Archives for category: Lace

I just returned from a 10-day trip to the Pacific Northwest. It was great to be with my family and spend some time at Madrona and Churchmouse while there.  I’m thrilled to be home, too – I’m rather attached to my home/workspace. Whenever I return from being away, I’m always reminded of how much being here keeps me grounded and inspired.

This morning, I wanted to share with you a new twist on an old pattern. I’ve worked up another version of the Tweed Baby Blanket, expanding the pattern with an optional larger size, and blatantly used it as an excuse to dig into the Shelter Naturals… I just love these colors.

My nephew recently had a visit to the Big City and I thought it fitting to shoot him with the new blanket, since the original was conceived for his birth, more than 18 months ago. The original blanket has gotten some serious use during that time! I love seeing babies using, abusing, and loving wool. It fills me with such pride and hope for more wool-filled lives…

The pattern now includes two variations on the same theme – a smaller 2-color version (shown here in greys) and a larger 3-color version (browns). This design is an homage to traditional Shetland Hap Shawls.  I never tire of their simplicity, beauty, and utility.  In Shetland, this type of shawl was always used as workwear and never considered fancy. This is one of the reasons I’ve always felt drawn to them.

The smaller size uses 2 colors and blocks to approximately 41″ square, while the large uses 3 colors with a finished dimension of about 45″. An added bonus: the larger size can easily double as an adult shawl too. I love how Hap ‘waves’ provide a blank canvas for an endless number of color combinations (Sharon Miller’s book on Haps has countless examples of different ways colors were/can be used, with variations in both shade and width of stripes). My favorite Haps usually play with gradations of value, shifting from dark to light and back again, wether in neutral or colored palettes.

The pattern is available here at BT, or on Ravelry.

Speaking of home, I’m only here for a few days. I’m making a quick trip up to Harrisville to visit the mill and work a bit with the folks there on site. I really value the time that I get to spend there watching everhything happen, not to mention being in the peace and tranquility of this part of New Hampshire.

Have a wonderful weekend!

It’s been quite an extreme winter seemingly everywhere, and the city here has been no exception. Several blizzards and ice storms have walloped us, leaving large snow deposits virtually everywhere the eye can see. From an observer’s perspective, I’ve really enjoyed witnessing the different types of snow as it falls, as well as how it behaves on the ground in the days (or weeks) following. There are currently glassy layers of ice covering oddly shaped mounds. Some are still white, thankfully.

The inevitable Quieting Of Things that snow heralds has been really great for me. I’ve been slowly but surely finding my way back to balance after a a very crazy period following Shelter’s launch, and feel my creativity restoring as a result.  I’ve used a good deal of this snowed-in interlude to work on new projects and get back to basics with a healthy amount of swatching – one of my favorite pastimes.

I’ve also been spending some serious time reading (or, re-reading) Sharon Miller’s work, and continue to marvel at the amazing tradition of Shetland Lace. Her new bookLove Darg Shetland Shawls – is fantastic.  Above is a swatch of one of my very favorite Shetland Edgings that I’ve been playing with.  I’m so taken by soft, wool garter stitch lace and have a few pieces on my needles.  Knitted lace worked in garter with fine-gauge wool creates fabric with such vitality.

Color has been a focus as well.  I think it’s a good idea to seek color inspiration outside of my yarn stash every so often. Last week I dumped the whole of my thread collection out and organized it in palette order to get the creative juices flowing. All this color creates a welcome contrast to the grey days.

Speaking of Shetland, I’ve been deeply enjoying the use of one of my most treasured souvenirs from the islands.  I brought back this large woven blanket from my trip and really adore it.  Jamieson & Smith sells these beauties in a number of different designs, all woven from hand-sorted, undyed Shetland fleece. For me, this is pure luxury. I could’ve taken the whole pile home! Each limited edition blanket comes complete with a tag identifying the specific Croft from which the sheep were sourced — mine originated at the Kirkhouse Voe Croft.

I’m sure the weather is helping you remember and enjoy your own special luxuries too.  Stay warm and keep the wool coming!

