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Thursday, February 25, 2010

BOOK REVIEW: LUXE KNITS

About a week and a half ago I've received a knitting book for a review from Lark Books which is a division of Sterling Publishing Co., Inc. The book is Luxe Knits: Couture Designs to knit and crochet by Laura Zukaite. Laura, native Lithuanian, is a young designer who lives in NY where she got her degree in fashion design. She works as an associate designer of men's and women's sweaters at Polo Ralph Lauren. So, when she named her book in the subtitle Couture Designs, she was not kidding.
In her introduction Laura shares with us that she did not want to write a usual knitting book. Instead, she is taking us on a journey through her inspiration and creative process of designing a knitted garment. Laura's philosophy on how design evolves is explained at the beginning of the book. It is a very interesting read. We are following this designer's process on each of her 26 projects. Among them you will find sweaters, skirts, hats, gloves, scarves, purses, and even a throw and a shrug.

There are 8 chapters total. Each chapter has a focus on either construction, color combination, or a special technique. You can see it from their titles: Folding Obsession, Smocking Stitch Transformations, Butterfly Variations, Tonal Transitions, Herringbone Evolution, Cable Magic, Freeform Crochet.

The instructions are very clear. The section of needed materials is isolated under the heading "You Will Need" and is located on the page in a way that you see it right away. It is very helpful for a knitter who is going to buy everything needed for the project.



















Each pattern is supported by a sketch, construction suggestions and reasoning, yarn choices, and plenty of very dynamic photographs. All schematics are put together at the end of the book. It is a bit unusual, but I've found it helpful. There is no section on technique explanations, but there is no need for it at all.

I have to say that I really like when the layout of the book is clean and easy to navigate like we see in this one. The whole feel of the book design is artistic and couture-like.

The photography by Cathrine Westergaard is standing on its own as well.
Overall it is a beautiful and inspirational book for any level knitter and knitwear designers alike.
I highly recommend this book.

In a little while, I will be posting my interview with Laura Zukaite in my Designer's Studio. She talks about herself as a designer and gives away more of her secrets. Do not miss it.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Structured Rib Pullover

Something very unexpected just happened. UPS delivered a package with a new book by Kara Gott Warner called Circular Knitting Redefined. I worked on this design last April and I knew that it should be out soon, but had no warning that it is out already. It is very a very nice looking book with a lot of good designs. I am very happy with the photography as well. So, here it is. This are some stages that took place as I was working on it. The swatch, the sketch, knitting in the round, blocking, etc.























As you see on my sketch I was thinking of doing a different neckline, but during the work on this pullover, I changed my mind, so I can complement the overall look . And here is the model wearing it for the book.



Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The story of the Spring Twilight Pullover

On March 2nd the new Spring issue of Interweave Knits is going to hit the shelves everywhere in USA and shortly after that in many other countries. This is what makes it particularly exciting for me when I have a design published in this magazine. From the moment I got the word that my design was accepted to this point a good few months passed. Right from the beginning I knew what this pullover will look like. Here is my sketch for it. This time the yarn Kidsilk haze by Rowan reminded me of a cozy time before evening sets in. It's the time when you want to put on something light, warm, feminine, cozy, and a little more than casual.The combination of mohair and silk helps to achieve that feeling and what this design represents. The elements of this sweater, like the Decorative Cast-on that is not used very much here in the US, but is popular in Europe, make it different. With this cast-on the edge of a garment looks scallopy and very attractive. Another thing I used in this project is the lacy pattern based on a work with dropped stitches. This is the same stitch pattern that I used for my Lacy Scarf in the book. When I combined this special cast-on, ruching, and open work pattern to make a wide edging it became my favorite part of this design. I had pictures taken earlier when my Monique was wearing it. So, you can see both versions here. I love the back on this photo.
I love to knit in the round as much as possible. This thin yarn shows all the stitch manipulations too well, so knitting in the round even sleeves and use different needle sizes to taper towards the waist line and back to the original circumference without changing the number of sts was my solution for this part. I am very happy with the result and proud of this publication. I hope to see many projects done by other people when they get the magazine. Here is the part that did not get published due to space issue. I made a flower pin that can be attached to the collar for a different look.










If you like the flower pin, follow these instructions to make it.

Yarn: Rowan Kidsilk Haze (70% super kid mohair, 18% silk; 227 yd [208m]/25g): #600 dewberry (MC) less than half a ball of each color.

