WIPs

 © keliope

Work in progress projects, also known as WIPs, is something I’ve been spending most of my time on. I made it a goal this year to complete all my WIPs that I currently have on all my needles, and I’m struggling to not start any new projects. I had seven WIPs when I wrote the Knitting Resolutions, Old and New post and now I’m down to five.

I was really hoping to get some knitting in during my week long vacation in Sayulita, Mexico. Unfortunately, I wasn’t planning on checking my bag so I couldn’t bring my knitting with me. Tip: Don’t take knitting needles in your carry-on when leaving Mexico. They will take them from you.

The streets in Sayulita are flooded with yarn art. There are vibrant neon pom poms on every corner, macrame magical, madness being sold everywhere, and breathtaking Huichol yarn art on bull skulls. I was invited to a macrame and natural dye class next week, but sadly I leave on Sunday. Seeing yarn being utilized in so many different ways only makes me miss my knitting needles even more. With all the yarn inspiration I’m receiving from this beautiful town, I will be recharged to finish up all my WIPs upon my return.

Listed in no particular order, here are my WIPs:

 © Churchmouse

Ribbed Watch Cap & Beanie by Churchmouse Yarns and Teas: This is my first time knitting on size US 1 needles, and I’m not going to lie, it’s taking forever. I’m about five inches in and I can already tell it’s going to be worth all the effort and time. I’m knitting the Ribbed Watch Cap in Woolfolk Tynd, which is the softest merino yarn I’ve had the pleasure of knitting with.

Beatnik by Norah Gaughan: This is one dreamy cable sweater and I still can’t believe it’s a free pattern. I’m a little over halfway done with the back, which means I still have the front and two sleeves to knit. I keep jumping back and forth between this project and the Ribbed Watch Cap, which is probably why this is also taking so long. I do love watching this project grow and I can’t wait until it’s finished.

 © Julie Hoover

Frontenac by Julie Hoover: I dedicated an entire post to the future making of this dress. Once completed, this is going to be one dreamy and luxurious dress. 

Cerus Scarf by Hilary Smith Callis: The Cerus III caught my attention last year when I was trying to come up with gift ideas. Once I deciphered the mods on this particular project I realized I wouldn’t have it completed until the following year (this year). It’s currently in a tiny swatch status.

Kalaloch by Andrea Rangel: My ambitiousness gets in my way at times. I wanted to finish these leggings last year before going to Iceland, but realistically I didn’t have the time. I made a few mods to the pattern, and I’m almost done with one of the legs. I’m currently wishing I made them into shorts so I could wear them now.

Here are a few projects our staff members are currently working on:

© Brooklyn Tweed/Jared Flood 

Oleya: Elmont by Julie Hoover in Woolfolk Sno and Tynd

Keli: Sizzle Pop by Lesley Anne Robinson in Madelinetosh TML in Astrid Grey and Glass Bottom Boat

Lacey: Tolt Folded Bag by Veronika Jobe in Brooklyn Tweed Shelter in Sweatshirt (Free pattern!)

April 29, 2016 by Laura Oriana Konstin

First Knitting Needles

© litlnemo

The first pair of knitting needles I ever owned were a pair of size US 10.5 purple metal needles that my mom gave me. I used them a few times and I only completed one project on them, a cowl made out of baby alpaca yarn for a friend. I still own my Purple Ladies (yes, I named them), but I never completed another project on them. I’m not sure why this is, since they are really nice needles.


My next pair of needles were size US 17 bamboo circular needles. I used my little Bams on more projects than I can remember and my friends have many gifts because of those lovely beauties. Bams has since retired from the chunky knitting game and has been living out the rest of her years in a plush cushioned accessory bag.


I spent about a year purchasing and/or borrowing random size needles whenever I needed to, which is probably how I ended up with five pairs of size US 9 Addi needles. My mom being the loving woman that she is, got fed up with her knitting needles vanishing every time I went to visit her, that she surprised me with my very first knitting needle set a little over a year ago. They are the ChiaoGoo Red Lace Interchangeable needles and I love them. I have the full set that starts with a US 2 and goes all the way through a US 15, which covers the majority of my knitting needs.

