GUEST BLOGGER: SHELLIE ANDERSON | SHIBUI KNITS REED

© Shibui Knits

 

Shibui Knits recently released a new 100% linen yarn, Reed. As a member of the team responsible for developing this new yarn, I’ve been asked to talk a little bit about it and let you know how it compares with our previous Linen.


For me the most noticeable difference is the softness of Reed. It has a much softer hand than our Linen. There are several factors that contribute to that difference, of which two are particularly significant: we are using a different mill that sources higher quality raw material, and we have also tightened the chainette, which contributes to the softness and adds extra strength. The higher quality of the linen fiber also contributes to more saturated colors, which more closely align with our other yarns. We are very happy to partner with this mill, both for their responsiveness and their impeccable quality control.

 

© Shibui Knits

 

In developing this yarn, we intentionally created Reed so that it would directly replace Linen. It has the same yardage and will produce the same gauge. You can substitute Reed for any of our patterns that call for Linen, including Etch, Square, and Aurora. Like Linen, Reed mixes very well with other Shibui Knits yarns, adding to a unique drape and depth of color to the fabric. I particularly like how it mixes with Shibui Knits Cima, Silk Cloud, and our newest yarn that will be available at the end of March with our SS17 Collection.


Although I personally liked Linen, I love Reed. I wasn’t a fan of knitting with Linen solo due to its crisp hand, but I could knit with Reed on its own for days. Shibui Knits has a couple pieces coming out in the SS17 Collection at the end of March using Reed held single and one with it held double and I enjoyed every minute of knitting those pieces.


If you loved Linen, you will instantly appreciate the changes we have made with Reed – and I think you will come to love it as I do.

 

Shellie Anderson

February 20, 2017 by Guest Blogger

MY DESIGN INSPIRATION: NICOLE BOTHUM AKA MISKUNN

© miskunn

I remember watching Lady and the Tramp when I was very young and seeing Darling knit those sweet pink baby booties in her rocking chair - It was at that moment that I knew I wanted to learn how to knit. Unfortunately, I didn’t learn for many, many years later, but I always remembered how lovely I thought that scene was and how one day I wanted to know how to do it myself.

Now I don’t often make baby booties, but the joy of knitting is just as real as I had hoped it would be all those years ago. Creating something with your own two hands is such a satisfying thing. How much more so when what you’re working with is just string? It’s so crazy when you really think about it!

 

© miskunn

When I first started knitting I wasn’t concerned about the quality of my work. I just wanted to make something for the sake of making it. The last six months or so though, I have grown to care and take pride in the designs I create. I don’t mind putting in the extra work to create something I am truly pleased with. I find the whole process of creating new designs so rewarding now. Experimenting with different stitches and textures until I find something I am really happy with has become one of my favorite parts of the process.

 

© miskunn

I think the biggest joy and relief has come from learning what I personally enjoy creating. For so long I created pieces I felt like I was supposed to make based on what was popular among others in the community. It left me discouraged and unhappy with my work, many times it made me want to stop knitting all together, thinking it must be knitting that I actually didn’t enjoy. When I learned that I don’t have to use the yarn everyone else is using, or the same three stitches, or make the same types of hats, etc. I felt so free. It was like a huge weight had been lifted off of me. Realizing that I was the only one holding myself back made all the difference for my work.

 

© miskunn

Now I want to be ever improving in my skills, challenging myself with each new project, and ultimately, creating designs that showcase all the things I have learned along the way. What an amazing thing that you never really stop learning! I find that to be one of the most beautiful things about knitting - That you never really will come to the end of knowledge. There will always be more to learn, new stitches to discover, new designs to create. What a beautiful reality that is.

Website: www.miskunn.com

Instagram: www.instagram.com/miskunn/

 

December 12, 2016 by Guest Blogger

MY DESIGN INSPIRATION: OLGA BURAYA-KEFLIAN

© Olgajazzy

 

When did you learn to knit?

When I was 4 years old my seamstress mother was getting frustrated with me trying to get into all of her sewing notions and making a mess of things, and in order to keep me occupied she taught me how to knit. I distinctly remember using rusty orange color wool yarn and a pair of needles and it was garter stitch. I must say from what I remember it kept me busy for couple of days, but as any child my attention got switched to a next thing. Later in my late teen years she taught me how to calculate gauge and shared general idea about constructions. I was making myself some grunge looking cables and dropped stitch sweaters that were frowned upon by my mother, but they looked cool to me and I wore something no one else had.

