Archives for category: Travel

Well. It’s been a wild month of travel for me — from Oklahoma City, to Philadelphia, to Texas, to New England and many a space in between. I’ve had the wonderful fortune of knitting with folks from all over the country and it has been an absolute pleasure. When I returned to Brooklyn on Monday for a two week break from airplanes, I sat down at my knitting window and realized that transition-time was over and Fall has, in my absence, made itself quite at home here in the city.

The click of the seasons is something that gives me pleasure beyond words, and Summer to Fall, not surprisingly, has got to be the most special time of year for us knitters. It’s usually about the second week of October when my fingers start to twitch even more than usual for soft, wool sweaters on my needles and my eyes desire a bath of materials in rich, autumn heathers.

What else does October mean? It’s the one time of year that I knowingly cast my self-control to the wind and embrace even my most irrational wool cravings, which means I generally acquire more during this period than any other. So, in the spirit of full disclosure, I might as well share with you some recent acquisitions from my travels and yarns that are frankly keeping me up at night with giddy anticipation.

Harrisville Shetland Cones

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of visiting Historic Harrisville in New Hampshire — home of some of my very favorite American-milled yarns and a historic treasure for our national textile tradition. I’ve been on a major lace knitting stint lately (before the sweater monster came to bite) and these are both slated for woollie shawls.

Harrisville Designs is like a wool-lovers paradise: walls of colorful, sturdy wools housed in a 2-century-old brick building nestled directly over a stream (if you peak through a knot-hole in the floor boards you’ll see the flowing waters of the stream below). A destination for any knitter’s New England itinerary… and a destination I hope to return to in the future.

Imperial Stock Ranch

Another wool that has recently sent me headlong into infatuation comes from the opposite coast and my home region of the Pacific Northwest. Imperial Stock Ranch makes beautiful, Oregon-grown yarns from their 125+ year old flock of Columbia Sheep (the farm, which is a National Historic District, has been responsible in part for developing this wonderful breed). The yarns are minimally processed using antique spinning techniques (a la many other favorite yarns you’ve heard me wax poetic about in the past — Beaverslide Dry Goods in MT and Marr Havenin MI, most notably) and come in both two-ply woolen spun yarns (yum!) and a wonderful unspun bulky “puck”, similar to Unspun Icelandic Wool. While the company has been in business for decades, their recent push into the world of hand knitting is one that I think is a very welcome addition to the industry.

Jamieson and Smith Jumper Weight

And no Fall knitting would be complete without a healthy dose of Shetland Jumper-Weight wools straight from the island. You may be sick of me talking about my wool-standby, but I do start to get nervous if I’m away from this stuff for too long. To me, Shetland yarns are truly fine wines in our world of materials. With these? More lace. Always more lace.

I must sound like a glutton at this point, pulling in all this wool for Fall (there’s more too…but we won’t go there today) but if you can’t be a wool glutton in the Fall, when can you be? And there’s no better way to spend the afternoon than quietly working stitches in a good, solid wool as you watch the fading golden light play across the increasingly bare branches.

Despite the natural world telling us that Fall symbolizes the end of something, to me it represents a new beginning and a new inspiration. I hope you are feeling inspired by the wools under your roof and the cooler breezes that are causing us to grab our woolens on the way out the door. Lets enjoy it while it’s here!

I’m back from a wonderful and restful vacation — it’s amazing what a little time off will do for your energy. It’s also amazing what the ocean air can do for you when you have nothing to do but knit in front of the sea for 6 days. Dreamy!

I came home to the new issue of The Knitter — in which is featured an interview that Meg Swansen and I conducted with the wonderful ladies of The Knitter while in the UK. If you don’t know this magazine, it’s a great one – a bit hard to come by in the US, but getting easier, so I hear. The article features a few sneak peeks at some of my upcoming designs which will be out next month.