Notions: bar pin(used Jewelry Essentials Findings by Horizon group USA Hirschberg Schultz &Co., Inc).
This is for the back of flower. Bar pin has an adhesive top. I bought it in Michael’s. 24 bars in the box, but they come in 12 per box as well. Hirschberg Schultz &Co.,Inc’s address 76 Stirling Road, Warren, NJ 07059 in case you need it)

FLOWER

With CC and largest cir needle loosely CO 80 sts.
With MC and size 8 cir needle work as foll:
Row 1: (WS) Purl.
Row 2: (RS) K1f&b to last 14 sts, k14.
Row 3: BO 14 sts, purl to end – 66 sts.
Row 4: Knit to end.
Row 5: BO 4 sts, purl to end – 62sts.
Row 6: Knit to last 32 sts, *k2tog; rep from * to end – 46 sts.
Row 7: BO 4 sts, p2tog 14 times, p14 – 32 sts.
Row 8: K12, *k2tog; rep from * to end – 22 sts.
Row 9: BO 8 sts, *p2tog; rep from * to end – 15 sts.
Cut yarn and thread long tail through rem sts.
Block and facing RS roll the obtained strip counter clockwise first round (1 1/2 in diameter), flip to WS and repeat the circular motion, making diameter smaller each time. Sew all layers together. Glue the foundation of the flower to the top of bar pin and correct the layers so it looks like a flower.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Who wants a free book on how to knit socks?

This is not a rumor or a joke. I am quite serious. I am going to give away a new book by Chrissy Gardiner called Toe-Up!
A little bit about the book:
The way Chrissy designed her book is very helpful and friendly for any knitter, no matter if you know how to knit socks, or you have never even tried to do that. Although the name of the book is suggesting that you will be introduced to the method of starting your sock from a toe, Chrissy is spending some time at the beginning of her book on all known ways of making socks. First 50 plus pages of this book tell you about different cast-on methods using double-pointed needles or a long circular needle. There is a separate talk about toes and heels, how to know your size, what yarn to use, and so on. There are patterns of different socks designed by Chrissy that you just follow. They all are very cute and interesting. You also can learn how to come up with your own design. The worksheets are offered for your convenience if you want to calculate your own heel or toe part of a sock. Chrissy Gardiner is a designer and socks, as she says herself, is her "addiction". She designs all kinds of knitwear as well. You can see her designs on her Ravelry page.

So, what do you need to do to get her book?

1. Leave your comment here with your name. Tell us if you are a sock knitter or a "wanna be" sock knitter.

2. Tell as many knitting friends as you like to come here and read this post.

3. Each of your referred friends need to leave their comment mentioning your name. They also can invite people and compete for the book, if they wish.

Who will win ? --The person with most referred knitters will get the book.
So, make sure to send your friends here.

March 6th is the last day to leave your comment.
THANK YOU EVERYONE! THE POST IS NOW CLOSED. I WILL ANNOUNCE THE WINNER TOMORROW.

Good luck to you all.

Monday, February 1, 2010

New Yarns For My Stash

As I mentioned before, I brought some new yarn from TNNA. How do I explain what I feel looking at the yarn, touching it, thinking about what I can make from it to a person who does not knit? Well, it is nearly impossible, I think. Yes, you can talk about colors like in a painting, fibers that give you three dimensional prospective and so on. It is more than this, though. There is an interesting and exciting challenge in front of you as a designer or a knitter as you are admiring the yarn. This beautiful thing needs your input to bring it to life, to allow it to display all of the best qualities it has and maybe discover some hidden ones on a way. What garment it wants to be knitted into, what stitch pattern (s) will do the magic? When I teach a class, I like to show the difference between the yarns by bringing a few swatches made in the same stitch pattern, but different yarn. It is just fascinating to me.
Just look at these yarns I brought back from Long Beach. One company that I could not stop thinking about when I came home is Bijou Basin Ranch . The fiber of this yarn is yak. Some yarns are 100% yak and some are mixed with other fibers like alpaca, bamboo, merino wool. You can read about these yarns in more detail here. Here is what said on their website which I cannot agree more : "Designers rave about the knittability and workability of this yarn. Our most affordable blend that is uncompromising in bringing you true Yak softness and quality at a great price. All natural colored fibers are blended to provide yarn colors that are either a heathered grey brown or a rich cream." I do not know if you see what I see, but I love this yarn. I am going to swatch it today, so I can really appreciate the experience of knitting with yak. This is the first for me.
Another company is Louet yarns. It is based in Canada and the yarns it produces are very elegant. They do have variety of fibers and their colors a beautiful. I am not new to this yarns. In our book Casual, Elegant Knits we used linen from this company for making sure that the fabric of these two projects is sturdy. Here are the new yarns that I brought from TNNA. The red one is the mohair and linen combo. It is so much better in real life than you see on the photo. I will have to come up with something for it.
I also brought some other yarns. This is from Karabella yarns. I always loved their yarns. The founder of this company is Berta Karapetyan who came from the former Soviet Union and made it big in NY. Top fashion designers are using her yarns and designs for their knitwear collection.
So, as you see, I added to my stash "a little". Al these yarns inspire me and I am happy to have them, but there is one skein of yarn that is also new in my stash that is very special to me.


Right before my vacation I received a package from my dear friend and a wonderful designer Faina Letoutchaia. If you have read her interview, you know that she spins her own yarn and she is very knowledgeable and good at it. When I opened the package, I saw a skein of yarn there that had colors that I love for myself. I am very happy about this gift and I appreciate all the work that went into it to bring it to this beautiful state. Now I have to think about the project that will complement this beauty. My head is spinning at this point. Do you think I can sort all of my ideas out and calmly decide which I will actually bring to the next level? We will see.