Another Rabbit Hole

While browsing a bookstore last night (a favorite way of mine to take my mind off my worries), I came across a book that featured this site. I didn’t end up buying the book, but just the name ColourLovers told me it’s a site made just for the likes of me. I’m afraid it’s even more of a rabbit hole for me than Pinterest. Have fun!


Soothing Summer Knitting

Front View

Front View

3/4 view - so you can see the sleeves better

3/4 view – so you can see the sleeves better

The last month and a half has been so crazy and hectic for me that I wanted a soothing, relaxing project that didn’t require a whole lot of pattern memorization and brainpower from me. I also wanted a super cool, neutral, versatile summer top to wear with everything all summer. (Summer starts early in LA – it’s already been about 100 every day this week!) This pattern fit the bill on all counts, and I may even make another one with some different yarn!


Franklin Habit and Shadow Knitting

Really nice guy, really great teacher!

Really nice guy, really great teacher!

I took two classes with Franklin Habit at Vogue Knitting Live, and I’d really love to take 200 more. Franklin is, first off, a really nice guy. I was a half hour late to my first class because I got utterly lost and was driving around Pasadena again and again, and missing the convention center each time. I really HATE being late – in general, I think it’s disrespectful to the teacher, and very poor manners. He was extremely gracious with me and got me up to speed in no time, for which I am most grateful. He has lots of stories to tell and a great sense of humor, both of which make for an entertaining class.

Second, he is extremely thorough. For this class on shadow knitting, he did tons of swatching to prepare his materials for class. He tried every variation of the technique he could think of, and therefore was a wealth of knowledge about what did and didn’t work. (Yes, again, the swatching theme…) I really appreciated how well-prepared he was to answer almost any question we threw at him.

Shadow knitting has fascinated me for awhile, and now thanks to this class, I understand how it works. It is the only kind of knitting that doesn’t reveal itself to you unless you’re looking at it in motion. And considering how I love Op Art, the whole optical illusion concept is exciting. I will not go into the technique here, as I am still practicing. Woolly Thoughts can take you much more in-depth, and before I parlay this into design work, I plan to knit through at least some of their tutorials myself. I hope you will enjoy my photos – all are of the same swatch, and you can get an idea, visually, of this type of knitting.

The knitting as it appears when laid flat.

The knitting as it appears when laid flat.

It helps to look at the back, laid flat, if you are struggling to figure out what you're supposed to see on the front.

It helps to look at the back, laid flat, if you are struggling to figure out what you’re supposed to see on the front.

The front reveals itself when in motion, and viewed from an angle.

The front reveals itself when in motion, and viewed from an angle.


Vogue Knitting Live Tip #1: Swatching

Swatches from Lorilee Beltman's Vertical Color Stranding Class

Swatches from Lorilee Beltman’s Vertical Color Stranding Class

As previously mentioned, I booked myself as many classes at Vogue Knitting Live as I could. It’s not every week that I have the chance to study with the best of the best, so I took full advantage when I had the opportunity! I’m generally a pretty adventurous knitter – I don’t really care about making mistakes if I have the opportunity to learn something, but I do get very frustrated if I spend alot of time on something and then can’t use it once it’s done. As with so many problems in knitting, the answer is to swatch.

I took a class in vertical color stranding in cables with Lorilee Beltman. The swatches in the photo above are from that class, although we only had time to do two of them in the class period. I knitted the rest at home because I didn’t want to forget how to do it, and I wanted to explore it further. As a designer who is moved first by color, this class was incredibly inspiring. I have never done this technique, so Lorilee opened a whole new world to me. It is a bit involved, and to be honest, I was very happy to learn it in a class instead of staying up half the night watching Youtube videos like I usually do when I’m figuring things out on my own. (For those of you who are wondering what this is, it’s a way of introducing different colored strands of yarn that work their way up your knitting without having to be wrapped and twisted as in Fair Isle or intarsia.)

I took other classes over the weekend also, which I will be sharing soon. However, all weekend long, I heard a recurring theme from all of the teachers, which was to swatch, swatch, swatch. After learning my lesson the hard way once, I have always been a person who swatches to get gauge before casting on for a garment. This truly is the best way to ensure that a garment will fit! But I’ve never really thought of swatching as a learning tool until I kept hearing every teacher mention it last weekend. Of course, it’s common sense. If you want to try or explore a new technique, there is no better way to do it than to work through a series of swatches. You can try all the variations without having to knit an entire sweater or shawl. Of course, if you are knitting a garment, it’s advisable to knit bigger swatches to get a feel for the drape of the fabric.

I was a bit burned out this week, as you might imagine (see my previous post). However, I did spend alot of time knitting swatches based on the things I learned in class. It was really relaxing and stimulating to simply knit swatches without having to worry just yet about how I’d apply it to a design. If you have certain techniques you’re interested in learning, I would encourage you to browse the knitting books at your local library, and start knitting swatches. Even though it feels like you’re not accomplishing much, you are expanding your skills and it will pay off when you start a new project!

