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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

BOOK REVIEW: VOGUE KNITTING MITTENS & GLOVES

Another gorgeous knitting book from the editors of Vogue Knitting magazine. See this review in full...
This new book by Sixth&Spring Books is full of surprises. The author, Rosemary Drysdale, is knitting editor at Vogue Knitting and Knit Simple magazines. She is also a consultant and a designer in the yarn industry. This review in full...

BOOK REVIEW: KNITTING ON THE EDGE

The new paperback edition of this book is out for your pleasure. Nicky Epstein is offering us the essential collection of 350 different decorative borders that can be used in any way we wish or dare. A great addition to a knitter's library. Read this review in full...

TODAY'S GUEST: SHIRLEY PADEN

Internationally renowned knitwear designer and the author of Knitwear Design Workshop: The Comprehensive Guide to Handknits Shirley Paden lives and works in New York city. Shirley is the owner of Shirley Paden Custom Knits and she also finds the time to design for such major publications as Vogue Knitting, Interweave Knits, Interweave Crochet, Knitter's as well as other publications. Read this post in full...

Sunday, December 26, 2010

TODAY'S GUEST: NICKY EPSTEIN

A bestselling author and a prolific knitwear designer, Nicky Epstein is known all around the world for her distinctive and creative style. In her many (more than 20) books and numerous articles and designs in all major publications Nicky is giving us a volume of information about innovative techniques and new ways to use some well-known even traditional stitch patterns. Continue reading this interview in full...

Thursday, December 16, 2010

AS COLD AS IT GETS

Just wanted to share my excitement with everybody. I live in a place of no "real winter" as far as I am concerned. Yes, we can drive for about 30 minutes and see the real snow, but not in this town. Do not misunderstand me, it is cold enough for me. We do wear warm jackets and all. There is something very peaceful about white fresh snow. Since I know my chances here to see it through my window, I get excited when I see some frosty roofs and grass in the morning. So, here it is.





I know, I know. Not a big deal for all of you who are shoveling the snow to get out of the house. We do not have beautiful white, fluffy snow waves covering all the bushes and grass...
But then I have these in my yard.

These are seedless, sweet and sour mandarins that are as tasty as they look.
I love winter and my new camera.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

COFFEE+NEEDLES+YARN=UTTER BLISS

I am in the middle of finals week, so I can't say that I am fully devoting my time to knitting and designing, but I want to taste a little bit how it will be VERY soon. So, today I am at home. To start the day right I had to have some home-made cappuccino with this little device that I bought at Sur La Table. I love it. You can make milk to a great foam in a few seconds right in your cup.

So, here is my wonderful foamy cappuccino in a cup that I got as a gift from my friend Olga Tonjes, the owner of T-Spot Yarn, Gifts and Chocolate . I am not sure you can read what's on a mug. It says "Knitting is Sexy".

The needles I am going to use are these beautiful and very sturdy small needles from company called Blackthorn. They are wonderful and very efficient. The points are great and they are very sturdy even in the smallest sizes. I know I will enjoy using them.

If you are a knitter, I know what you are thinking: "She is into socks these days." Well, yes and no. Yes, I will make some sock design(s) and no, I am not using these needles for socks only.

And here is a little peek at what I am up to lately.

I am playing with different techniques and gauges. Who knows what I will do with these swatches. There are so many possibilities.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

TODAY'S GUEST: GALINA CARROLL

Born and raised in a beautiful and very inspiring Russian city, St.Petersburg, Galina Carroll became a professional designer after getting degree from a prestigious Academy of Arts. Later she moved to America near another inspiring and fashionable city of New York and continued her career by working with fashion houses such as Ralph Lauren, Donna Karan, Liz Claiborne, Tommy Hilfiger and various companies. READ THIS INTERVIEW IN FULL...

Saturday, November 27, 2010

THERE IS NOTHING BETTER

I am so lucky to have a birthday around Thanksgiving. When I was born in Russia, I did not know that. Here, in America, people get a few days off work and gather around the table with their families to celebrate my birthday...I mean, Thanksgiving :). Both of my kids can come home since they do not have to work during this holiday. This time they came for four days. The house is not used to having so many people at once instead of just my husband and me. I love it. I love to cook for this holiday and love to be at the table with my family eating, laughing, listening to their stories. We went for a walk to the park, watched movies, football games, my daughter and I did some knitting. I am very thankful for all of this.
I am lucky to have a small but very close extended family. I love them very much and miss living close to them.

