Friday, June 23, 2017

the short beach shawl: drop dead easy knits

 
There is a designer in the City
Whose daughter is smart, tall and pretty.
Sofie modeled our shawl,
hopped on rocks, did not fall.
(Wish I had a last line that was witty).*

Back at you with a Drop Dead Easy Knits pattern highlight.This time, it's the Short Beach Shawl, by Kirsten Kapur.

It's another gem in the No Sheep at the Shore chapter.  All  are projects to knit while at the beach--or to wear in pleasant weather, wherever you're feeling some easy breezy style.

How much do I love this design?Let me count the ways: 
First, it's a bottom up triangle with increases happening only on the outer edges.  If you've ever fallen off-course on a triangular shawl with mirrored sides and center spine increases, you will know why this simpler construction automatically makes it go to the head of the not-so-hard class.

The design is bands of garter stitch, and bands of an easy repeating lace daisy. (That's what I call it, anyway. It is a flower like motif.)

And...fringe


I know it is silly to love a shawl pattern because it is fringed but I do.....I do. 
I  finished knitting this deep blue one a couple of months ago. I just fringed it and wow it makes the piece come alive. The fringe adds heft, and size, and flow. (and, almost a skein of yarn...I am a generous fringer).**
Lastly. We named the patterns in this chapter after beaches. Short Beach is my real-life neighborhood and favorite place to hang out---so--what's not to love?

This blue one is my second Short Beach Shawl,I have yarn poised for a third. The sample in the book, and in most of these photos, is the fantastic Dragonfly Fibers Dance Rustic Silk, a perfect match. (Seriously, look at their colors..... aaaaah!).

My blue one is a discontinued Mirasol yarn- a wool, silk and bamboo blend. Any fingering weight will do, but I like a little silk for the luster and drape.  I saw some swatches Kirsten made with the shawl in which  she striped it by alternating colors for the garter stitch and lace sections. It would be very cool in a gradient set, too.

More Drop Dead Easy Knits spotlights can be found here, we're presenting them every 2 weeks.
Parley Cardigan 
Abide Shawl
Searsport Market Bag
Glama Wrap
Polliwog Baby Sweater

* I'm trying to introposts in this series in limerick when it is my turn. Let's see how it goes....

** Perfect illustration re: cobblers' children. Although I had the shawl along with me for three very busy days of a non-knitwear/non-fashion-y photoshoot, I didn't have an chance to shoot it .  Or event think about it, for that matter. 
So, you see the quickie FO shot in a hotel room in Concord MA. I definitely need to upgrade that FO photo !

Thursday, June 15, 2017

i'm interviewed! on Kristy Glass Knits



Are you a
Kristy Glass fan?  I am thrilled that she invited me for an interview--she's such a joy to watch and a gifted interviewer. Check it out!





Warning: it's almost an hour long.  But we move right along from topic to topic - and she models some Drop Dead Easy Knits pieces in the most gorgeous way. 

Afterwards, settle in and watch some of her other interviews. I am telling you, she needs a regular show on HGTV. Someone get on that!

Meanwhile-
I have been here and there--but mostly there- for the past 6 weeks.
Back soon with links and tales and some fun behind-the-scenes.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

searsport market bag: it's beachknitting time!

There once was a girl on a beach
She liked her knitting within reach
On the sand or a boat
She desired a tote
Mary Lou designed it, as sweet as a peach...*
Here in the US it is the official start of beach knitting season, the best season of all. That is not just my opinion. 
It is the truth. :-)
 Some knitters think of knitting as a winter/cold weather sport. Not me. I am happiest taking a good long swim, then plopping into my beach chair and knitting by the water. 

 I've always thought of  the  Searsport Market Bag in our book as a Kick Off the Summer knit:  first you make the stretchy bag, then you spend the rest of the summer carrying your Important Things (towel, knitting, swim goggles, beverage) to the beach in it. It's a pretty relaxing knit, which is good for this time of year.

It is quite roomy when the simple stitch pattern stretches, which is a desirable trait, although not everyone wants to rock the super slouchy look. If you prefer a more stable shape , here's a simple tutorial of ways to line a knit bag.  I particularly like the suggestion of attaching a lining with buttons.
This instructional has photos of every step to sew in a lining.

While brainstorming for our book's No Sheep at the Shore chapter, we wanted only patterns you'd knit out of non-wool, non-fuzzy yarn.  Our other requirement was the designs  should be pieces you'd use or wear while at the beach. That's how Mary Lou Egan came up with the pattern. She named it after the Maine coast town where us three authors were staying while we were developing the ideas for the book. And same place, a year later, gave it a final edit. We always called it The Beach Bag until it was dubbed the Searsport.

