Monday, April 13, 2015

fo (not) friday: a little funny bunny doll

I knit a lot of little under-the-radar things that never make it to this space.  For example, on the recent holiday extravaganza weekend (Passover/Easter/Snow Melting Lovefest) I had the sudden wants to knit a bunny for Zoe.  
In case you lost count, Zoe is 3 now. Can you see why, despite my long history of having no interest in knitting dolls, I was seized by this impulse?  I could have downloaded a pattern for any of these irresistible softies:  Bunny Nuggets from Rebecca Danger, Beau the Bunny from Woolful, Susan B. Anderson's Bunny fact go search bunny on Ravelry and you'll find plenty of wonderful patterns. 
Instead, I made it up as I went along, using yarn that last saw action as baby booties for Zoe. I thought the angora was a nice nod, like a fiber private in-joke.
Say hello  to Funny Bunny, as we call him. I was aiming for something in between the Bunny Nuggets and a more realistic doll. I maybe{cough}{pretty much} missed my mark, but Zoe loves him. Although she told me his eyes are "not right" and requested button replacements. It is, in all truth, amazing what the face stitches do for a doll. Refer to my last knit doll foray, 10 years ago (!) when I coerced my favorite friends into knitting bears for the Mother Bear Project
(and how the heck is that 10 years ago, anyway??)
Anyway, Zoe's comment  gave us a good excuse to dump out the button tin and sort buttons--an activity I seriously love.

It does leave me with some questions, including....why don't I knit little dolls more often? and, what do you all stuff your knit dolls with? I used to have some of that acrylic fluff I use when making Halloween costumes but couldn't find it, and anyway, it seemed so wrong inside the wool. Do you use batting? Washed fleece? I ended up using some old, clean, well darned and still holey wool socks- -a lumpy solution, which added to Funny Bunny's odd  demeanour. 

Psssst- Kirsten Kapur's brand spankin' new book: Ten Best Loved Shawls Book 1 is out! Order it directly .  Or request at your LYS. I did the photos and I am super proud of this collaboration.
 Par-tay at Trillium Yarns in Morristown NJ this weekend. See you there?

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

wip Wednesday Aristida shawl

Late February, it was like this: I see snow flying in the umpteenth storm, then the invitation to my cousins' beach wedding in Key Largo on the fridge catches my eye, I go online, I buy tickets. On an impulsive roll, I go back online and buy a dress, and a shawl pattern download because I had 3 weeks time and the dress needed something.   Lori had just posted this photo of her Aristida shawl . I fell hard for the whole thing. Her styling.  Especially, especially, the bobbles and fringe.  I should add that I had already called my sisters to find out what "beach formal attire" meant. We concluded "Good Old Fashioned Hippy Party Clothes". Fringe!
A skein of Manos Fino in Peep Bunny Watered Silk later,  I cast on. As it turned out, my dress arrived about 10 pounds (of mine) too tight, so the coordinating shawl was moot. Whatever! I was heading out of the snow!  Although the shawl was pretty far along,  it was not done in time. Whatever, again! The weather was so beautiful, I didn't need a shawl. We danced like maniacs and dined under the stars in celebration of a beautiful couple. Three and a half days of Key Largo was heavenly.
And I totally enjoyed the knitting. This is such satisfying lace--not fussy, not so hard you need to stare at charts...lovely. With a 490  yard skein I figured I could throw in a full extra repeat, no harm.  I was mistaken. Only five rows to go.
My options: less shawl or more yarn.  NO WAY was I ripping, I have felt lately that all my shawls are just a little too small.  Doing without the bobbles and fringe? Out of the question. My LYS was out of the yarn. I posted a search on Ravelry.
How much do I love the world of knitters? Within a day I had 2 responses, and one, Jarah, offered to send me her skein, for me to use as much as I needed-- I'd guesstimated 100
yards, I mean, who knows? Probably less, right? -- and then send it back across the country to her.  Yes, I know, really! How wonderful and generous is that? Knitters are the best.

But I guess you already know that.
Before the wedding. We cleaned up. I even wore glitter 2" high flip flops. So much fun.

New classes on the schedule, teaching in New Jersey, May 2 & 3rd

Fiber College of Maine class signups just launched, for September - and the new website is a beauty. Join us there!