 

Out of all the needles I’ve owned/borrowed, these are my favorite. This wasn’t the case when I first started using them. We actually had a few weeks of drama. I would twist on my needles to the cord, cast-on, knit a few rows, and the next thing I knew one of my needles wasn’t on the cord anymore and all my stitches were on the verge of unraveling. I thought my mom purchased faulty needles.


After almost a month of fighting and cursing my ChiaoGoo needles, I noticed a pocket on the outside of the bag. I unzipped the pocket and found a needle gauge and two bags filled with goodies. In one of the goodie bags there happened to be the keys that were needed to tighten up the cord to the needles. All I could do at that moment was shake my head and laugh at myself.


Since discovering the much needed keys, I have thoroughly enjoyed knitting with these needles. I love the way they feel in my hands and I’m never scared that my stitches are going to slip off my needles. I learned how to magic loop on these needles thanks to the endless amounts of cords that you can connect together. These are the needles that helped me branch out and try different things. I also partially blame them for all the work-in-progress projects I have waiting to be completed. That being said, the main reason why the ChiaoGoo needles are my favorite is because they are my first complete set of knitting needles, and they were gifted to me by my mom.


We would love to know what your first needles were. Which needles are your favorite?

April 25, 2016 by Laura Oriana Konstin

What I Listen To While I Knit

What do you do while you knit? Do you listen to music, watch television, or maybe you put your favorite podcast on? I do all three of these, but I find listening to podcasts while I knit the most enjoyable of the three.

These are the podcasts that I spend the most time listening to while I knit:

The Moth: A podcast dedicated to the art and craft of storytelling. Most have probably heard of The Moth and/or have been to one of their events. I started listening to The Moth about two years ago and haven’t stopped. The stories that are told are truly epic and many of them have made me laugh hysterically and sob uncontrollably. If you want to be thoroughly entertained while knitting, I suggest giving The Moth a listen. You won’t be disappointed. I also highly suggest going to one of their events as well, either as a listener or as a storyteller.

TED Talks: I went to an event in 2010 (possibly 2011) where the speakers were discussing neuroscience. I was chatting with a friend about the event and they sent me a link to a TED Talk asking if I had ever watched it. In fact, I hadn’t and I had no idea what TED Talks were. The TED Talk they sent me was Jill Bolte Taylor speaking about the insight she had when she had a massive stroke. It’s an amazing story and since then I have binged on TED Talks. The subject matter of TED Talks usually varies, but they mostly focus on technology, design, academic, cultural, and scientific topics. You can get the audio only version of TED Talks, but I enjoy putting the videos on and listening to them as I knit.

Gimlet Media: Where do I start?! Gimlet Media is a company that is focused on producing high-quality narrative podcasts. One of their podcasts and actually the first one I started listening to is StartUp, which is about the creation of Gimlet. They now have six podcasts that are all pretty amazing, but the two that I’ve listened to the most are Reply All and Mystery Show. Reply All is described as a show about the internet. The description might not sound very entertaining, but it is! There is an episode called The Rainbow Pug where the owner loses her dog on the internet, and PJ and Alex (the hosts) go looking for it. It’s an episode that will cause you to go through all kinds of emotions. Mystery Show is my other favorite Gimlet podcast and it’s about solving mysteries. I’m anxiously awaiting the next season. A friend of mine wrote to them giving them a mystery to solve and I’m curious to find out if they picked it.

I recently realized that I’ve never listened to a podcast about knitting or fiber so I tried giving it a shot the other day. So far I’ve listened to Woolful, which was recommended to me by Lacey, our Knit Purl marketing guru. She sold me on it by her lovely description. “I personally like Woolful because it gives insights into the makers of the fiber community. Learning more about the makers and how they came to love fiber. Also, it feels personal--as if the guests are chatting with you one-on-one telling their story.” I’m only one episode in so I can’t report back on much other than I plan on listening to another episode. The only other knitting related podcast I’ve had time to try out is The Fat Squirrel Speaks. They are actually YouTube videos that Amy Beth makes, so I guess it’s more like a vlog, but so far I’m enjoying them.

