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X-Ray Embroidery

Embroidery is something I so admire. While I have infinite patience regarding knitting, embroidery is something I don’t excel at, nor do I have have the patience for. X-rays have always fascinated me as well… Our bodies are made up of so many things we cannot see, working in harmony to keep us alive. Having had the occasional glimpse inside my body – whether it be an x-ray, a sonogram or a really deep cut, it’s pretty wild to see what’s happening beneath the skin. Our bodies do some pretty amazing things.

Check out the below work by Matthew Cox, an artist who combines x-rays and magnificent embroidery. Original article found here.

Playfully Embroidered X-Ray Film by Matthew Cox

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Adding a touch of softness to stark images of knees, skulls, and chests, Matthew Cox uses bright thread to embroider on X-ray film. His additions add a playful fiction to the cold reality of the transparent film, giving body parts the faces of Greek gods and limbs of anger-prone superheroes. Each stitch on the medical photograph acts as a line for Cox, a labored drawing produced from vibrant thread.

The Philadelphia-based artist enjoys the contrast of his two chosen materials, redefining each of their roles through their unique combination. “By joining the cold, blue, medically-technical plastic of the X-ray with the colorful, decorative and tactile embroidery thread, each is removed from its original intention and creates a new entity,” said Cox. “Handling these media also gives me an opportunity to comment on the ever-increasing presence of photography in contemporary art by introducing labor over the quick, slickness of film.”

Cox’s will show a selection of his embroidered works this summer at Sweden’s Fiberspace. You can see more of his works on his Instagram here.

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Lars Rains, Modern Lopi & A Giveaway!

UPDATE: 2.5.16: Congratulations to winner Heather! Heather, check your email.

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Lars Rains is known for his amazing Fair Isle work. In his new book, Modern Lopi: One: New Approaches to an Icelandic Classic, he creates patterns tailored to today’s lifestyle, celebrating bold, creative palettes. Lars draws inspiration from twentieth-century music, Icelandic mythology, mathematical concepts and drunken bar crawls to craft an innovative collection that explores new and exciting possibilities for this traditional yarn.

Lars was kind enough to sit does with me and answer some questions about his new book.

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Tanis Gray (TG): I love that you took a classic technique and design and made it modern! How did you come up with your idea for the book?

Lars Rains (LR): I’ve been knitting with Icelandic wool for over twenty years. Every year, I would eagerly anticipate the new book of Lopi patterns from Ístex, the company that produces the yarn. The sweaters in those books generally had traditional designs with a limited range of color schemes. I thought that it would be fun to combine different silhouettes with unusual color choices in order to introduce my own aesthetic to the world and to explore the many different ways this yarn could be used.

Asymptote (Women’s Pullover) All photographs in this post © Gale Zucker

TG: Like you, I was thrown into a fair isle sweater pretty soon after learning how to knit! I was just a kid and didn’t know stranded color work sweaters “should be scary.” I was always thankful that I was chucked into the deep end right away. Do you feel the same way?

LR: I think every knitter has some type of project that he or she may find daunting. I know that I never attempted socks for over ten years because I was afraid of those tiny needles after learning how to knit with bulky yarn. In fact, I had never worked an ssk before that! I also had an irrational fear of lace, but now I love designing openwork shawls and garments. This is why I firmly believe that everyone should learn a new technique or skill with each new project. It’s only scary the first time you do it.

TG: Agreed! You’ve organized your book according to weight. Some people think Icelandic wool only comes in one weight. Was this to educate people on the possibilities?

LR: Absolutely! Lopi is available in North America in four different weights and each of them has its own benefits and drawbacks. Bulky Lopi is actually a super bulky yarn and it is perfect for quick accessories, so I came up with a scarf pattern and a shawl design with it for my book. Álafosslopi is the yarn that most people are familiar with here and it is the traditional yarn used for Icelandic sweaters or lopapeysur. Léttlopi is the worsted alternative and it has quickly become my new favorite for when I want to design a garment with a lot of drape and loft in it. Finally, there is Einband, which is the laceweight version. I can see myself using it a lot more in the future, as it comes in an extensive color palette and it works up to a DK weight when held double. It lends itself well to detailed color work, like in my Monsina sweater.

