This Week, In Review

You’d think since I spent the week blathering on about VKL instead of showing off WIPs, I’d have a lot of progress to show.  My dragon fade Match & Move pretty much looks the same though.  I really am closing in on the end though.  I keep saying it but this time, I really do mean it!  16 rows plus the bind off.  It will be finished soon and it will be gorgeous.  Until then, it’s like wrestling an octopus.  It’s incredibly unwieldy.

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I’ve got lots of things I want to start on but I’m trying to clear the slate first.  I did need a project to carry around at VKL though.  Enter my 3-Color Cashmere Cowl.

It’s not done but I couldn’t resist trying it on!  I don’t think I’ve been giving this project the proper presence of mind.  It’s just a stashbusting, quickie.  It was trivial.  Until, I put it on.  Now, the whole is greater than the sum of it’s parts.  I really like this.  Duh…there’s a reason it’s been so popular!

I’m frequently a late adopter when it comes to the hot, new pattern.   The original 3-Color Cashmere Cowl was released more than 3 years ago.  There’s over 6000 of these cowls on Ravelry.  I shouldn’t be surprised at all.  These things are always popular for a reason.

Of course, I’m not actually following the pattern.  I’m using DK weight yarn instead of fingering and I’m just making up my own patterning as I go, using the original as a roadmap.  So far, so good…it helps that I’m using cashmere, I did keep that part the same!  100% Noro Cashmere…it’s yummy!  I can’t wait to block it and bloom the cashmere.  It’s going to be amazing!

Have a great weekend!  I’m hoping to squeeze all this finishing in.  Woo!


 

VKL Fashions

One of the things I liked most about the San Francisco version of Vogue Knitting Live was getting to do everything.  The small size of the event meant I had time to do all the things…shopping and classes, yes but also stop at the measurement station, the line wasn’t a mile long.   Catch a couple fashion shows, because they were in the same ballroom as the marketplace.   Stroll the Rowan 40th anniversary collection that was being displayed and get up close and personal with original pattern samples!

Vogue had Josh Bennett’s Marvel collection on display as well as the cover sweaters from the current fall issue and a sneak peek at the brioche collection that’s going to be featured in the next issue!  The next issue could be good!

Let’s start with the current issue.  I have issues with this current issue.  In true Vogue style, they manage to mangle classics and bomb in the biggest way possible.  It’s start with the cover.  Easter colors on a fall cover?  What?  No!

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I’m no traditionalist and you may have noticed how much I enjoy color.  This cover just really grates on me.  I complained to everyone who would listen.  At the Vogue publishing booth, I told the woman.  She said ‘would you rather have the European cover?  We have it and the content is the same, just a different cover?’  Of course…it was still pastel.   No!

This particular cover choice has irked me since it was released.  It had not occurred to me, I’d get to see the actual sweater in person!  There it was waiting for us, right at the top of escalator into the marketplace, along with the rest of the yoke sweaters from the same issue.

I’m not saying it’s a bad sweater.  Not at all, it’s a lovely sweater, just not the cover sweater.  Especially when the rest of the collection is perfect for fall!  Of course, hotel lighting was awful, so click here if you want to see how beautiful these sweaters are.  The bottom right sweater is a lovely soft turquoise color with rust and burgundy accents in the yoke.   That is a redhead’s dream!  And a perfect choice for the cover…what were they thinking?

The cover is nearly forgivable though.  Maybe they were trying to think outside the box or be fashion forward or some shit like that.  Fine, the actual garments are great.  Let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater.

The same can’t be said for their next choice.

BOOB TASSELS??  WTF?  I mean, seriously?  How did any fashion editor,  anywhere, think this was a good idea?  NO.  That’s a lovely sweater that has been turned into an abomination.  I still can’t really process what is going on here.  The number of hands this had to pass through to become part of the magazine and no one thought to question it?  Or perhaps feature the sweater without ridiculous boob tassels.

Maybe it’s all a setup.  They’re prepping us for boob fringe, which will seem rather normal by comparison?  There’s really no good explanation for it.

The brioche sneak peek from the winter issue is much better.  Nothing completely ridiculous or rant-worthy, except maybe poor lighting.

Two raglans, a cardigan, a yoke sweater and a wrap, all in brioche.  I think this issue will be popular.  I see potential for wearable garments, in lots of colors, at a range of skill levels.   Let’s hope they don’t fuck up the cover!

Josh Bennett’s Marvel collection, I think these sweaters have been at a lot of Vogue events already but I really liked getting to see them!

