Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Maya's First Big Knitting Project

Seeing as I can't really let you in on what I'm knitting right now I thought I'd document what my daughter is up to!
Well my daughter was not satisfied with only being a knitwear model....she needed to do some knitting of her own!

It all began with these eucalyptus seed pods that we found on a recent camping trip to the coast. She collected a bunch of these and loved the pretty star shape in the center and figured they would make nice buttons. So when we got home she told me she wanted to knit a cardigan (so she could use the pods as buttons)!
Well Maya has done little bits of knitting here and there but not really finished anything yet so I hummed and hawed about the thought of starting with a cardigan...too much shaping, piecing together we looked through my knitting magazines and found the perfect project...
Kat Coyle's poncho/vest in Knitscene's spring 2007 issue. We are adapting it so it will be in garter stitch (no purling-keeping it simple) and a smaller size too. Essentially it is two rectangles attached at the shoulder with a wee bit of shaping for the neck at front (which I will obviously help Maya with) then the neck stitches are worked in the round and it has buttons at the side! (I should add that we have not attempted to pierce the pods yet so I'm not sure if they will work as buttons). The other great thing about this project is that it is chunky yarn on big needles so will knit up quickly....a must for young newbie knitters!
So we headed out to the LYS and found some Mistialpaca which was the closest we could get to the yarn used in the pattern......I took a deep breath as I pulled out the credit is her birthday on Monday after all!!

She knit a swatch and even drew a sketch of the finished garment! (she has been observing me doing this a lot lately) and I cast on for her and away she went. She is getting great satisfaction from her quick progress and after one afternoon can say she is a quarter way through the back piece!

She aims to finish this within a month as she wants to wear it when we go back to camp at the spot where we found the seed pods (at this gorgeous and private environmental campground in Montana De Oro state park, which can be booked for your own exclusive use....we wanted to go for her birthday but the first dates we could get were for the beginning of August)!
We'll have to plan on lots of coastal trips so she has some cooler weather to wear the poncho/vest in......Fresno in the summer...not so much!

Swatches off line

Well I decided to remove my last two posts showing all my recent swatching of yarns under the advice of another designer (Edna Hart). She reckons it's better not to show anything (even swatches) that you may use for submitting as a design. Thanks for the heads up on that Edna, I don't want to shoot myself in the foot! As you said better to play it safe.....only wish I had some other projects I was working on right now so I could post something but alas...they are all secret!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Yarns To Sample

I ordered this selection of yarns recently from WEBS to try out. I just chose the colours randomly as they are not for specific projects (yet)!

From Left to right we have:
Valley Yarns Southwick (Cotton/ Bamboo)
Vickie Howell Craft (Organic Cotton/Milk Fiber)
Vickie Howell Rock (Soysilk/fine wool/ hemp)
Vickie Howell Love (Bamboo Fibers/ silk)
Frog Tree- Non profit South American Co. (Cotton/silk)
South West Trading Co BAMBOO (100% Bamboo)
And on top some Hand spun organic cotton from Blue Sky

Looking forward to working with these and getting some design ideas going!

Left Overs!

Well after all that knitting with Hempathy I had quite a bit left over to do something with. It seemed like the perfect amount for a wee baby sun dress! So I continued the stripe theme (but using chevrons this time) and came up with this over the weekend. The dress looks a little odd on the large hanger but I'm pretty pleased with how it came out. I literally had the exact amount of that pink!
It's for some dear friends back East who are about to have a little girl any day now!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Other Sizes for Knitty Pattern

As several people have asked about the pattern in smaller and larger sizes I've tried to put together some info for child sizes 2,4 and 6 and then a general guideline for larger sizes than published on Knitty. Click here to view.

Hip in Hemp in other sizes

Child Sizes 2, 4 and 6 for Hip in Hemp Skirt
These are a few more child sizes for the skirt pattern on Knitty. I’m not exactly giving you a full written out pattern. This is meant to be used in conjuction with the pattern published on Knitty.

