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Nordic Fair Isle Slouch Hat KAL

I really enjoyed my first Knit-A-Long (KAL) with String Yarns. I’ve mentioned my love of teaching so many times on this blog (and I know some of my readers are students, here’s a shout out to you!) and it’s interesting to see the evolution of my teaching experience.

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When I was a tween I’d tag along with my mother as she taught children’s art classes at the North River Arts Society. I was in that weird in-between stage of being too old for the children’s class but too young for the adult classes, so I was bequeathed the title of “assistant.” So began my teaching career – I’d wash the paintbrushes, help with set up and clean up, assist students and even sneak in a project of my own. It was the best of both worlds (and pretty great having your mom as the teacher). While the class was always fun and the projects were incredibly interesting with my mom and her never-ending supply of great project ideas, it was the drive to and from the Society with my mom – sometimes in the cold and dark if it was winter, sometimes we’d have the windows down and the sun would still be shining if it was summer – that was my favorite thing. We’d talk the whole way and I learned how to be a good teacher from watching her. I have nothing but fond memories of working with the woman I admire most and spending time side by side in the classroom.

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Like most things, teaching has gone global and I find myself in the classroom at my LYS teaching a group, tucked into a nook at the local coffee shop giving private lessons to some of my favorite advanced students who learn better one-on-one or flying away to teach at a retreat. But I also teach from here at my desk, reaching out to students online from all over the world. Knitting is so personal but incredibly social as well. Bring in today’s technology and we can take a class online, learn new skills (I took a kitchen knife skills class online and it changed the way I cook) or band together for an online KAL. I love that the act of knitting has basically stayed the same (with better notions and fibers, arguably) but technology has made it this incredibly modern thing with Ravelry, YouTube, chat rooms and virtual KALs.

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I’d like to introduce the project for our second online KAL with String Yarns, the Nordic Fair Isle Slouch Hat. Designed to be unisex with a slouchy fit, this hat was made for the beginner Fair Isle knitter or someone looking to learn Fair Isle from a stranded color work knitting addict professional. The bold, Nordic-inspired motif is flattering on everyone and the Stacy Charles Fine Yarns Aran 30 Sport cashmere and wool blend is a delight with its tweedy look and super soft feel. When finished it’ll feel like you have a cloud on your head!

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Knitting up on US 5s and 7s, this hat is jam-packed with technique – the cabled cast on, corrugated ribbing, Fair Isle or stranded color work, spiral decreasing and chart reading. Beginning on January 12th, I’ll be hosting the online KAL on the String Yarns Ravelry Group here. Join other knitters from across the globe knitting up this gorgeous hat – a perfect gift for yourself after you’ve done so much for everyone else this holiday season! With purchase of the pattern, you will receive a discount code for 15% off Stacy Charles Fine Yarns Aran 30 Sport available here (you’ll need 2 contrasting shades), so you can be ready when we start. Each Tuesday for a month we will work our way through this hat with detailed photo tutorials, instructions, tips and tricks provided by me. I’ll be there to answer questions and cheer you on as we knit together virtually. Before you know it, you’ll be hearing my voice inside your head chanting “embrace the Fair Isle chart, embrace the Fair Isle chart!”

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If learning or perfecting your stranded color work knitting was your 2016 resolution, this is the project for you. Head on over to String Yarns to choose your 2 colors for your kit and be sure to join the String Yarns Ravelry Group here to be part of our KAL. I’ll see you on the 12th!

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Sharing Between Generations

If you’re like me, you come from a long line of crafty folk. Both of my grandmothers and great grandmothers could crochet like a master, my mom is an amazingly talented oil painter and pastel artist, my dad and grandfather knew their way around a workbench, then there’s me – my hands in all sorts of artistic pots, always following the inner drive telling me to “create, create, create.”

Since we recently moved and when you move you have to go through EVERYTHING, I came across a few treasures that only the crafty can appreciate. Tucked high on a shelf were my grandmother’s and mother’s button boxes. I’d sit at my mom’s feet when I was a kid sorting, organizing and grouping the buttons together in a pattern that only made sense to me. There was my other grandmother’s pale pink sewing box, which I use almost daily, my grandfather’s screw drivers that are covered in bits of paint and worn on the handle where his hands once were, and fillet crocheted doilies hidden in a cedar chest made by great grandmothers I never had a chance to meet, their work so fine and intricate that it puts my crochet work to shame.