I also am very thankful for all of my "fibery" friends whom I either met in person or know through the knitting industry. They are all so talented, interesting, and fun.

I still have friends in Russia and I am very thankful that we can talk with them over Skype. It makes it so easy. I just connected with my dear friend Vera whom I did not see for many years and now we talk often like there were no years between us.

I am enjoying all of this, working with my students, and seeing my designs in print. What else do I need? There is nothing better.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

BOOK REVIEW: SUCCESSFUL LACE KNITTING


A beautiful and very interesting book by Donna Druchunas is celebrating the work of Dorothy Reade and the lace knitting itself. So, who is Dorothy Read? To find out you need to read Donna's book... >MORE...

Thursday, November 11, 2010

BOOK REVIEW: TOE-UP


For every sock knitter in the world making a second sock is not as exciting as making the first one. Some even wait awhile before working on the second sock. For me it was always a worry that they come out the same in size especially the height on the leg part. I also never tried to make socks from a toe up. If you share my sentiments, we do not have to worry about this anymore. Read more ...

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Russian soft cheese TVOROG

One of the common breakfast foods in Russian cuisine is a soft cheese called TVOROG. I grew up loving it and learned to make it myself when I still lived in Russia.


It does not take long and is very low in calorie count. Plus it is delicious. It can be eaten as with toast, fruits, jam, nuts, and so on.
This morning I mixed it with egg whites, oats, a little bit of sugar, salt, cinnamon, and cloves. Little patties out of this mixture were browned on an oiled skillet. This dish is called SYRNIKI.


Here is how I make TVOROG.

You will need: 1 lb of plain nonfat yogurt and 1 quart of Buttermilk.


Mix both yogurt and buttermilk in a bowl.


Cover the bowl with clear plastic.


Place the bowl in microwave. Set power to about 60%. Set time for 15 min.

Check after the time is up if whey (the liquid) is separated from solid and if not, add 2-3 minutes more. It should look like this:


Let it cool.

IF YOU HAVE A SLOW COOKER


Mix the ingredients in the pot itself.


Close the lid. Turn the pot on LOW and set the timer on 2 hours and 30 min.

When it is done, it looks like this.


Let it cool.

NEXT STEP FOR BOTH VERSIONS

In a sink place a strainer with 1-2 layers of cheesecloth. Since I make tvorog often, I have this special strainer. It is in a form of cone and whey drips out of it faster.


Before I had this fancy strainer, I did this:

It works just fine. Paper towel can be used instead of cheesecloth.
Let it drain for about 30 minutes or more.



When the liquid is not coming out anymore, you can put a paper towel on top of tvorog and press more liquid out by placing something heavy on top.

You do not have to do the last step if you like tvorog be moist. It depends on your taste.
Place tvorog in a container ans keep it in a refrigerator.

Bon App├ętit !!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

La Bella Tunica is in KNIT'n STYLE

In the new issue of KNIT'n STYLE magazine on page 58 there is a pattern and some beautiful photographs of La Bella Tunica. Cascade Yarns chose to feature my designfor this December issue and I am thrilled. I loved to work with Soft Spun yarn. It makes a beautiful stitch definition and you can see how crisp the cables are shown. The model is just perfect for this tunic. It is exactly how I intended it to look. If you have a chance, pick up this issue and you will see the photos on the side as well as this one that I scanned from the magazine (obviously not as good as the original).

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

NEW DESIGN: BRENDA'S BASKETWEAVE BAG

Despite the fact that I know how to crochet almost as long as I knit, this is my very first published crochet design. The new issue of Interweave Crochet, Accessories, 2010 is full of great small projects that can be done very quickly for gifts or just for fun. I made my list of hats already.

So, here is my design. This bag is a version of a messenger bag. You can use it in so many ways. It can hold a laptop, iPad, books, and, which is more important for us knitters, a disguise for a knitting bag.

Finished Size
13.5" wide x 12.5" tall x 2.75" deep

Yarn
Lion Brand Fisherman's Wool (100% wool; 465 yd [425 m] / 8 oz [227 g]; CYCA #4) : #125 brown heather (MC), 2 skeins; #126 nature's brown, 1 skein.

Hook Sizes
G/6 (4 mm), F/5 (3.75 mm). Adjust hook size if necessary to obtain correct gauge.