Writing knitwear patterns for men’s garments is a thankless job.  I don’t think we’ll ever see patterns for these sweaters but they are terrific garments.   They were designed as part of a hand knit collection that retails for about $1300.  Honestly, that’s a great price for a hand knit sweater.  I would charge you more.  :)

The was one more set of sweaters on display, a collection celebrating Rowan’s 40th anniversary.  This gown was gorgeous!  Knit from Kidsilk Haze and adorned with Swarovski crystals…oh la la!  They even sent it down the catwalk during the fashion show.  It was great to see it on a person!

And, of course, there were plenty of samples on the marketplace floor to be inspected as well.  I really liked this cashmere cardigan, probably the zipper that sucked me in.

The collar was folded over, sandwiching the top of the zipper.  Interesting way to almost do an encased zipper while giving the collar enough bulk to stand up.

Maybe a design feature for my next cardigan?  There’s certainly a wealth of options here to think about!  Seeing all these garments in person is great inspiration, even when it’s inspiration about what I don’t want! The results of failed experiments should never be underestimated!


 

Snips n Zips with Franklin Habit

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My Vogue Knitting Live class was ‘Snips n Zips’ with Franklin Habit, aka steeks and zippers.  I’ve got experience with both techniques but I’m always looking for ways to improve my finishing and add polish to my knits.

I’m happy with my steeks, but you can see my zippers buckle.  They’re definitely passable.  I wear that brown sweater, my Rhinebeck Sweater from a few years back, frequently.  They are not perfect though.

I’ll just get straight to the money shot because this is a perfect zipper!  I couldn’t be happier.  Those lines are so lovely.  I’m really pleased with my work.

The big secret?  Basting the zipper into place before sewing it down.  It helped immensely.  The buckling in my previous zippers is due to the fabric shifting as I sewed.  It’s something I, especially, need to combat.  Loose fabrics like I knit, shift a lot as they’re being stitched.

Always sew zippers at a table, was Franklin’s other advice.  Allow the table to support the weight of the garment.  That will help stabilize everything and making sewing easier.

So, I’m super happy with the zipper portion of the program.  I will say though, I do not prefer Franklin’s method of steeking.  He teaches the slip stitch crochet method.

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And he teaches it very well.

He’s got great visual aids, both drawn and 3D.  That board represents 4 rows of 5 knit stitches, the center stitch being the one cut.  With a very large crochet hook and lengths of thick i-cord he demonstrates precise hook placement and stitch formation.  It’s so helpful.

He’s an extremely experienced teacher, having presented this class to over 2000 students.  Even before that though, he tests all his classes on a group of volunteers back home and really spends time thinking about where students run in to problems and how to avoid them.  Simple tips like always sew with the zipper closed.  It’s a simple observation and a simple adjustment.  I like not having to reinvent the wheel.

All that said, I don’t like the crochet steek method.  I did it in class to be a good sport and see if my dislike was still reasonable.  It is.  Here’s why…bulk.  I’ve got plenty of my own bulk.  I do not need garments adding any extra.

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On the right side of the swatch, you see the slip stitch crochet method.  On the left side, my preferred technique, a sewn reinforcement with a simple backstitch.  When the stabilizing stitches are sewn like this, you’re putting a lot less yarn into it, it makes perfect sense that it would be less bulky.

Of course, I’m also basing my decision on Lopi.  The yarn you cut influences these decisions in a big way.  Sticky wools barely need any stabilizing stitches at all.  If I was using a superwash wool, my choice might be different.  (Like don’t chose superwash wool!)  I might consider a crochet steek at that point.

Franklin had lots of samples for us to see.  Much to my surprise, the lovely blue and grey floral vest he knit was from a superwash, Lorna’s Laces Sport.  Slip stitch crochet steek and it’s a gorgeous garment.  Certainly not showing any signs of unraveling.

 

Of course, the first thing I did was turn it inside out.  How does Franklin finish garments?  Turns out, his insides aren’t all that different from mine.  If you work with precision, those details just fall into place and sort themselves out.

The biggest difference between our work is gauge.  Firmly knit fabrics are not my thing.  Franklin’s gauge is unbelievable to me.  My homework was knit with Lett Lopi on Size 4 needles.  Franklin just happened to bring a tea cozy he made with Lett Lopi on Size 4 needles.