I came across this article recently on grandmothers and their granddaughters and things that have been passed down between them. It struck a chord, as it probably will with many of you, dear readers. It made me think of the holidays, families, gift-giving and traditions that are repeated year after year. Sharing it here seemed apropos of this time of year. Original article here.

The Special Bond Between Grandmothers And Their Granddaughters Revealed Through Their Presents

A social photography project ‘A Present’ is collaboration between two Lithuanian artists: jeweler Giedre Duoble and photographer Ugne Henriko. The photographs explore the complex relationships between women of different generations through the presents given by grandmothers to their granddaughters.

Photography project‘s approach to capture gifts as symbols offers a deeply personal reflection of the values that have been passed between generations for eternity. “The project is about presents that are intended to be kept forever.”, said Giedre Duoble, founder of jewelry brand 57 Edges, “These photos capture the symbols of eight different timeless relationships. I love the idea that my jewelry designs could one day form a link between two generations and contribute to keeping family values alive.”

Photographer Ugne Henriko explored a similar theme in her earlier project ‘Mother and Daughter’, where she replicated the pictures her mother took when she was the same age as Ugne; the photos were published in ‘The Guardian’ and ‘Huffington Post’. It was this wish to talk about the relationships between generations that inspired the two artists to create a project together.

Singer Dovile Filmanaviciute (‘Miss Sheep’) received textiles woven by her grandmother Stanislava

Jeweler Giedre Duoble with her grandmother Regina and her present – a “Singer” sewing machine

Fashion designer Milda Cergelyte received a box of buttons from her grandmother Vida

Actress Toma Vaskeviciute received a handbag her grandmother used to wear

TV presenter Laima Kybartiene with her granddaughters Auguste and Kotryna and their present – a jewellery box

TV presenter Bernadeta Lukosiute gave her granddaughter Vilte a chair made by her great-grandfather. Vilte likes to do her homework sitting on that chair

Graphic designer Goda Jackute received a necklace made from black amber that her grandmother Elena wore on her wedding day

Ona Ceslava gave an old stove to her granddaughter, actress Aiste Lasyte

New Lace Knitting with Romi Hill + A Giveaway!

UPDATE: Congratulations to winner Molly! Molly, check your email!

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If you’re a lace knitter, you know Romi Hill. This very talented lady has a beautiful new book out, New Lace Knitting, Designs for Wide Open Spaces (Interweave/F+W; $24.99). Not only is she fabulous, but she has a way of knitting lace that makes you wonder “how does she do that?”

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Romi was kind enough to sit down and answer a few questions about her new book for us during this busy holiday season. Side note: her book is on sale right now, so if you need a gift for a knitter, this would be a great one!

Tanis Gray (TG): Your new book is lovely – and I’d expect nothing less from such a talented lady! In your introduction you talk about learning to knit from your mother after watching your grandmother crochet lace on a tiny hook with tiny yarn. What made you start with knitting rather than crochet?

Romi Hill (RH): Thank you so much, Tanis! For some reason, I never really caught the crochet bug. Looking back, I think I was drawn most to the orderly rows and stitches of knitting. In crochet, all is basically freeform in that you can really place your hook wherever you wish. In knitting, you must deal with each stitch. Knitting satisfies my OCD side.

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Hope Valley Flounce

TG: You are obsessed with lace! What made you gravitate towards that technique over another?

RH: It’s really kind of funny, actually. I’m not a lacy person, and I’ve never worn frilly clothes. But I’ve always been obsessed with the patterning in lace. It’s the geometry geek in me! I love playing with the negative space and the different ways a lace pattern can be knitted up for so many effects. For instance, the juxtaposition of increases to decreases…moving them maybe one stitch away relative to one another or changing the type of decrease can completely change the fabric. I find it fascinating to play with all the possibilities.

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Oak Flat Road Shawl

TG: Your new book takes classic lace patterns and combines them with modern fits and silhouettes. What made you want to go in this direction?

RH: It’s been sort of in the back of my mind for years. I love lace, but as I mentioned before: I’m not really a frilly kind of person. My thought was to design a group of garments and accessories that would make lace into part of an everyday wardrobe. I wanted a group of pieces that had a modern vibe, but would also stand the test of time, because when I knit a sweater or other garment, I want to be able to wear it season after season. Also? I have a special shelf of my very favorite books. My dream was to wind up on knitters’ special shelf with a collection of pieces that could be worn season after season and knit more than once. I worked on making each and every piece special and/or different in some way.