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TG: Have you been to Iceland? What about this particular style of knitting inspires you?

LR: I had the chance to go to Iceland in the summer of 2012 and I can’t wait to go back. The capital, Reykjavík, has such a vibrant art scene and everybody wears Icelandic sweaters. You can even buy Lopi yarn at the grocery store! I also spent a couple of days in Ísafjörður, which is in the northwest of the country. It’s a small town built on a little spit of land in the middle of a fjord, bracketed on either side by towering mountain ridges. It is the capital of the Westfjords region and it is, quite simply, the most beautiful place I have ever visited. I would love to retire there some day. Icelanders have a deep affinity for nature and the colors of the landscapes continue to inspire my designs. I also enjoy taking the traditional constructions found in this style of knitting, such as the seamless yoke sweater, and using it as the foundation for more adventurous approaches to design. I like to push the boundaries of what is possible with this yarn and to try new things that other people haven’t thought of yet.

TG: Tell us about your color choosing process.

LR: I like to organize my collections around a unifying principle, like a particular color or technique. In this book, I was obsessed with the Fuchsia Heather and Dark Magenta colors that Ístex produces. There are so many bright colors to choose from with this yarn, but they weren’t often well represented in the more traditional designs. It’s a challenge for me to try to combine vivid colors which really shouldn’t work together, but somehow I manage to find a way to make it work. Recently, I’ve become enchanted with gradient yarns and I’m looking forward to developing some ombré effects for my next Modern Lopi book. I also enjoy limiting myself to monochromatic palettes at times; otherwise, I can get overwhelmed by all of the possibilities.

Monsina (Men’s Pullover)

TG: What is your favorite garment in the book and why (mine is Hildur)?

LR: That’s like having to decide who your favorite child is! I like them all for different reasons. Hildur is the perfect blend of the traditional and the modern, with its updated color scheme and gentle waist shaping. However, it’s not my favorite sweater, as it took me about twelve hours to grade it for six different sizes! Rúntur has the best conceptual back story, as you supposedly start knitting it when you are sober and finish it when you are completely drunk. But I think that I would have to go with my cover sweater, Asymptote. It isn’t that hard to stack horizontal bands on top of one another and call it a yoke design. For me, the best Icelandic sweaters have what I like to think of as vertical movement in their yokes and I achieved that for the first time in this sweater. It was very fulfilling for me professionally to have come up with something that could proudly stand alongside sweater designs by Jared Flood, Kate Davies, Ysolda Teague, and Védís Jónsdóttir, the principal designer at Ístex.

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TG: I look at fair isle charts the way people look at fashion magazines – they’re so beautiful! Is drawing the charts your favorite part or do you start with the silhouette then do the charts? Tell us about your design process.

LR: I’m glad that I’m not the only designer who likes to go straight to the charts! The written instructions tell me so much about new construction methods, but they often make me fall asleep when I read them. I’m definitely distracted by shiny things and charts are my favorite things to analyze. My design notebooks are absolutely filled with them and I always start my sweater designs with them first. I’ll then make a swatch or two to see how I’ll need to switch up the color arrangements for better contrast and internal coherence. After that, I usually just dive right into my knitting, making adjustments to the silhouette as I go. Designing is a very organic process for me and I often end up at a different destination than the one that I had intended. At the same time, though, I like to have a good idea of what the basic shape of the garment will be and a solid grasp of all of the techniques that I will need in order to achieve my vision before I ever cast on.

Hildur

TG: Do you prefer designing accessories or garments and why?

LR: I definitely prefer designing sweaters as I love to have such a large canvas to work with. There is so much more room to play with color and to explore unusual techniques. Sweaters also allow me to expand my toolbox of construction techniques and stitch patterns. Even though I have been knitting for so long and have started designing my own patterns, there is always something new for me to learn, especially when it comes to more feminine silhouettes. I don’t have a lot of experience around women’s clothes! Sweater design is the perfect opportunity for me to develop my skills. I look at accessories as studies for future projects, kind of like how painters approach their larger pieces. They are much more accessible to a larger group of knitters, as not everyone wants to invest the time and money needed for a sweater. Designing accessories has also taught me a lot over the past couple of years about how to edit my larger designs so that I don’t try and say too much as a designer in a single project.