During the  photo shoot for the book, I shot our model Josephine carrying  it while wearing a sundress.  When I look at it, I want a Seasrport Market Bag to use as a summer everyday purse, for my non- beach life. Maybe in the lightest off white shade of Berroco Indigo, and line it with flowery summer fabric.

*When Mary Lou Egan, Kirsten Kapur and I decided to try to take turns blogging about the patterns, this year, in our collaborative book Drop Dead Easy Knits, we jokingly (or so they thought) considered doing so in limerick. I'm going to give it a try.

Monday, April 24, 2017

recent work & upcoming TNNA workshops

Not sure I ever shared this adequately: last summer I photographed the book for Berroco Portfolio 3, pretty much a dream shoot for me. I just realized you can page through the complete lookbook online.

https://issuu.com/berrocodesign/docs/berroco_portfolio_vol_3 

(sorry! I can't seem to get this to embed. Please check it out though)
Of course, the version with the patterns is for purchase, these are all cotton and so so good. The Portfolio series are books by talented creative director Amy Christoffers' selecting indie designers to create pieces for a special collection. (We just shot Portfolio 4 last month. It  is wool, and spectacular, too.)

Finding the right location for a full book photo shoot is important. You'd think it'd be a breeze, but I spend hours (and hours)  poring over choices, what settings, backgrounds, facilities, costs, textures, accommodations are present before we choose. You could shoot the same collection on a city street and have a whole different feel, possibly wrong.  Or just blah.a

While we were deciding, I was lucky to be visiting with a sister and her friend in Vermont, who said she wanted me to meet her friends, in the final stages of renovating a notoriously dilapidated and crazily painted Victorian farmhouse in town. She didn't know I needed a location, she just thought I'd be interested.  I fell in love the minute I saw it, and was thrilled that they welcomed us to do our shoot there, and become some of the first guests ever at the stunning Amare Guest House in Chester VT.

The photo shoot took place on a ridiculously steamy hot day- utterly uncharacteristic for a Vermont summer- but it is hard to recall that, when I look at the photos now. The model, Ilima, is amazing.The rest of us were...glistening. And possibly more than a little whiffy.  But smiling!
TNNA is in Columbus Ohio in early June! 
I'm thrilled to be co-teaching three workshops with writer & crafter Beverly Army Williams, aka PoMoGoLightly again this year. Our workshops all fall under the rubric of marketing, communications & social media for yarn shop owners, indie designers and yarn companies, and really, any small business that has only two hands but wears many hats.  The schedule and course descriptions are all here.
Ours are planned  to be fun, useful and participatory, so you can use new skills & ideas for your business immediately.
•Smarten Up Your Facebook Page -Thursday
Social Media on the Fly - Thursday
Hands-on Workshop for Mobile Photography and Writing-Friday
and solo, I am offering
iPhone/Smartphone-ography for Your Business- early Saturday, before the marketplace opens
 from a recent shoot for June Cashmere

If you sign up, feel free to message me in advance with anything in particular you'd like us to include. We love to tailor our workshops to the students.



Friday, April 21, 2017

granny squares with doc mason's edge

Four days and a long round trip drive to Chicago later.  It turns out that I only needed to bring this one project along, it held my attention and was a perfect companion.
Over the first seven hours of the trip, when I wasn't driving, I made the last five squares, to bring my total to 42. ThenI ripped out the first three squares and made them more interesting. Followed by having a stern talk with myself to prevent ripping out and re-doing any more.  Somewhere around Ohio, with just one painfully expensive speeding ticket in the glove compartment, and just as we finished the last chapter of S-Town *(recommend!), I grabbed the Doc Mason's yarn and started crocheting the outer edges, through to Indiana and then Illinois.
I seriously love this yarn. It's totally working to bring the squares together tonally. Some are relatively muted, like these two, some have, let's say, more punch than I really would like.
Yarn with that farm-y sheepy glow. Don't you want to huff the lanolin fumes? I'm dreaming a whole sweater of it now. I was lucky to get the last of the 2016 Doc Mason's but keep an eye out, Ellen is poised for  another trip to the mill, you can see the clip ready to roll from the link. 
My favorite sight from the trip was these three together again, if only for a few hours. Two of us drove out to Chicago, two flew. The four of us not in the Navy drove back together. Quality togetherness.

