Sexy B

About two years ago we had a kit in the store that included the Jet Stream pattern by Heidi Kirrmaier and two skeins of Sexy B by Alpha B. I went ahead and bought the kit for my mom as a gift since I knew it would be something that she would enjoy. What I didn’t realize at the time was how much I was going to fall for the Sexy B yarn the kit came with. The color of yarn the kit came with was an eye-catching deep fuchsia. If the color wasn’t enough to grab my attention, the moment I started to see the Jet Stream take form, I was hooked. The drape the wrap started to take was the perfect mix of light and delicate. Then one day I reached out and felt the fabric, and immediately knew there was no going back.


My mom could tell how much I loved the yarn, so she set aside a nice amount of leftovers that she gifted me. I was beyond elated. I have yet to use the leftovers and actually don’t have any plans on using it. I can’t seem to part with it, so it will end up being yarn that I will cherish and hold onto as a keepsake. This has not stopped me from purchasing new skeins of this amazing luxury yarn. I’m a sucker for alpaca, cashmere, and silk, and Sexy B is a combination of the three of these opulent fibers. Soft to the touch and dyed in vibrant colorways, Sexy B is definitely a yarn that all knitters should treat themselves to.

Here are a few pattern ideas for Sexy B:

© Marcin Duda

Masgot: A shawl with mesmerizing stripes and endless options for color choices. I’ve been eyeing this shawl for a while now, and I think I finally came up with my color scheme: Soot and Stainless Steel for the stripes, and Two Olives Please for the pop of color. Though, I might change my mind since all the completed projects on Ravelry are giving me great ideas.

© Veera Välimäki

Secret of Change: A simple garter stitch shawl with eyelet stripes. This shawl will drape effortlessly in any Sexy B colorway.

© cheryllfaust

Mirkfallon: A rectangular wrap with a modern touch that involves asymmetrical sections of a triangle lace pattern and texture.

June 20, 2016 by Laura Oriana Konstin

Canon Hand-Dyes: Charles Sock

© Knit Purl

All Amy Lee Serradell needs are her hands, two stock pots, and a double burner hot plate to turn out some of the prettiest hand-dyed yarn. Amy is the beautiful mind and artist behind Canon Hand Dyes. Now based in Portland, Canon Hand Dyes started in 2011, in the kitchen of Amy’s San Francisco home.


Canon Hand Dyes specializes in self-striping yarn and collections with a literary twist. I used to stare at Amy’s self-striping yarn in awe trying to figure out how she dyes it. After many YouTube videos I finally got an inkling of how self-striping yarn is created and it’s a labor of love. The colorways that Amy conjures are vivacious and full of life, just like the names she pairs her colorways with. The inspiration for the names and Amy’s work comes from a lifelong love of literature―for William Shakespeare, Virginia Woolf, and Jane Austen. A fan favorite, is the oh so special Charles Sock collection, with colors inspired by the vibrant characters of the popular show, Downton Abbey.


Charles Sock is a soft and springy fingering weight yarn in brilliant gradients and variegations of color. This yarn, along with the spirited colors, will get your creativity flowing and might possibly transport you right into Downton Abbey with all the brilliant characters.

Pattern ideas:

© NCL Knits

Lightwaves: A shawl with color block sections that mimic small waves. You can use as many colors as you like, but it could also look pretty using William Collins and Dowager Countess as the waves and Mr. Carson as the main color.


Eternal Spring Socks: A free pattern, these socks incorporate a delicate lacy/textured pattern inspired by spring flora.

 

© HeatherLJ

Good Vibes: This is a crescent-shaped shawl in simple garter stitch that transitions into a delicate lace pattern.

June 17, 2016 by Laura Oriana Konstin

My Design Inspiration: Sarah Kurth

Sarah's studio

My first exposure to knitting was through my grandmother's huge stitch dictionary, which my crocheting mother gave me. I was around the age of 7 or 8, and loved making things with my hands. I would play “knitting” with scraps of fabric and stretched-out cotton balls. The fancy designs in the knitting binder intrigued me but without instruction or proper materials, I lost interest until I was in college.

I have a degree in architecture from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. Cal Poly's motto is “learn by doing” and getting my hands right into the middle of things is an excellent way for me to learn. I chose architecture school because it took math and logic and mixed it up with art and creativity. The foundational knowledge included color theory and principles of design, then moved on to 3-dimensional expression of sometimes vague concepts. I learned how to bring order to wild art that needs to be experienced to be known.