TG: You are a man with many interests and a retired NYPD police office! Tell us how you got into knitwear design and what you enjoy doing when you’re not knitting.

LR: I had a knitting blog back in the early days entitled Does a Bear Knit in the Woods? and I used to hang out with people like Franklin Habit and Carol Sulcoski before they became knitting superstars. I used to design complicated sweaters only for myself, but when I saw their careers take off, I thought about trying to get commercial patterns published as well. Unfortunately, I had no idea how to get started. It took me several years to acquire the confidence I needed to send out submissions to magazines and to discover my voice as a designer. I wanted to take the time to figure out how I wanted to present myself in terms of branding and to think about what types of designs I wanted to send out into the world. Jared Flood has been a huge influence on me in this regard. Most of my spare time is spent learning all I can about expanding my design business and trying to get my backlog of completed projects published. It sometimes feels like I am always working, but I do make sure to relax most nights in front of the television with my husband and our two dogs.

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TG: I teach a LOT of Fair Isle classes and people freak out over steeking. Any advice for those looking to try their first steek?

LR: Like I said before, any new technique is going to be scary the first time you try it. Now, it’s totally possible to produce a Fair Isle cardigan by working it flat, knitting and purling back and forth. You never have to learn how to steek if you don’t want to, but steeking just speeds up the whole process. It is always good to have a variety of knitting skills that you can call upon whenever you may need them. However, like with any skill, you need to practice. You were going to knit a gauge swatch anyway to make sure that you ended up with the proper size, right? Just add a couple of purl stitches in the middle of your color work pattern and use this swatch as your testing strip to practice your steeking. I know how unnerving it can be to take a pair of scissors to a garment that you spent weeks working on. Swatches work up much quicker and if you somehow make a mistake, you can just start over with a lot less anguish. Once you have steeked a couple of swatches perfectly, you’ll wonder why you were ever nervous about it in the first place.

TG: You’ve published a lot of great designs. Do you prefer working on books or individual patterns?

LR: Thanks so much! I do like submitting individual patterns for publication, but I don’t think that I’ll ever get used to the tight deadlines. The nice thing about getting projects published in book collections or in such magazines as Vogue Knitting and Knitty is that it forces you to come up with an idea, have it crystallize in your head as a fully formed design, and then get it produced very quickly. There is no time for procrastination or self-doubt to enter into the picture. When you’re self-publishing your own patterns, there is a tendency to let time get away from you. That being said, I loved working on this book and learning all about the publishing process. Taking all the time I needed to accomplish my goals allowed me to visualize the entire collection as a cohesive whole and to come up with a particular look for the book that reflected what I was trying to say with my knitting patterns. I was fortunate to work with a great team of artists on this book, from Gale Zucker and her incredible photos to Elizabeth Green and her amazing layout skills. This book turned out exactly as I envisioned it and I couldn’t be prouder of it.

Gimli

TG: What’s up next for you in your knitting endeavors?

LR: I have been completely overwhelmed by the response to the book and the work that is involved with promoting it! I can’t complain, though, because I am learning so much about marketing along the way. I will be doing a trunk show and book signing at Knitty City in New York City on Saturday, February 6th from 3 to 6 p.m. I will then be headed to Stitches West in California for another book signing and trunk show with Handknitting.com. I have a couple of patterns coming out in future publications and I just received the galleries from the photo shoot for my next book this week. It’s not all work, though. I have a designer retreat in Vermont over the last weekend of February, a men’s retreat in Canada sometime in April, and another men’s retreat in upstate New York in May, so I will get to relax at some point, doing what I love most: knitting.

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Thanks, Lars!

Lars has been generous enough to offer up a free PDF of his new book! Answer the below trivia question correctly and automatically be entered in to win.

What is the name of the Icelandic singer who sings La Dolce Vita and what is so fabulous about the Icelandic sweater he is wearing in the video for the song?

Leave your answer in the comments section – a winner will be chosen at random on Friday, February 5. Contest open to readers worldwide.

We Already Knew This…

Knitters know the health benefits provided by our craft of choice. I’ve mentioned it here before, but the New York Times ran this article earlier this week and in case you missed it, it’s worth a read…

The Health Benefits of Knitting

By JANE E. BRODY

About 15 years ago, I was invited to join a knitting group. My reluctant response — “When would I do that?” — was rejoined with “Monday afternoons at 4,” at a friend’s home not three minutes’ walk from my own. I agreed to give it a try.