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It’s tough to get a sense of drape without the samples in hand but look closely at the stitches and you’ll see.  There’s daylight between and behind my stitches, you can see the looseness.  Look at his stitches, they’re tight and closely packed.  No daylight there.  Same yarn, same size needles, both knit in the round…completely different fabrics!  Moral of the story:  Gauge matters, take time to do a swatch or three.   It’s true.  Sorry.

SO, I had a very good class experience.  My only real complaint, Vogue makes the teachers collect their own materials fees in class.  We had a $5 fee for the zippers.  I’m not faulting Franklin for collecting it but I know how much zippers cost (less than a dollar) and I know how much I paid for this class ($125).  And Vogue couldn’t afford to toss Franklin a few extra bucks for materials?  It was a sold out class.  How cheap are they?  Also worth mentioning, they materials fee was not on their website so we didn’t even know about it.  I poked around, other classes had their fee listed so I’m sure it was an unintentional oversight but c’mon…it’s not like this is their first rodeo.

As for the rest of the classes I talked to people about, seems the bad stories were overwhelming.  All those good things I said about Franklin, they were missing entirely from other teachers.  No class notes, no long history of teaching, no thought and intention put into curriculums, no well oiled classes.

Instead, it was first time teachers, people who are instagram famous for designing shawls but can’t teach worth a damn.  Designers who can sell patterns but lack quality public speaking ability.  Authors who changed class itineraries with no notice.

I was surprised at the big name knitters who put out substandard classes.  It’s too bad. Conventional wisdom around here said VKL gets better teachers than Stitches but after this weekend, we need to rethink that idea.  I’d say it’s more accurate to say VKL gets bigger name teachers, that’s not to say they can teach at all.

There was one other guy who got very high marks though, Josh Bennett.  He did not disappoint!  I had a feeling he’d be a good teacher.  I watched him mentor designers throughout the course of Skacel’s Fiber Factor.  He provided great insight into the design process in those videos and the importance of editing.   If you haven’t seen the Fiber Factor, you can check it out on YouTube.  It was an attempt at giving knitwear designers a chance at reality tv style design challenges.  It didn’t last into a second season but I definitely learned a lot about designing knitwear by watching it.

Anyhow, Josh Bennett…he’s a yes!  Stay tuned tomorrow for lots of sweater pics, including the sweaters Josh designed for Marvel, inspired by Black Panther and a sneak peek at the garments in November’s issue of Vogue Knitting!


 

Vogue Knitting Live SF Recap

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What a weekend, I barely know where to start.  There’s so much to tell you about…classes, shopping, fashion shows…and lots of yarn!  Let’s start with the fun stuff…here’s my shopping.

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I went over budget but I knew that was going to happen.  I say unrealistic things like ‘I’m not going to buy yarn.’  Obviously, no one believes that.  Not even me.  I did leave my credit card at home on days 2 & 3 though, that helped.  The vendors were quick to be helpful, telling me about apple pay and other banking apps they’re equipped to deal with.  Nice try, vendors.  Nice try.

My shopping started at Neighborhood Fiber Co.  They were the end of their row, a perfect crossroads to find friends.  Perhaps, for me, the best part of the event was it’s small, even intimate size.  It was so easy to run into fiber friends.  Having worked in local yarn shops, I know a lot of knitters.  There were lots of people to stop and chat with! So, I stood next to the Neighborhood Fiber Co booth, eyeing their display shawls and chatting it up.

I happened to say ‘if they had a kit for that shawl and it was in my hands, what are the chances I’d put it down?’  A helpful friend said ‘oh, you mean like this’ and the rest is history.  I’m not sure what exactly I’ll knit with the yarn.  It’s a kit for Joji’s Fading Point shawl and the display model is Joji’s Starting Point shawl.  I like triangles more than rectangles but also, how many triangles (asymmetric or otherwise!) does one person need?

With that in mind, my next purchases were for sweaters.  Franklin Habit’s class definitely gave me the finishing touches I was looking for.  A nice woolly cardigan with a zipper is now in the queue.  I picked up a 7 skeins of Swans Island sport weight from the ‘All American’ collection.  100% American grown, spun and dyed, NON-SUPERWASH Rambouillet…It’s perfect!  I’m going to pair it with the Mountain Meadow Cody, I got in Flagstaff.  It’s very similar in it’s 100% American grown, spun, dyed origins.  They should pair beautifully.

I’ve got a range of colors and no clue how they’ll become a sweater.  The next part of my process is making a pile.  When I’m asked ‘what are you going to do with that yarn?’, which is frequent at these events, my answer is ‘put it in a pile’.  It’s funny, in the moment, but it’s also the truth.  I buy single skeins in large quantities.  Figuring out how they all fit together, is the fun part.  First thing I did when I got home last night was put them in a pile.  (Also referred to as ‘playing Barbies’.)