 

© Olgajazzy

 

When did you decide that you wanted to design? 

Designing didn't really come to me as a matter of choice, I had to design if I wanted to make something. I grew up without access to much variety of yarns, needle sizes or patterns even! We had a tiny book of stitch patterns which I still have and my home ec book had some information about knitting in it. There was one magazine from Germany that was available in our town's library and it had a very long waiting list, so when the time was running out on using it or making something out of it one would have to hand write the remaining instructions before turning it in. So designing really was more freeing in that sense.

 

© Olgajazzy

 

How would you describe your design aesthetic?

When I started designing first and then later it was because I was trying to dress myself, to make something that no one else would have and in a way to be part of self-expression of my style and taste. To describe it, I prefer simpler easy silhouettes with intelligent construction and designs featuring unique stitch patterns that also turn the experience of making something from my pattern into a teaching moment for someone who wishes to learn more new techniques but also entertaining for those you like to think and enjoy the mathematics of the design. As well as have an accessory that makes a statement and uplifts otherwise a very minimalistic wardrobe. I imagine knitters who knit and wear my designs living from urban streets of a metropolis to a serene living of the countryside. I always strive for balance in my body of work while still realizing the ideas that make me excited the most.

 

© Olgajazzy

 

What things spark ideas and inspire your designs?

But being naturally a very observant person anything around me is inspiration Tiles, industrial design, architecture, geometry of the nature, textures on the most mundane everyday object that we might not normally notice. I like to think that inspiration source is not only a source, but it's that tiny trigger that sparks one imagination so far and wide that the eventual thought process wouldn't have anything reminiscent of the source. I feel that staying open to the ideas of the world and trying to see everything as shrewd as possible what makes that inspiration well ever flowing. 

After having lived in Japan for 4 years it, people watching is absolutely fascinating to me. Different cultures and various cities carry so much within an individual style. Even though early on I have had great fascination with fashion, these days I find it harder to relate as how commercialized it has become. It's harder to identify as it is more trends driven than style. So I like to look at fashions for some details and ideas for construction. Being a maker, a knitter, I believe in the longevity of a certain clothing item and its value because you have created it yourself. When you create you share a part of your soul while making it, that mood you have been in the certain moment in time but if it also helps to express your taste and style.

 

© Olgajazzy

 

What is your favorite part of the design process?

I don't think I can isolate just one part, but at least 2. I absolutely love the adrenaline rush that possibilities of a new design and right yarn choice present during the "blueprint" stage. I do my best to visualize the finished product while working out the correct specifications, fit and details. The agony and anticipation of casting on to knit it are quite high because this stage can't be rushed or you end up with needing to rip and rework. Finishing would be my other favorite part of the design process. Because when all knitting is finished, your knitting product "blob" is still in a stage of ugly duckling until you have given it proper care with washing and blocking, and of course seaming. This process of transforming the knit fabric into what it's intended to become is by far the most revealing. As once it dries and steamed again you get to see the result of what was in your head and you hope that others who make it would love it as much as you do.

Website: http://olgajazzy.com/

Ravelry Page: http://www.ravelry.com/designers/olga-buraya-kefelian

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/olgajazzyknits/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/olgajazzyknits/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/olgajazzyknits/

 

November 28, 2016 by Guest Blogger

My Design Inspiration: Jana Huck

For me, knitting is a way of life. A way to be creative, productive and mindful. I enjoy playing with fibres, colours, and ideas and to come up with new designs. Knitting is a world of endless possibilities, it is impossible to run out of ideas. And when knitting is always on the back of your mind, everything can be the source of inspiration. You might see interesting architecture, or a curiously shaped vegetable and feel like it wants to be transformed into a knitting pattern. Also, yarns themselves are always poking at my imagination. It can feel like they ask me to be knit into a specific design. And then my many stitch pattern encyclopedias are a resource I rely upon when pondering new projects.