Images © Visual Hunt, Ted Talks, & Woolful.

April 22, 2016 by Laura Oriana Konstin
Tags: Favorites

My Design Inspiration: Natalie Novak

Natalie Novak and woven pieces

When I first learned to weave I was taught in the Navajo style. I really liked the simplicity of this method, free from the mechanics of traditional floor looms. The vertical frame of the Navajo loom seemed like a big empty canvas and coming from a painting background this approach to weaving felt accessible. I only had to have patience to fill up the warp strings with beautiful yarn.

While I was learning I borrowed many design elements from native textiles, but the patterns and colors were always my own. As I grew more confident with the techniques my weaving changed to reflect what was inside instead of mimicking tapestries I'd seen in books and museums. What hasn't changed is my love of color and narrative, and that's what really drives my work.

When I'm building up a new idea it's often the colors that occur to me first, the right combination will resonate and a story will unfold. Sometimes I already know the narrative so choosing color is how I bring the story to life. In this way I work in layers: there's a surface design visible to everyone made up of shape, pattern and hue, but beyond that there's a narrative that arranges the elements giving them purpose and meaning.

As I work at the loom the color feeds off the story and vice versa, often to a point where they become inseparable in my mind. Even so, I'm never afraid to make changes once I've started weaving a piece. No matter how certain of the design I am when I begin, the weaving develops a voice of it's own as it grows on the loom. I find it's best to listen!

And in a way that's what weaving is for me, it's listening with my eyes and hands. It's listening as the fibers slip between my fingers telling me just where they need to go. Weaving means taking the time to understand whatever I'm working on even if it means letting go of my original idea to follow a new thread. In the end the tapestries I weave are conversations, patiently telling their stories through color and fiber.

All images © Natalie Novak.

Website: combedthunder.com
Instagram: @combedthunder

April 18, 2016 by Guest Blogger

Happy Birthday, Knit Purl

It’s April, which means it’s Knit Purl’s birthday month! You might be wondering how many years we are turning? Well, don’t worry, we aren’t too shy to share that it’s our 11th birthday.

To celebrate, Blissful Knits has created an exclusive, limited edition colorway of their Ambrosia MCN yarn, named Xi. Artistically hand dyed, Xi is a neutral base with beautiful citrus pops of lime and lemon and calming rain-cloud blue and gray.

If you've never been introduced to Ambrosia MCN, you're in for a treat. A special technique is used to process the superwash merino, cashmere, and nylon fibers, which gives this luxury yarn a smooth, silky feel. The merino and cashmere add a softness that you will want to forever work in your hands while the nylon adds strength to all your projects.

 

As another little treat, we have paired Xi with Woven by Casapinka, as a limited edition kit that would make a special gift for yourself or someone special. Last but not least, for all purchases made that are over $35, you will receive free shipping Friday, April 15- Sunday, 17th!

Here are a few patterns that will catch a few eyes when matched with Xi:

Westknits: Leave it to Stephen West to make perfect patterns to show-off special yarn. Arroway Shawl and Clockwork Shawl will require only one skein of Xi and one other color to use either as a main color or contrast color.

Marley Shawl: Brioche beauty. This pretty reversible brioche shawl will make Xi pop. This will also be a great project for any brioche newbies!

 

I hope you enjoy all the little treats while we celebrate our XI birthday!


April 15, 2016 by Laura Oriana Konstin

Bring on the Sun with Zooey Yarn

Stack of Zooey yarn

Last week in Portland we had a little taste of summer. Sunglasses were being worn, the sun was blazing, and I did multiple happy dances. The weather isn’t as wonderful as it was last week, but thanks to the brief snippet of summer I feel refueled and ready to handle the April showers that are sure to come.

Our brief heat wave reminded me that warmer days are right around the corner and I need to start planning my knitting projects, which means picking quintessential yarn. For summer knits, I like to pick breathable fibers that feel nice against my skin, and Juniper Moon Farm has the ideal yarn for all things summer with Zooey.