This is how knitting is in my hands as well: art that must be experienced to be known. Although I can appreciate knitted (and crocheted and sewn and woven) items by looking at them, the true joy for me lies in the handling. There's a big difference between seeing a texture and feeling a texture, and it's the combination of seeing, feeling, and doing that is so very pleasing.

 



I am usually so focused on my yarn production process that I forget to allow time for inspiration to come to me. By inspiration, I mean the ideas that seem to come on suddenly, the moments where pieces finally fall into place. If I patiently wait for ideas to come, nothing ever happens. It's like expecting a fire to ignite without fuel. So I have to wander a bit, let my brain fill up with flakes of color, texture, and light, then let it settle for awhile before I can do anything with it. I must go out into the world to gather kindling: to museums, to yarn shops and fiber events, to interesting buildings and landscapes, and soak in all the textures. And then I get my hands busy doing.

 



Often when I'm dyeing, I'll mess up a color recipe or have the opportunity to experiment on purpose. When I start out with a specific color in mind, it's very difficult to hit it. However, when I let intuition take over—as when I'm trying to salvage a screwed-up dye lot—I find layers of color do unexpected things. I start to get excited as I take the wet yarn out of the dyepot, seeing how the colors have absorbed unevenly into the yarn in a perfectly imperfect way, and I know that when it dries, it's exactly what the yarn needed to become. As I stare at the yarn, images and words flood my brain; images gleaned from the world around me, and mostly in nature. It's where I feel most grounded and at peace, so that's how I choose colorway names.

 



I'm so thankful to have found a craft in which I can bury my hands and let my creative intuition lead me. I find that I need this process of inspired doing to balance out all the boring, purposeful doing in my life. Thank you, Knit Purl, for your continued encouragement to keep playing with color!

 

To see more of Sarah's work, visit her website and her Instagram page.

May 16, 2016 by Guest Blogger

Baltic Linen Lace

I hope everyone is enjoying the Portland summer vibes we are having. I know I am! These past couple weeks have been divine and I’ve been soaking it all in by working in my yard, taking siestas in the sun, and knitting on my deck.


I’m still knitting all my WIPs and I think I might even finish one of them by the end of the week. *Insert happy dance.* The sooner I finish knitting all of my WIPs, the sooner I get to start working on summer projects. I do have a lot of WIPs, so there is a chance I’m going to miss out on all the summer fun. For those of you that are getting ready for summer knitting or have already started, be sure to check out Baltic Linen Lace yarn.

One of our sample knitters completed the Banana Leaf Shawl in Baltic Linen Turquoise and it turned out so pretty and light. The stitch definition is faintly uneven, which adds a slight variation to the finished garment that is aesthetically pleasing. If you are in Portland you can stop by the store and take a peek so you can see and feel how lovely Baltic Linen knits up.


Here are a few patterns to get you started on your summer Baltic Linen projects:
Riverton Tee: A simple top with delicate lace edging and pleating. The great part about this pattern is you have three sleeve options to choose from: cap sleeve, flirty flutter sleeve, or sleeveless.

 

 

Sakasama Jacket: A lightweight cardigan that can be worn upside down and inside out. The pattern calls for holding the yarn double, but this might work out nicely with only using a single strand.

 

 

Holey Square Shawl: Free pattern. This pattern makes me think of a moth chewing through one of my scarves in a strategic manner to leave me with a chic little upgrade. If only moths really did that...

P.S. If you are new to knitting with linen, it will have a rougher texture against your fingers than knitting with cashmere or merino. Don’t let this deter you! I started to knit with linen last year and I always love the end result. If you know of any ways to soften linen before working with it please do share. We always like to learn new tips and tricks!

 

May 13, 2016 by Laura Oriana Konstin

My Design Inspiration: Andrea Hungerford

Andrea's Snoqualmie Cardigan

I came to knitting relatively late in life—my early to mid-30s—but I have been obsessed ever since. I love so many forms of making—I throw pottery, sew quilts and clothes, embroider, make candles, work with fused glass, mosaic—just to name a few. And I also love anything else that involves working with my hands and making something beautiful—gardening, flower arranging, canning, jams and jellies, baking. But knitting is my passion and my obsession. Since I started, I cannot remember a single day when I have not knit at least a few rows (and usually a lot more!)