Knitter Article

And you know I can’t take a trip with acquiring a few woolly souvenirs, despite trying desperately to pack light, and keep it that way! Behind the scenes here I run what I like to think of as a Sweater Rescue Program – searching thrift stores and flea markets for beautiful woolen cast-offs that have been slightly damaged, dirtied, or just plain overlooked. I like to take them in, mend them with matching scrap yarn, clean them up and give them new life. I do this rather often, which explains my large collection of machine knit sweaters (on top of all those hand-knit ones), which some people find puzzling. I say: Good Knitwear is Good Knitwear, right!?

That said, I found a real BEAUTY in Portland at my favorite thrifting locale: “The Bins” (aka Buying-Sweaters-By-Weight-For-Change). This here is a vintage shetland pullover with great details and wonderful wool. It has plenty of small moth-holes and a few little stains that can be easily taken out with a good hand-washing. And since I seem to have somehow acquired every possible shade of Shetland Grey in existence all under one roof, I figured I’d be able to find a pretty good match for this one.

Sweater Rescue Continues!

Mending commences this week!

In vacation-knitting news, I got some work done on new designs, but mostly zoned out with my stockinette project for the baby … enjoying these beautiful shades of gold and soaking up the sounds of the ocean. I love knitting by the sea just after dusk and into evening – stockinette is nice cause you don’t really need to look at your knitting, at least not that much.

Leggings Needing One More Leg

The leggings are in need of one more leg, which should be quick work for car knitting that will be happening in the next few days (passenger, not driver…. although I’ve been known to try. Keep that one quiet.)

Stick around in the next week or so for some big announcements and blatant eye-candy. Until next time!

What a crazy month it’s been! Now that I’m finally home and the dust has settled, it’s time to get back to my knitting. And that’s something worth celebrating! As I’ve been unpacking (it never ends), reorganizing and regrouping, the full realization of how much yarn I actually acquired during my travels has hit. I was a bit of a magnet – I SWEAR I try to keep yarn intake down to the absolute essentials… but then I black out and find a suitcase full of the stuff splayed out on the floor when I get back.

I’ve been doing a lot of swatching in the last couple of days – my head is full of ideas and I’m ready to explore them! Today, though, I thought I might feature a few highlights from my collection of travel souvenirs.

Garthenor Black Sheep

Serious British Wool Alert: Have you heard of Garthenor? I hadn’t until I was over in the UK and picked up these two balls of beautiful black sheep’s wool in London. Garthenor produces organic wool for spinners and knitters from UK grown sheep. Their website has info about what wools
are actually in their yarns, which is (oddly) rare and always a major plus in my book! I have a weakness for black wools – this yarn is a rustic DK-weight Black Welsh Mountain breed, and is begging to become a pair of sturdy, woolly mittens!

O.M.A.

And speaking of black sheep… here’s something that has got my spinning mojo rip-roaring again! A 70/30 black shetland/tussah silk combed top from Old Maiden Aunt. This stuff is beaaautiful and just waiting for the wheel (this week I hope!). Shetland is my favorite spinning material, so I’m psyched to see how the silk feels blended in. Color-wise I think it works incredibly well together. I’m planning for a totally zen evening with this one.

Oh and the blue? Yeah, it’s kind of a stunner, isn’t it. It’s a fingering weight merino from the same dyer’s Homecoming Collection – “Lon Dubh (Blackbird)” – a deep, saturated, smokey blue that definitely WORKS. Both of the gems above were gifts from the generous and talented Old Maiden Aunt in Scotland – I’m thrilled!