Zooey is a blend of cotton and linen yarn that comes in an assortment of bright colors. The linen allows for the finished fabric to have a great drape and the cotton adds the softness that linen is usually missing. We have a shop sample of the Sommer Top, which sealed the deal on needing to try this yarn out. The fabric was cool to the touch, silky soft, and had great stitch definition.

Here are a few patterns that will pair nicely with Zooey:

Morning Mist

© Annie Rowden

Morning Mist: This is a simple stockinette top with a textured lace panel that adds a pretty surprise to the back of the top. The pattern calls for two colors of yarn, but this top will look equally beautiful in a solid color.  

Odele: A chic effortless T-shirt. This is the perfect warm weather piece to add to your wardrobe and you can knit one in every color of the Zooey rainbow.

Medano Beach

 © rililie

Medano Beach: Whether you are traveling on vacation to a warm, exotic place, going to the farmer’s market, having a picnic in the park, or heading to the beach, this is the perfect tote for being on the go. Oh, and I almost forgot to mention that the pattern is free. 

Cordia Tank

© Kerri Blumer

Cordia Tank: The Cordia is a sleeveless top with a cable panel for added detail. This is the top that got me excited for summer knitting. It calls for sport weight yarn, but I’m confident that I can make this top work in the array of Zooey colors. I also would love to convert this top into a dress.

Baby Bloomers: These super cute bloomers are a must for all the summer babies out there.

April 11, 2016 by Laura Oriana Konstin

Brooklyn Tweed: Ganseys Collection

It might be spring, but it’s still cool enough to enjoy the new Brooklyn Tweed Ganseys collection. I’m always left impressed and speechless with the balance of detail that Brooklyn Tweed puts into each pattern. It’s always just the right amount of detail to keep the knitter engaged, and also end up with a timeless, exquisite piece to add to their knitwear collection. The Ganseys collection is no exception to this, with intricate cables, rich textures, and lace motifs that pay homage to the seaman’s sweaters of the British Isles. This collection will make you long for a trip to the beach on a cool, breezy day, a lovely boat ride, and year-round sweater weather.

Here are a few of my favorites from the collection:

Vanora: Delicate cables mixed with great texture makes the Vanora pullover one of my favorites from the Ganseys collection. When I look at this sweater I think of sitting on my friend’s sailboat in Sausalito on a sunny day. The wind has started to pick up, the sun is starting to set, and the Vanora is what I reach for to keep me warm. The pretty details of the Vanora would show up best in a light color. I’m a sucker for anything blue, so I’m thinking of making one in Faded Quilt.

Forge: Two of my favorite things: hats and cables! Upon first glance, I thought the OXO cable motif was actually XOXO, which I thought was quite fitting. Hugs and kisses to keep your head warm. When I get all my work in progress projects off my needles, I will be jumping to start on the Forge watch cap. The cables, texture, and faux fold-over brim will make for an interesting and engaging knit. I usually like my hats in neutral colors, but I think it’s time to add some color to my hat collection and Thistle is calling my name.

Fairweather: Feminine, elegant, and intricate. The Fairweather pullover is my favorite pattern out of the Ganseys collection. A pullover that can be used for layering during the cooler seasons over your favorite button-up, or over a tank during the spring. The pretty lace motifs add a delicate touch to this beautiful pullover. The Fairweather will look beautiful in any color, bright, light, or neutral. I’m torn between knitting one in Blanket Fort, a pretty lilac, or Cinnabar, a bold poppy red.

All images © Brooklyn Tweed.

 

April 08, 2016 by Laura Oriana Konstin

My Design Inspiration: Alicia Plummer

I guess the first thing you’d need to know about me is I’m pretty extroverted. I love meeting people. I love hearing stories. I’m empathetic to the point of tears in bad situations. Emotions worn on sleeves?

Yup, that’s me. It only makes sense, then, that almost all of my design inspiration comes from moments, memories, feelings, moods. I like to express them as I’m knitting. Kind of like pouring a story into each and every stitch.