Also, I enjoy the process of knitting itself very much. It's fun to choose colours and to see them interact with one another as the piece gets knit up. Creating shapes and textures with my needles while feeling the yarn running through my fingers is extremely satisfying. Knitting will calm me down when I am upset and enhance an already good mood.

I like to create timeless pieces that knitters will hopefully enjoy to knit as much as I do.

Jana Huck

Streetscape (http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/streetscape), for example, is a triangular shawl that has a story that I especially like and that makes it into a true statement piece. The shawl features garter stripes reminiscent of the German Autobahn and a quirky zig-zag element. Its twists and turns are a reminder that your life's journey, wherever it leads you, will have some obstacles – and you'll make it through.

Jana Huck

Another recent design is Verum (http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/verum), which I made in collaboration with Frida Fuchs for the Wollfest in Hamburg, Germany, this year. I am very fond of the stripes and colours of this piece. It is a pleasant garter stitch knit that will never get boring! Colour changes, stripes, and the occasional eyelet-row will keep you happy and entertained. Plus, it's a unisex design, so you can also make it for your significant other!

Jana Huck

Kouki-Hearts (http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/kouki-hearts) was born from my fondness of the sumptuous ITO fibres. I love to play with the different fibre qualities they provide. The Kouki-Hearts shawl is worked in Kouki, a cellulose-silk blend of the finest quality. My goal was to use the sheen of the yarn for effect. Knit and purl stitches reflect light differently, so I decided to work knits and purls into a heart pattern. The hearts sparkle and shine when light hits them at an angle. The result is a stunning piece that is easy to work and uses the yarn's qualities to great effect. By the way, you can get the shawl as a kit here at Knit Purl (https://www.knit-purl.com/collections/kits/products/kouki-hearts-wrap-kit).

Jana Huck

I also sometimes dabble in garment design. My latest piece is Lenja (http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/lenja), a sweater featuring stripes and a wide adjustable neckline. Again I used the fabulous ITO fibres, combining Sensai and Urugami, definitely my favourite combination for their many bases. It adds Urugami's sturdiness to the softness and halo of Sensai. Perfection.

I am immensely grateful to the great community of knitters worldwide that I can be a part of through the miracles of the world wide web, namely Ravelry and inspiring websites like Knit Purl.

Website: http://www.janukke.com/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/janukke/

Ravelry: http://www.ravelry.com/designers/jana-huck

November 14, 2016 by Guest Blogger

My Design Inspiration: Jessica Carey, AKA The Hook Nook

© The Hook Nook/Jessica Carey

Crafting has always been an interest of mine. I remember being very young, about 7 years old, and going over to my nana’s house often. We’d paint ceramic houses ALL the time. Sometimes we’d do those fun sand art creations, bake yummy cinnamon twist treats, or even just color in coloring books. I’ve always loved creating for as long as I can remember.

©The Hook Nook/Jessica Carey

When my oldest was about 8 months old, I decided I needed to find a hobby, something that I could do just for myself. Being a mom and wife was so amazing, but I seemed to have started to lose bits of “Jessica”. With my daughter being so young, I wanted to be able to create her fun beanies and blankets that she could keep as she grew up. I went to JoAnn’s Craft Store and purchased some crochet hooks and yarn, went home and took to YouTube to try and figure out how to crochet.


The first beanie that I made was awful. So terrible. BUT, the pride and confidence I felt in creating SOMETHING was such a thrill and excitement and I knew that I wanted to keep going, to keep learning. I tried every free pattern I could find to just get more practice. My edges were uneven, my tension varied throughout each piece, and my seams were so jagged. I think it took me a good six months to really understand those basic stitches and how to read patterns. But I LOVED creating each new item. To know that *I* made something was so unbelievably motivating for me.

©The Hook Nook/Jessica Carey

 

In my early stages of crocheting, I loved making baby items. I would create beanies, burp rags, blankets, newborn photography props, everything. As orders came in, it encouraged me to do better and better and offer items with higher quality. But after my order list never ceased to grow and feeling absolutely burnt out, I decided to halt custom orders and really focus on items I wanted to make, instead of items others wanted me to make. I found that I enjoyed many patterns from other designers, but I would always change a few aspects of each pattern to make it more my style. So, I began creating my own cowl designs, scarves, beanies.. I loved making items specifically for women. Items that *I* would want to wear.