Rowan Lima

At TNNA, back in Ohio, I stowed away with a few choice balls of new yarn for Fall and this one got me really excited. Now – I’m not a big alpaca head – but this yarn commands some attention! It’s a new worsted alpaca from Rowan called “Lima.” Aside from the beautiful palette of colors and great heathered blending that’s happening, the construction of the yarn I think is notable as utilizing some of alpacas best qualities and ditching some of its worst. The yarn is basically a miniature 2-stitch I-Cord which, most importantly, traps a lot of air in the yarn – keeping it LIGHT – while at the same time maintaining great elasticity. Elasticity and lightness are words I don’t often use to describe alpaca so I really think this yarn was designed well. Now all there is left to do is appreciate the lofty, butter-soft jewel-tones, which I will proceed to do now.

Marr Haven Wool

And lastly – this one doesn’t
really count as an official souvenir but it was waiting for me when I got home from traveling (I ordered it just before I left, as a bit of incentive) and is certainly a show stopper! I’ve spoken about Marr Haven before, but this is one of my very favorite yarns and I do like to treat myself to it every now and again. The folks at Marr Haven grow purebred Merino-Rambouillet sheep (soft wool, but with body!) in Michigan and mule-spin it to keep the true integrity of the fibers intact. They don’t offer a ton of color selection, but if you’re happy knitting with naturals until you die, like me, you’re set. Aside from that wonderfuly soft, lofty, lanolin-y experience while knitting, the texture is a game-changer! I’m smitten.

I certainly have plenty to keep me busy this summer – the yarns above are just a sampling! When it rains it pours, doesn’t it?

Are your air-conditioners fired up? Summer knitting, here we come.

I’ve been knitting my way around the UK over the last week and a half, having an absolutely wonderful time and meeting some great UK knitters!


Oxford Grounds

There have been so many highlights – not least of which was getting some quality time with Meg Swansen, what a treat! Meg and I appeared on BBC radio to promote Ravelry, British Wool, and most of all, Knitting with a capital K! Meg taught our host how to knit on the air – I’m glad I had my camera!

Meg Teaching Our Host

I’m headed back stateside this weekend for TNNA in Columbus. If you’re there, stop by and say hello!

After TNNA, I’ll have some much needed down time – my knitting and I are in need of some one-on-one in a desperate way!

But this one works too! It’s been a turbulent 2 years – too quiet around the blog on my part and all-too unquiet everywhere else! Thanks for sticking with me as I powered through my MFA.


I’m taking a week off (from everything), then I’ll be headed over the pond to go bananas at UK Ravelry Day. I’ll be teaching alongside Meg Swansen, Wooly Wormhead, Debbie Bliss, and many others whose presence I am absolutely honored to be in!

Here’s to a new chapter – one where there is much more time for knitting!

Hi, everyone! The last weeks have been quite the whirlwind – I spent July traveling around my home turf in the PNW. I did a lot of knitting and design work and got a much needed break from city life. The trip was peaceful, insightful and inspiring – exactly what I was after. When I finally got back to New York, I had a last minute opportunity to travel to Cape Cod, and I promptly jumped on that train, despite my better judgement that staying home and catching up on the bevy of work awaiting me here was the right thing to do, and don’t regret it. I figure I need to enjoy my last summer as a student in an official capacity.

So what’s been doing on the needles? So very much to share. That lace bug that comes around every few months is back with a vengeance, and I thought I’d try my hand at some lace designing. Uncharted territory for me, but I’ve been having a looot of fun with it.

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To tell you the truth, my tolerance of heat is starting to wear thin – granted we’ve had what I would consider a very mild summer here (knock on wood), and I haven’t even been here the whole time, but air conditioned quarters are still required for marathon knitting – and my wintry temperament is feeling stifled. Visions of lace, cables and colorwork taunt me nightly. Even so, I’ll continue patiently waiting for the click of the seasons to happen sometime in September (please?). When it does though…

New Lace for Fall (by b r o o k l y n t w e e d)

…there will be plenty of warm, winter lace. I thought maybe the summer would stave off this year’s blanket trend in my knitting, but the “Year of the Blanket” title has remained all the same. There may or may not be more than just this one gaining momentum in recesses of the apartment.

