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Thursday, April 22, 2010

Blog Tour for "Twisted Wooly Toppers"

If you did not hear about it yet, there is a blog tour going on an now you are a part of it as well. We are on week 6 of this tour. Here is the schedule of the tour if you missed the previous posts.

18 March - Just Call Me Ruby
25 March - Baby Long Legs
1 April - Binge Knitter
8 April - Stolen Stitches
15 April - Knit With KT (me!)
22 April - Faina’s Knitting Mode
29 April - Tot Toppers
6 May - The Independent Stitch
13 May - The BeeBonnet Report
20 May - Knit Circus

I would like to begin with my confession. I love all kinds of hats. Living in a place where winters are really cold forces you to wear hats either you love them or not. You are covered up to keep warm and accessories become very important if you still want to look good. So scarves, hats, and mittens can make a big difference in a way you are dressed. A huge plus in this situation is knowing how to knit. You make a hat that is unique and in the colors that show your eyes in the best possible way and you've got a winner. I love to design hats and admire all wonderful hat designs done by others. That's how one day I stumbled over Strudel. I looked up the designer's name and it was Woolly Wormhead. She has a passion for hats. How do I know that? On her Ravelry page there are 119 designs and they are all hats. If you did not see this page yet, I recommend you do. It is like going to the museum of hats. She comes up with such different shapes and constructions that sometimes you just want to look at it. I mean like in a museum you can stay in one hall and admire a painting or a sculpture for a long time. That how I feel about some of Woolly's creations.
When Woolly asked me to take part in this tour, I knew I would love that. This tour is promoting a new book by Woolly called Twisted Woolly Toppers. It features 10 designs. There is a hat for everybody: men, women, and kids.
Woolly is showing us her inspiration for her designs- Italian architecture. She lives there and it is something she admires and notices. Her hats have cables, nobs, and arches. Make sure to compare these pictures and her hats. You will see that the shapes on these photographs reflect the lines and texture in the hats.









All photos are courtesy of Woolly Wormhead.



I could not help myself and asked Woolly a few questions. Here is what she said:

  • Why do you have such passion for hats?
I've always loved wearing Hats, from my first wool beret as a child through all the different Hats I've owned and worn! They make such a difference to an outfit, can brighten a mood and can really express a personality.
From an artists point of view, they are the ultimate wearable art; I love their sculptural qualities and that I think is my real love. As a knit designer, their potential for mixing techniques and creating short, interesting projects is enormous!
  • What are you looking for when you are designing a new hat?
I can't say I'm looking for anything in particular.. I generally don't start with a stitch pattern but instead start with a form or shape that I'd like to explore, and find a stitch pattern that suits that. Sometimes the yarn inspires me, but more often that not I start with a form in my head and develop from there. My background is in sculptural textiles, so I guess it's natural for me to think this way, to consider it's form first.
  • What are your plans in terms of designing and publishing in the near future?
At the moment, I'm enjoying working through many of the ideas that come into my head for single patterns. Finishing a book is always exhausting, especially when you have self published and covered all the photography and layout yourself, so a break is always a good idea after publication!
  • When did you start knitting and what was your first project?
I was 3 when I was taught to knit by my mum! I can't remember all of my early projects as many of them were what we would call swatches now, but my first finished 'proper' item was an outfit for one of my dolls.

I hope you will get this e-book on Woolly's website and enjoy the designs. Keep traveling with the tour.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

BOOK REVIEW: NEW TWISTS ON TWINED KNITTING

Many years ago I bought a book on Twined knitting by Birgitta Dandanell-Ulla Danielsson. Although this book is very interesting with many historical notes and photographs, I always kept it as something I would try one day. I have seen projects made with this technique when I was growing up in Russia. These projects were brought from Scandinavia. As much as I love and admire knitted garments and accessories there was something missing for me in these projects. Needless to say I have never tried to make anything from the book I had.
I have met Laura Farson a few months before her new book New Twists on Twined Knitting came out. I told her about the book I had and she suggested that I should take a look at her book. She mentioned that I might be more inspired to try this interesting technique after seeing her book.
Now, looking at this "New Twist" on twined knitting I not only see what she meant, but also what was missing for me in the projects I saw many years ago. They all were VERY OLD FASHIONED.
Laura took the technique of twined knitting and showed us colors and new styles. Now I am inspired. I really want to try this. So, I started with the simplest of patterns in this 96 page book.
I am not going to mention that it says: Practice project.
It is called Media Case. My iPod needs one, I though. So, here is one third of my case. I am using two circular needles and two colors. So far so good. I love the texture I am getting. My mind is already full of ideas for my future designs where I can use this for at least part of the project. The resulting fabric is thick and holds the shape very well.
So, here is what I can tell you about this book.
What you will find in it is an introduction to twined knitting with great illustrations and photographs that explain step-by-step how to do it.
Projects range from easy to experienced with most of them using color knitting. There are some single color projects, which is more traditional twined knitting. These projects use texture to bring some design elements. If you like to make socks, Laura offers some designs for you as well. There are hats, mittens, bags, neck and wrist warmers. Even a water-bottle holder can be made in twined knitting.
Overall it is a well-thought and put together book with many very approachable projects for different tastes. The photography is great and the model is very cute in everything she models. It is a book that you would want to keep as a reference of the technique and as a book with fun patterns.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Baby Hat Elinka is available now