* We were completely absorbed by the S-Town podcast, to the point that Dave doesn't even remember seeing most of Pennsylvania, which  let me tell you, is a long long section of the trip. I found it the best kind of reporting and storytelling, and so brilliantly edited. We failed to latch on to any other podcast after it---but did discover that there's a Pandora station called Road Trippin' that was good for three hours of punchy-tired  singalong to mostly early 70's hits and got us home by 2am on Sunday.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

long drive project options

Tomorrow morning we are hopping in the car and pointing it at Illinois, a lonnnng drive, to witness our younger son graduate from Navy boot camp.*  



But that's not what I'm here to blab about,(mostly). I'm here to consider my options. As we all know, the great joy of a 900 mile drive each way is car knitting time.

Do I take all of these? Some? One? And...what podcasts would you be listening to?**

option a) The granny squares!  Seen above, I have 37 of 42 done in a kaleidoscope of  Noro Silk Garden scrap and leftover mixed colors. Five more won't take long to complete.

 I decided on the wonderful farm-y natural Doc Mason's yarn to edge them all, and bring them  back to earth. Above, two test squares-. I tried iton squares with especially bright rounds,  to see if I like the punch + earthy combo. I do! I can edge and weave in ends for miles and miles....

option b) that 2nd brioche cowl. It's hypnotic and rewarding (fast growth and cool looking stitch) ..but if I fuff it up by distraction, could be trouble.

option c) Dave's Zacapa. I love this knit. Pro: I've got most of one sleeve and half the body done. Con:  He will not wear it till next October at best.... Unless my fantasy trip to  Norway happens this summer...which would be...make-believe amazing .

option d) My Half-Hansel just needs to have the edging knit on. Such a dreamy knit. It's a series of triangles with simple lace that repeat, attached to the body of the shawl as they are added. I put it aside when things got chaotic and busy last Fall-- this might be a good stretch of uninterrupted time to get the repetition going.

option e) wait, did I mention my beautiful big bump of  Jill Draper Makes Stuff Empire?  It's for a Farmhouse Cardigan by Amy Christoffers.  Pro:  It would be a perfect long trip knit.  Con:  I  feel guilty jumping into a new knit with these  others unfinished plus.. I haven't wound off any of the yarn yet!!

So what would you bring?

*That's right. These hippy vegetarians have two sons. One a butcher. The other in the military, a new sailor planning to become a Navy medic. I am totally proud of them both and love them to pieces. They are good people.
That's parenthood for ya!

 ** We've got S Town queued up so that's a good chunk of time. I already listend to Missing Richard Simmons (loved it), and I have lots of Fresh Air, WTF and The Moth on tap but I'd love another long form podcast if you know of any great ones.




Monday, April 10, 2017

two color brioche knitting



Soo...we last left me granny square in hand, a distraction/obsession that continued right up to my teaching gig at Mohonk Mountain House.  The trance was broken when Kirsten mentioned she had a very large brioche class the next morning, and I offered to be her guinea pig, for a 2 color brioche lesson.
My last brioche project was one color, flat, a few years back, and did not leave me with a love for the stitch. You can see it  here.  In truth, brioche is  a beautifully rhythmic stitch. But its structure is different enough from stockinette that it requires some brain stretching. And this time I had a private lesson from an excellent teacher....
But, maybe a brioche lesson at midnight with a glass of sherry isn't the smartest way to learn ? I went to bed after totally messing it up, then  woke up the next morning determined to cast on and prove I'm not an idiot.  Conveniently, Jill Draper was vending yarn. She picked out this  duo of Windham  for me. I adore her color sense. I mean, that light mushroomy color that I love looks bad on me, except when entwined with her rosier pink hue.
Once under control, this brioche  two color in the round gallops along pretty quickly, looks amazing and has a fabulous squooshiness and depth. Now I get the popularity.  I wouldn't categorize two color brioche as Drop Dead Easy but it is addictive.  Two weeks later, I was cruising along, adding switched MC/CC sections. I was planning to make it extravagantly tall, when my mom saw it and fell for it hard. She said she owns no cowls and has never knit brioche herself. Despite living  in Maryland, where she will not need a cowl till next December, this is going to be her Mothers Day present. I cast off at a height  that'll still be tons of volume on a petite older lady.  I'm thrilled, it's an honor to have a knitting request from an expert knitter. It's now the best part of the project!
And second best part...? I have enough Windham left to make one for myself, as well.

I'll tell you more about the granny square situation, another day.