Monday, August 20, 2012

Sources of Inspiration

In case you haven't seen it yet, the Fall 2012 issue of Twist Collective is online. I'm pleased to have been included with a design for a hat and mitten set called Sultana
I wanted to share a bit with you about the inspiration for this design.
Last December, my friend Carson and I saw an exhibition of Anatolian kelims at the deYoung Museum in San Francisco. These tribal weaving were amazing, packed with complex geometric and figurative motifs in a riot of colors.
The oldest example in the collection was just a fragment of a 15th century kelim in only two colors - natural and a faded tomato red (madder, maybe? Name That Dye is not a game at which I excel). I loved the interplay of positive and negative space, and the way the interlocking spear shapes were edged with little bubbles. The bold graphic seemed surprisingly modern for a textile more than 600 years old. Carson and I agreed that it begged to be reinterpreted in knitting. I pulled out my camera and sneaked a picture.
Even though the photo is of such poor quality, it was a fairly simple matter to import it into Illustrator and trace the motifs. Overlay a grid, and it starts to look suspiciously like a knitting chart.

Here is my original swatch, made with some Cascade 220 I had on hand. Yes, I do tend to make hats as swatches for color patterns. Such patterns are easiest for me when knit in the round, and hats make good class samples, or can be donated to organizations like Halos of Hope if not needed. I love the contrast in these Gryffindor colors.

For the magazine, we chose a thinner yarn, Romney Ridge Farms Sport Weight. This is a great yarn for colorwork. Grown in Maine, it is a nice "sticky" wool that knits easily and blocks into a beautifully cohesive fabric. The hand dyed colors have subtle variations that give the pattern extra depth and interest.

While you are looking at the magazine, don't miss my article about shaping in pattern. Many knitters struggle with maintaining lace and cable patterns while shaping armholes and necklines. The article takes you step by step through the process.

Old textiles are a great source of inspiration, particularly for colorwork. The landscape that surrounds us can also serve as the spark for great ideas.

These vines are full of grapes about 6 weeks from harvest. They've already shifted from green to purple, and are getting sweeter with every sunny day.

This is the view outside Roche Winery, where I spent the past 2 weekends pouring wine for their annual futures release BBQ event. My former husband works for Roche in sales. When they need an extra person for special events, they invite me to come play. Buying wine futures is like making an investment in the winery. You get a substantial discount by purchasing the wine before it's bottled, sometimes while it's still on the vine. Roche rewards these "investors" by throwing a great party when the wine is ready to be delivered. Leg of Lamb is cooked over a fire fueled by broken up old wine barrels. A great band plays classic rock and roll for dancing. And the full lineup of wine is available for tasting. I worked all 4 days in the tasting room, pouring and chatting.
I'm really grateful for the opportunity to do occasional work like this. Most of my weekends are indistinguishable from a weekday - I spend the day at my desk writing or editing patterns, and the evening knitting. It's a pretty sedentary, not to mention solitary, life. It's good for me to spend a couple of days on my feet interacting with people and working with a team.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

A new design, some baseball, and a video I think you'll love

I know it's been a while since I last wrote. I've been busy, and paying work has to take precedence. But I want to tell you about a new design just released by Kollage Yarns.

The new design:
 This is Oakville.
It was inspired by an Elie Tahari sweater I saw at Macy's several years ago. That sweater was a long sleeve pullover. The circular yoke was worked with a much thicker yarn than the rest of the sweater - maybe the same yarn doubled or tripled. I liked the structure it gave the sweater, and the idea stuck in my head.
Oakville is worked in Kollage Yarns Riveting, with the Worsted weight yarn used for the yoke and the Sport weight in a marled color used for the body. It starts at the neck. The yoke is shaped into a crescent with increases. Stitches are bound off over the arms, then the body is worked downward in the round. The yoke closes with three buttons on the left shoulder.
I love the breezy elegance of this look. With white capris and sandals, it is perfect for cocktails by the pool or brunch at a seaside cafe.
The knitting is easy and fast. You could still make this in time to wear on the warm days of early autumn.
You can order a paper pattern directly from Kollage Yarns, or download a pdf from Patternfish.

In other knitting news:
Here is a sneak peak at a project fresh off the needles. It is destined for publication later this year, so I'll give you more details then. All I'll say now is that I love developing colorwork patterns nearly as much as I've grown to love knitting them.

I took a break from obsessively watching the Olympics on TV to attend the Stitch and Pitch game at the Marin County Pacifics in San Rafael last night. I conned my son into going with me by not telling him it was Stitch and Pitch, but I think he's forgiven me.
The Pacifics were playing against the Sonoma County Grapes (I know, I know - I can barely stand to type it), their rivals in the very minor North American League.
The ballpark is more closely related to a Little League field than to places like AT&T Park, but the knitters were out in force. Bluebird Yarn and Fiber Crafts in Sausalito generously provided goodie bags, and it was $3 beer night, so it was a good mother/son activity for a warm summer evening.

You must watch this:
Jesse Kornbluth posted a link to this video on his wonderful blog, Head Butler, and it just made my day. So much of what we see on the web and in the news is focused on people being mean, stupid and thoughtless. Take this opportunity to partake of a little kindness and joy, and let it color your worldview in happier shades.

One last thing:
We are within a day or so of the launch of the Fall issue of Twist Collective. It is a lovely collection of beautiful designs. I have both a new design and a tech article in this issue.