This sweet baby hat is available on Ravelry.com and on this page of my blog.
Information about the pattern:

SIZES 0-6 mo (6-12 mo, 12-18 mo, 2-4 yrs)

Finished head circumference 12 (14 1/2, 16, 18 1/2)" (30 (37, 41, 47) cm)




MATERIALS

1 ball of Rowan Yarns Classic “Cashcotton DK” (35% cotton, 25% polyamide, 18% angora, 13% viscose, 9% cashmere; 142 yd [130m]/50g) in main color (MC) #614 Framboise

1 ball of Dale of Norway "Baby Ull"(100 % wool; 180 yd [165 m]/50g) in color A #3871 Brown

1 ball of Dale of Norway "Baby Ull"(100 % merino wool; 180 yd [165 m]/50g) in color B # 0020 White

GAUGE

24 sts and 31 rnds = 4" (10 cm) in Stockinette Stitch



Thursday, April 15, 2010

Two new patterns

Finally, I have found the time to polish my two patterns and very soon they will be available. One is called La Bella Tunica and will be available as a free download on Cascade Yarns website.















The other one is this cute hat made for my friend's little girl. It is called Baby hat Elinka.
It is a complement for my other design Elinka dress.











This pattern will be available on my blog and on Ravelry.com.
I will make sure to post about the release of these two patterns, so you can download the pattern if you would like to make either one of them.

I am working on 4 designs at the same time. I am happy to have the opportunity to do so, but it is interesting to say the least. I am loving all the yarns and enjoy the variety of techniques and styles that go with these projects. Oh, how I wish I could tell you more about them! It is not for me to decide, though.
I just wanted to mention them to the extend that I can and to tell you all that I am not projectless at the moment :).
My husband is sick with the cold or flu and many of my students are coughing and sneezing. I told myself that I am not giving in and bought a few remedies to help me fight whatever everybody is having. I have no time for all this, as you know.

On my shelf there are two wonderful books waiting for being reviewed and there are more coming my way. I hope you will come back to read about these books. I will post the first one over this weekend.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

April is my busy month

It is Spring outside. Many trees and flowers are in bloom. The weather just does not get it, though. One day it is sunny and warm, another day it is cold, rainy, and gloomy. The calendar is very firm about it. It says April. I also know it is April, because for me it is generally one of the hardest months at work. There are tests to grade, paperwork to be done, meetings to attend, and so on.
So, what do I do to relax? My husband and I try to make it every day to our local gym and I work on my designs. It is a little bizarre, you would think, that I relax from work by being involved in another work...
I can't help it. It is very interesting for me and I do enjoy it to the point that it lets me relax. When I finish a pattern I feel that I have even more energy to begin another one. Is that wrong? I do not think so. There are so many ideas floating in my head and I want to try them all.
Right now I am working on 5 projects. Some are just starting, some are midway done. They are all different and it is fun for me to figure things out for the sake of improving each design.
I can show you the part of new design that will be released soon. This is a tunic with long sleeves and a cowl collar. I am very happy with the result, but I have to wait just a little longer to show it as it is. For another design I made this swatch and you see my second sleeve in the works. Other designs are the ones I have to keep in secret for now. Well, back to work.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Anzula yarn and Hiya Hiya needles

I was going to write about this for some time now. I have to share this with you. This is the yummy yarn that I got at Stitches West from Anzula company.
Anzula is the yarn company on the rise. They have beautiful fibers pared with great variety of colors. Luxury fibers like cashmere, camel, merino wool, silk, and very new and interesting sea cell mixed one way or another to achieve the resulting yarn. Many of the yarns are machine washable as well, if you are looking for easy-care yarn. Just look at these colors I chose. I can't wait to get my hands on it. I am really looking forward to making something from it. One more good thing about this yarn - they are in Fresno, CA. This means it is not going to be a long wait if you order it at your local shop or online.

Another thing I was going to share are my new needles by Hiya Hiya company. 




I saw these needles before, but did not try them. It turns out that these needles come on all sizes, circular or straight,  bamboo or stainless steel... There are interchangeable needles as well. This means you basically choose the tips and different length of cables and switch from one to the next. People who use them absolutely love them. So, I have decided to try some. What do you think I chose? Something that I normally do not do - very small and very very short circular needles. Today, I took some of the Anzula yarn and these needles and started a little sock from the top. First I used both needles, but soon I realized that the needles are so flexible, that I can use one and be comfortable. I could not believe it! Like I said this is not my cup of tea, but I do not mind finishing up this sock now.
Here is the photo to show you how small the needles are. Our cat Smokey let me to put my knitting on her paw, so you can compare the needles with it. Here is another photo with a pencil (never mind calculus).


I am going to get more of these needles. Good tools are very important for me. I am glad I finally found the time to show them to you.