The Campside Shawl, for example, was the result of a huge life decision for me. My father had passed away when I was in my early 20’s, very suddenly. We had a family cabin that I spent summers at with him. Even stepping into the camp and deeply inhaling the rich, woodsy cedar brings me back instantly. It brings me back to running barefoot and sandy across the wood floors after a long day at the beach. It brings me back to spaghettios and popsicles. It brings me back, mainly, to my favorite nights- the nights that the rain started gently, on the uninsulated cedar roof, and escalated to a deafening hush of torrential downpours. The claps of thunder, the safety of being inside that camp, everything magnified in sound. After a while, though, in my adulthood, the neighborhood grew loud. Rowdy. Four wheelers at 2 am. Drunken parties at the beach (loud ones)…I had to make the heartrending decision to put it on the market. As I designed the campside shawl, I knit each raindrop into the fabric of my time there. Each tear I sobbed the day I walked in, smelled my memories and realized I had to let go. It brought me peace. The blue from Julie Asselin—a mix of the slate blue lakewater over the skies at our camp, helped me sing this song on the perfect yarn.

Another, more recent design has a happier, but equally powerful story. Happiness Is is a harmony of my childhood and the littles that God has blessed my family with. The big, round polka dots float before me as clearly as the bubbles we blow in the driveway. The sweet, cackling, uncontrollable laughter that comes from a child full of glee. The wonder as they stare at the bubbles, clothed in rainbows swirling, swirling as they climb through the air. Short fingers that sift happily through fine sand on a beachy day.

Lakes Yarn & Fiber’s Heartwood is the perfect shade of sand from the oceans here in Maine, and the polka dots clearly outline the bubbles--but texturally, for a more muted and adult feel. It’s a way for me to express that while I’m an adult, I can still see the wonder and glory of this world we were blessed to live in! (on a side note, the name, which fits perfectly in my opinion, is also the name of my favorite ski trail on the local mountain. I just learned how in January. I was TERRIFIED and EXHILARATED the first
time I went down it, skiing so fast my body hovered sideways over the trail…It made me feel like a childagain).

So, the way it works for me is usually this: I see a color, and it instantly reminds me of a memory, a mood, or a feeling. (sometimes I write little poetic –if you want to call them that—blurbs in the description of my pattern to help explain my inspiration). Next, I find or create a stitch pattern that enhances that mood. Sometimes placement is key, as well- In Nutmeg Ginger, the texture at the wrists is the warming of hands when you walk through the door, while the texture at the shoulders is the hug of a relative not often seen. The decision of garment versus accessory sometimes depends on my mood and sometimes depends on how much yardage I have acquired!



I think one of the most wonderful things of all is seeing other people knit my patterns. They have modified, chosen their own color, worn it their own way. They have knitted my story and it has become their own—or vice versa. We are storytellers in our own right and our stitches can be our words. We all, even when we feel so alone, are not. I hope that those of you who are reading along know this.

Thank you for taking the time to go on this walk with me! I can talk a lot, I can overshare, but I am so happy to have had this little moment to share with you what goes into a pattern from my end.

Thank you so much, also, to Summer & the absolutely amazing team at Knit Purl, for hosting me!

April 04, 2016 by Guest Blogger

Spring Cleaning

Spring is here! The sun is shining, the flowers are out and about, and I’m getting organized. I’ve already purged my closet of all my clothes I wanted to break up with, and now it’s on to my craft room. I’ve never been an extremely organized being, especially when it has come to my knitting and fabric stashes. It’s always in the back of my mind that once I finish up a knitting project that I will set time aside to get everything tidy. Unfortunately, that never happens and I immediately pick up my knitting needles once again, and put getting organized off to another day.

Well, I finally had enough with my procrastinating ways this weekend, and right after I finished knitting the Yoga Shawl, I set everything aside and started to organize my patterns. I collected all my printed patterns, slid them into clear inserts, and added them in a large three ring binder. I separated the patterns into three sections: work in progress, in the queue, and completed.  