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Fo friday: the audrey cardigan

OK, not quite Friday?  Ironically, my blog turned 10 years old right around when I clammed up in February. I was working on an epic, thoughtful, all encompassing post...but, um, yeah. To sum up--- yay, blogging! Meanwhile, I've been up to many things.  Including knitting.
Here's my Audrey cardigan, debuting during lunch with Beverly Army Williams a few weeks ago. We met to plan course proposals for Fiber College *,in Searsport Maine, we'll be co-teaching again come September 9-13th. Class registration launches April 1st.
In answer to questions surely crossing your mind....
    - yes, it was really cold, all the layers you see were not nearly enough, and that's inside  the restaurant. Let's just say it has been an excellent winter and spring for wool lovers around here.

    -  Beverly is wearing her Wingfeathers shawl, in JillMakesStuff Rifton. Rather fab, isn't it?

 I adore my sweater, loving it right from the cast on with Starcroft Nash Light yarn ,  a perfect wooly, soft, bouncy yarn. 
Plus the realization that  I know exactly where the wool grew. Nash Island sheep! I accumulated the skeins a few at a time over the last couple of years- you can see me clutching some halfway down in my blogpost here from the first time I helped with roundup and shearing day on the island.
I made it a little more over sized than it needs to be, but no matter, it's a favorite and brightened my winter wardrobe-. Psychologically, too.

The color blocking was changed from the pattern as written, to suit myself- both my shape and my quantities of various colors. This is what I love about making my own clothes. Changing it up as I wish, or spontaneously. I know there's also the camp that wants to make a sweater to exactly match the sample..but I am almost never happy there.
As you can see, I AM happy here. The pattern is a yarn gobbler...if you think about it, the front is double layered. It's knit top down, in one piece, with faux seams. When I got to the the sleeves,  I'd planned the Lobster (truly great colorway name)  lower arm but didn't have enough of the main body (Cove) color, so improvised the striped section between the two. I'm very happy with it. You'll notice I ran out of Lobster before I came to the knuckles on my left hand too.  I like to think it looks intentional. Humor me!

One of my favorite features is the extra long sleeves with thumb holes-- like built -in fingerless mitts. First time I've made a sweater with them, won't be the last. I couldn't decide on a front closure, or where I'd  place it, so I left it open. If you look at the projects page, which I assure you I did a gazillion-millionty  times, there are many options. Sometimes I just let it fall open, like in the image with Beverly, and sometimes I pin it shut. Or, I guess, hold it, in a weird and awkward way.

And that in the upper right? If you have taken a workshop with me, you know I disparage (OK, outright mock)  cliche poses, especially hands cupped clutching something. It's so overdone, and in any case, whatever is in the hands inevitably becomes the focal point of the photo when it should be about the knits. I especially poke fun at the use of empty mugs. Extra pokes if the model is in some deep woods or natural setting with empty tableware. Beverly, who kindly photographed me, couldn't resist. So, there you have it.
* Fiber College is an  inspirational fiber arts retreat in the most beautiful setting.  Unique vibe, fabulous teachers and a certain something special happens every single year.   I am already looking forward to it!

Friday, February 13, 2015

goings on

A quick hello because it is upon us: I am teaching a Smartphone/iphone Photo Class this Sunday Feb 15 at Knit New Haven.

On the left, the straght-up photo from my phone. On theright, after a a few moves /Apps to fix it up.
Come on out & join me. This is a fun class, and really, it doesn't matter if you are a knitter, this is a class you can take with a non-knitter friend, while sitting in a cheerful yarn shop. I guarantee you'll both leave with a few new apps & tricks to make your phone camera images fabulous.(You might leave with some yarn, too...but that's another story.)

Here's an example we shot while teaching this class in November, in Maryland.

On the far left, a quick phone camera shot of a skein of yarn on a typical meeting table, warts and all. Same photo; rotated, quickly fixed up a bit, and then labeled, all in Phone. If you're on Instagram, it's the kind of image that works well in the feed. (We'll talk about that).
 Even if you own a big beautiful camera, your phone is so much easier to whip out when you want shots of a new sweater, or a nice moment while walking the dog. I know I am guilty of that . Like, daily. The trick is to make the most of the image Why not ?
 We'll use free and inexpensive apps to take our phone images to a new level. The workshop is hands-on, moves fast, is fun and  and a review/critique at the end, of what we've accomplished. See you there? Call ahead to register.  Sunday 10-1.

Many more of my phone photos on my Instagram. Follow me

Thursday, January 29, 2015

FO (day before)friday: wingfeathers

 Wingfeathers by Cal Patch, in Rifton yarn from Jill Draper. And my new Chucks! 
Shot before the snowstorms started, a week ago.

Were I a more restrained blogger, I'd simply caption this "What Beverly said". 