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Here’s a couple piles!  The best piles ever!  A gorgeous squishy real wool cardigan with a zipper…yes, please!!

And then, that green pile…oh yeah!  I’ve been collecting green fingering weight yarns all year.  This pile is just beginning.  There’s going to be lots of arranging and rearranging.  Whatever happens, it’s going to be good.  I might be saying the words ‘Westknits Marled Mania Cardigan’ but I don’t think I mean that just yet.  I’d consider the short version, in one color family…I’m waiting to see some real world examples pop up.  Given my current queue, I should have no problem filling that wait time up with other knits.

And cross stitches.  When the cash for big yarn projects was depleted I still had a few dollars left for beads!  The bead booth is so fun!  And beads are so tiny.  No space issues when you hoard beads.  Those three on the left came home with me.  They’ve got an interesting bias cut that could make for interesting leaf, scale or feather textures.  We’ll see what happens.

And then, there’s all the stuff I didn’t buy.  Sadly, I can’t cram everything from every yarn shop into my small apartment.  I didn’t buy most the stuff.  I showed restraint and only brought home pictures of all these beauties…

Overall, I was happy with the marketplace.  Anyone expecting Stitches West level of shopping was in for a disappointment.  There was one small ballroom full of vendors.  I’ve not been to VKL in New York but apparently, it’s four times larger than this was.  There were complaints.

The interesting thing for me was the dominance of our local shops.  Many local shops had booths and many (most?) attendees were local.  This did not feel like an event full of people who traveled great distances.  It felt like a local event with a few out of towners.  That’s not what I was expecting.  It also felt undersold.  It wasn’t crowded.  The economics of it all is certainly questionable.  I hope the vendors made a bit of money.  The tentative plans for 2020 include another VKL SF.  I think they need to change things up a bit, if it’s going to work.

More about the complaints tomorrow!  I got a lot out of my class but not everyone did.  Franklin is an excellent teacher.  He was so well organized and together.  My class was a well oiled machine.  Unfortunately, I heard more bad class stories than good.

I’ve got lot of pics from class to share but enough talking, it’s yarn:30 in the crafternoon.  I must knit!  There is a 3-color cashmere cowl calling my name!

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FO Friday – Newborn Vertebrae

My little nephew has been on the outside now for two months!  Of course, that is a milestone marked with a new sweater!

I thought I was making a cute and tiny sweater.  I was nervous that he’d outgrow it before I got it sent off.  I’m pleased to report, he received it and he’s got some room to grow!  Yay!  Not as tiny as I thought!

Sorry, no pics to share since he’s not my kid to plaster all over the internet but, my sister did send me a pretty funny picture of him crying while wearing the sweater.  I’m definitely keeping it, so I can remind him, in the future, how much he loved the sweaters his auntie made him.

The sweater is a free pattern, Newborn Vertebrae by Kelly van Niekirk.  It’s a pattern where one size is free, the smallest in this case.  The remainder of the sizes, you pay for.  Despite making the smallest size, I was able to get a sweater closer to the six month size!  For once, having a loose gauge paid off!   The yarn is KnitPicks, Felici in color Hawaiian Shirt.  So cute!

It was a simple knit.  Aside from gauge, I didn’t change a thing.  It’s the perfect little baby sweater…frontless, so it doesn’t get spit up on.  Also, facilitates skin-to-skin contact.  That might be my favorite part.  This isn’t just some cute thing that I wanted to do…it’s got an important developmental function!  It’s necessary, even!  Yay Knitting!

Up next, something tweedy for the little man.  Perfect for fall…

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I’m definitely about to binge start 6 projects! It’s gonna be so good!


 

VKL SF

It’s time!  Vogue Knitting Live is finally here.  Nearly a decade after Vogue started hosting these events, San Francisco is getting it’s weekend.  Woooo!

 

And I’m ready…my homework is officially done!  Blocked, ends woven…the whole shebang.  I’m taking Franklin Habits steek & zipper class.  No chance I’d show up to meet Franklin Habit with unblocked homework?!?  I’ve done both zippers and steeks successfully, so it won’t be anything new to me but I’m hoping to pick up some finesse from Franklin.  He’s a detail oriented fellow, known for recreating intricate vintage knits.  He’s got an interesting blog, hopefully one day he revives it.