My mother had taught me to knit at 15, and I knitted in class throughout college and for a few years thereafter. Then decades passed without my touching a knitting needle. But within two Mondays in the group, I was hooked, not only on knitting but also on crocheting, and I was on my way to becoming a highly productive crafter.

I’ve made countless afghans, baby blankets, sweaters, vests, shawls, scarves, hats, mittens, caps for newborns and two bedspreads. I take a yarn project with me everywhere, especially when I have to sit still and listen. As I’d discovered in college, when my hands are busy, my mind stays focused on the here and now.

It seems, too, that I’m part of a national resurgence of interest in needle and other handicrafts, and not just among old grannies like me. The Craft Yarn Council reports that a third of women ages 25 to 35 now knit or crochet. Even men and schoolchildren are swelling the ranks, among them my friend’s three grandsons, ages 6, 7 and 9.

But unlike meditation, craft activities result in tangible and often useful products that can enhance self-esteem. I keep photos of my singular accomplishments on my cellphone to boost my spirits when needed.

Since the 1990s, the council has surveyed hundreds of thousands of knitters and crocheters, who routinely list stress relief and creative fulfillment as the activities’ main benefits. Among them is the father of a prematurely born daughter who reported that during the baby’s five weeks in the neonatal intensive care unit, “learning how to knit preemie hats gave me a sense of purpose during a time that I felt very helpless. It’s a hobby that I’ve stuck with, and it continues to help me cope with stress at work, provide a sense of order in hectic days, and allows my brain time to solve problems.”

A recent email from the yarn company Red Heart titled “Health Benefits of Crocheting and Knitting” prompted me to explore what else might be known about the health value of activities like knitting. My research revealed that the rewards go well beyond replacing stress and anxiety with the satisfaction of creation.

For example, Karen Zila Hayes, a life coach in Toronto, conducts knitting therapy programs, including Knit to Quit to help smokers give up the habit, and Knit to Heal for people coping with health crises, like a cancer diagnosis or serious illness of a family member. Schools and prisons with craft programs report that they have a calming effect and enhance social skills. And having to follow instructions on complex craft projects can improve children’s math skills.

Some people find that craftwork helps them control their weight. Just as it is challenging to smoke while knitting, when hands are holding needles and hooks, there’s less snacking and mindless eating out of boredom.

I’ve found that my handiwork with yarn has helped my arthritic fingers remain more dexterous as I age. A woman encouraged to try knitting and crocheting after developing an autoimmune disease that caused a lot of hand pain reported on the Craft Yarn Council site that her hands are now less stiff and painful.

2009 University of British Columbia study of 38 women with the eating disorder anorexia nervosa who were taught to knit found that learning the craft led to significant improvements. Seventy-four percent of the women said the activity lessened their fears and kept them from ruminating about their problem.

Betsan Corkhill, a wellness coach in Bath, England, and author of the book “Knit for Health & Wellness,” established a website, Stitchlinks, to explore the value of what she calls therapeutic knitting. Among her respondents, 54 percent of those who were clinically depressed said that knitting made them feel happy or very happy. In a study of 60 self-selected people with chronic pain, Ms. Corkhill and colleagues reported that knitting enabled them to redirect their focus, reducing their awareness of pain. She suggested that the brain can process just so much at once, and that activities like knitting and crocheting make it harder for the brain to register pain signals. More of Stitchlinks findings are available at their website.

Perhaps most exciting is research that suggests that crafts like knitting and crocheting may help to stave off a decline in brain function with age. In a 2011 study, researchers led by Dr. Yonas E. Geda, a psychiatrist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., interviewed a random sample of 1,321 people ages 70 to 89, most of whom were cognitively normal, about the cognitive activities they engaged in late in life. The study, published in the Journal of Neuropsychiatry & Clinical Neurosciences, found that those who engaged in crafts like knitting and crocheting had a diminished chance of developing mild cognitive impairment and memory loss.