 

©The Hook Nook/Jessica Carey

I wrote patterns for awhile but never really had an “it” pattern. I would still create many Puff Stitch Beanies for orders once in awhile and those always did really well with customers and online reviews. I had many other crocheters ask me to write up the pattern. The day I finally released it was the day I knew that being a crochet designer was something I definitely had a passion for. It sold like hot cakes and I absolutely bawled at the response. I mean, what an amazing feeling to have one of your designs so well received and that others were willing to pay to learn how to make it! Absolutely incredible. I kept pushing forward with more designs and learned so much as I continued to find ways to streamline my writing, detail out certain aspects of more difficult sections, etc. I LOVED it.


Writing has always been a passion of mine as well. Through middle and high school, I loved words, grammar, spelling, creative writing, etc. I had the opportunity to complete college level courses through high school with the intent to become a professional journalist. Clearly that never panned out, but I’m truly glad that it didn’t. Crochet designing and pattern writing fills my soul. As I mentioned before, creating things makes me feel so proud of myself. I had a relatively difficult childhood and teen years and finding ways to feel proud of myself were far and few between. But gosh, the pride I feel about what I’ve accomplished so far has been such a light for me. I’m at a stage in life where I get to share that passion, drive and confidence with my children and help them learn what motivates them in those same ways. How amazing is that?!


Having the opportunity for my children watch my husband (who is a phenomenal tattoo artist who now owns his own tattoo shop) and I do what we love and go against the grain in terms of career choices, allows them to see that they really are fully capable of creating the kind of future that they want. Whether they want to be a creative, a doctor, or anything in between, they CAN do it. All they need is drive and motivation and self confidence. This is something I am so grateful for as a parent.


I love to find inspiration for new designs everywhere I go. I was on an airplane once and saw a woman with a beautiful (commercially made) bag and quickly sketched out my version of a similar stitch work but for a cowl instead. For my Brixton Sweater design, that was solely inspired by the fact that I LOVE oversized sweaters, kangaroo pockets and longer fitting sleeves.



The ability of walking into a yarn store and touching, feeling, petting the different fibers elates me like no other. Baby alpaca, superwash merino, pima cotton, bamboo.. Man. Each hank I get to hold provides so many ideas for so many new designs. I don’t know about you, but fresh yarn in its packaging holds so much opportunity for something amazing. Yarn itself can really offer immense creativity. Just holding it, it can “speak” to what it wants to be. A sweater? A scarf? A shawl?



I know in my heart that being a crochet designer is what I was meant to do. It makes me so happy and it never feels like “work”. I’ll always be on the lookout for inspiration everywhere I go, with everyone I meet, and with every hank I get to play with. Cheers to fiber life!


What a dream come true to be featured here with Knit Purl. Thank you so much for reading my story!

©The Hook Nook/Jessica Carey


Jessica Carey
The Hook Nook

Instagram: @the.hook.nook
Facebook: /thehooknook
Etsy: thehooknook12.etsy.com
Email: thehooknook@ymail.com

October 31, 2016 by Guest Blogger

My Design Inspiration: Marie Greene

© Marie Greene

It's hard to remember my life before knitting. My grandmother taught me when I was about ten, providing me with scribbled notes of stitch counts for Barbie outfits and baby booties, a few pattern books from the 1940's and double point needles in the smallest sizes. I remember that when she first showed me English style knitting, I said to her, "I don't see why I can't hold the yarn in my left hand — it's a lot faster." I became a continental-esque knitter out of sheer stubbornness and youthful ignorance, and went on designing my own Barbie clothes and small things throughout my teen years. The great thing about learning the way I did was that I didn't know there was anything I should be wary of, so I went ahead knitting things that were a bit ahead of myself, but I didn't know the difference. I think the best gift we can give another knitter is permission to be fearless.

My foray into design came much later, and was — in part — a result of peer pressure. I was working in a yarn shop and wearing pieces I had designed for myself, when customers and friends started asking for the patterns. It's one thing to be able to write something for yourself, and quite another to write it for someone else. There was a learning curve, to be sure, and I refined my style and pattern writing as I observed the way my designs fit on real people in all shapes and sizes (having a large pool of test knitters really helped). It wasn't long before I was able to leave my day job and design full time — something I feel incredibly lucky to do.

