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On My Way

I was an animation major at RISD. I am also a knitter.

I love when worlds collide.

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Silver Screen Knits Volume II

UPDATE 5.19.14: Congratulations to winner Karen Lauterwasser! Karen, check your email!

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I am a HUGE film lover. I tripled majored at RISD in film, animation and video, concentrating in computer animation. I worked my way through the AFI’s top 100 films in 2002 and while going to the movies is a big treat now (involving a babysitter and major planning) I try to go at least once a month. There’s something magical about being whisked away into someone else’s story, embraced by the darkness, the stadium seating and the gentle munching of popcorn around me. If I have some simple garter or stockinette on my needles, I usually bring it with me, clicking away and immersing myself in what’s happening on the screen. If I could, I’d go to the movies every single day.

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A few years back, I was asked by knitwear designer Kathleen Lawton-Trask (who is oddly enough married to a man whose sister my brother went to elementary school with) to contribute to her collection on film-inspired knits. The result is a collection of chic, wearable designs honoring the stars of cinema’s golden era. Silver Screen Knits will transport you back to old Hollywood.

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Published in two volumes, the books celebrate knitters’ love affair with the movies and include introductions to each featured film star, notes about must-see moments in classic films, and quotations from some memorable characters. Read about each garment’s cinematic inspiration while you work with luxurious yarns and unique designs.

Volume One was published in fall 2013 and includes patterns by Ann Weaver, Veera Välimäki, Karida Collins, Danielle Romanetti, Becky Wolf, and Kathleen Lawton-Trask. Volume Two was published yesterday on May 15, 2014, and includes patterns by Susanna I-C, Ann Weaver, Tanis Gray (me), Danielle Romanetti, Becky Wolf, and Kathleen Lawton-Trask.

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I designed a pair of extra-long fingerless mitts, inspired by Hedy Lamarr. Lamarr, nicknamed “The Most Beautiful Woman In Films,” was an Austrian actress and inventor. Her most significant technological contribution was her co-invention of an early technique for spread spectrum communications and frequency hopping, which paved the way for today’s wireless communications and which, upon its invention in 1941, was deemed so vital to national defense that government officials would not allow publication of its details. She was known for the films Samson and Delilah, Ecstasy and Algiers.

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Knit up in one hank of Malabrigo Sock, these lacy fingerless mitts are knit in the round and fall halfway between the shoulder and elbow. Check out all 12 patterns and purchase the ebook here.

Why not do another giveaway? Answer this trivia question about Hedy Lamarr (US residents only, please): What was Hedy Lamarr’s real name? Leave a comment here on the blog with the answer and a winner will be chosen at random on Monday, May 19th.

One lucky winner will win a copy of Silver Screen Knits Volume II and be contacted on Monday via email.

 

New Vintage Lace (& Giveaway!)

UPDATE 5.16: Congratulations to book winner Rita!

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I often describe lace knitting to non-lace knitters as “there’s lace knitting, then there’s everything else.” I find that more than any other type of knitting, knitting lace is like opening the flood gates of technique, complexity and a certain elegance that can only be achieved through hand knit lace. Like any other knitting technique, we can knit something very basic, an amuse bouche of sorts for knitting, then we can take it a step further, then another step further, and before you know it, you’re knitting hardcore lace with ease. When I’m looking for a challenging knit (and let’s face it, it’s pretty rare that I get to knit something for myself), I look towards lace.

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I was excited to get my hands on the new book by Andrea Jurgrau of BadCatDesigns, New Vintage Lace (Interweave, F+W; $24.99) coming out June.