Although it is possible that only people who are cognitively healthy would pursue such activities, those who read newspapers or magazines or played music did not show similar benefits. The researchers speculate that craft activities promote the development of neural pathways in the brain that help to maintain cognitive health.

In support of that suggestion, a 2014 study by Denise C. Park of the University of Texas at Dallas and colleagues demonstrated that learning to quilt or do digital photography enhanced memory function in older adults. Those who engaged in activities that were not intellectually challenging, either in a social group or alone, did not show such improvements.

Given that sustained social contacts have been shown to support health and longevity, those wishing to maximize the health value of crafts might consider joining a group of like-minded folks. I for one try not to miss a single weekly meeting of my knitting group.

Snowed In

There’s a large snow-covered lump in my driveway that I assume is my car. Pulling back the curtains this morning in the bedroom, I was greeted by the kind of icicles you see in films – the huge long ones that look deadly yet beautiful. We are getting absolutely slammed by snow this weekend and day 3 of being alone with a 4-year-old and ancient pug while holed up inside is starting to make us all a little stir crazy. I love a good snow, but I’d probably love it more if my husband wasn’t off in Florida at a work convention and I didn’t know the snow shovel and I were going to be spending a lot of quality time together later.

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Crafty folks handle the snow probably better than anyone else out there! We knit, we crochet, we sew, we edit photos, we dream up designs and sketch while cramming the next load of laundry in just in case we lose power. Snow gives us time to organize our stash, dream of that special skein in our LYS we’ve had our eyes on, comb through our Ravelry queue and maybe cast on that project we’ve been dying to start. Snow forces everyone to take a step back, accept that you’re not leaving the house anytime soon, put the kettle on, grab your WIP and as we say in our house “snuggle down.”

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I had planned on introducing a new cowl pattern next week, but since the snow is well past my pug’s head and the cars up and down the street look like huge white gumdrops, today seems like a good day. Knitters, meet the Popplewell Cowl! Inspired by argyle (without the argyle), this twisted cowl is only knits, purls, right and left twists. Knitting up on US 10s, this is a project that can easily be started and bound off by the time this storm makes its grand exit.

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Bulky yarn means faster knitting and knit up in a solid (the lovely and gorgeous SweetGeorgia Superwash Six) version and a self striping (the very affordable and colorful Plymouth Yarns Gina Chunky) version, you get a completely different look by just changing up the yarn. The pattern is both written out and charted and a perfect time to try your hand at cabling without a cable needle. Each cable is only two stitches (these are called right and left twists), making it both manageable and ideal for tucking that cable needle back into your notions bag and giving it a go without! There’s information in the pattern about how to do that if it’s something you had on your “new year’s knitting resolutions list.”

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Since there was no school on Thursday, or on Friday and today (day 3) we find ourselves buried with no end in sight, the Popplewell Cowl will be 30% off until midnight tomorrow. Enter the code SNOWDAY at Ravelry checkout to receive your discount!

Stay safe and warm, knitting friends!

Poppelwell Cowl available for download here.

 

Sew Far, Sew Good

I love your feedback, readers! Want to see more or something or have an idea to share? Let me know!

One thing I hear often is “I like how you feature other crafty people or articles I probably wouldn’t have seen otherwise.” The crafting world is HUGE and even the definition of what is “crafty” is very open-ended. I frequently stumble upon people doing unique things or using their crafting super powers to make the world a bit brighter, a bit more beautiful and a bit more interesting online. I usually find these articles by chance and try to make a point of sharing them with you.

I love sewing (and my project bags in my Etsy shop are a way for me to relax, sew and take a break from knitting).  I’ve done my fair share of cross stitch, but when it comes to embroidery, I’m not great at it. I so (sew) admire people who not only do it well, but put a unique spin on it. Check out the incredible work by Danielle Clough, a VJ who embroiders stunning work onto tennis rackets. Original article posted here.

Sew Far, Sew Good: I Embroider On Old Tennis Rackets

I always stumble over my words when I answer the typical “so what do you do?” question. I’m a designer by training. I’m passionate about film photography, and I work as a VJ (which means I do visuals for music shows, and not what you think. Yeah, I know…). But lastly, and the most loudly, I say “embroiderer.” I love that term. It’s like being a carpenter or a bricklayer, because there is a simplicity to it, to being a ‘maker’. This is why I create the work.

