on using handspun in knitting and weaving projects, and they are based in Canada, so prices are $CAD. Beautiful shawls are $7.50, accessories are $4 (mitts, cowl), and there is a free phone cozy pattern. Interesting articles about spinning and fiber, as well as a weaving calculator. Their second issue is coming in December, so it looks like they will be a quarterly. E.T.A. Whoops! They publish bi-monthly.

I'm really happy to see more online publications join Knitty and Twist Collective and thrilled to see more patterns offered for sale. Free patterns are all well and good, but if our craft is to progress, we need to start supporting the creatives. Self-serving? Perhaps, but I'm pretty sure I'd still be upset by the way some publications treat their talent, even if I weren't designing. It's a complicated issue, no?

In other news, I'm working on the Twitter sweater and think I've gotten the sleeve volume I'm looking for. Not as voluminous as the original, since I'd like to wear this more than once, but still, I think the inspiration will come across. Once I finish the sleeve I'll snap a shot, so you can see, too. ... Just realized that I didn't tag some tweets with the #kdsweater tag, so I have to figure out what to do about that. I plan to gather the sweater tweets once a week and make a blog post, so they'll be easier to find in the future (when I'm famous, ha).

And I've got to see about another skein of Berocco Vintage for my new nephew's gift.

The kitteh-ns are settling in nicely. Little George slept next to me most of the night rather than under the couch. And Henry waits to catch my eye for a shoulder cuddle - he's not a lap cat but a shoulder cat.

25 October 2010

Twitter Sweater: Body Construction

One more thought on sleeve volume that I forgot to mention yesterday: increasing the sleeves by *also* increasing the needle size, progressively. I'm more into this idea than I would have thought. Sometimes changing needle size to change the garment size seems like a cop-out from a design point of view; however, I've been pondering sheer vs. solid fabric for this project, so opening up the stitches for a portion of the garment would add an airiness to the sleeves that may be desirable.

But back to today's topic! The more I think about this project, the more I am sure I want to work it in the round, sleeves and body. Going with flat for part and in-the-round for another could cause gauge problems. with the body of the sweater, since I am going to work in the round, there really are only two options, either top-down or bottom-up.

I'm most comfortable doing a raglan-style yoke when working top-down. I know that you can do other seamless yokes from the top, but I haven't tried that yet, so I'm not sure this is the time to experiment with that. Raglan lines would be OK, though the original dress has set-in sleeves; however, that's because it's dress-making, sewn fabric, whereas, I am making the garment while making the fabric, so I can do things a little differently. I'm still not sure how high I want the neckline - if this is for me, I want it a little more scooped. Having a bust, the high crewneck the dress has would not be particularly flattering. Again, the dress is to be inspiration not a rigid pattern to copy in knitted fabric.

Since I have done seamless yokes from the bottom-up in a few different ways (raglan, saddle, and set-in), I feel more comfortable working that way. Holy guacamole, working a seamless set-in sleeve was fun! Almost as magical as the first time I worked a cable. Anyway, I'm still not sure which yoke style is best for this project; it may be that a traditional round yoke, usually used for sweaters with stranded colorwork in the yokes. The round yoke would be the subtlest, the style that would distract the least from the sleeves.

Well, there is a third option, which is to cast on provisionally at an appropriate spot (right under the bust, I think), work up through the bodice and then pick up those stitches and work down, probably until the yarn runs out.

I like option #3! Of course, I still have to solidify a yoke style decision, but I'm getting there, I think. It really is helpful to write this down.

22 October 2010

Twitter Sweater: Sleeve notions

Apologies for the delay on posting, but we brought home a couple of kittens Sunday, who are adorable and wonderful, but carrying their crates home and then getting Penelope out of her crib wrenched my back. And then my newest nephew was born on Monday night, so I've been working on something for him, while trying to take it a little easy on the ol' vertebrae.

So, sleeves. This sweater is all about the sleeves, isn't it? The most obvious choice is to work them in the round, increasing, perhaps pi-wise from the cuff, until the circumference is big enough, then continue to work up, decreasing at an appropriate rate towards the armscye. Another in-the-round option is to pick up around the armscye and work downwards towards the cuff. Of course, either of these could be worked flat instead and then seamed, though working in the round tends to go more quickly, just because you keep going 'round and 'round rather than back-and-forth.