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Town Square Shawl

TG: You cover a lot of ground in your book, from sweaters to hats to cowls to scarves, proving that lace does not automatically mean “shawl.” What is your favorite garment to make with lace?

RH: Hmmmmmmmm. That’s a difficult one! I think my favorite garment is whatever I’m obsessed with at any given time. I used to be completely a sweater knitter. I think I’m probably headed back that way again.

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Bright Moment Cardigan

TG: I simply must make the Bright Moment Cardigan! Stunning! Do you have a favorite garment(s) in this book and why?

RH: I’m so happy you like it! It’s difficult to pinpoint one favorite, to be honest. I worked SO hard to make them all appealing. I didn’t want to look back and cringe at anything. Ha! I think my favorite is the Salt Grass Pull. I love everything about the way it is constructed, the yarn used, the finishing details…. It is in the shape of a traditional gansey, but that’s where the similarities end! First, it’s knit top down, and second, it’s all over lace. Completely not traditional! The yarn used is a fluffy woolen spun yarn (Brooklyn Tweed Shelter) that keeps an amazing block, so I was able to make the mock turtleneck stand up by using smaller needle sizes. The cast on and bind offs are all tubular – I love the finished look to the edges. The neck is shaped with short rows that are incorporated into the lace, with special decreases so that there’s no interruption in the twisted stitch lace pattern. Then the shoulder strap lace panel is knit unbroken down the arm and ends in a point at the cuff. There is a small underarm gusset for free range of motion and the overall silhouette is so very easy to wear every day. And I love the color. It came out exactly as I had envisioned it.

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Salt Grass Pullover

TG: We follow each other on instagram and you often match your shoes and yarn. Does this happen by accident? 🙂

RH: Yes and no. I tend to get into a color groove. For the longest time, I was loving acid green above all things. Then plummy purples and deep reds. Then greys. I tend to collect things that go with my current color mood. 🙂

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Neoma’s Shawl

TG: Speaking of color, you have an excellent sense of color. You live in Nevada – do you find your location influences your palette?

RH: Thank you! Yes – I’m always very influenced by my surroundings. Though it’s the high desert, the color palette is incredible here. The night sky is a rich vibrant deep blue and the Milky Way is brilliant against the darkness – so amazing! The sunsets look like the sky is on fire, and the cloud formations are unlike anything I’ve ever seen. The sky is this gorgeous blue, and I don’t think there’s ever a day when we don’t see it popping through at least once. This afternoon, driving my son home, the sun was setting on the snowy mountains. The sky and clouds turned from a peach reflected in the snow into a stunning fiery orange and red. In the autumn, the trees in the valley are brilliant shades of gold and red against the backdrop of the High Sierras. If we’re lucky, we’ll see snowy winter in the mountains and autumn on the valley floor. I love to watch the weather roll down the Sierras towards us. I could watch it for hours…and have. And I could go on and on! It is always changing and so breathtakingly beautiful. I am constantly in awe.

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Williwaw Cardigan

TG: Do you have a favorite fiber?

RH: Not really, no. I go through phases of what I like to use, but overall, I think there’s a time and place for almost any fiber.

TG: Where do you find your knitting inspiration?

RH: Everywhere. I love art, architecture, nature…. It all sort of percolates into ideas. I try to open myself to everything.

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Talus Cardigan

TG: You are a woman of many talents and take beautiful knitting photos and make wonderful shawl pins. Can you tell us about your pins and other work?

RH: You are too kind! Thank you. 🙂 I’ve actually made jewelry since I was quite young. Also studied art, graphic design, music, sewing and all sorts of crafty stuff. I love creating, but I’ve been taking a hiatus on the shawl pins lately. I’m reaching a point where I need to change how I go about doing. I want to make All The Things, but there simply isn’t enough time!

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Silver Bird Slouch

TG: You have a wildly successful yearly shawl club. Any plans to expand out of shawls?

RH: I think about it often. I don’t think I’ll have a different club; I like the way it’s working for now. But look for more in the coming year! Now that I’ve finished this mammoth project and almost caught up, I want to try new things! For instance, I’ve never steeked. This is clearly a very serious deficiency in my knitting education. It must be rectified! 😉

TG: Oh, come visit and I’ll teach you how to steek! I really like your “Romi’s Golden Rules” of lace knitting. Why did you feel these were important to include in your book?