© Marie Greene

Many of my design ideas come from structures made of wood, stone and steel — it's all about line and texture for me. You can see the way I used small textural details in minimal designs like Eavesdrop and Beckett. I usually start with a source of inspiration (a steel truss, for example) and translate it into a textural component within my design. Being able to knit on the go is also an important part of what I do, so keeping a design portable is always in the back of my mind.

© Marie Greene

I have a tendency to steer clear of color (my favorite is grey, if that tells you anything), except when bringing in a bright pop of something like this bright apple green in Bentley or the mustard yellow in Ellery — colors so punchy and bold that they work almost like neutrals, matching everything in my grey-black-white-navy closet. I don't get very brave with color, but when I do, I go big or go home, apparently.

I am an advocate of slow fashion, connecting to the land, and understanding my role in the fiber ecosystem. I think there is so much more to what we do as knitters than simply forming stitches and creating fabric. I love being part of an industry that supports the handmade process and empowers creative people to play a meaningful role in their own fashion.

© Marie Greene

 

Knit Purl was my first favorite yarn shop when I moved to Oregon, and – in fact — was where I bought the yarn that later became the French Oak Scarf. I love being part of the fiber community in the Pacific Northwest (so many wonderfully creative, generous and kind-hearted people!). Thank you for inviting me to share my design story and be part of the Knit Purl family!


Marie Greene

Website: http://www.oliveknits.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/oliveknits/

Ravelry: http://www.ravelry.com/designers/marie-greene
October 17, 2016 by Guest Blogger

My Design Inspiration: Caitlin Hunter

© boylandknitworks

I believe that have always been a designer, but my career in knit design is something that happened a bit by accident. For as long as I can remember I have loved the challenge of making something new and functional out of raw material, and as a very small child I used to sit alongside my mom as she was sewing, using her discarded scraps to make clothing for my dolls. I started sewing my own clothing around the age of 8, and as a teenager I would often have my friends over before a school dance to sew us all dresses to wear that same night. I also learned to knit when I was in high school, teaching myself from a dusty old book of my mom’s I’d found buried in our basement. I absolutely loved knitting, but in those pre-Ravelry days and without a community of other knitters to learn from and be inspired by, my passion for the craft fizzled out after a year or so.

A little later on, for lack of any better ideas, I decided to make a career out of my love of design. I earned my degree in apparel design, which was followed by a couple of years working as a designer for a menswear company. While I enjoyed my education and career, it never really felt like a great fit for me because I was passionate about sustainability and slow-living- philosophies that aren’t really compatible with the traditional garment industry. I temporarily gave up my career to start a family, with the thought that I would probably pursue a different path when the time came.

Fast forward a few years to this past winter, and I was looking toward the coming year when my youngest would enter kindergarten, thinking about the possibility of working again. Around this time, I was gifted my first ever skein of luxury yarn by my mother, a beautiful grey fingering weight wool, and I was inspired to find a pattern that would do it justice. I was aware of Ravelry but hadn’t had much opportunity to use it since before my twins were born back in 2009. I was completely blown away by the number of patterns available there, and the community that had grown since I had last visited the site. I went on a bit of a rampage, ogling patterns and project pages, filling up my queue with everything from cardigans to fair isle pants (oh, yeah!). I also visited my very first LYS, and that was all it took to make my transformation into a fully obsessive knitter complete.

© boylandknitworks

After knitting my first couple of projects, I started feeling the creative itch. I wasn’t finding patterns that were exactly what I wanted, so I decided to design my own. My Rock Creek sweater is the first knitting pattern I designed, and it was born from my desire for a perfect modern and simple pullover with a few special details that I just couldn’t find in any of my searches.

After that first pattern the designs just started flowing and things really took off from there. At some point I realized that even though the medium and platform were different, the skills I had learned in my previous career actually translated perfectly and I could turn my love of knitting into a career. Hand knitting is the antidote to all of the things that had given me pause in the traditional world of apparel design. I love that wool is a sustainable fiber, that it is warm and comfortable and beautiful. When I touch a skein of artisan yarn it is easy to imagine the sheep grazing on a lovely pasture somewhere, the farmers who raised them and the dyers who lovingly and thoughtfully transform it into a work of art.