On a snowy evening, there’s nothing quite like knitting through the long hours.  I’ve been sitting by my window marveling at just how quiet the city can be on the first calm day to follow a 30-hour blizzard. The timing seemed so perfect too — a blanket of silence to end a bustling week of holiday activity.

Behind the scenes here, we’ve been having some fun using Shelter to revive some old favorites in the BT design archive.  I love knitting old patterns in new yarns to see how they behave differently from a previous version.  Today I present you with A Winter Juneberry, worked in the Wool Socks colorway.

I originally published this pattern last Spring for Veronik Avery, using a firmly spun sport-weight wool.  It was fun seeing the triangle unfold this time with a woolen-spun yarn at a different gauge. The finished triangle blocked to a wingspan of 61″ across, with a height of 30″ at center back.  This upsized version is perfect for snowy afternoons!

Aside from being available through St. Denis magazine, the pattern is also available online as a PDF. For the digital version, I’ve added yarn requirements and gauge/dimension information for a worsted-weight version. This one took 4 skeins of Shelter.

I haven’t strayed far from my knitting spot by the window in the last two days, watching rather violent snow last night, and a whole lot of quiet today. I hope everyone is staying warm and safe, whether or not you find yourself stitching through The Thaw.

I’ve been relishing the indoor lifestyle these past few days and finding some quality time for designing. As we start thinking about winter I’ve been inspired by pure, white wool knits for the home.  It’s an added bonus when the project you’re working on can keep you warm at the same time.

I never tire of bulking up my own personal stash of blankets and throws, especially with thick wool that features the architecture of your stitch patterns so beautifully.  It’s a pleasure to watch stitch columns move, shift and twist with a round, bulky wool for curling up under.

I’ve also begun work on another circular shawl.  Center-out lace circles are one of my favorite things to knit — they seem to grow effortlessly and offer the perfect balance between mindless, relaxing knitting and more engaging lace patterning (that is, when you have free rounds of stockinette to scatter about). Whenever I’m approaching critical mass with too many high-maintenance projects, I always feel the urge to lose myself in a big circle of lace.

I’m working with Shelter on size 9′s and giving my new set of Addi Clicks a test-drive. Pleasure overload! Fossil, shown here, is a heathered white that reminds me of rustic cream-colored aran cardigans and downy lace shawls.

This weekend I’m headed up to Harrisville for a few workshops and meetings at the mill.  I’m excited to enter the next phase with the mill and explore some new ideas.  I’m hoping to catch a decent dose of the waning Fall colors as they cling to their trees on the ride up.  If the winds continue to howl as fiercely as they have been here today in the city though, I doubt there will be any leaves left!

The Embers color in the Shelter palette was directly inspired by the fiery shades of orange that paint the woods this time of year.  With that in mind, I wanted to create a lace piece that pays homage to those beautiful, falling Autumn leaves.

The design process began with a simple Estonian ‘cookie’ or leaf pattern that was similar to more commonly found 10- or 12-row leaf motifs but with a slight variation in the ways the stitch columns meandered back and forth in wave-like lines. This motif is located at the center of the rectangle and sparked the design for the rest of the fabric’s patterning.

Starting with that simple idea, the lace flows out from the center towards either end elongating the ‘leaves’ by 2 rows on each repeat. The original, shallower leaf then becomes stretched as it falls from the neck.

The pattern is a simple rectangle and enjoyable for watching a single stitch pattern slowly morph into multiple variations of itself. In order to achieve perfect mirrored halves, the piece is worked in two parts — each starting at the outer edges and worked towards the center.  Live stitches from either half are grafted together upon completion.

The stole is generously sized and, worked at the given gauge, blocks out to approximately 19 x 72 inches. It can be worn as a generous scarf, or draped more dramatically for a bit of volume around the neck and shoulders.  Worked in Shelter, it remains light and lofty despite the ample amount of fabric for an accessory.  The simple repeat makes for easy moficiation when working with yarns of differing gauges.

The pattern is available now through both Brooklyn Tweed and Ravelry.