There is a rhythm to sewing that I find extremely calming, matched with an unadulterated celebration of color, and then at the end I’ve produce something aesthetically-pleasing, so there is great reward in that entire process.

The first threadsketch I created was through a series of opportunities and mistakes. I was working at a gallery at one stage, with idle hands, and at the time I had nothing on me except cotton, a needle and a scrap piece of felt in my bag. I believe I drew a rabbit. Ideally, I shoot all my references, and much like traditional embroidery, I map out the lines before I move on to thread. There are no rules to my process, purely because I don’t really know any of the rules, and those that I do, I try my best to ignore, and in so that way I cannot know what I’m doing wrong. It’s a self-imposed freedom that makes embroidery feel like play.

Motivation and inspiration are two very different forces in my work, and are not mutually exclusive. I’m often motivated by boredom. Apparently I suffer from ‘ADS’ – always doing something. Inspiration comes from finding new materials to use: strange color palettes, conversations with good company and so on. Inspiration keeps me stitching through the times that I lack motivation, and vice-versa.

More info: danielleclough.com

Tulips

Blue paper petals

Rose

What a racket

Other works: Molly

Steve Zissou

Chewy

Silent

Hand Naai

Nonku

Pineapple pendant

Skull pendant

Humming bird

Neapolitan Baby Blanket

UPDATE 1/8/16: Congratulations to winner Gillian! Gillian, check your email!

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Despite my fate of coming from a long line of lactose-intolerant Gray’s, I love Neapolitan ice cream. I can’t remember the last time I had it, but there’s just something about it. Is it the bright splash of color in a dish? The delightful combination of strawberry, vanilla and chocolate, all classic choices swirling together in a wonderful jumble of sticky, sugary goodness? I don’t know, but it’s good stuff.

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Our friends at Wikipedia tell us, “Neapolitan ice cream was named in the late 19th century as a reflection of its presumed origins in the cuisine of the Italian city of Naples, and the many Neapolitan immigrants who brought their expertise in frozen desserts with them to the United States. Spumoni was introduced to the United States in the 1870s as Neapolitan-style ice cream. Early recipes used a variety of flavors; however, the number of three molded together was a common denominator, to resemble the Italian flag. More than likely, chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry became the standard for the reason that they were the most popular flavors in the United States at the time of introduction.” That’s probably more than you ever wanted to know, but next time you dive into a bowl of this magical dessert, now you know the history.

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With that in mind, I’d like to introduce the Neapolitan Baby Blanket. An ode to the aforementioned dessert without the stickiness, this beautiful baby blanket would be a treat for any lucky recipient. Knit in 3 colors of Shalimar Yarn’s Enzo Worsted, which continues to remain my current favorite yarn, (some folks have asked where they can get it, click here to contact Shalimar directly and they’ll be happy to help you locate it), a superwash merino, cashmere and nylon blend, knitting this was pure delight. My son walked into my office, grabbed the blanket, talked about how soft it was, claimed it as now his and tried to wander off with it.

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A simple lace pattern that’s intriguing enough to keep your interest because it has lace on both the right and wrong sides, this blanket knits up on US 7s with 2 hanks of each color. The color is changed every 16 rows, so you can stripe with as few as 2 colors or as many as 15 (one for each stripe). Wouldn’t this be amazing with a rainbow of color? Or in a gray-scale? Head to your LYS and try some new colors you may have been eyeing last time or dive into your stash and use up a few lonely skeins.

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You can easily adjust the length by adding a few more stripes or make it smaller for a stroller or car seat blanket. I love knitting baby blankets because they’re great travel projects (this time of year especially since you can keep your lap warm as the blanket grows on your needles), it’s a wonderful way to learn a new technique because you don’t have to worry about fancy shaping, someone is always having a baby and it is my firm belief that every newborn should have their own hand knit blanket to be able to pass on to their own children some day.

Let’s give a copy of the pattern away, shall we? Answer the below trivia question correctly in the comments and automatically be entered to win. A winner will be chosen at random tomorrow, Friday, January 8. Contest open to readers worldwide.

What juice is sold today that was originally created and marketed as a syrup intended as an ice cream topping, but it became more popular mixed with water as a drink?

Download the Neapolitan Baby Blanket pattern here.