I’ve been playing with wools both heavy and light – I can’t seem to get enough of that wonderful texture you get with pre-blocked, heavy weight lace projects.

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I know it’s cruel to just give little peeks under the (lace) blanket, but these things will be expounded upon shortly. Something I can indulge you in more of however is this, my most treasured recent acquisition: a box of new yarns from Beaverslide Dry Goods, one of my all time favorite farms over in beautiful Montana. Tell me though, seriously, what could be better than coming home from vacation to this:

Best. Box. Ever. (by b r o o k l y n t w e e d)

Most definitely worth breaking a serious yarn diet for. No guilt here. Really.

Over the next few weeks I’ll be catching up on many things that have been sorely neglected, not the least of which is my inbox. All things considered, it’s great to be home – I really missed my yarn.

The glorious red blob is finally shaping up into something really special, and I’m loving it.

Red Blob (by b r o o k l y n t w e e d)

The spiral is, to me, a constantly intriguing motif in knitting and I love patterns that play with and incorporate its structure. I’m enjoying this sweater so much, I might make two – what a great pattern!

The Spiral Begins (by b r o o k l y n t w e e d)

I had a wonderful time in Virginia teaching and got to meet a whole bunch of wonderful knitters. Between the recovery from my trip and preparations for my real vacation, things have been a bit crazy, but I’m gearing up for a hell of a lot of knitting over the next month.

More Spiral (by b r o o k l y n t w e e d)

As of tomorrow, and for the entire month of July I’ll be relaxing on the west coast on a much needed vacation. I’ll be passing back and forth between Seattle, Portland and the Oregon Coast with knitting always by my side and happily leaving the NYC humidity behind. I plan on knitting a lot and finally getting to play around with some new design ideas. I will have my computer with me, so you may not notice much of a change around here, other than hopefully more knitting output than normal. That’s what vacations are all about, right? At least for us knitters.

Goodbye Brooklyn, hello Pacific.

For all of you who think I’ve sold my soul to the spinning gods and will never be coming back, rest assured – I am still knitting! Rather a lot lately I might add! I have so many small to medium sized projects going on that I’m having a hard time keeping track of them all. A few are gifts that I’ll get to share with you sometime in September, but for now I’ll show you a couple of the things that have been brewing in the shadow of the wheel.

I can’t remember the last time I didn’t have something by Elizabeth on my needles. I’ve learned that this is a pretty solid strategy to have with my knitting. And since I was having some serious chunky-tweed-garter withdrawals after finishing off the Tomten, there was one pattern I had in mind that would be a perfect transition away from the warm tomten nest I spent most of the early summer in.

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This is one finished half of Liz’s Ribwarmer pattern – and I use the term pattern loosely. It’s more like a little sneeze on one of the pages of Knitting Workshop. (I like to think that she was so brilliant, even when she sneezed something wonderful came out.) Thank God for the sketch!

The Ribwarmer is a short-row shaped vest with a miniature shawl collar worked in two halves that are seamed together down center back (right half pictured above). The pattern calls for a worsted but I had this beautiful Rowan Chunky sitting around harassing me and figured I’d just plug in my modified numbers and get going.

It’s right about this time in August when I start losing all my patience with summer. I’m ready for the big chill – wool, hats, sweaters and all the other things we knitters live for. I’m pretty tired of relying on the air conditioner to get me through a moviesworth of knitting, or any knitting for that matter.

In anticipation of the cooler seasons to come, I’ve launched into one of the wintry-est things I could think of. A wool afghan. Except it’s not so much an afghan as a giant doily made with chunky wool. Awesome.

A Blanket Begins

The goal is to transform this old vintage doily pattern into a big wooly throw. We’ll see what happens. I’m sure having fun though – those are the biggest holes I’ve ever put in my knitting – intentionally or otherwise! And the yarn is a yardage dream.

