Tuesday, May 31, 2016

I've named this one A Beer on the Dock

I find that small, portable projects are perfect for summer knitting so my attention turns to accessories right about now.  A Beer on the Dock is easily memorizable and totally addictive -- the perfect thing to knit while sitting in the sun with a cold drink nearby.  It's worked in an immensely satisfying yarn, with bold lines that make it easy to put down and pick back up.

The deep, squishy motif looks like a cable repeat, but is actually a simple mix of lace and garter stitch. The distinct, flowing lines in this one create a beautiful transition from ribbing and a cool pattern in the crown shaping.  And it is serious happiness in Kristine Vejar's new Range yarn from A Verb For Keeping Warm.

I picked up two skeins of Range earlier this spring during a visit to Oakland.  It's a gorgeous, springy 100% Rambouillet, and it's part of the California Wool Project, an effort to revitalize the California wool market.  The natural shades in this yarn are stunning - the skein is a subtle silvery-heathery gray, which begged to be knit immediately. When I called to mention that I had come up with a motif I liked for a hat design, Kristine asked if maybe it could be ready for the Squam Art Fair, where she'd be teaching and vending this year.  So yes it is. 

For those of you who can't make it to New Hampshire, the PDF on Ravelry is $1 off with the code SQUAM until Sunday night at 5pm when the fair's over.   

I actually found the pattern so addictive that I knit a second one, in AVFKW's Pioneer, which is also soft and wonderful and part of the California Wool Project.  I had a natural brown on hand, but Pioneer comes in all the shades of natural dyed goodness that A Verb For Keeping Warm is famous for. I happened to have a matching alpaca pom on hand as well, so....

On a side note, it makes me happy that I ended up designing this for Squam, since the Art Fair last year was an experience that made me want to commit further to thoughtful yarn choices and the smaller players in our industry, and to really think about what goes into the skeins we knit with. I've had this on my mind ever since working with Fox Hill Farm for my Beekman Tavern sweater in the Rhinebeck Book, but before this past year, I still hadn't made a serious committment to changing my habits.

Last year at Squam, Clara Parkes gave a wonderful talk about her journey to create her own yarn and the struggles that face the smaller farmers and mills and fiber producers that exist today.  And Squam really is this crazy magical, introspective place where even I (not so woo woo) paused to really think about what mattered to me, what was special about the traditions and methods and fibers she was speaking about, and then - what power I might have in the conversation.  What my responsibility should be, and what I could do to change things, even if it was in a small way.  All the connections that already existed, and those that maybe didn't but should and could be made. (if any of that makes sense, anyways....)

I've thought a lot about her words since then, and I've tried to make intentional and thoughtful choices about the yarns I've designed with since. I've tried to get more eyes looking at yarn that's important to me, run by people I respect, and produced in ways I love.  However, there are few people more dedicated to sustainability and responsibility in the textile world than the team over at A Verb For Keeping Warm. Kristine Vejar has been a pioneer and a trusted voice in sourcing and working with local, natural materials for years now.  It makes me proud to think that this hat project reflects my goals from last year, that it shines a light on someone who works on this stuff with her heart and soul, and that hopefully it will lead some of you to give these skeins a try.  In a small way, right? It all adds up.

More details and test knitter projects are (will be) up on Ravelry, and the PDF can be purchased for $6 either there on on the accessories section of this blog.  (Or for $5 if you use that SQUAM code before Sunday night!)

I won't be at Squam teaching this year, but I do hope to pop in on Saturday night and partake in a little of the magic of the weekend, pet a few more skeins, say hello and hug some friends.  And I absolutely plan on having a beer on a dock while there. 

(Thank you to my lovely old friend Jen, who wore my clothes and sat on the dock and drank beers with me while I took photos of her. She is much amused by this whole thing... but I am much amused by her job, so we are even.) 

Friday, May 13, 2016

Mostly due to my particular set of work habits, the schedule I keep (which is never far enough ahead of time), and the fact that I'm a bit of a control freak, I tend to self publish more than submit to books and magazines.

