I’ve been hard at work for the past few months preparing for the next book release. A couple of weeks ago I drove down to Boston to meet with Caro Sheridan for the photo shoot. We spent a day in the studio and she took lots of lovely pictures that will be in the book.
There were many shawls to photograph, and my jobs included keeping track of the shawls (to make sure they all got photographed), and styling them on the model.
Sometimes the styling was as simple as smoothing out the fabric.
And sometime the draping was more complicated, to make sure the lace patterning was showing as much as possible.
There was also some playing around, to capture the shawl in motion.
Now that we have the pictures, we’ve sorted through them to select the best ones. Caro is working on the colour-balancing and what not, and soon they will be delivered to the publisher so they can be included in the book.
Hansel and Gretel is a German fairy tale, from the Grimm fairy tales. Hansel and Gretel are children in a starving family. Their stepmother convince their father to abandon the children in the forest. The children overhear the plan, and gather pebbles that they use to mark their way home. At night, when the moon and the stars are up, they return home. The next day, they are once again brought into the woods. This time they mark their way home with breadcrumbs, but they are eaten by the birds, and the children are lost in the woods. They wander and find a gingerbread cottage belonging to a witch.
The body of the shawl is split into thirds. The centre shows the starlit night, surrounded by solid stockinette for the darker parts of the sky, and the edging represents the decorations on the gingerbread house.
It’s knit using one skein of Handmaiden Marrakesh in amethyst, and on 3.75 mm needles. It’s available as part of the Fairy Tale Lace e-book, as well as in single pattern form.
As everyone knows, red is the colour of love. I certainly have a special affinity for red. When I design, I really try to vary the colours I use, but red definitely keeps coming back. More often than not, really. I do love a good red.
One of my favourite reds is this red that I used for Mystic Roses:
The yarn is from Wollmeise, and the colour is called Rosenrot – i.e. rose red. The colour was definitely a big part of the inspiration for this shawl.
In the years since I knit Mystic Roses, I have worn it to numerous yarn festivals, teaching events and other yarny occasions, and it never fails to capture people’s attention. If I do say so myself, I am incredibly happy with how it turned out. It is still one of my favourite shawls, and I wear it often.
Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone!
During the last week of January, Kate Atherly and I were teaching on board the Celebrity Reflection during the Cooperative Press Knitting Cruise.
It was a 7 day cruise leaving from Miami. There were a variety of classes available to the cruisers, ranging from Lace Design to Soxpertise, Sizing & Fit to Reversible Cables, and all sorts of other delightful topics. Linda Sokalski was also there teaching Swedish Twined Knitting and Modular knits.
I have worked with Kate before – among other things she was the technical editor for Ancient Egypt in Lace and Color – but I had never had a chance to spend an entire week together with her. We had a lovely time. The classes were wonderful (many thanks to all our students for making this such a great experience for both of us) and in addition to that it was nice to just hang out and chat (and knit!) with another designer and author. We work so much via the internet and electronic communications, but sometimes it’s really great to have a real, live colleague in the same room at the same time.
The classes were taught during the days that the ship was at sea. In addition, Linda (who is sitting right next to me in the picture above) arranged a couple of stitch-and-bitch sessions. At this one, the ship was getting ready to leave St. Thomas, and we got to enjoy both our knits, the company, and the fabulous view of the harbour as we were continuing on our journey to St. Maarten.
I also had the chance to get some knitting done on my next design on our own balcony. I’d grab a cup of tea and settle down and knit for a while. It was wonderful. And quite the stark contrast to the current weather at home (it was -25C in Ottawa during the week I was gone).
And of course I had the chance to venture out on the islands while the ship was docked. It was absolutely heavenly to get to swim in the Caribbean in the middle of winter. I also went biking in Puerto Rico, and snorkling on St. Maarten. I miss the warmer weather during the summer when I can spend a lot more time outdoors at home. At this time of year, I tend to curl up by the fireplace instead. Also nice, but not quite the same.
We also brought some books and patterns to sell. I had Shaping Shawls and Ancient Egypt in Lace and Color, as well as a number of single patterns, and Kate had brought her Beyond Knit & Purl, as well as Knit Accessories.
We met lots of lovely people, and I really want to thank everyone again for coming. And for those of you who didn’t get a chance to join us, I hope we do it again in the future. January is a most excellent time to take a break from winter by knitting in the Caribbean.
I met Gwen Bortner at TNNA a few years ago – we were both at the Yarn Thing Designer Dinner. She had recently published Entrée to Entrelac, and was kind enough to give me a copy. I haven’t knit a lot of entrelac, although I have tried it, and have been intrigued by the construction technique. However, I’m sure you know how these things are…. I got distracted by lace. And perhaps some double-knitting, cables and colour work. Anyhow, I’ve always been meaning to get back to it.
Earlier this winter, I was asked if I would write a review of the book, and I thought it would be a wonderful idea.
The early part of the book contains a very thorough explanation of how to work basic entrelac. It breaks it out into the most basic components (2 types of rectangles and 8 variations of triangles) and then launches into an explanation of how to create those. Like a lot of knitting, there aren’t really a lot of complicated stitches involved in creating entrelac – basically it’s knits, purls, some picked up stitches and increases and decreases. It’s the combination of these basic stitches that makes it interesting.
Gwen has a number of projects in the book that illustrate various points and types of entrelac knitting. But it was when we got to the combination chapters that things got really interesting. Most of the time when we see entrelac, it’s either stockinette or garter stitch. But there is no reason entrelac cannot be combined with cables or lace. Or why not all three at the same time?