Being surrounded by all the amazing colors of Fall is really inspiring – I find myself reaching for more of those shades in my own wardrobe.  Perhaps the Autumn Leaves Stole will bring a bit of the same to yours.

To say that Shetland inspired me would be a total understatement.  When I got back, I had visions of lace and colorwork swimming in my head, even more so than I usually do.  For days afterwards I was engaged in swatching with endless color combinations from my wool closet and thinking about how I could translate just a bit of all that Beauty to a little piece of my own reality.  While feeling desperate for some traditional lace work, I came across a design I had begun in the Spring but time constraints and other distractions had gotten in the way.  It was like it had been waiting for me to come home for it.

Celes is my first attempt at bringing a little piece of Shetland home.  The motifs for both the Center panel and knitted-on lace edging are traditional Shetland stitch patterns that I find both arrestingly beautiful.  The center panel is a Tree & Diamond pattern, which is funny since trees are basically non-existent in Shetland.  The construction, too, is a nod to tradition, although updated slightly for ease of knitting and proper mirroring of vertical motifs.

The design is worked in fingering weight yarn — last winter on a visit to Bainbridge Island I had fallen head over heels for this lot of Isager Alpaca 2 — a 50/50 wool alpaca blend with silvery heathers and incredibly drape (it’s color 2105). It was screaming to be made into lace fabric.  I’m a huge fan of Marianne Isager‘s designs and yarns (her fingering weight Scottish wool is crisp, clean and wonderful) and knitting with this was a pleasure from start to finish.

The construction of the piece hinges around mirrored directional stitch patterns.  In order to create a mirroring of vertical motifs in the center panel, each half is worked separately (starting with a Provisional Cast On at the outer edge) and grafted at the center line using Kitchener Stitch.  To finish, a knitted-on lace edging is applied to the entire perimeter in place of any kind of bind off, framing the center panel.  If you’ve never worked a knitted-on edging before, this is a great project for practice.

The stole is a rectangle with approximate blocked dimensions of 74″ x 17″ — a generous size for wearing as a luxurious scarf as shown and still wide enough to wear as a shoulder wrap. (Tessa wears it so beautifully, doesn’t she?)  This type of project is great for seasonal transition from Summer into (and through) Fall.  Worked in Alpaca 2, the thing is deceptively warm for its lightness and will definitely also serve as Winter wear! On the day of our photoshoot, we had also been shooting some pieces worked in heavier weight wool yarns.  Tessa immediately reported this as being the warmest piece of the afternoon.  Alpaca is warm like that — I personally prefer it diluted with a goodly amount of wool, as here.

The pattern is available now as a PDF download either through Brooklyn Tweed or over on Ravelry.

The click from season-to-season is upon us, and nothing makes me happier than feeling that crispness in the air announcing Fall’s long-awaited arrival.  This Fall will be a big one for me, so I hope you’ll stay tuned for more as we knit our way into the cooler months.

One of the new knitting books to hit the shelves this month is Brave New Knits by Julie Turjoman.  In her book Julie profiles 26 knitting bloggers, each of whom have submitted a design of their own to create a collection of patterns that has a lot of wonderful variety.  I was honored to not only be asked to be a participating blogger for this project, but also to be hired as the book’s photographer.  It was so much fun seeing so many pieces designed by many of my friends and colleagues and putting it all together into one cohesive collection of images.

We shot the project on a steamy September day last year in one of my favorite natural-light studios here in New York.  I’ve put together a quick sampling of some of my favorite images from the shoot, as well as sharing my own personal pattern contribution at the bottom of the post.  I hope you enjoy!

Knitted flowers by Kat Coyle

Shrug by Melissa Wehrle

Cardigan by Mari Muinonen

Mitts by Clara Parkes

Pullover by Stefanie Japel

Hat by Woolly Wormhead

Cardigan by Hilary Smith Callis

Pullover by Connie Chang Chinchio

Cloche by Norah Gaughan

There’s many more patterns and interviews contained in the book than shown above, so please feel free to check it out if these images have sparked your interest!