Now for the crazy option: short rows! Wait, it's not *that* crazy. This would be another way to incorporate the necessary volume in the sleeves. This would require the sleeves to be worked flat, but I'd be working back and forth from armscye to cuff, incorporating longer and shorter short rows to create the shape. This would be a cool option because it's more *interesting* technically, and it would turn the direction of the fabric sideways, which is also interesting.

However, would that interesting element distract from the overall effect? When you look at Mme. Grès's gown, you don't look at the fabric, you look at the shape, the dramatic volume. But does that mean that a knitter (a.k.a, fabric creator) should ignore the fabric? I really like the way Geisha looks in stockinette, so that is the fabric I will create. Perhaps it's time to swatch some short rows to see how that works.

No pictures of the sweater today, but I bet you'd like to meet the kitteh-ns in case you haven't seen them on Facebook or Twitter (and if you're on either of those, friend/follow me!):
George and Henry

13 October 2010

Twitter Sweater: Yarn Choice

Geisha on Twitpic
Geisha in Downpour from Blue Moon Fiber Arts
I had a long debate with myself about yarn choice for this sweater, obsessing over Louet's Kidlin Pixie/Laceweight before realizing I had some beautiful Geisha in my stash.

Kidlin is a "traditional" mohair yarn with a twist - in addition to the usual nylon binder thread, which holds the mohair fibers in a twist, there is a thread of linen. This linen takes the dye differently than the mohair fiber, giving the yarn a dimensionality that traditional mohair yarns don't have. Mohair takes dye beautifully, soaking it all up and glowing with it (see Kidsilk Haze, which uses silk instead of nylon for even more sheen - that link does not do the yarn justice). Linen doesn't seem to absorb dye evenly, so it ends up mottled and lighter than the mohair. All this to say it has a depth and ... rusticity that can really add to a project.

With the Kidlin I had been having a hard time deciding what color to work with. Something close to the inspiration dress (All Spice or Amber), a shade that just spoke to me (Flag Blue, Regimental Red), or whatever was available at the OYS (Doeskin, Smoky Grape), since no LYS near me stocked the yarn? In the midst of my obsessing, I reorganized my stash (many thanks to Nick for all his hard work moving the Expedit in question) and reacquainted myself with some hidden gems, including two big skeins of Geisha (64% Kidmo (kid mohair), 20% Mulberry silk, 16% nylon; 995 yards, each) in the subtle yet intriguing Downpour colorway. This one varies from a dusty brown to silver with some taupe and peachy tones in the mix, all very subdued yet shiny from the silk and mohair, really beautiful and subtle.

Could this work? The inspiration is so over-the-top, design-wise, yet the color Mme. Grès chose was quiet, letting the beautifully impractical sleeves shine in all their silk paper taffeta glory. Now, I love a variegated yarn, perhaps more than the next knitter and, after a few years of knitting, I know the drawbacks of those colorful skeins - flashing, pooling, stripy-ness. But in my swatch these subdued shades seemed to flicker, shimmer, not mix but mingle. So, we're going to give it a go.

The swatch you might be able to see at the bottom of the photo (from my phone, hence the lower quality) is worked in stockinette with garter stitch borders on US6 needles. This yarn is classified as a fingering weight, with a suggested gauge of 28 stitches over four inches; however, most knitters use it for lace, and I'm getting 18 stitches over four inches here, which I think will work for the body of the sweater. I don't want a tight gauge, since I want room for the mohair's halo to get in on the action, plus mohair is just so warm that a tight gauge would make for a little hot box. Since my skin is so sensitive, I plan to wear this with a camisole underneath anyway, so a loose gauge isn't a problem from a modesty perspective. I am wearing the swatch under my shirt at the moment without any discomfort, just to see what I might be in for.

Tomorrow: Ideas on sleeve construction.
Last night: Really enjoyed the color class with Amy Hendrix, and a skein of Merino Light in the Van Dyke Brown colorway may have come home with me. The fingering-weight superwash single-ply yarn is really interesting, and I have a sweater that just needs some finishing touches in another colorway of this yarn. So, yeah, I'm sure I needed more.