Gauge
20 sts and 12 rows = 4" in basketweave patt on a larger hook


To make it sturdy, I used double strand of yarn for the strap.



The above photos are © Interweave Press.

My vision of this bag was very clear from the beginning and I did not have to change anything.

Interview with Angela Hahn

It is my pleasure to welcome Angela Hahn to The Designer's Studio. I am positive that you know and love her feminine and beautiful designs. She plays with stitch patterns in a way that her designs look effortless, light, and very appealing. I always enjoy looking at her creations and I know I am not alone. Angela focuses on style and comfort so any knitter can see herself making and what is more important - wearing the garment she makes when she follows a pattern by this designer. You just cannot miss Angela's designs.
Read this interview in full here.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Yarn Harlot is making my Sweet Honey Beret!!

For about two days I was trying to figure something. It was a complete mystery to me why the "user activity" tab on my Ravelry page suddenly was going crazy. So many people came to see my designs and liked one hat called Sweet Honey beret that was published in the Winter 2008 issue of Interweave Knits in particular. I was not aware of any forum discussions, or promotions going on. Since it is not my nature to leave things unresolved, I searched in many different directions, but could not find anything.
It was not before my friend Heather of Intwined Pattern Studio told me, I learned that famous Stephanie Pearl McPhee a.k.a. "The Yarn Harlot" blogged about making this hat. Here is her post.
As most of you know, Stephanie wrote many books on the topic of knitting. If you have never read her books or magazine articles, prepare yourself for a treat. She is funny, informative, and inventive in a way she relates the story. Stephanie very quickly became an important figure in our knitting world. She also is a great knitter. You can see her own designs here.
I already thanked her personally for choosing my hat for her next small project and I am happy that she likes it. The mystery is solved in the most exciting way.

October 12th: Stephanie posted pictures of her daughter wearing her new beautifully made hat.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Interview with Lily Chin

Lily Chin is a well-known name in the knitwear industry. Her career began many years ago in her native New York as she was working for such designers as Ralph Lauren, Vera Wang, Diane von Furstenberg, and Isaac Mizrahi. Read this interview in full here.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

October

October is always interesting around here. It is still very warm and people dress for summer, but if you look down, there are leaves on the ground. I guess Fall is coming no matter what people are thinking. It is absolutely fine with me. I love cool knitting weather. Very soon many trees will turn color and it will be magical.
For me October is also a month of many birthdays among friends and family. In other words, it is a cheerful time of the year.

Progress report: Two out of three deadline projects are done and sent away. I am working on the next one with a tight deadline as well. I need to be done by October 16th with knitting, pattern writing, schematics drawing, chart making, and so on. I am fine. I will be able to do it.

Just when I thought it was my last project with a strict deadline for a little while, I got an e-mail saying that there is another one on its way. I am very excited about this one as well as others. I do not like to keep secrets, but this is a game I play.

Very soon Interweave Crochet Accessories issue will be out. One of my designs will be in it. I have not seen the photographs of it yet. So I am going to see it at the same time as you.

I am also waiting for a December issue (which will be out soon) of Knit & Style for the same reason.
Back to knitting.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

E-mail that made my day

A couple of months ago I submitted my design for a publication featuring NORO yarns (can't tell you more right now) and it was accepted. Today I got an e-mail from the editor and she told me that the photography is done and my project looks beautiful. She thinks that it will be a popular design. How great is this!! I hope she is right and people will like it.
Progress report on my current project:
I hope to finish it soon. This top has not a very simple construction. I had to rely on my guts and calculations more than usually. It is almost like knitting in the dark. My Monique is "modeling" it now and, although it is not done yet, it looks like it is going to be o.k.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Keeping my head just above water

I do not want to sound frustrated or negative as I am describing all the things I am working on at the moment. In fact, I am surprisingly calm about all the deadlines piled up on me. I believe that I can do it no matter what is on my way. I guess I am used to it by now and I am grateful that my designs are chosen.

If I count how many projects I am talking about, it will probably be close to 12. I am including the finished ones and the ones in progress or in planning stages but all of them need to be done withing three months.
They all are very different and it makes it a lot of fun for me to figure out how to achieve that certain look that I was planning. What makes it especially challenging with some projects that when I make my submission / proposal I am using the yarn that I have on hands and my sketch to come up with the look for a garment.
If my submission turns positive and I get to make this project, it can be out of very different yarn chosen by the magazine or the editor of a book. I have to swatch many times to get the same feel of the proposed design. It can be fun, frustrating, or both.