I’m looking forward to his class.  It seems like everyone loves him so the bar is set high!  I’ll also be attending a sheep to skein talk by Clara Parkes.  She’s no slouch herself…as the author of the Knitter’s Book of Wool (among many other’s), she’s clearly an expert.  I have a feeling she’s not going to disappoint either.

Now that my homework is done, I feel deadline-free for the first time in nearly a month!  I can knit anything I want!  Wooooo!  I’d like to finish my Dragon Fade shawl, but it’s huge at this point.

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I’m 60 rows or so from the end.  I really want to finish it but it’s become a bit of a wrestling match.  Two balls of yarn attached, all the unwoven ends, the 8 feet of fabric attached to the needles.  I need to leave it at home.   It’s too much.   I’m ready for something new.

This time I reached for the bag of cashmere.  I’ve got some 100% cashmere, DK weight, from Noro.  A single fiber and a single color…very unusual for a Noro yarn.  I’m messing around with a swatch, I’ve got a few other cashmeres I could add in.  Ultimately, I’m heading towards a cowl, inspired by the 3-Color Cashmere Cowl.  I’m changing the gauge and I expect I’ll make some other modifications along the way.

It should be the perfect convention knitting!  Bring on the weekend and VKL!  Woo!

Memory Lane Monday

A few weeks back, I officially gave up my long abandoned Flickr account.  I checked everything I could, none of the pics on the account were important to me.  I went through, deleting them one at a time to chec, before I did the full account de-activation.  I had to click a whole bunch of ‘yes, this is what I really want’ and ‘yes, I understand that means losing the content connected to this account’ dialog boxes.  I knew what I was doing.

…or so I thought.  Turns out, somewhere, that I was not finding, I stored a whole lot of Ravelry pics.  All my early knitting, the pre-Ravelry stuff.  Last night, I discovered vast sections of my notebook with ‘photo no longer available’ icons displayed.  UGH!  Technology! What a hassle.  All those photos that were being slurped from Flickr are gone!

I knew I could recover a lot of the pictures though.  Once upon a time, I had actual photos of what I’d knit.  You know…pictures printed on paper!  I promptly started scouring my old emails for jpg attachments and of course, I got out the box of old photos.

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It’s been a great stroll down memory lane, looking at all those things I knit years ago and thinking about all the people they were gifted too.  Each one has a unique story, I’m glad I had the forethought to archive them when I did.

All these hats!  I loved that squirrel — I used him several times.   Waldo & Wanda baby hats, when friends didn’t know the sex of their first born.  He turned out to be a Waldo and he was so cute in his little hat.

Celtic knots & swirls from a book of celtic charts I bought in Ireland.  I don’t have pictures of that vacation anymore.  They were lost to another digital snafu years ago but I’ve still got the book of celtic designs.  I want to revisit all of these hats!

Of course, as I searched, I also found some things that have not stood the test of time.  A hideous blue fringed poncho??  NO.  Some ponchos, maybe.  This poncho?  NO.  No idea where it is and I’m okay with that.

A pale blue hat with so much thick n thin weird ruffly shit going on, that you can’t even tell it’s got a stupid blue flower on it?  UGH.  no.  Again, no love lost because I don’t know where it is.

The good news is…we can learn from our earlier mistakes.  Like that cute attempt at a Pac-Man hat.  I was trying to ‘unvent’ intarsia in the round.  It’s horrible and puckered.  I could do much better today.  I’ve said since day 1, I wanted to re-do that hat.  I can definitely do much better today!  So many projects worthy of a second attempt.

And then, there’s this…a project I still have close at hand but never put on Ravelry at all.

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A weird, boxy, boucle cotton tank top.  The second garment I ever knit for myself, probably about 2004.  I didn’t like it at the time but putting it on today, it’s comfy and it looks ok.   It’s mostly two squares sewn together, that’s why I picked it.  There’s a tiny bit of neck shaping, only a couple rows.   I’m still wearing now.  I’m gonna attempt a revival with it.

Not sure why I never put it on Ravelry but it’s there now.  It’s a significant milestone…my 1000th Ravelry notebook page!  My inner archivist is a little disappointed they don’t all have pictures anymore but at least I’ve picked up a few projects that fell through the cracks previously!  What would I do without Ravelry?!?  A Ravelry data loss is the stuff nightmares are made of.

1000 projects cataloged!  It’s a milestone worthy of a legacy garment like this one.  Needless to say, my first sweater was so bad there are no known pictures of it in existence and even the garment itself was destroyed, never to be seen again.

Now, I think I’ll celebrate by casting something on…