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Friday, October 30, 2009

How do you organize your craft tools?

When I am asking designers about their studios, I really mean the place where they keep their yarn, needles, all the gadgets, and if they are lucky and have a separate room for all this. Some of them even have enough room to work there. Either you are a designer or a knitter who is serious about the craft, you keep your stash and tools in a certain place. So, what is it? A room, a closet, a desk, a sofa?
Let me share about my lucky situation. I have a room that I call my studio. I have my stash, all the tools, my steamer, the yarn winder, a drafting table and another bigger table that has two purposes: a blocking table and a working table. I also have my Monique in the corner. Oh, yes, and I have two knitting machines there. Now, if you think that my room is big, you are mistaken. It is a small room. Only one person can maneuver around there. I have to be very organized, otherwise no luck finding anything there. So I will share with you how I keep the order there. All my yarns are in these see-through plastic boxes that you can get in the craft store. They are intended for scrapbooking. I love them. Not only I use them to store yarn, I use one box for each project where all yarn, tools, sketches, etc for this project goes. This way I am not loosing anything. I take this box with me to my knitting circle and anywhere else.
My double-pointed needles are living in this art supply tool for brushes and my circular needles rest on the back of my door in the case I made. Once in a while it gets messy anyway, but it helps me a lot to have it organized. I always (well, almost always) know where my tools are which helps me to speed the project.
By the way, if you are interested where I got my "heads", I will tell you. My hairstylist is teaching new fresh from beauty school graduates. They start with long hair cuts, go to medium hair and end with a short haircut. When they are done with a "head", it goes to the garbage, or in my case :)... to me.
So, tell me about your place.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


I have been working on a new and exciting project for this blog. It is time to unveil it and invite you to my new page called The Designer's Studio. Since the designers are very creative and interesting people and known for their generous sharing of their professional secrets with all people interested in their craft, I had no problem asking many of them to participate in this project. I have to tell you that I am honored and overwhelmed with the response I received. Every person I have asked, agreed to give me an interview. This is just another confirmation that the designer's community is an incredibly warm and supportive group of people.

The first interview is going to be posted in a day or two. Keep an eye on my blog.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

U-tube videos

Lately, I started to check what is available on U-tube that relates to knitting. Do you know that there are 36, 800 videos that have something to do with knitting? Of course, there are some that you want to choose over others. I always check who made the video. If it is Cat Bordhi, for example. you know that you will get a very good lesson on how to do a certain technique. Here is one of her videos. Another video I like is showing Brioche rib stitch. If you are interested in learning about the Continental style of knitting, this video is good. Magic Cast-on (provisional) presented by Cat Bordhi again. Here is how to join the new ball of yarn by Russian Join. This next video is showing one of the ways knitting with different colors called Fair Isle knitting.
There are too many to mention them all, but I think if you are up to exploring this venue, you can find the ones that become your favorite and keep referring to them as needed. Have fun!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Claudia Hand Painted Yarns

I am swatching with multicolored linen from Claudia Hand Painted Yarns color John B. It has 540 yards in one skein!! and machine washable. The colors are so great for the beginning of fall. That is what I see right now on some trees. It is also nice for summer or spring. This is one of the yarns that do not require much in terms of a stitch pattern. Something simple that shows the yarn well. So, for my design of a garment I am going with this swatch and I am paying more attention to the construction of the garment. I think I got it but have to wait till I can share with everybody. I might even change something from my current plan as I start working on it. At this point colors and the feel of the yarn, that will be even softer as I wash it, inspire me and make me happy.
The tunic with cables that I showed two posts before is progressing well and I will be finalizing my decision on sleeves. Options are: saddle sleeves or set-in sleeves. Both look good in this design, but when I see the real thing in real proportions, I can make a better decision then. Back to that project.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Dolce Slouch is in Vogue

If you open the new issue of Vogue Knitting Holiday 2009 on page 12, you will see my hat Dolce Slouch under the heading "Nifty Gifts". It does not have my name mentioned, but the link is given to the free download on the website of Cascade Yarns with my name on it. There are only five patterns chosen and other patterns are by Noni, Susan Anderson, Norah Gaughan, and Nashua Handknits. Needless to say, I am honored. Overall it is a nice issue. Tikru (Mari Muinonen) has a beautiful fingerless gloves on p. 73. I love her designs. Shiri Mor has two very interesting designs, and I fell in love with Jenn Jarvis's cardigan. There are some very nice color-work sweaters and some articles. So, I need to get off the computer and start reading.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Big Storm