In putting together the book, Julie also worked to include smaller yarn companies that sell online and have their own ‘following’ in the way bloggers do.  When Julie asked me to design an accessory pattern for the book, of course I asked her if I could call dibs on Beaverslide Dry Goods — one of my favorite small American wool suppliers.  Armed with fingering weight American Merino, the Woodsmoke Scarf was born.

The scarf is a very simple concept — central garter stitch rectangle is knit length-wise (using a provisional cast-on) knit in one color and not bound off. The second color is used to work a knitted-on lace edging, also in garter stitch to frame the whole piece.  I chose a long, skinny proportion for a lighter, spring scarf that could be wrapped a generous number of times around the neck, but the pattern can be very simply adapted to make proportions you might find more suitable for your wardrobe (wider, shorter, etc.)

I had a lot of fun working with Julie on this project, and I think it’s a unique addition to the Knitting Section at the bookstore/library and helps promote the lives that go on behind the curtain in knitwear design.  Happy reading!

As the weather warms up, I find myself busying my hands with smaller projects.  Sure there are always a few sweaters that accompany me through the long & sweltering East Coast Summer, but small projects are always happily embraced during this time of year.  Mittens, gloves, neckwarmers, hats — those in-betweens that we sprinkle around our larger undertakings — help me feel like I’m being conscientious in storing up for Fall & Winter.  They also bulk up the now-depleted pile of gifts, so that when another cold season comes (we’ll wait patiently) there are plenty of woolies to dole out to friends and family.

I’ve recently worked up a few accessory patterns that I’ll be sharing here with you now as Spring becomes Summer.  Today we start with a pretty piece of lace that is designed with a nod to those special one-off skeins of luxury fiber that we all have stashed somewhere special, but often don’t know what to do with.

Ptarmigan is designed for sport-weight or light-dk-weight luxury yarns — cashmere, yak, bison — pick your poison.  I tend to be plagued by a too-little amount of yardage in many a beautiful (expensive) yarn.  Luxury fibers are pricey and sometimes only allow a single-skein-splurge, leaving us with very special yarns but all too often a roadblock in the way of pattern options.  It was with this in mind that I started knitting this little lacey number.

If you’re lucky enough to live in a cooler climate, this might still qualify as spring-wear (nudge to you, Pacific Northwesterners — this is the time of year I start getting really homesick), although here in the city the heat and humidity are already poking small jabs at my own cold-weather biases.

The neckwarmer is closer-fitting, rather than relaxed and slouchy, to keep those soft fibers nice and close to your skin, exactly where they should be!  Very light. Very warm. Gets the job done.

The pattern requires approximately 175 yards of yarn, although instructions are included for extending the length in case you have extra yarn and a penchant for more voluminous, slouchy neckwear. By all means, use up every last yard! All the pattern specifics are listed on the Ptarmigan Pattern Page here at BT or over on Ravelry.  The buttons below will whisk you off to either location.

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I’ve had a few weeks at home, which has been an absolute luxury. I’ve gotten back into my own studio and have been exploring and experimenting with wool and stitch patterns, something I never tire of.  I love swatching — it’s the moment of possibility, and more often than not the moment of unexpected discovery.  Or to call it in a different way… your first date with your yarn. All nerves and thrill.

Things in the garden are growing and so it feels like the time of year to plant new ideas and regain productivity.  I hope you find some inspiration and motivation around you as we push forward in our creative work.  Happy Spring!

Today’s sweater is a rare and special bird. Last Fall I was given the opportunity to produce an art-sweater for ESOPUS magazine — a very special publication that is produced by the ESOPUS foundation here in New York (read more about the ESOPUS Foundation here). I spun my wheels on this project for quite a while trying to think of a way of incorporating knitting into the publication in a fresh and interesting way. After enduring a long creative void, I found myself thinking about the Exquisite Corpse process-drawings that were done by Surrealists in the 1920′s.