Thanks to the teachers I was privileged to study with, I will now look at swatching as a chance to explore, rather than as a chore that needs to be done before I start a project. I hope you will too.


Perfect Storm Week

Last week was the perfect storm of everything going on. I booked as many classes at Vogue Knitting Live Pasadena as I could (more on that later), worked extra hours at the shop, and in the midst of it all, threw a birthday party for my daughter because turning 10 requires special recognition. I seriously considered making things easier on myself – skipping Vogue Knitting Live for example. But sometimes life creates the perfect storm, and the only way to proceed is through it. I didn’t get much sleep, as you might imagine, but when life is suddenly full of the things you love most, it is worth it to persevere!

Vogue Knitting Live Pasadena Teepee - yes, it's all knit

Vogue Knitting Live Pasadena Teepee – yes, it’s all knit

I will post more on Vogue Knitting Live soon, but suffice it to say for now that I am very glad I made the effort to be there. The teachers are so incredibly knowledgeable and thorough, and it’s not every day you get to study with a master of the trade. It is definitely an opportunity that should not be wasted, and as at the last Vogue Knitting Live classes I attended in Century City a few years ago, I came away with so much inspiration and new things to practice and incorporate into my design work. As anyone who reads this blog with regularity knows, I live to learn. I was very happy to hear Franklin Habit talking about the things he studies – it’s good to know that even when you’re at the top of your game, there is still learning to look forward to!

A happy birthday girl with the remains of her pinata. Double digits from here on out!

A happy birthday girl with the remains of her pinata. Double digits from here on out!

I know you want to ask - did I decorate this cake? No, I did not - but I have a really great friend who kindly stayed at my house til 1 am helping me. I owe her!

I know you want to ask – did I decorate this cake? No, I did not – but I have a really great friend who kindly stayed at my house til 1 am helping me. I owe her!

Happily, when I wasn’t studying with the best at Vogue Knitting Live, I was at home, in my happy place outside, with the people who make me happiest. I have never seen a bird of paradise plant as huge as the one that is in our back yard. I have also never seen this particular plant bloom in the seven years we’ve lived here. Since my daughter and I both love flowers, it was a nice birthday bonus. Even though I love parties, and even love party planning around a theme, entertaining stresses me out. So many things to coordinate, so many things that have to be left until the last minute to do, will the guests have fun, will they like the food we’re serving…you name it, I worried about it.

The biggest bird of paradise plant I've ever seen - I'm sure it's as old as the house!

The biggest bird of paradise plant I’ve ever seen – I’m sure it’s as old as the house!

On such a big plant, you can really see  textures.

On such a big plant, you can really see textures.

The colors in this flower are so beautiful - I'd like to have some yarn dyed to match!

The colors in this flower are so beautiful – I’d like to have some yarn dyed to match!

 

But happily, the birthday girl and her friends were smiling and laughing the whole time (always a good sign!), and now that I’m picking the photos to share with you all, I am glad that even though I felt overbooked, I did it anyway, and I’d gladly do it again.

On a Monday evening walk with a friend - when it's dark, there's not so much color to look at, so I train my eye to notice shapes.

On a Monday evening walk with a friend – when it’s dark, there’s not so much color to look at, so I train my eye to notice shapes. Trees have incredible shapes!

Surprisingly, Monday morning, I woke up full of energy and ready to go…but then, maybe that was because I left Monday open to knit swatches of all the new things I learned over the weekend so I wouldn’t forget. You can do way more than you think when you’re doing what you love. Enjoy the photos, and thanks for sharing in my fun!

 


Mitered Squares and Op Art

I have always had a thing for optical illusion. Those collages people do with thousands of tiny photos fascinate me, as does Op Art and Impressionism. When you look close, you see all the individual elements, and when you step back, you see the big picture. It follows then, in knitting, that I’m a sucker for mitered square projects. I’ve made mitered square blankets in the past and am currently working on this one. I would love to replicate some of Li Shurui’s work next. Her body of work is highly focused on the plays of light and color, which of course, speaks to me on yet another whole level. Many of her paintings look like photos that have been manipulated with filters, but in reality, they are acrylic paintings. Enjoy!


Swants

I’ve been giving very careful thought to my next projects. Inspired by Stephen West, and my recent fun at Stitches with him, I decided to try my hand at swants. Harem-style pants are really fashionable right now, and I realized out of all the garments I’ve made, I’ve never knit any bottoms.

If you are interested in making your own, Stephen gave an excellent tutorial on his blog.

He also, just for fun, did a Youtube video of dancing in them.

There are many reasons to make swants, but the best one I can think of is putting a sweater you’re sick of to different use. There are lots of tutorials for doing it, and I would suggest doing a quick search on Youtube to watch a video if you have a hard time following the blog tutorials.

Yes, I saved the best for last. Steven and Stephen.

The two who can pull off everything, including swants!

So….you all don’t really believe me, do you??? April Fool’s! :)


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