There is also calculating for many sizes (grading) that can be pretty painful. Another challenging part of designing is a logical explanation of the knitting process. It has to be short and clear. I guess my background of a design engineer and a math instructor is a good foundation for such work.

So, when I am tired and want to do something different, I review books, interview designers, and write a blog post. Seriously, this is how I live these days.

Luckily I have a family that takes me out of this mode and makes me to see the world around me. In fact, last weekend my daughter commented that it was unusual that I almost did not knit for two days. We spent some meaningful time together with her and exchanged some text messages with our son to complete our small family circle. Later my husband and I visited our friends. They have the most interesting garden. Here are some pictures from there.


This fruit is called Jujube or Chinese date. It actually looks more like a cross between an apple and a pear. Very beautiful and tiny.


I wish you all very peaceful time.

Friday, September 10, 2010

BOOK REVIEW: NEW ENGLAND KNITS

You probably have noticed some buzz around our knitting community about this book. Two talented designers Cecily Glowik MacDonald and Melissa LaBarre collaborated on this lovely collection of knitwear that fits the subtitle of the book Timeless Knitwear with a Modern Twist. More...

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Interview with Carla Scott

I am very pleased to have Carla Scott as my guest today.
Carla is currently the Editor in Chief of Knit Simple magazine, the Executive Editor of Vogue Knitting, and the Editor of Vogue Knitting Stitchionary 5: Lace Knitting, the newest book in the Stitchionary series. Read this post in full here.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Brioche workshop and the last few days of my summer break

I am always waiting for my summer break with the hope that all of my million and a half things to do will be checked off my list. That's because it always seems that I will have so much time on my hands. After all I am not teaching and every day I can start doing something right after breakfast. Well, let's just say, it usually does not happen the way I hope.
Except this time it was different and I did accomplish a lot. Not all "million and a half things " that I planned, but... I liked that we broke our summer into three parts. One trip at the beginning of summer. I had a post about TNNA, NY, and Virginia. In the middle we were mostly at home doing all kinds of things. I organized my studio, knitted many, many swatches, worked on some submissions and new patterns, prepared some workshops, and the list goes on. When I realized that I have only 10 days before I have to go to work, I thought that I did not rest enough.
Thankfully, we had another trip ahead of us. My husband's cousin and his wife were going to be in Vancouver, Canada and we thought it would be great to see them after 30 years.
It turned out to be a great trip. On the first day we drove from California to Manzanita, OR with the stop at Ashland, OR for dinner. We love Ashland!
Next morning I had a Brioche workshop at the cutest and funky yarn shop called T-spot Yarns, Gifts and Chocolates.









Olga Tonjes, the owner of T-spot has a great vision of how to make her shop a place for locals to get all their knitting needs met and for visitors who come there to hang around the beach and treat themselves with something special. While I was there for two days I saw many satisfied customers who got some exclusive yarns and patterns, chocolates, or clothes. Everything in the store displayed with style and thoughtfulness. Olga, by the way, was featured in the last Interweave Crochet magazine. The article, that took the whole page, was talking about this store and Olga's dress that she crocheted out of old tapes for a tape recorder. How fun is this!!
I enjoyed teaching there so much! Here are some photos of the workshop itself including this incredible brioche that I bought at the bakery nearby. How appropriate, wouldn't you say?
Below are photos of some of the students at the workshop.


Patricia and Kathy are making a swatch following instructions.


Mitzi and Connie are on a roll with the basic brioche swatch.


Connie, Sage, and Anne. It looks like it was no time for chatting in this class, but honestly, we managed to get some in. We did have a good time.

As you see above everyone wanted to get this brioche stitch down. It was such a pleasure to teach them. They were very happy and wanted me to come back and teach the next level. I might come up with something about it.

Are you still reading? Sorry for such a long post, but I am overflowing with things to say.