RH: Above all, I want knitters to enjoy their lace knitting experience and come out with the result they’ve envisioned. Lace can be challenging for several reasons, and I want everyone to know that’s totally normal. My golden rules started out as part of a class, and a lot of people – some of whom are experienced lace knitters – have said they’ve kept them. I thought that was a great reason to include them. Even though you may already know most of them, maybe there’s something that will make a little light bulb go on and help you enjoy the experience even more.

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Virginia City Cloche and Cowl

TG: What’s up next for you?

RH: That’s a secret…mostly because I want to do so many things and I need to narrow it down. Ha! But I think I’ve gotten it trimmed to two things that I am super excited about. Stand by!

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Thanks, Romi!

Let’s give a copy of Romi’s new book away, shall we? Answer the below trivia question correctly in the comments section and automatically be entered in to win a copy of the book. Contest open to USA residents only. A winner will be chosen at random on Wednesday, December 23rd.

In which year did the US postal system first issue Christmas stamps?

Good luck!

 

 

Botanist Hat Kit Giveaway!

UPDATE 12.18.15: Congratulations to winner, Stephanie! Stephanie, check your email.

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Thanks for all the love for my new design, the Botanist Hat!

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The wonderful folks over at Mrs. Crosby caught wind of the new design and they’ve generously offered up a kit to one lucky winner! Answer the below trivia question correctly in the comments section (answer can be found on the Mrs. Crosby blog) and automatically be entered to win. You’ll get a digital download of the pattern from me and yarn from Mrs. Crosby to make your very own Botanist Hat!

 

What is the first name of Mrs. Crosby’s beloved husband?

 

A winner will be chosen at random on Friday, December 18 and posted here on the blog. You have until midnight on Friday EST to answer.

Thanks to our friends over at Mrs. Crosby for being awesome!

Wedding Bells

There’s nothing quite like your wedding day!

We’ve all seen stories and Ravelry projects where people make their own wedding dress, but this particular crocheted version made for just $70 in 8 months by 22-year old Abbey Ramirez-Bodley is very sweet. You look beautiful, Abbey! Original article here.

Bride Spends 8 Months Crocheting Her Own $70 Wedding Dress, And It Looks Like A Million Dollars

When a 22-year-old Abbey Ramirez-Bodley from Arkansas city, U.S. couldn’t find a wedding dress in her budget, she decided to make one herself. Her aunt, who taught her how to crochet when she was 3 years old, kindly agreed to help. On October 17th, after 8 months of hard work, Ramirez-Bodley walked down the aisle in the dress of her dreams which only cost her $70, plus $100 for a green dress underneath.

“Making something with your own hands out of love is very special on the most important day of your life,” Ramirez-Bodley told Mashable. For the brides-to-be out there, she has one piece of advice to give: “Start early and don’t get frustrated. The outcome is worth all the work.”

22-year-old Abbey Ramirez-Bodley was struggling to find a wedding dress in her price range

Image credits: Julie Graham Photography

She was looking for a vintage-style wedding gown but everything she liked was over $1,000

So she bought $70 worth of cotton yarn and decided to make one herself

Her aunt taught her how to crochet when she was only 3 years old

“Making something with your own hands out of love is very special on the most important day of your life”

It took her 8 months to make the dress

“When I put it on, I was, for one, amazed that it looked exactly like what I thought it would look like in my head”

“It was amazing. It was emotional. [Especially] when you put that much time and love into something”

Botanist Hat

UPDATE 12.14.15: Congratulations to winner, Kathy W! Kathy, check your email.

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Close your eyes, hold hands, have a bit of a kumbaya moment, take a deep breath and say it with me now, dear readers… Knitted hat weather.

It’s here. I love knitted hat weather. Love it.

Mornings are insane for everyone, no matter what your career is, what your commute is like, if you have children, pets or significant others to wrangle, but I always take a moment to dig through the giant pile of knitted hats in the front closet and choose one that will make my morning a bit brighter, a bit warmer and a bit less crazy. Knitted hats can set the mood for the day. Feeling blah? Grab the gray cabled one. Having a happy day? Go with the bold rainbow stripes. A good rule of thumb is you can never have too many hand knit hats.

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With that in mind, I’d like to introduce you to the Botanist Hat. With 2 stunning shades of Mrs. Crosby’s Steamer Trunk and a Victorian-inspired ginkgo leaf fair isle design, this hat brings a bit of warm weather delight to your noggin on a chilly winter’s day.