The Exquisite Corpse Project

The Exquisite Corpse is a collaborative process in which multiple artists create a single image (typically the human figure) in sequence with one another. Each artist is permitted only a glimpse at the contribution of the previous artist without knowing its connection to the whole. The imaginative drawings that are created in this way are spontaneous, random, and very interesting.

The Exquisite Corpse Project

With this process in mind came the spark of an idea for a design experiment that resulted in the sweater you see photographed here.

The Exquisite Corpse Project

I got in contact with a few of my favorite indie-designers to see if they were up for a design challenge: to create a collaborative garment in random sequence working directly off of the piece or pieces that were presented to them from the previous designer. Starting with a general set of garment dimensions provided by me (so that the garment would fit the body at the conclusion of the process) each designer was given complete creative freedom for their portion of the sweater.

The Exquisite Corpse Project

I chose a bulky, rustic sheepswool in hopes that the materials would inspire textural experimentation and highlight the multi-directional quality of the fabrics. As you can see from the images, the garment is a veritable explosion of texture!

The Exquisite Corpse Project

The designers who collaborated on this project, each from a different location around the country, were: Connie Chang Chinchio, Tanis Gray, Carrie Hoge, Melissa LaBarre & Elli Stubenrauch.

The Exquisite Corpse Project

Below is a schematic of the finished garment, a Dolman cardigan, and how each designer’s contribution comes together to create the finished whole.

The Exquisite Corpse Project

It was a wonderful experiment and created a garment that I find interesting for so many reasons. The magazine is accompanied by a gallery show in which all pieces from the current issue are on view at the ESOPUS space in New York. For those readers who are local, click here for the show information if you’d like to see the physical garment on view at the gallery.

The Exquisite Corpse Project

I want to give a special thank you to all the designers who joined me to put this together as well as my lovely model (does she look familiar? Yes, that’s famed Cookie A. looking fierce).

The Exquisite Corpse Project

The garment is a true one-of-a-kind and the result of each designers immediate response to the garment pieces as they were presented to them. I hope you enjoy it!

I’m so happy to share with you a new lace design that was published this week — I’ve been itching to show you photos ever since I finished it in January. I designed this lace triangle for Veronik’s second issue of St. Denis Magazine and got another chance to use her lovely wool Nordique.

Juneberry Triangle
I love yarns that sport rich, full palettes and Nordique sure delivers where color is concerned. In the dead of winter, when nights seemed endless and I had woolly lace on the brain, this amazingly rich burgundy was the perfect inspiration and spurred many long winter evenings of lace knitting.

Juneberry Triangle
At the time, I was feeling particularly scrappy and wanted to design a lace project that would give me a good challenge to sink my teeth into. What resulted is a piece that is not for the faint of heart! The majority of the lace motifs are true knitted lace in the traditional sense, meaning that the patterning falls on every row (both RS and WS), with no free stockinette rows in between.

Juneberry Triangle
Because the triangle is knit flat (back and forth) and patterned on both sides, it requires a bit more concentration than your average lace project and does involve getting familiar with directional decreasing from the Wrong Side (Slip, Slip, Purl & Purl 2 Together), but if you’re up for a challenge this one is for you!

Juneberry Triangle
The magazine is a wonderful issue and full of designs from some of my favorite designers — be sure to check out some of the other patterns from this issue on Ravelry here. To look up project details just for the Juneberry Triangle, click here.

Juneberry Triangle
Veronik has also already knit a stunning version of the same pattern in her new, lighter-weight yarn Boreale that is fantastic! How wonderful it is to knit lace in a variety of different gauges and yarn constructions. The Nordique version is warm and woolly with a more substantial ‘fabric’ feel. From what I can tell of the ice blue Boreal version, it’s delicate, feather-light lace at its finest!

Juneberry Triangle
The triangle is finished with a wide, traditional knitted-on edging in place of a conventional bind-off to keep every part of the fabric equally elastic and to provide some directional contrast.

Juneberry Triangle
Juneberry continues my nostalgic fascination with bobbles… this was an experimentation in bobble-laden lace patterns and has a very berry-like texture as a result. I think it feels sophisticated while remaining fun and playful at the same time. I hope you enjoy it!