Knit, Purl, Sow

CORRECTION 1/5/2016: This is an exhibit from last year, but still worth reading about! :)

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If you find yourself in the NYC area, check this out! The original article ran in the Wall Street Journal here.

Brooklyn Botanic Garden Exhibition Is Knitted With Scientific Accuracy

“Knit, Purl, Sow” Features Knitted Floral- and Plant-Inspired Works

Some of the artwork on display in the 'Knit, Purl, Sow' exhibition.
By SUNSHINE FLINT

In one of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s conservatories, flowers that have more in common with cable-knit sweaters than the surrounding flora have been on display for the last few months.

The exhibition, “Knit, Purl, Sow,” features knitted floral- and plant-inspired works by the artists Tatyana Yanishevsky, Ruth Marshall and Santiago Venegas, on view in the Steinhardt Conservation Gallery through Jan. 22.

Two years in the making, it contains 21 works, including 19 by Ms. Yanishevsky, an artist who studied biology at Brown University. Before picking up her knitting needles, the Rhode Island-based artist, who taught herself how to knit, dissected flowers and studied their anatomy in textbooks and greenhouses.

“It was a knitting challenge to create those forms, to have them be three-dimensional and puffed out where they needed to be,” recalls Ms. Yanishevsky.

Her work sparked the idea for the exhibition when the garden’s director of science, Susan Pell, noticed it online and admired its scientific accuracy.

“We were impressed with the way a lot of her pieces show all the parts of the flower or plant, the roots,” said Sonal Bhatt, the garden’s vice president of education and interpretation, who approached other artists whose work she felt was complementary. The show opened in October.

“We want the public to appreciate nature another way,” Ms. Bhatt said. “I really like the idea of 3-D art and kept looking for the right fall to do it, because knitting doesn’t fit into any other season.”

The large-scale, three-dimensional pieces line the wall of one room and hang from a central atrium under four skylights. Other fluid forms and long pieces dangle from the ceiling.

Artist Tatiana Yanishevsky poses for a portrait amid the exhibition at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.

The atrium’s natural light shows off the execution of pieces like Ms. Yanishevsky’s 3-foot-high “Anatomically Correct Passionflower,” whose three-pronged stamen gives it the googly-eyed look of a friendly Pixar alien. She uses six textures to differentiate the organs, from a stockinette stitch for the corona to mohair-and-wool lace for the petals.

Many of the works are for sale, including three multi-piece exhibits, ranging from $25 for the smallest pieces to $15,000 for Ms. Marshall’s “Lotus.”

Ms. Marshall, an Australian based in New York, previously worked for the Wildlife Conservation Society and is known for her knit “pelts” of endangered cats. Ms. Bhatt, a former colleague, contacted her even though she typically makes animals, not plants. Ms. Marshall eventually settled on the lotus as her contribution, creating its vibrant pink flowers, circular leaves, seed pods and interconnected rhizomes and roots.

“I thought the roots were really interesting with their holes and how people harvest and eat them,” says Ms. Marshall. “So the project became about including the whole plant. It was three months of solid work.”

She said the show has given her new inspiration. “I’m still completely dedicated to depicting endangered animals, but a lot live amongst jungle foliage. I could see mixing the animal pelts with other 3-D elements.”

Even accomplished home knitters will be impressed by the pieces’ craftsmanship. The hanging “Tiger Lily” is 5 feet in diameter with six mottled yellow petals that curl all the way back in full bloom and have a cable-knit stitch down their length.

“When I’m doing anatomical pieces, I look to the plant for reference, and lilies have parallel lines on their petals,” Ms. Yanishevsky said.

She used cables to create the channels and wove in varying shades of yellow. The big bobbles that represent the lily’s characteristic black spots are a favorite of hers.

“They are fixed spheres made from yarn,” Ms. Yanishevsky said. “It’s something of a treat for me to make.”

Ms. Yanishevsky also took pleasure in making two versions of a swamp pink, a native flower that is a threatened species and that the garden recently installed in its newly expanded Native Flora Garden, with roots made of polyester resin and different materials and stitching for each model. In a bit of serendipity, one of them was placed under the room’s heating vents, and the forced air moves the leaves like they are swaying in the breeze.

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