But, I am not. Still, go over and read her story of the shawl.
More and more,  I make things with meaning attached to the materials. A special yarn, a pattern that's suggested or created by a friend, colors that remind me of a very specific geography,  the handwork done in a moment that stays with the piece forever.  This? Has it all.  
The Rifton yarn is a joy to work with, I wish you could see the subtle speckles and color blends. It's softened,  drapier now, a week after blocking, than in these photos. The color is exactly the Atlantic in winter,  the views I never get tired of.
550 yards, almost down to the last yard. I added a picot edge. I am no ace crocheter--I may hook out a Big Ass Granny Square blanket now and then, but I rarely follow a crochet pattern. That may change, I enjoyed this so much.

Three Wingfeathers underway, mine on the left, in two Rifton colorways. The yarn comes wrapped in a muslin cloth, a lovely detail. It's a limited run, so if you feel inspired, go get it now.
oh and about those sneakers..they really have knitting on them! An impulse purchase while in NYC. Love. Pretty much them and the Wingfeathers=my winter uniform. Except , of course, for the 2+ feet of new snow on the ground making real boots a necessity.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

the Starcroft yarn has popped up in NYC!

Here's the full view of the sheep shots from Nash Island that I put in the Starcroft Fiber Mill popup this week at lf8elevate
these three are all there as large , mounted, coated photographic prints, and as small lovely cards singly, and as a set with those below
I made a limited printing for the week but will re-stock and sell by mail, too.  If you are interested, send me a message at

Jani Estell herself, perhaps a little stunned,  just after we finished setting up the pop up shop on Monday. Instant yarn store!  It was magical how beautifully it fit in. I hope you have a chance to visit this week (Jan 13-18th).
POP UP ADDRESS: 80 east 7th street, NY NY between 1st and 2nd Aves. 
HOURS:  12-6   thru Sunday only  till 9 pm Thursday 1/16.
on Thursday 1/16 and Saturday 1/18 there are gatherings with Jani, Kay Gardiner (who masterminded this) and FOJ (Friends of Jani)  knitwear luminaries like Kirsten Kapur and Mary Jane Mucklestone and I hear Laura Nelkin will pop in the pop up too.

3 hours earlier, standing in a chilly drizzle in the middle of East 7th street, as Kirsten Kapur/Through the Loops, Jani and Yliana unloaded the woolpacked-to-the-gills car.  You know Kirsten has many talents, and it turns out one is making delicious cascading arrangements of yarn.Sooo tempting.
Here's Jani and her husband Grant, on Nash. Keep in mind they live in the woods, in a town of 400 or so, Down East (that's way north in regular geography) so this whole shop in NYC for a week is just...radical, I guess, is the best word to use.  I feel like you need to see a little more of Jani's "real life" to understand where the gorgeous handyed yarn she's brought down comes from.  I'm super lucky to have crossed paths and become friends over the last few years.  Helping out at the roundup and shearing on the island is a standout joyous top ten day of any year.

Jani commuting to work with the flock, by lobster boat, with Alfie Wakeman, the island owner. Cleat, the orphan sheep last year, rides along.

The view Jani is used to. Not quite lower Manhattan. Still, no parking.

 Tossing a just sheared fleece onto the skirting table . All of her yarn comes from the island sheep.
yeah. Couldn't resist ending with this one.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

island sheep yarn in nyc

Borrowing the artful history writing of Kay Gardiner, as it appeared on Instagram recently
 "True story. Once upon a time in the 1970s (approximately), two little girls named Kay and @galezucker were NOT allowed to start flocks of sheep. So they became Camp Fire Girls. Which was great, but not the same as having a flock of sheep on a lighthouse island off the coast of Maine. To repair this psychic injury, when they grew up Kay and Gale persuaded @janistarcroft to bring her Nash Island wool yarns to a jewel box of a shop on East 7th Street in NYC, @lf8elevate One week only starting January 13. 
Join us on January 15 from 6-9 and January 17 (Saturday) from 3-6 for knittin' and chattin' old skool."

 I can't add much except to say 
• the Starcroft yarn is very special, and never available in NY before.
• there'll be a flock of knitters you'd enjoy the company of at the shop, during the knit and chats on Thursday and Saturday
• Jani graciously invited me to share some of my printed photographs and limited edition postcards from visits with her Nash Island sheep--all sepia toned, including the one above--so that'll be in the shop, too
• This whole crazy adventure is Kay's brainstorm, and I never say no to riding shotgun when Kay's behind the wheel. Join us!