Andrea's colorful hand-thrown pottery

For inspiration, my first true love is color. I love color everywhere I see it—in the garden, in fabric, in nature. It makes my hands itch to touch, and my mind itch to brainstorm how to combine, compare, and contrast. So many beautiful colors, so little time! Some days I’m in love with cool blues—other days, it’s warm, passionate deep pinks and fuschias. Still other days, I can’t get enough of calm neutrals, or the perfect black, or a white that’s not completely white, but almost white—just the perfect shade of white. Over time, I’ve learned that my particular color passion is tonal colors. More than a skein that’s clearly committed to one color and one shade, without variation—more than crazy-quilts of color combinations all in one skein—I love the tonal colors. The subtlety of playing with shades of the same color, not too different so that it grates on your eyes, but different enough that it captures your attention. These are the colors that I just can’t pass up. Stunning examples of tonal color—oftentimes achieved with natural dyes—include Camellia Fiber Company, Lakes Yarn & Fiber, Sweet Fiber Yarns, and YOTH.

 Beautiful colors in flowers grown in Andrea's garden

More recently, my knitting inspiration has come from a desire to honor other makers –
specifically, those brave and hardy souls who are helping locally grown and spun yarns make a comeback in this country. I was first introduced to this concept by Brooklyn Tweed and Quince & Co, and then delved deeply into it when I discovered Tolt Yarn & Wool shop’s “farm to needle” philosophy. I love to support American and Canadian-yarns that are locally grown, spun, and dyed. I love minimally processed yarns that feel “sheepy” to me and leave a bit of lanolin on my hands. At first, I thought they would be too itchy, but I learned the magic of soaking my finished projects and how the fiber bloomed as it dried. Soft yarn is nice, but I love yarn with crunch, with personality, with the wherewithal to hold a stitch and show off some texture. I’ve found wonderful examples of locally grown and milled yarns from Local Color Fiber Studio, Hinterland Farms, Clara Yarns, Cestari, and Thirteen Mile Lamb & Wool Co.

To me, the textures of the yarn, the colors of the dye, and the path it took to arrive in my hands all inspire me. I have found over the years that knitting is a form of mediation for me, because it focuses on the process – the journey – not the end result. In this way, it is very much like the practice of yoga. This has been especially important for me because I am NOT about the process! I am very focused on the final project: it is my primary reason for knitting. To date, I have almost 500 projects up on Ravelry, including around 120 sweaters! But I find that knitting forces me out of my comfort zone of focus on the end result, and gently nudges me to find joy in the simplicity and peace of the process. The wonder of knitting is that it is functional art – both process and product. This is probably why I love knitting sweaters so much – their construction and their texture (especially cables!) is such a work of art, yet when it’s all said and done, you have that most functional of pieces – a piece of clothing to wear.

Thank you to Knit Purl for asking me to share a little bit of my knitting story. I feel blessed to have discovered knitting and to live in a time when the patterns and yarns available to me seem almost endless. My only frustration is the limitation of time – there are never enough knitting hours in the day, and never enough time to finish up my current project before a new one comes along and tries to seduce me!

Color inspiration from Andrea's trip to the Oregon Coast

To see more of Andrea's work, visit her blog at: http://www.blueberryhillcrafting.com/

May 02, 2016 by Guest Blogger

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

My Design Inspiration: Narangkar Glover

My name is Narangkar Glover and I’m an artist, arts educator and knitter. I created the color wheel works that are currently on display in the windows of Knit Purl.

The inspiration for much of my work usually starts with "what if." It’s a spark of curiosity that nags me until I do something about it. A while back, I wanted to know if I could apply scholastic color theory principles to bits of string. That is to say, would criss-crossing, or holding together two bits of string of different colors behave similarly to mixing two hues of paint?

I set out to create it in crewel embroidery work. I used single strands of the 12 hues, and criss-crossed them in varying fashions with white, grey and black in order to achieve the tones, tints and shades respectively. Turns out, the eye reads it just as if we are reading mixed pigment.

Color Wheel by Narangkar Glover, 2007, 16 x 16 inches, embroidery on jute

Then, about 3 years ago, I wanted to know if I could create the same thing in intarsia knitting, using Elizabeth Zimmerman's Pi Shawl formula. How would it look? Could I work it in the round? Or would I have to work it back and forth and make a seam? How would my seam look? What kind of yarn would be best suited for this? Should I hold my yarns together, or should I ply them with a drop-spindle? How would different stitch patterns, fibers, and subtle variations in the dye process effect the overall outcome?