The next stop was Seattle, WA. We stayed there over night. In the evening we met up with Alla Koval and her family. I knew Alla through Ravelry, but this was the first time we have met. It was a great visit and we both could not stop talking :) In the morning we went to Cascade Yarns. Yes, they are in Seattle. Shannon Dunbabin met me at the office and introduced me to all the lovely people working there. Now I know the faces of people behind the e-mails and packages I get from them. Shannon took me to their warehouse and... OMG, my heart literally sank when I saw all the yarns going from the floor to the ceiling in all fibers and colors you can only imagine. Talking about inspiration... I got a huge dose of it right there. Shannon gave me some yarn to play with. I was happy I did not have to fly back home. My trunk took it bravely. I want to thank Shannon and the rest of people at Cascade for a wonderful visit.
Next, we had a lunch with my husband's nephew, mathematician from England. We do not see him unless we go to England, but it happened that he was at the conference that took place at the University of Washington in Seattle at the same time as we were there. Very nice young man.
Later that day we took off for the border. It was not the first time for us to visit Canada. We love British Columbia and were very happy to spend a few days there. Mostly we were in Vancouver, but for a day and a half we went to Victoria. What a beautiful place!

My friend, Joanne grew up on the same island and I she told us what to do there to enjoy it. One thing she and our other friend from Vancouver said in unison:"Go to Empress Hotel for an afternoon tea. It's an experience that you will not forget." So we did.


It was a very beautiful atmosphere and the service was outstanding. My husband got his own gluten-free goodies while I, his cousin, and his wife got the real thing.

The three of us shared this 3-tier display. The bottom plate has 4 types of sandwiches, the middle has real biscuits with cream and jam, and the top is full of sweets.I do not think that the queen will say this, but.. "Yum!!!"

There were other wonderful things that we did. In Vancouver we visited our friends who invited us to spend a night in their beautiful and warm house. We caught up on news with their family and had a terrific time with them.

On our way back we stopped for a dinner at Seattle with yet another family of long-time friends, who met as students at our university here and got married. After that we drove to Portland and spent the night there. I was ready to go home in the morning, but my husband mentioned that we did not see Portland yet, so it might be interesting to stroll at the downtown area. I agreed. Marnie MacLean, a knitwear designer who lives in Portland, told me names of some stores in the area to visit. I saw one right away and it was Knit Purl. What a lovely shop! Great people and wonderful yarns. I had a long talk with Sandy and Kristin ofShiBuiKnits yarns and brought some of their yarns home. Some new designs are coming out of this incredible yarn!

Are you tired reading? Well, I am tired writing it. I did not tell you everything, but most of it. So, I better stop now. Thank you for being patient. I hope you enjoyed reading some of it.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

CROWN OF LEAVES

This hat is my first design in Twist Collective. I can't tell you how proud I am to be on the list of designers who contribute to this online magazine. Fall 2010 issue is full of beautifully crafted garments and accessories along with interesting articles.

It is very intriguing for me to watch the beginning of any design. Each pattern is different. You never know what will give you an idea.












This particular hat's idea was triggered by a beautiful horizontal cable that reminded me of crowns, which my friends and I made out of maple leaves when we were children. Unfortunately, I do not have a quality photo of such a crown, but on this photograph taken in Russia you see the girl on the left wearing one.

Here is another crown made by Larisa Vilensky for this post. Thank you, Larisa.

If you are interested, here is the website showing how to make it. Although it is a Russian website, you do not need to know the language since the step-by-step explanations are in pictures and are very clear. I am sure that many such crowns are made by kids and adults outside of Russia as well.

I love hats and even though I do not need to wear them now as often as at the time when I lived in Russia, my memory of windy and cold days suggests to me that a hat needs to be functional and beautiful. Functional, because it has to stay on your head in the wind, and beautiful, because when you are bundled up, this is probably the most important of three small articles in your wardrobe (the other two are gloves and a scarf). So, when I planned the design of this hat, I kept those thoughts in mind. As you see on the original swatch, I began with the decorative cast-on that I love for the look. The problem with this cast-on is that it is loose. That's why I followed it with a rib for elasticity and for keeping it firm on a head. The rest of the hat was hinted by the cable stitch pattern. The crown part naturally flowed from the main pattern and decreases were done to taper the hat at the top.

This shot is showing the cast-on, the rib, and the cable part.

When the Fall 2010 issue was live and I saw the photos, my thought was: "I hope people like this hat as much as I do."

I think what makes this magazine special is the combination of exclusive designs, gorgeous photography, and great articles. You can be sure that there are hard-working and talented people behind the scenes who make it all happen.

You can read a very nice article by Clara Parkes in Twist Collective about swatching using my hat's cable pattern. I was very pleased and honored that Clara liked my hat.

Remember that there are many more beautiful designs in this issue of Twist Collective. Go and check it out.