12 October 2010

Twitter Sweater

As you may know, Vogue Knitting is sponsoring the Magic of Mohair design competition. Designs will be shown in a fashion show at Vogue Knitting LIVE in January. I've been going back and forth, round and round, trying to decide what I think about this competition. The exposure for the winning design would be invaluable, but the designer gives up all rights to their design - it becomes the property of VK, as does the knitted sample. As a self-publishing designer, I don't want to give up my rights (and I don't want to give up a sweater I've worked so hard on, either). All that's assuming I win or "place", hehe

While I'm making up my mind about submitting, I thought I'd start tweeting about my design process. I'll probably cover some of the same ground in a little more depth here on the blog. If you want to follow, be sure to check out my Twitter feed, and I'll be using the tag #kdsweater.

First question: What to design? An "original ... women's fashion garment". I've got a ton of ideas for ladies' sweaters, and my visit to the Brooklyn Museum at the beginning of the summer added even more. Especially, an amazing silk paper taffeta evening dress by Madame Grès (on the right).
Not the greatest picture, but the dress is amazing. The volume of the sleeves is crazy, in a good way. And inspiring. Isn't mohair the perfect fiber for creating that kind of volume? Tomorrow we'll talk about the yarn I'm using.

P.S. I'm going to a color workshop at Knitty City tonight with Amy Hendrix of Madeline Tosh. Time to sharpen my colored pencils!

03 October 2010

You Know You're a Knitter (part 1)

... when you see a television listing for "Twisted Sisters" and you immediately think of Twisted Sisters Knitting, not the lady wrestling thing that it apparently is. Thanks, MSNBC, for getting my hopes up.

In more exciting news, I've submitted patterns to Knitty and Twist Collective in the past month, so am keeping my "pointy sticks" crossed. If they aren't accepted, I will publish them myself. And then I have some other designs I'm working on.

For now I'm taking a wee break now to knit up a special request: a Hap-style blanket (variation on Ysolda's from Whimsical Little Knits 1, doing the center panel on the diagonal) for my stepson. I'd made one for Nick for Father's Day, and Stevie wants his own. Nick's uses some of this natural, cream-colored Lopi with Manos del Uruguay in this fiery red for contrast. Stevie's uses the same Lopi (I have a LOT of it) with two strands of this gorgeous blue from Wellspring Woolens (thanks, Annie!). This Poppi's Worsted Plus is an icelandic wool from the Minnesota River area, so it's a perfect complement to the Lopi. It's all a little too itchy for me to think of having next to my skin, but Stephen is always snagging his Dad's blanket, so I know he'll like it. And it's nice to work with. Sometimes you just want some good ol' wool, you know?

Speaking of "sensitive skin", it turns out that I am allergic to Propylene Glycol, which is in SO MANY THINGS, Gallate Esters, which luckily are not as common, "fragrance" (seriously?! even things that are unscented often have masking fragrances in them), and dust mites. At least I know what to avoid, even if some of those things are virtually unavoidable. Hopefully, I can avoid the horrible eye area rash of this past spring in the future (or I'll have to start hiring models to photograph my knits on, which is not in the budget :)

Darn! I thought I had some photos to share of Thursday night's book signing at Knitty City, but, having just checked (and deleted) them, my camera did a terrible job of capturing Julie Turjoman, author of Brave New Knits. I had seen an advance of the book at Purl Diva in August so was excited to meet Julie and snag my very own copy. It's a book I'm really looking forward to reading, as well as to knitting some of the patterns. Happily, I ran into the Subway Knitter herself, as well as Connie Chang Chinchio, Kristen Kapur, and Melissa Wehrle, who are profiled in the book. I had hoped that Mr. Brooklyn Tweed might make his way uptown for this, but as he was announcing his new yarn line, Shelter, the next day, I guess it makes sense that he wasn't there. Still, his photographs are lovely.

I know there's more to catch up on (new yarn stashed, an adjustment to the home of the stash, and a raft of other books to talk about), but this will have to suffice. Hope you had a great weekend!