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Knitting up on US 6 needles, this hat flies off the needles. A 100% superwash merino wool, I love the crisp ply on this yarn, which really made the fair isle stitches stand up on their own and look their best. At 164 yards, you’ll need a hank of each color and Mrs. Crosby does not disappoint. I chose one of my favorite color pairings of cranberry and turquoise using Hollywood Cerise and Sunset Regatta, but with so many wonderful color offerings, the choice is yours. One of the best things about fair isle knitting (and I see this time and time again since I teach it so frequently at my LYS) is even though a group is knitting the same exact project, by choosing the colors that suit you or your lucky recipient, you can completely change the look. What about Winter Wheat and Red Kind Radish? Golden Butter and Midnight Aubergine? Try something out of your comfort zone!

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Starting with corrugated ribbing then going directly into the fair isle ginkgo design, this slouchy hat comes together quickly at the end with spiral decreases. Designed to be unisex, ginkgo is the only living species in the division Ginkgophyta (all others being extinct) and is recognizably similar to fossils dating back 270 million years! Native to China, the tree is widely cultivated and was introduced early to human history and has various uses in traditional medicine and as a source of food. There’s something elegant about the ginkgo leaf and I’ve been wanting to turn it into a fair isle design for a while.

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Hats are the perfect knitted gift because they fit everyone. You don’t have to worry about bust size or arm length, everyone has a head and that head can get cold once the cold weather sets in. They’re perfect for last-minute knits and always appreciated.

Let’s give a copy of this pattern away, shall we? Answer the below trivia question correctly and automatically be entered to win! Contest open to readers worldwide and you’ll be contacted by me via email. A winner will be chosen at random on Monday, December 14th.

Where is the largest ginkgo farm in the world?

Download the Botanist Hat here.

 

A Move & Embroidered Landscapes

Things here on the blog have been a bit quiet, mainly because in between spraining my left wrist and coming down with (another round of) bronchitis, we moved locally over the weekend.

The annoying thing about moving is there are simply no short cuts. EVERYTHING you own in the world must be gone through, donated, thrown away or kept, chucked into boxes, moved by a bunch of random strangers and unpacked into an unfamiliar space. You’re left with an empty tape gun dispenser, a graveyard of broken-down boxes, sanity frazzled and a general feeling of whiplash. Local moves seem particularly insulting because you’re not moving far, but it’s really no less work. So we moved. We’re in a home that’s ours, we’re by a lake, I have a real office (instead of a closet) and while my sanity remains slightly frazzled as I try to unpack with a 4-year-old who thinks “helping” is putting stuff back into boxes, we’re pretty excited to start this new chapter. We left a place that was 900 square feet with two adults, a child and a dog (not to mention my yarn and fabric stash). It was difficult and we always felt cramped. My dad aptly said “you have elbow room now.” Elbow room, indeed.

I have a few new things to share with you over the next week or so, but I just got my computer up and running, my command central set up and while it’ll take me a while to fully unpack, this place feels like home. It feels like home in a way no other place we’ve ever lived (and there have been many) has. My brain has been humming with new ideas and things I want to try out, my hands are dying to get back to my sewing machine and the OCD part of my brain is begging to get my yarn stash organized, but for now, I’d like to share this amazing article I read a few days ago that stopped me in my tracks and made me say “wow” out loud… Original article posted here.

New Embroidered Landscapes That Cascade off the Wall by Ana Teresa Barboza

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Ana Teresa Barboza (previously) produces embroidered landscapes with wandering streams that break the fourth wall, jumping off their 2D structures and cascading to the floor in waterfalls of blues and greens. The remaining landscape Barboza keeps in black and white, focusing the viewer’s eye on the vibrant colors that compose the rushing water rather than the surrounding mountains and rocks.

Recently the artist has begun to embroider on top of images, collaborating with photographs instead of producing the entire scene. For these particular pieces her yarn remains organized when it trails off the work, each color tightly wound into separate spools that rest above or beside the piece. In this way it seems as if she is neatly categorizing the shades of the ocean, dissecting the hues that comprise the water’s high and lowlights.

With this focus on color it makes sense that the Peruvian artist has an education in painting, she studied the subject at Pontifical Catholic University in her hometown of Lima. The work featured here was originally in her solo exhibition “Volver a Mirar” at Now Contemporary Art in Miami, Florida in late 2014. You can see more of her embroidered land and seascapes on her website here.

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