© boylandknitworks

I imagine the rich history of women spinning their own yarn and knitting for their families out of love and necessity. I love that knitting is such a slow process, and when you look at a hand-knitted item you can feel the love and care that went into every stitch. I love creating a well-written pattern that knitters put their own touch on when they select their colors and make personal modifications that I might never have thought of. The fact that knitters are willing to invest their time (the most precious resource we have, in my opinion) into knitting something I designed is the highest compliment I can imagine, and I am humbled every time I think about it.

Thank you, Knit Purl for inviting me to share my design story and love of knitting with your readers!

Cheers!

Caitlin

Website: http://boylandknitworks.com/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/boylandknitworks/

Ravelry: http://www.ravelry.com/designers/caitlin-hunter

October 03, 2016 by Guest Blogger

My Design Inspiration: Illimani Yarn

ILLIMANI began its journey in the textile world back in 2004, with a collection of clothing knitted with alpaca and llama yarns, mostly by artisans in Bolivia and Peru.  We have worked for many years with knitters, crocheters and weavers from the Andes region, where some continue to use ancient traditional techniques.

It all began when I received a parcel with samples of an alpaca yarn spun in Bolivia that claimed to have similar softness as fine cashmere. I was very impressed with the quality and softness when comparing it to the more widely available pure Baby Alpaca from Peru that we were using as main material for our clothing.  It was then that I decided to switch the focus of the company, and to offer unique yarns for hand knitters that can truly understand and value an exceptional yarn when they see one. In a few months we were importing our first and most beloved yarn, “ROYAL I”. No wonder why Knit Purl has chosen this yarn to introduce it to knitters in Portland.

The secret behind this beautiful yarn is not only that we use the best selection of alpaca. It is also the de-hairing process that is also used in the Baby Llama which is simply taking away all the coarse hairs and leaving just the very fine ones using a new technology. The llama yarn that goes through this de-hairing process is now as fine as the finest baby alpaca. This is certainly changing the llama yarn industry in Bolivia making the baby llama (de-haired) one of the finest fibers in the world.

Take a close look at the label of ROYAL I. It is the same alpaca that we use along with our ILLIMANI logo: 

 

 

Royal I is the knitters dream come true.
The very best selection of alpaca, with 18.5 – 19.5 microns (1% of the alpaca wool production), you have a yarn as soft as cashmere plus all the treats of alpaca to make your knits not just incredible soft and luxurious but more durable and resistant.

Our heathered greys are the best sellers, and probably our signature colors.  These are melanges with natural undyed color and black. Blues and other jewel colors are also quite popular.

I was told by knitters all over the world that Royal I is an addiction. Once you knit with it, it is hard to go back to the other regular yarns. The good news is the price. The cost is significantly lower than any other comparable yarn.

There is no better place to launch this yarn in Portland than in Knit Purl.

- Alvaro Echazú

September 19, 2016 by Guest Blogger

My Design Inspiration: Andrea Mowry

© Andrea Mowry

Ah, the design process. I think some designers thrive on organization, plans, and spreadsheets. I have to admit - that I am not one of them. Typically, an idea pops into my head, and I have to drop everything to either grab yarn from my stash (ideally), or find the perfect yarn at my LYS or online - ASAP. For me, once that idea flame is lit, I have to add fuel to the fire. I can think of nothing else, and it's almost like my body is just the design's translator - getting it to the world with my needles and pen. Okay, that probably sounds a little nutty, but I find this is how my best pieces have come to be.

When I set out to do a collaboration, such as my Wanderlust Collection with Knit Purl and North Light Fibers, I find I have to flex an entirely different set of muscles. In the beginning, I can feel myself fighting it. I try too hard to come up with ideas and end up staring at a blank page.

Thankfully, after a few deep breaths, I begin sketching. Slowly, but surely, that other side of my creativity that I don't use as often (let's call it "purposeful creativity") begins to stir and spark, and designs that otherwise may not have been born, get to see the light of day. I really love balancing my work by doing a little of each!

As the discussion for the Wanderlust Collection began, I just happened to be traveling to Portland and Seattle. My time in the Pacific Northwest left me feeling inspired (and itching to move!) I loved being surrounded by the giant trees and mountains. My sketches mirrored these feelings and I began to see textures repeating, namely, peaks, triangles, and chevrons. Which happen to be some of my trusty favorites.