I’ve been meaning to design an entrelac lace shawl for years. It’s still in the early stages of the design, but every so often I mull it over and refine my initial idea. This is an afghan, but it shows how effective it can be to combine entrelac with other types of knitting.
Another combination that really is right up my alley is with doubleknitting. Entrelac usually has a very pronounced right side vs wrong side, but with doubleknitting you end up with two “right” sides.
Really, I think that by combining various techniques, you can create items that are truly unique and wonderful And Gwen definitely manages to convey the love of entrelac and the joy of exploring new challenges in the book. She gives enough information to learn the techniques, and then describes ways to broaden the horizons from there.
Mystic Star is turning 5 years old today! The pattern was originally published as a mystery KAL back on January 26, 2009. Amazing!
The original KAL had some 300+ members (326, but who’s counting?), and the pattern came in two versions – you could knit Mystic Star as a circular shawl, or as a semicircular shawl. But since the KAL has ended, this pattern has continued to do really well, and by now there are lots and lots of Mystic Stars out in the wild. As a laugh, and a blast from the past, here is the original banner for the Mystic Star KAL:
The shawl was designed using a tencel laceweight yarn from Yarntopia Treasures. This was the first time I ever worked with tencel. Tencel has the feel and sheen of silk, but is a lot less expensive (one skein, enough for this entire project comes in at about $12, as compared to silk lace which can easily run $70 for a skein). While it is a natural fibre, made from wood pulp, it’s also been fairly heavily processed. It is often used in jeans/denim, and is very sturdy. But a shawl knit in a laceweight tencel has an amazing lightweight feel to it.
I’m still really amazed at how the Mystic Star shawl turned out. It was my first circular shawl (the first of many), and I just love the star shape in the center.
I just published my 100th pattern!
It’s been an amazing 7 years – I’ve had lots of fun. Made lots of new friends. And knit up a storm.
This 100th pattern is actually something a little different from what I usually publish – it’s a fair isle hat – the Maple Leaf Touque.
Funny enough – when I started knitting, way back when, I loved stranded knitting. In fact, most of my favourite knits as a teenager were stranded knits. I love the change of colour, and to watch the patterns grow from the needles.
My very first published pattern was the Burridge Lake Aran Afghan, which of course featured lots of cables. And the second one was Mystic Waters, which was a lace shawl. The lace designs have almost taken on a life of their own, and I certainly do enjoy my lace. As you know. But fair isle was my first love, and I celebrate that with my 100th pattern.
Thank you all for a wonderful time these past 7 years. Without all of you, these past years would have been very different. I started publishing patterns on a whim, and then with your encouragement it’s grown into a whole career for me. I have published 2 books, a couple of e-books, and a third book is in progress. I’m ever so grateful for the opportunity to combine my artistic drive with my mathematical side. Thanks for all the encouragement!
PS. In case you’re wondering, the Maple Leaf Touque pattern is available here.
One of the things I really crave in my knitting is variety. I know I knit a lot of lace – and there is truly an endless variety of stitch-combinations to be found in lace – but there are a lot of other styles that I really like as well. My very first published pattern was the Burridge Aran Afghan, with lots of cables.
I just released a new cabled pattern – the Charles River Scarf – which uses reversible cables. The cables form a wave pattern reminiscent of the flowing water in the river that separates Boston from Cambridge. I made up a new way of creating reversible cables (at least it was new to me, but I guess nothing is truly new under the sun), and I was rather pleased with how it worked out.
The design goal was a unisex scarf with lots of texture. The contrast between the ribbing and the garter stitch on the edging makes it look squishy soft. And the reversible cables look the same on both sides of the scarf.
Width: 10 in/25 cm
Length: adjustable. As shown: 75 in/200 cm, using 600 yds/300 g of worsted weight yarn
The Little Match Girl is a story by Hans Christian Andersen from 1845. On a cold New Years Eve a poor girl goes out barefoot in the snow to sell matches. She is freezing, but is afraid to go home because her stepfather will beat her for not selling any matches.
To warm up she lit matches and saw beautiful sights in the lights – food, warmth, family and her dead grandmother. They disappeared as soon as the match burned out. She lit all the matches so her grandmother would not disappear, and the grandmother took her hand and they flew off to heaven. In the morning the girl was found dead, having frozen to death with a smile on her face. No one understood the joy she felt before dying.
The border of the shawl shows the matchsticks and angels welcoming her to heaven, and the body has little flames for the lit matches.
The shawl comes in two different sizes. It’s knit with 1 skein of Anzula cloud, which is a light fingering weight yarn. The small size uses 450 yds, and the large size 500 yds. (Shown in size large) I used the colour periwinkle, which is an icy blue that I thought was perfect for the theme.
The Little Match Girl was the fourth shawl in the Fairy Tale Lace e-book.
I thought the fairy tale was beautiful, and as I was designing I was going for sort of hybrid between a water lily and a star. My shawl is in the colour Sterling (silver gray), but I could imagine this in a number of different colours. I used Luna laceweight yarn from Raventwist – and it’s a very generous skein of close to 1,400 yds of lace yarn. It knits up beautifully, and due to the silk content (80/20 merino/silk blend) it has a really nice lustre.
It’s a part of the Fairy Tale Lace e-book, and as I write that, it occurs to me that I haven’t really been blogging about all the patterns in that collection. So I guess you can expect to see a few more blog-posts about that in the near future.
In the meantime, here is a quick picture of the five patterns in the book so far. By the time the e-book is complete, there will be seven patterns.