I have always been really obsessed at peeking into other people’s sketchbooks. I love to see how artists think and how their process evolves. I even like looking at my old sketchbooks just to have the memory of the challenge and the excitement. I don’t do much drawing anymore but I do have a journal that’s filled with ideas for knitwear.
When I started working on The Crash, the furry loop stitch concept was fresh in my mind. I was feeling really inspired by what I was seeing people wear on the street. I started drawing out some ideas for how to make that real. A lot of it was absurd capelets that would be impossible to wear let alone knit but I just kept drawing it over and over again, tweaking it here and there and ended up with this.
This was the first real incarnation of the sweater in my mind. I like to write lots of notes to myself. Everything is pretty specific even when I don’t know what I want. The loopy shoulders were so vivid in my mind. There are lots of shoulder drawings in there, just trying to figure out how it all should fit together.
I remember thinking about doing a simple moss stitch sweater under the shoulder pads. I also played around with the idea of a cabled aran sweater. In the end, I kind of split the difference with the masculine diamond motif.
As you can see, it stayed pretty true to itself from beginning to end. Once I know what I want, I have a hard time moving away from that, even when I know that there are other options that will work just as well. While that sounds lovely, it was a real challenge since this piece is so wild. I really wasn’t sure how to make the shoulders work and fit but I had a picture in my mind of that final product.
I’m still filling up my notebook with sweaters. Sometimes it drives me crazy! I wish I had time to take them off the page! It’s way easier to scribble out a hat than it is to sit down and make it real. But, for me, putting pen to paper is the best way to make an idea grow.
Do you sketch your knitting? How do you plan designs?
As we count down the days to Christmas, I have been talking a lot about gifting. Today I’d like to offer the chance for one of you to get a little gift. You deserve it, don’t you? Interweave Press would like to give a copy of Op-Art Socks by Stephanie van der Linden to one lucky reader!
I am a sock lover so obviously I’m really excited for this book. There is a ton of colorwork and a lot of fun construction. As I’ve mentioned before, socks are a really fun place to play around with techniques and motifs and this book is kind of a living embodiment of that idea. The book also includes swatches of all of the colorwork in black and white so you can really get a good idea of what’s going on without the wild colors. So useful!
Enter to win a copy of Op-Art socks by leaving a comment below with your favorite pattern from the book. (US residents only, sorry!) I’ll pick a winner next Monday. Thanks, Interweave!
So, which pattern are you dying to get on your needles?
Phew! How were your holidays? I’m still in a food coma! I can hardly believe I’m typing. Anyway, let’s start the week out with some eye candy, shall we?
One of my favorite things about her work is the adorable knits that her characters wear. The textures and details in the knitwear are fabulous. It seems like she takes any opportunity to add a piece of knitwear to her work. That is something I can definitely get behind!
Who are your favorite knitting artists?
I promised last week that I’d share more of that sneak peek I posted. I hope you enjoyed the WIP photos! Suspense is over!
When I was dreaming up something special to make for Jon’s brother and soon-to-be sister-in-law in honor of their upcoming nuptials, I had lots of Judaical themes in mind. I really loved making a piece of art for my friend’s wedding last summer and I wanted to do something like it again. (What can I say, I want to make things for every occasion!) While I originally wanted to do some sort of phrase in Hebrew, I thought that a hamsa would make a really beautiful wall hanging and a perfect gift to give at their Moroccan-style henna bridal shower.
The hamsa is a hand symbol that is meant to protect against the evil eye. It’s popular in Middle Eastern cultures and I love that, since it’s so old, it spans across different religions. Jon’s family is from Israel so the hamsas can be found in just about every room of his parent’s house and now my own apartment. I really liked the idea of giving a gift that was kind of a good luck charm, a symbol to help protect their new life together. Traditionally, hamsas appear with an eye in the palm but I also added the heart. I’m not a superstitious person but I’m pretty sure that love is the key to keeping away any bad energy!
I sketched out a few different hamsa designs before deciding on this one. I wanted something a little modern and simple yet true to the roots of Jewish art. The woven gold parts remind me of the artwork at the temple that my family’s been members of for fifty years. (It’s kind of an earthy, 70s folk arty looking place.) I picked up a fat quarter of some pink fabric from Purl Soho. It was a nice change working on something that isn’t white or beige!
