Tag Archives: knitting

Score!

We live in an old, small house, pretty much in the middle of downtown.  Right across from our front yard there’s a beautiful park where most of the spring and summer events happen.

We can sit on our front porch and appreciate the music every Wednesday evening, during the spring time.  We’re also just a few steps away from the two major art fairs that happen in town every year.  This is the perfect set up for us, since we don’t like to plan things ahead of time, specially on weekends – to me, weekends are meant to be spent with a go with the flow attitude: do whatever we feel like doing, without having to plan ahead for it.

When I came downstairs yesterday morning, I noticed that the park’s parking lot (did I mention that the park is across the street from us?) was full.  Lots of cars, some with trailers attached.  That meant something was going on.  So I got closer to the window and from there I could see a few tents set up.

Since the weather was still nice (it wouldn’t last, though.  It got to 103F in the afternoon), we decided to go check it out.  It turns out that the Fall Art Fest(? Fair?) was going on.  The first booth we saw, as soon as we got there, was from a couple who sells iron work – garden decor and sculptures.
They had an amazing kinetic sculpture at the front, so we decided to look at the other things they had.  That’s when I saw her, standing by the side of the booth, almost hidden amongst all the other cool stuff they had – the perfect prop for displaying my shawls when doing a photo shoot: my new model.

I checked the price tag and couldn’t believe my eyes.  She was being sold for a third of the price of similar ones I’ve seen before!  And I had the money :D!  She came home with me and in a few hours she’ll be housed upstairs in the one-day-this-will-be-a-studio-room.

I’d like to introduce you to my new model.  Seen here displaying Verão, my latest design (soon to be released).

Verão
Quatro Estações Collection – Verão

She does an amazing job at modeling, doesn’t she?  On the next photo we can see her back, and how well she displays the stole.

IMG_5293
Quatro Estações Collection – Verão back

Niebling or: how I learned to stop goofing around and love blocking

I haven’t talked about Niebling here for a long time.  That’s because I’d been resisting the urge to buy anymore reprints from his many works for a few years now.
Well…last week I succumbed and bought two folios.  They were shipped from England and got here quite fast (last Friday, to be exact).  I spent the rest of that evening browsing through them and by Saturday I’d decided I needed to knit at least one of the doilies.
IMG_5160
I’m in the midst of a designing maelstrom – so far working on 3 different shawl patterns at the same time o_O, which is a new thing for me and way less confusing than I thought it would be.  The thing is, I don’t need to knit anything else, aside from the things that are already on the needles and need to be finished.  I wanted to knit something from Niebling, though.  So, I did.  In my defense it was a small doily and only took me 3 days to finish.

My first encounter with the genius that is Niebling was through Lyra – my first and the second.  There’s something magical about his designs that doesn’t really show up until you block the finished item.  My favorite ones are when I’m knitting and at some point stop and start staring at the images, thinking that there’s something wrong with the pattern, maybe a mistake, because the knitting doesn’t quite look like the finished item.
I keep on knitting, even with the doubt, because the stitch count is right and I just begin to suspect that it isn’t going to look like the picture around half way through the knitting (I’m committed by then).
Then, the magic happens: I finish the knitting, give it a good soak and block.  As I block, right there, before my eyes, the item begins to transform itself from a very angular shape into this organic beauty.

Herein lies his genius: he had an uncanny ability to predict how blocking would turn all those straight lines and sharp angles into fluid, organic shapes.  It isn’t really magic, of course.  It’s “just” a deep understanding of how tension applied to the material will work.

Every time I try to explain what I think about Niebling with words I feel like I’m trying to grab something just out of my reach – I can touch it with my fingernails, but I can’t put my fingers around it to bring it closer.  I think I know how it works, but I lack the vocabulary to explain it (and the technical knowledge of applied tension).
Some nights, while waiting to fall asleep, I make plans to take some time away from all the knitting things (as in, shawls and doilies), designing and all the other endeavors so I can sit down and apply my ideas to swatches, just to check out if I’m right about my theories.

Before I knit my first Niebling, I knew very little about blocking and seldom did it.  As soon as the first Lyra was bound off, I knew it had to be blocked – not because the lace was all crumpled up (it was, but I could see the different shapes), but because I found the idea of stretching the heck out of the knitting amusing.
With every pin I put down into the carpet, I understood better why blocking is so important in general and with Niebling designs in particular.
I love to block and honestly think that your knitting isn’t finished until the item is blocked.  Bonus points if the blocking is done properly – which, I admit being guilty of not doing in some cases.

Hoar de Fleece – so far

So far I haven’t spun as much as I planned – and chances are, I’m not going to.  I finished two skeins of lace weight – ish yarn and then something funny happened: one of the yarns I finished wanted to be knit – by me.

Hippie yarn
Hippie yarn

This is unusual because I normally don’t have any desire to work with my own hand spun, which is odd, but it’s the way I roll.  This one, though, was taunting me, whispering that it would look awesome as a stole that I had yet to design.
I endured the siren song for as long as I could, even started on the second half of the blue silk, but the calling got louder.  So much so that I had to stop the spinning (which I wasn’t enjoying anyway) and spent 2 days playing with the charting software.

Once I had the charts the way I wanted, I wound the yarn into a cake without even bothering to finish it first and started knitting.  Again, it’s an unusual way for me to design.  For most of my patterns, I start by knitting and only after the thing is done and blocked, I go to the digital end of the business: charting and writing the pattern.
I’ve noticed that as my designs begin to incorporate more elaborate, bigger stitch patterns, the more I start out by charting.  It doesn’t take away the need to actually knit, but in some ways, makes my life easier: by the time I have a photo of the finished item, I also have a rough draft of the pattern.  Making the process of test knitting move faster.

Beginnings of a new design
Beginnings of a new design

So, I began knitting and as usual, found a few mistakes.  Back to the software we go.  The photo here is my third attempt – the first two didn’t work so well.

I was actually surprised at the number of mistakes and adjustments that had to be done in order to knit this – there weren’t that many :D.

Because of this new design, I haven’t spun for two days.  I needed to get back on that horse, so today I put what I have (it’s bigger now) in a nice hot bath and it’s blocking as I type.  By bathing the swatch(?), prototype(?), I’m buying myself some time to work on my spinning and some house work.

I have known about the Tour de Fleece for a few years now, but had never had any interest in joining.  The thought was that I would lose interest before long as I don’t like to do things on demand, so to speak.
I joined this year because of some nastiness that went on, and only did so because a new sort-of spin-off group came into existence.  At first, I wasn’t going to spin.  I just joined for the fun of it, but it got contagious and I ended up spinning more than I’ve done in the last 2 or 3 years.

The goal of the Tour (or Hoar, in my case) is to challenge yourself and push your boundaries.  At first I was a little disappointed on myself for falling back into what I already knew.  At some point, though, I realized that I was, in fact, learning new things.  I came to understand that I was behaving like a production spinner who needed to get done with one roving as soon as possible so I could move on to the next.  This wasn’t working for me – I didn’t really had the time to appreciate or enjoy the process itself and it was taking a toll on my well-being (head,knees and back pains, sore fingers and even a few cuts from singles rubbing against my skin).
When I joined the Hoar de Fleece, I had to scale it down and take breaks.  I could have 7 skeins done by the end of it (I have made at least one 4 oz skein in 48 hours before) but there wouldn’t be time for anything else.  I also know that if I had tried for that I’d burn out by the end of the first week.
This time around I learnt to slow down, take breaks from one hobby by doing another and manage my time better.  Maybe next year I’ll try some long draw ;).