I wished for cool weather for a long time now. Well, it is our fist storm in this area with rain and very strong wind. It is definitely a knitting weather... I plan to knit as soon as I get home, but I cannot say I am very happy about the weather yet. I need to drive in this storm from work and do my chores before I get home. When I get home I will be happy. Meanwhile I was admiring this blog by a person from Estonia. I cannot read Estonian, but you can admire the photos of a beautiful lace. There is another blog that is fantastic and very useful for knitting techniques called Techknitting. So much information and very well illustrated. Enjoy.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Working on a new design

I am knitting a tunic for Cascade Yarns using their beautiful yarn called Soft Spun. It is barely ply twisted and looks very rich. My design involves many different cables and the yarn is showing them just the right way. I always loved cables and do not mind doing them; although I have to tell you that if feels like this tunic has 1000 of them... But it's o.k. I really do not mind. I am planning on knitting this weekend, so I might get the bodice done. I am so anxious to see it done since the cables are all over the place and they are not simple looking (not difficult to knit at all) and not easy to comprehend how they fit in the shape. I guess I am a very visual person and I need to see it to appreciate.
Going off the topic of knitting, I took some pictures of three Russian lacquer boxes which are done with tempera paints on varnished objects made of paper-mache. These are the gifts brought from Russia by friends and relatives. Aren't they gorgeous? My aunt was a painter in one of the art factories where these boxes are produced. The place where she worked was in Fedoskino, village near Moscow. When we were leaving Russia, she gave one box to me, so it will remind me of her. It had a portrait of a beautiful young lady in a light-blue dress on a lid of the box which was red inside. I loved how it smelled just like two boxes she gave to my mom when I was little. At the border the Russian custom officer took it away from me and said that it is not allowed to be taken out of country. I was lucky that our relatives were there saying goodbye to us and I gave it to them. Otherwise, the same officer would take it for himself. Now I have these beauties.

They do not have the same sentimental value, but it is as close as I can get to the real thing. These boxes and pins are made
in Palekh and Mstera, not Fedoskino. Each of these villages have their own choice of colors, so if you know about these boxes, you can tell right away where they are from. Fedoskino used silver as a background and highlight color and Palekh used gold. In my house they are just decorations since I do not want to disturb the paint, but my mother was using her boxes for jewelry and kept some stuff that was small and really not of any value, but it was a treasure hunt for me when I looked in there. I hope you admire these boxes as much as I do. I am not always that sentimental, but the loss of my mother-in-law made me think about my life in Russia. I do live in America longer than there, but that was the first part of my life. I do not have any nostalgia and do not miss much from that life, but I love Russian culture, literature, and art.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

In Memory of an Avid Knitter

Two weeks ago we had a funeral for my mother-in-law... Besides remembering her as a loving mother to my husband and a grandmother to my children, I will always remember her as a person with whom I had many interests in common and from whom I learned many tips and tricks in cooking and knitting.

Her name was Olya and she had many talents. Throughout her life Olya very successfully moved from one craft to another. She made hats, did some lace work, loved cooking and was great at it. Later in life she learned how to knit and it became her obsession. Olya could knit many hours in a row perfecting every stitch, every seam. Her knitted project had a very even gauge and looked like she bought it in some boutique. Many times she inspired me with her projects and contagious love for new techniques and color combinations. It was great to have her around. Every knitter knows how important it is to be able to show your finished project to a person who understands all that goes into making of it. Olya always encouraged me to try new things.

Unfortunately, Olya did not take pictures of her projects, so we have just a few photos with her work. Most of them are not showing the garments well. This sweater she made for my husband when he was 14 or 15 years old.This is the only picture that was done as a showcase of the sweater. We can conclude that she was very proud of her work on this garment. My son had his own sweater and my daughter had hers. All three sweaters are knit from bottom up in brioche stitch. Sleeves are raglan style. You can see the nice work on raglan lines. She first knit color stripes and later (still on separate pieces) she used a duplicate stitch to imitate the fair isle work. Very clever technique. Olya gave us these three garments and I still have them, so I could take pictures myself. This little cardigan is knit in kimono style from top down as one piece and ,when it was finished, it was cut in front (it is called sticking) and the button and the buttonhole bands were attached later. The skirt is knit in the round in the stitch pattern that makes knitted fabric to form pleats. I wish you could see more of her work. I know you would admire them all.

As for me, I will miss her. I did inherit all of her knitting books and some tools, so her legacy as a knitter is alive with me.