© Andrea Mowry

I knew I wanted to offer a range of difficulty levels and focuses on different techniques. The Take Flight mitts are the easiest, and appropriate even for a new knitter. What I love most about them is their simplicity. I find that simple knits with a focus on modern texture, fit best into a real-world wardrobe. The Drift hat came to life on graph paper. I had mountains on my mind and their changing landscapes from base to peak. I wanted the peaks to grow right out from the brim, and finishing it off with a final point at the tip of 4 strong lines. The Ramble shawl is for the more adventurous knitter. Utilizing a beautiful brioche herringbone pattern created by the brioche queen, Nancy Marchant, and asymmetrical construction, this shawl is addicting to knit and fabulous to wear! As I worked on these patterns, I could easily imagine wearing them on my next trip to the West Coast, or on any of my future travels! Knit out of Water Street, they are luxuriously soft and warm, without being too heavy. As with all of my patterns, they fit easily into a modern wardrobe, and hopefully you will learn a new technique or two while knitting them up!!

© Andrea Mowry

Thank you, Knit Purl, for sparking my creativity and for letting me share a little bit of my design process!

Cheers!

Andrea

Instagram: dreareneeknits
Ravelry: dreareneeknits
Pinterest: dreareneeknits
Twitter: dreareneeknits
September 05, 2016 by Guest Blogger

My Design Inspiration: Jeane deCoster

Our guest blogger this week is Jeane deCoster, owner of Elemental Affects, a yarn company out of Desert Hot Springs, California. Elemental Affects has four yarn lines: Shetland, Romney, Cormo, and Civility (our favorite). Jeane's mission is to "sell yarns that touch the feelings of knitters and evoke an emotional response."

My first love is finding the breeders who are working hard to raise their animals with care for the quality of the wool, the health of their animals, and the environment. Although it can be crazy-making, I also enjoy finding and using our dwindling U.S. manufacturing resources to scour and spin the yarn. Then, there's how cool the whole mad scientist/alchemy thing is when I design and dye the colors.

I started Elemental Affects with my Natural Shetland yarn.  A yarn that shouldn't have been possible – the sheep are too small, there aren't enough of them and the larger U.S. mills that charge commercially viable spinning prices don't like processing the wool.  The same could also be said for the second yarn, Fancy Tiger Heirloom Romney which is too long for most of our mills to happily spin.

These original yarns are a reflection of both my journey of learning and the community that continues to help me make the impossible – possible! Both are naturally-colored, rustic, heritage style yarns spun at a multi-generational commercial mill in Massachusetts.  Who'd have thought that a mill that makes baseball guts by the thousands could make such yummy, knit-table yarns?

But the journey continues! These yarns are not soft and knitters love soft – soft and luxurious!


What to do? Well, a wonderful opportunity came along to add Cormo fleece to my line of yarn – a very soft, Merino-style fleece with a little bit of extra luster and length that makes a wonderful “against your skin soft” yarn. It is a great addition to my breed-specific line of yarns.

But luxury called and knitters want soft and luxurious.  So, when a friend (Tina Whitmore of Freia Yarns) came to me with a challenge to replace one of her European import yarns with a domestic version of the yarn – using U.S. Mills, U.S. Merino wool and silk  – I thought, here's my chance! On my part, I wanted to meet her challenge and make absolutely sure the yarn was not only soft but strong, very resistant to pilling and affordable – hence the choices of using 3-plies in each weight and a bit more twist than usual and big, full-size 4oz skeins with lots of yardage.  

I love a challenge. In many ways, this is the most American yarn I've ever made – even including the use of the silk which comes from China! After all, Americans all have a bit of “somewhere else” in them. Finding a ready supply of fine U.S. Merino, a reliable source of silk and a U.S. mill with the expertise to mix and spin the yarn consistently was truly a challenge but ultimately rewarding.


And so, my yarn Civility was born! (Civility, because all the parts of the yarn “plays well together.”)

Next time . . . the magic of colors and the difference between dyeing over the naturally-colored Shetland and Romney yarn versus the all-white Cormo and Civility.

August 22, 2016 by Guest Blogger