However, sometimes the stars align and I can eke a few things out there.  Which is what I managed to do earlier this year, and two of those designs are ready to share with you now.  Both are in collections that feature work by a number of talented designers, and both are publications put together by inspiring women who I respect and love having in our knitting world.

First is Olivette, featured in the Summer 2016 Issue of PomPom magazine.  I love PomPom and am so very honored to be a part of it.  Lydia Gluck, Sophie Scott and Meghan Fernandes do such a beautiful job with the publication - both the content, the photography and all the charming touches in each issue.  They manage to celebrate the world of indie design in a way that's thoughtful and intentional and inspiring.  Plus, if you haven't listened to their podcast yet, you kind of need to - because they are also pretty entertaining.  And one of them has the best laugh ever.  (You'll have to listen to figure out who...)

I have become kind of obsessed with the entire UK knitting world this year, so the chance to work with these guys and use a bit more of my friend Victoria's gorgeous Eden Cottage Yarn was a joy for me.  I got to spell color with a "u" and refer to the short version as a jumper - it was almost like being in London, but not quite.

I went with a seamless, bottom up design that can be knit as either a tunic or a regular length jumper. It's feminine and flattering and features a lace panel and a lot of simple stockinette, to show off the subtle beauty of the yarn we chose.  The tunic has a hip pocket, which is fun to make - and the sweater is just a relaxing, beautiful piece to make.  Both are easily modified for length or width and look just perfect in these subtle, pale shades of green and rose, which ECY is known for.  Victoria just gets these sophisticated shades in a way nobody else does.

And because these colors are just so beautiful, she's gotten quite a few calls for the yarn (which is Eden Cottage Yarn's Oakworth DK in Briar Rose and Coppice), SO -- she has just announced pre-orders for the yarn in 10 of these beautiful, delicate shades.  Details are on her website, here.

I may be partial to Olivette, but I hope you like the whole issue - I'd knit that cover pullover by Carol Feller if only I had the time, and there are some beautiful tanks, shawls, and accessories in there as well -- plus stories and features and lots more photos.  I cannot wait for my copy to arrive -- and to get myself back over to the UK again soon.


The other design that's just popped out in the world is featured in an upcoming book from one of my favorite pairs of designing ladies over here in the US -- Cecily Glowik McDonald and Melissa LaBarre.  Cecily and Melissa are a well known pair in the publishing world who design gorgeous items themselves, and have already put together a few beautiful collections featuring modern twists on classic designs, mostly knit in yarns from small US producers.  They are both kind and wonderful people with a great eye for pairing designers, yarns and projects together beautifully.

This time, they've put together Weekend Wraps - a lovely collection of 18 cowls, wraps and scarves inspired by the idea of spending a weekend at a lake house somewhere here in New England.  It's available on Amazon now, and it features designs from some really wonderful designers - Bristol Ivy, Amy Christoffers, Leila Raabe, Tanis Gray, Hannah Thibault, Kate Gagnon Osborne, Kristen TenDyke, Angela Tong, Carrie Hoge, Jocely Tunney, Emma Welford and Rachel Stecker - plus Cecily and Melissa!   We all made cozy things we'd throw on while hiking, spending time with friends, and enjoying a cool weekend in the woods.

There's a whole range of projects - big and small, from beginner to advanced, in all kinds of gorgeous yarns. My contribution is the Warm Cider Cowl - knit in Quince and Co Lark, in a beautiful yellow called Goldfinch.  It's a fun cable and leaf motif that's geometric and textured and easy to memorize.


The Lark is a great yarn for texture and stitches knit in it are clear and distinct. Plus it makes a squishy, comfy fabric, perfect around your neck or your shoulders.  You can make this cowl longer or shorter, or narrower or wider if desired.

So that's it for now -- but I do have ONE more thing publishing soon, so I'll pop on back with that in a bit....