So to get started I would suggest printing out the pattern and then making the following changes:

Finished Measurements:
Length: approx 12 [13.5,15] inches
Waist: to fit waist 20 [21,22]

Elsebeth Lavold Hempathy [34% Hemp, 41% Cotton, 25% Modal; 153 yd/140m per 50g skein] Colors are given for Child[Adult].
[MC] #02[09]; 1,[2,2] skeins
[CC 1] #015[016]; 1[1,1] skeins
[CC 2] #017[06]; 1[1,1] skeins
[CC 3] #010[04]; 1[1,1] skeins

Note: If working the skirt in a solid color, you will need 3 [4,4]

18[19,20] inches waistband elastic, 0.5 inch wide
(NB begin with a 16" needle until enough stitches fit comfortably on a 24 ")

Stripe Pattern (for sizes 2and 4 only)
Work 3 rounds in CC1.
Work 3 rounds in CC2.
Work 3 rounds in CC3.
Work 3 rounds in MC.
Repeat these 12 rounds for Stripe Pattern.

Changes to make to Table/chart (for sizes 2 and 4 only)
In the table part the column with the rounds numbered will need to be changed as for these two smallest sizes only 2 rnds of knitting is done between each scallop shaping round (as opposed to 3). So the column showing the rounds should read from top 1,4,7,10,13,16,19,22,25,28,31,34,37,40,43,46,49,52,55,(this will be last round of table for size 2)58,61 64,67,(this will be the last round of table for size 4)

For size 6 follow table/chart for size 8 (after initial set up round) but stop at rnd 81.

Cut a piece of waistband elastic 18 [19,20] inches long. Overlap ends by 0.5 inch, ensuring that elastic is not twisted. Sew ends securely together.

Using MC and US #4/3.5mm needle, loosely CO 130 [136,143]

Set-up Round: Using US #5/3.75mm needle
Size 2: increase 6 stitches evenly around and at the same time place a marker every 17 stitches
Size 4: [k17, place marker] to end.
Size 6: increase 10 stitches evenly around and at the same time place a marker every 17 stitches

Including end-of-round marker, 8[8,9] markers in place.
(You should be able to continue following the pattern as seen on Knitty at this point except that for sizes 2and 4 only you will need to remember to work only 2 rnds between each scallop shaping pattern. The reason for this is that with the wee sizes the skirt needs slightly more frequent increasing for good drape).

When all rounds of the chart have been worked, you will have just started a stripe using CC3. Complete this 3 [3,4]-round stripe and break CC3. There are 296[ 328, 351]sts: 37[41, 39] sts between each pair of markers. (NB: you can work extra rounds if you want the skirt longer. Just be sure to end on a CC3 section before doing hem in MC)

Continue as follows, using MC:
Work Round D; value of N is 11[ 13,11].
P 1 round.
K 1 round.
P 1 round.
Work Round D as above.
P 1 round.
K 1 round.
BO all sts purlwise.

For sizes larger than published on Knitty.

My general guidelines for any sizes larger than what is on knitty would be to measure your waist where you want the skirt to sit and then multiply that by 6.5
Round that number up or down a few stitches so that it is divisible by 17 (which is the initial pattern repeat). If you are too many stitches away from a number that is divisible by 17 then increase what you need on the initial set up round (as described in pattern).

I would then continue to work from the pattern following the large size in the table/chart
Also add one more skein of each color to materials just to be sure.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Hip in Hemp

(note: I just added this image of my daughter's friend Hunter who was the happy recipient of the Hip In Hemp skirt)

I Just got back from being away from my computer for the weekend and logged on....and I was blown away to see my design (and gorgeous daughter ) on the opening page of the Knitty website.
I have had part of this post prepared ahead of time so I could throw it onto my blog as soon as the new knitty issue came out.... So here she is....the Hip In Hemp design in a couple of other stripe/color variations (the possibilities here are almost endless)!

The skirt on Knitty in orange/brown/green stripes was modeled by my daughter but the skirt was a present for her friend Hunter who loved it so much she slept in it that night!
Hunter's Mum, Deanna was the recipient of the adult size and models it in the photos here.
The wee model is my niece Molly in New Zealand who obviously enjoyed posing for the pictures!

Just wanted to show anyone who's interested in knitting this skirt that you can really individualize it!

Thursday, June 7, 2007

A wee bit more background and my approach to design

As I wait excitedly for my first designed to be published in Knitty's summer issue I thought I would add some information to my blog in regards to my knitting background and approach to design.

I was clothed in plenty of knitwear as a child what with my mother designing Shetland knitwear in the 70's (see History of Shetland Trader) and had a brief spell of learning the basics as a teen (I have a vague memory of a disgusting pale green vest top). However it all began in earnest a few years ago in Western Massachusetts (they really love their knitting there. 600 people turned out for Stephanie Pearl McPhee's recent visit). After walking past Northampton wools (in Northampton of course) and spotting a poncho in the window I wandered in and bought the pattern and materials and that poncho became my daughter's replacement for the security blanket she had lost during our recent relocation to the states.It is still treasured and slept with every night, several years later. After that first stop into the yarn store I pretty much became a knitting addict immediately!