There’s more things still, but I think I’ll need to be sharing in moderation for a bit. The next three weeks will be absolutely crazy. I’m off to London on the 20th of August and have an impossible amount of things to do before I leave.. the most daunting of which is moving. (I’ll still be Brooklyn tweed, just another-part-of-Brooklyn tweed.) I’ll do my very best to keep the house clean in these parts, so hopefully you won’t even notice that I’m going crazy behind the curtain. Hope everyone is well – and happy knitting through the last summer push.

First, for all of you who have seen the Fall Interweave Preview and sent e-mails – thank you! The upcoming issue features one of my sweater designs that I’m really excited about. If you’ve yet to catch the preview, check it out here – there’s a bunch of great sweaters, it looks like a really great issue (though you can’t really go wrong with Fall knitting, in my opinion).

Cobblestone Pullover
 

Pattern: Cobblestone Pullover
Source: Interweave Knits Fall 2007
Yarn: Classic Elite Skye Tweed in ‘Upland Green’

 

Cobblestone

I designed and knit most of this while I was in Dublin last winter. Despite finding n’ery a yarn shop there, it was a great place to be inspired – plenty of wool, texture and color all around to get the creative juices flowing. The Cobblestone was a bar we spent an evening in listening to traditional Irish music on the North side of town – I thought the name was fitting.

My goal with this piece was simple shapes that would feature a nice tweedy wool and a goodly amount of texture without overdoing it. It’s worked seamlessly with a round yoke and garter strips up the sides (below the underarms). A nice cozy sweater that I’m really looking forward to having around this winter.

Cobblestone

Pictured is the medium size – my apologies for the wrinkles. I was forced to photograph this in a pinch, before wet blocking. You know how those deadlines are.

Thanks again for all your support – it is always very much appreciated. Happy knitting!

Among the numerous and frequent moments of epiphany, gratitude and sheer awe inspired in each knitter by Elizabeth Zimmermann, none, I believe, is as poignant as the one experienced when you fold together your first BSJ.

Baby Surprise Jacket
 

Pattern: (the infamous) Baby Surprise Jacket
Author: Elizabeth Zimmermann
Source: The Opinionated Knitter, Knitting Workshop
Gauge: 5 sts per inch
Materials: Hello Yarn Handspun 2-Ply
Colors: “Trodden” and “Hunkered
Amount: 5.3 ounces/306 yds
Buttons: 5 Iridescent Shell buttons from M&J Trimming in midtown Manhattan; Five

 

Finished Measurements: 18.5″ Chest (Buttoned), 19″ from cuff to cuff, 11.5″ Height

Started: 7 June 2007
Finished: 9 June 2007
(Buttons Added 17 June 2007)

 

Baby Surprise Jacket (Back Detail)

I did this one pretty much exactly by the book – no modifications. I familiarized myself as best I could with just exactly what is going on with this pattern, and while I felt I was able to grasp the concept well enough – you really don’t get it until you do it. And do it again. This one is addictive!

Baby Surprise Jacket

Aside from the inspired pattern, joining it with such a special yarn really made this experience priceless. I knit this on the train ride up to Rhinebeck a few weekends ago. With the Hudson gliding by outside my window, I had one of those elevated knitting moments where everything comes together a little too well.

Baby Surprise Jacket (Button Detail)

The buttons were a perfect match – they’re shell buttons that reflect all the blues and purples of Adrian’s handspun. I originally planned on something a little more earthy, but when I saw these I changed my mind. I default to wood buttons too often anyway.

Baby Surprise Jacket

I’m stating the obvious, but this one gets a big, fat stamp of approval from me. I’ve already started scheming future versions from some of my more exciting stash bits.

We’re headed out to the Oregon Coast to camp for the next few days (!!!) so I’ll be away from e-mail. Despite being on vacation, I did recognize that this morning is Monday, which is usually not fun at all – I hope this little BSJ Offering rounds out the edges of the week jolting you back into reality. Happy Knitting!