I really like the idea behind this collection of 18 patterns – all vintage doily-inspired lace motifs from the past repurposed, modernized and turned into something wearable like a shawl, hat, scarf or wrap. Yes, doilies have their place and the motifs from vintage patterns are often stunning, but you can’t wear a doily (I suppose you could, but that’s a post for another day).

my favorite shawl from the book, Blue Dahlia

my favorite shawl from the book, Blue Dahlia

The first section has a few pages devoted to using different fibers and the benefits, as well as the typical amount of yardage used (helpful if you’re not good at guessing and have a limited amount of yarn on hand), techniques and something I found interesting – different types of beads. I love putting beads in a special project (usually a shawl), but not being a beader aside from when they make an occasional appearance in my lace knitting, I don’t know much about them. There are some lovely illustrated tutorials throughout the book and a great section devoted to the importance of swatching. Yes, I know. Everyone hates swatching, but wouldn’t you rather spend a few hours doing so rather than frogging an entire project because you hated how the yarn looked?

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There have been many books devoted to vintage lace and scads of patterns on Ravelry that have their roots in vintage doilies (Hemlock Ring, anyone?) but this book has an elegance and cleanness to it that I appreciate. Lace can be complicated, the charts overwhelming if you’re not used to them and this book does a nice job of giving those charts breathing room and showing you multiple angles of the finished projects.

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If you’re a lace shawl knitter like me, I’d say this is a book worth adding to your collection. I want to knit about half the things in this book and next chance I get, I’ll be knitting Blue Dahlia for myself!

That being said, let’s do a giveaway for one lucky reader, shall we? If you’re a regular reader, you know how much I love a good giveaway, so let’s get this party started (this is a particularly nice giveaway, because you’ll be getting this book before it’s even out)!

Please leave a comment with the answer to this trivia question (US residents only, please): How many yards of yarn would you need to get from the Earth to the moon? Winner will be chosen at random on Friday, May 16th and will be contacted by email.

Lessard Cowl

So much for spring. 

I like to consider myself an optimist, especially this time of year when things start popping up from the ground. Suddenly a crocus appears and I get pumped for what’s coming next. Tulips in my neighbor’s yard? Let’s Instagram it! Cherry blossoms? Let’s show the rest of the country how lucky we are with our gorgeous cherry trees and put it all over Facebook! But this year? Ugh. Want to see pictures of the puddle that is my backyard? Didn’t think so.
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I can’t remember a more dismal spring. It’s monsooning outside my window as I type, my basement flooded (thank goodness my yarn is all in giant, sealed plastic bins) and instead of grilling out and sitting in the sun, we’re turning up the heat and making tea. I’m not sure what to think about this weather, but it makes me grouchy and cold. I suppose the silver lining is we now get more time to wear our knits as we bundle up and brace ourselves against the chill as we step outside.
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To fight off the general feeling of “blah” brought on by this so-called “spring season,” I’m offering up a new pattern, the Lessard Cowl. Cascade has a new yarn, Tangier, an interesting blend of silk, cotton, rayon and acrylic. Coming in at a hefty 220 yards, it’s easy to knock this cabled cowl out with 2 skeins. I’m always on the fence about variegated yarns, but there were so many color combinations to choose from, that I found a hard time honing in on just one. I gravitated towards “seascape,” feeling that the blend of cool blues and neutral grays summed up this spring perfectly. What Cascade does on their website that I appreciate so much as a knitter, is they have each colorway swatched up so you can see what it’ll look like when knit. I tend to shy away from variegated yarns because I don’t know how they’ll knit up. Oftentimes there’s a surprise color in there I wasn’t expecting, and that’s not the kind of surprise I enjoy. Having these knitted swatches let me know exactly what I was getting. Thank you, Cascade!
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The Lessard Cowl is knit in the round in one piece on US 8s. A tiered cable pattern gives the cowl an interesting texture and doesn’t get lost in the color changes of the yarn. The fiber blend is ideal for these in-between seasons when we’re not sure what we’re going to find when we step outside. You can wear this year round, stuff it in your bag just in case, or knit one up for a gift for Mother’s Day. It can be worn in a single loop as shown, or double it up for a more snug fit.
At this rate, we’ll be wrapped in knitting until July.
Download the free pattern here.