I was so excited that I finally found a home for my patterns that I picked up my knitting needles once again and started to work on my Kalaloch leggings. Eight rows later, I had a little issue with my magic loop and couldn’t move forward without having to undo a few rows. I saw this as a sign that I should probably stop knitting and continue organizing until everything is in its place.

 

 

 

My next escapade was to step foot into my craft room. Once I opened the door, I realized that I really should hire a professional organizer to help me. After pushing that thought aside (it was a difficult thought to let go of) I jumped straight into my yarn stash to see what I’ve been hoarding for the past two years. The one thing I’ve learned from watching many Marie Kondo videos is, if you don’t love it and if it doesn’t make you happy, it’s time for you to part ways and say goodbye.

I have six very large containers filled with yarn. By large, I mean if I took out all the yarn from one container I could actually fit inside. Realizing that this will be no small feat, I decided to put this task off to this upcoming weekend. I have already lined up all my bins so that I will be able to easily go through each of them and say farewell to all my yarn that no longer makes my heart skip beats.

I know that this is just the next step in a my spring cleaning adventure, but I’m excited to being one step closer to a tidy craft room that I will love and not feel overwhelmed by when I walk inside.

If you have any organizing tips, please do share.

Happy spring!
April 01, 2016 by Laura Oriana Konstin

Spotlight on Elemental Affects

After 20 years in IT, Jeane deCoster left New York and moved back to Southern California, where she decided to go in a different direction — invest in starting her own yarn company. Not a stranger to the world of fashion, Jeane received her bachelor's degree in fashion and worked in the industry for five years. This experience, along with her love and knowledge of yarn and fiber, made her new venture a perfect match. In 2005, Elemental Affects came to life.

Elemental Affects is a U.S. yarn company that focuses on using domestic fibers and mills to produce beautiful, vibrant yarns. Jeane has put a lot of thought into the four lines she created for Elemental Affects: Shetland, Cormo, Romney, and Civility.

The Shetland fiber comes from sheep at Jeane’s friend Cathy’s ranch in Montana. The sheep live a luxurious life, with their own Peruvian shepherds and wonderful guard dogs. The Cormo fiber primarily comes from sheep raised in the West on multi-generational family ranches. One of these ranches is the Pheasant Ranch in Wyoming, which has been around for 100 years. The Romney fiber is from Tawanda Farms; just right outside of Oregon in Montague, California.

Last, but not least is Civility, the beautiful line of merino/silk yarn that we carry at Knit Purl. Civility all started off with a nice little challenge that Tina Whitmore of Freia Yarns brought to Jeane. The challenge was for Jeane to create a new yarn that was of similar quality to an import in her line, but made in the U.S. from U.S. wool. The challenge was accepted and Jeane set forth to find domestic Merino wool and Mulberry silk. After some searching, Jeane found what she was looking for and collaborated with Meadow Wools in Wyoming for production. While blending Merino and Mulberry silk was a first for Meadow Wools, they were also up for the challenge and jumped right in and figured out how to adjust the machinery to make what is now known as Civility.

Civility is a 70% Merino wool and 30% Mulberry silk blend that is soft, strong, and lustrous. Available in bright, vibrant colors in both fingering and worsted weights, the possibilities are endless with this yarn. I have my eyes on all the different shades of blue so watch out - I might snag them all.

Here are a few pattern ideas to go along with Civility:

Anwen
© Interweave

Anwen: New vintage done right. Anwen is a mix of three old stitch patterns: frost flower stitch, old shale stitch, and fern lace stitch. When these stitch patterns are combined, it makes an intricate, feminine shawl that is a for sure show-stopper.

 

Maeve© Kelbourne Woolens + Amanda Stevenson Lupke
Maeve: I love this bolero, and it will go with everything.

 

Paelas Tights
© Paela
Paelas Tights: I just found out that my friend is having a baby, which means I get to make these darling leggings.

 

Mangata
© Ana Mercedes

Mångata: This cute sweatshirt-style sweater would look great in Aubergine.

March 28, 2016 by Laura Oriana Konstin