I began with buying books and patterns and mostly taught myself from these books as I went along. I quickly found that I would adapt patterns to suit me and more often than not would be using a yarn different than the one specified. Knitting felt natural to me and I wonder If my Shetland blood had some knitting skills stored, just waiting to come out. After many, many knitted projects most of which I gave away as presents I attended a class at WEBS in Northampton Massachusetts. One of the teachers of this class was Cirilia Rose who has a great blog and has appeared as a model for Lexie Barnes and Webs (where she works). This class used Barbara Walker’s ‘Knitting From the Top’ and we each designed a top down raglan sweater/cardigan. This really changed the way I knit and I loved working primarily in the round and being able to try the project on as I knit and check the sizing. It was extremely liberating to be free from following a particular pattern and to know what was possible with some measurements and gauge. I then began doing my own designing and made several things for friends and relatives using Barbara Walker’s method with great success. I tried to keep track of the pattern as I made garments and gradually got more careful about writing them out. This has given me the confidence to start sending out submissions of my designs to publications and the first one I sent was accepted!

Due to my easy access to Jamieson’s Mill (My parents live down the road from it in Shetland and bring me suitcases of it when they come and visit) I have made many projects using their yarns. Primarily I have used the Shetland Double knitting weight for sweaters and the Shetland chunky for some knit/felted bags. I plan to design more using Jamieson’s yarns but having just relocated to California where the daily temp is around 90 degrees and up I’m feeling a little more drawn to cooler non-wool yarns at the moment!
I am however often inspired to incorporate Shetland knitting techniques, be it Fair Isle or lace, into my designs.

I’m particularly drawn to knitting with hemp, bamboo, organic cotton and other ecological/sustainable fibers and plan to use them a lot in my designs especially for hotter weather garments and to do my part in promoting greener living.

As I prefer to knit in the round whenever possible I approach my designs with this in mind. I try to think out of the box about how to construct the garment and tend to avoid too much seaming (I'm not so hot at the whole sewing thing). I love the freedom that knitting and constructing garments in the round, top-down, offers. I'm constantly trying things on as I knit them and this really allows me to make the changes I need as I go along rather than being faced with a garment that needs ripping out.

Some (and I really do mean some) of the designers I especially like are Kat Coyle (love her gorgeous skirt in Knitcafe and eagerly anticipating her own book Boho Baby coming in the Fall), Eunny Jang ( especially what she does with Fair Isle), Norah Gaughan (very inspiring for unusual construction), Stephanie Japel (I really identify with how she designs-top down), Teva Durham and Veronik name a few!

Right now I’m feeling very inspired and full of ideas. It's so exciting to be knitting and designing at a time when yarn choice is at an optimum and when we have so many great designers coming up with new approaches to knitting and fusing the old with the new.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Green Knitting

I've been interested for a while now with fibers like hemp, bamboo and organic cotton for knitting and have been focused on designing with Elizabeth Lavold's Hempathy in particular. While looking into other sustainable/eco-friendly/fair trade fibers I've been really impressed with the options out there. The yarn industry is choc full of wonderful choices including but not limited to hemp, bamboo, soysilk, linen, corn, nettle,recycled silk, recycled cotton, organic cotton, fair trade cotton, organic wool and even some seaweed! One site that has some goodies is Artspun-Ethical Yarns and also Ecoyarns an Australian online store.
Having recently made a personal choice to work primarily with 'green' yarns I'm happy to see that I won't be limited in any way! Knit.1 (by Vogue Knitting) currently have a wonderful issue all about 'alternative-green' yarns with some super cool patterns (all images on this post are from Knit.1) and really informative articles. I also noticed on Interweave Knits' website that they too will be featuring some organic options in their Fall issue. Amy Singer's book No Sheep For You also provides great background info about some non wool fibers that includes hemp, flax, corn, seacell (essentially seaweed), bamboo and others.
I've ordered a few samples of yarn to try out from WEBS: Three of Vickie Howell's-Craft (organic cotton and Milk Fiber), Love (Bamboo and Silk) and Rock (soysilk, fine wool and Hemp)- then some Blue Sky Organic Cotton, Frog Tree (pima cotton and silk) and Valley Yarns Southwick (pima cotton and bamboo).
Sooo excited to get that package!