It’s typical that I ask myself a lot of questions during the research phase. I make a lot of samples and mock-ups, similar to how swatching informs knitters about the feel of the fiber, the color interaction and its behavior as a fabric. The questions are both pragmatic and esoteric.

That is to say, I am not only concerned about how my work will be executed, but also what it will ultimately convey to my viewers. What objective minutia can I realistically implement in order for the subjective aspect—the content and the meaning that it carries—to be legible and clear.

Farbenkugel #1 by Narangkar Glover, 2016, 37 x 37 inches
hand-knitted mohair/silk yarn over plexiglass and wood lightbox
On view at Knit Purl until March 8th

Despite this seemingly exhaustive research process in all of my work—along with the trials, errors, and at times, the miserable failures—my enthusiasm for the straightforward, academic color wheel remains a constant. It was my favorite thing to do in school. It’s one of my favorite things to teach. It’s a go-to method for warming up. It helped me develop the discipline of beginning studio sessions with a color exercise.

I mix paint, create color palettes and I form them into a plan for what I might want to work on next. The world might never see it, but it’s an integral part of my process, and because of this it has an intimacy and familiarity that is stabilizing and comforting.

In a broad sense, the academic color wheel signifies the language of visual art. It epitomizes and simplifies the artistic process, and equalizes the disciplines. Its circular (or spherical) form is codified and speaks to an almost immutable semiotics of color, and therefore points to our common perception. It fills a space for a conceptual self-reflexivity and in the end, the specificity of it speaks to art itself, and to the dialectic between form and concept.

If my inspiration is a kernel, a "what if," then the fuel for that inspiration is this dialectic. I’m routinely drawn to the tug between the tactile and the cerebral, and their convergence that then forms a singular, crystalized idea.

Thanks for reading, and if you are in the Portland, Oregon area, I hope you get a chance to stop by Knit Purl to see my windows in person. Ciao!

Farbenkugel #2 by Narangkar Glover, 2016, 16 inches (diameter),
hand-knitted mohair/silk yarn over paper and wire lamp
On view at Knit Purl until March 8th

More of Narangkar’s work can be seen at http://www.narangkar.com
Or follow @narangkar on instagram, twitter, and tumblr.

February 08, 2016 by Guest Blogger

Rose City Yarn Mystery Knit Along

Who is ready for the Rose City Mystery Knit Along? The first clue comes out on Wednesday and I’m really excited since this is my first MKAL. Being a MKAL newbie I’ve been reading the 2016 MKAL and MCAL Pre-Clue Discussion! post on the Rose City Yarn Crawl Ravelry group. It’s been a great resource since many people have been posting color combination ideas and the designers have been answering all questions.

A few clues have been provided to help when it comes to picking out yarns.

  1. It’s a cowl.
  2. There is a main color and a contrast color.
  3. The lovely description on how to pick out the MC and CC. This is what sold me on joining in on the fun:
    “Think of the main color as the road you travel, where you make your tracks. Will it be over wooded trails, urban streets, grass, concrete, sand? Choose a yarn that will show texture and pattern. Tonal colorways or solids, not extremely dark, will work best. Imagine the contrasting color as something curious or brilliant you see on your bike ride. The gem tones of fall leaves, colors in coffee shop windows or the subtle variegation of light reflected in a stream.”
    Can all patterns come with lovely descriptions on how to pick colors?

Thanks to those three helpful hints, I’ve narrowed my pairings down to three options.

 

Big Pink: Sunday Knits Angelic in Smoke (MC) and Melon (CC). When I saw these two colors together, it made me think of being on I-84 when the setting sun hits Big Pink just right.

 

Coastal Retreat: Sunday Knits Nirvana in Ocean (MC) and Rain (CC). This made me think of the coast right after a storm when the first sunray breaks through the clouds. If I go with this color pairing, I will do a textured swatch first to make sure that the stitches will be visible in Ocean. If they aren’t as noticeable, I will make Rain the MC.

 

Into the Woods: Sunday Knits Eden in Garnet (MC) and Bronze (CC). These two colors made me think of going on my first hike right before spring hits. When the ground is still muddy from all the rain and the bright colors are just ever so slightly starting to pop-up. Depending on how the CC is used in this cowl, I feel as though these two colors could really work out nicely together.

Now comes the hard part—making a decision!

If you are joining in on the MKAL or MCAL, please share your color choices. We would love to see all the amazing pairings!

 

January 25, 2016 by Laura Oriana Konstin