I was also really inspired by this Nepali embroidery tutorial. I was dying to incorporate painting with the embroidery. Adding fabric paint really accentuates the three dimensionality of the stitches and adds even more layers there. It was a fun experiment that I definitely want to try again!
Of course, I also included a lot of chain stitching. Really, it’s my favorite embroidery stitch. It’s just so perfect! I also found that using chain stitch to outline the satin stitching worked best. I’d read that using split stitch would do it but it really wasn’t as big and defined as chain stitch. See, chain stitch is the best.
Since I leave everything until the last minute, I didn’t have a frame when it came time to photograph the piece. You’ll have to forgive any wrinkles, etc. I can assure you, though, it looks really stunning on the wall!
What’s your favorite embroidery stitch? Have you incorporated paint into your embroideries? Do you have any hamsas hanging on your walls?
ps. Have you entered The Crash giveaway yet?
Tags: chain stitch, diamond, embroidery, evil eye, fabric paint, frame, gift, hamsa, handmade, handmade gift, hanging, Jewish, middle eastern, moroccan, nepali, satin stitch, split stitch, symbol, tapestry, wall, wedding, woven
Shall we play a game? There was another piece I finished recently that I kept pretty hush hush.
Here are a few shots!
It’s pretty easy to narrow down what’s going on with embroidery. But the piece is very special and of my own design. I really love photographing embroidery. Something about the way it stands up off of the fabric really fascinates me. I can’t explain it. Do you know what I mean? I think I feel the same way about cables.
I can’t wait to show you more but you’ll have to wait until next week!
Don’t forget! Holla Knits Fall/Winter 2013 collection comes out Monday!
The summer is winding down. It’s gone by so quickly! The past few months have been all about craft experimentation for me. It’s been really exciting getting outside of my comfort zone and buying lots of new craft supplies. (Let’s be honest, buying craft supplies is the best part of learning a new craft!) I’ve done some embroidering, a little cross stitch, stuck my toes deeper into the water of design, and even played around with my neglected sewing machine. I just added another craft to my repertoire and I can’t stop thinking about it.
Aunt Sherry made me this adorable little needle felted lamb for my birthday. (Remember the alpaca she made?) Isn’t he sweet?
And as part of my birthday present, she taught me how to needle felt! I wasn’t sure I’d be into it but I can totally see why she’s taken it up as her newest hobby. Needle felting is right up my alley. You basically stab at pieces of wool and then they get turned magically into little animals! (There’s a little more to it than that but that’s the gist.) My first needle felted project is this little cow guy from Purple Moose Felting.
I have a lot of work to do on my technique but I’ve been thinking about lots of other needle felted projects ever since. Best of all, I had a really lovely day hanging out with Aunt Sherry and my mom learning something new (and eating barbecue. We at barbecue)! It reminded me of when I was a kid and she’d teach me how to make origami Christmas ornaments even though I was super impatient. Although I’ve probably gotten less patient with age.
What are your favorite needle felt projects? Any tips for novices?
Back in June, I stumbled on an exciting Olek yarnbomb in my own neighborhood! I’m obviously a big fan of her work and I’d always dreamed of happening upon some of it but I hadn’t expected to see anything so close to home since she’s always bouncing around the globe. But here it was! And there she was, walking down the street, wearing a crocheted skirt and embellished bag. I thought about running after her but I totally chickened out. Regrets, guys, regrets.
I took a few photos (including the one above which I’ve been using as a background on my phone). I was pretty psyched that I was up close and personal with one of her pieces.
But I am SO envious of everyone that’s gotten to see Olek’s newest creation: this yarnbombed train!
The train is located in Lodz, Poland. I can hardly imagine how many hours and yards were involved in this insane piece of art. It’s fantastic. I have no words, just so much respect!
Olek is quoted as saying “If the natural progression is to make bigger better pieces, what should I make next? Can someone give me a plane? Or should I go to the moon?” It reminds me of the Pendragon magicians (I was obsessed with becoming a magician in elementary school) who once disappeared a space shuttle (I was also obsessed with becoming an astronaut). Yarnbombed space shuttle, please!
What should Olek bomb next?
train photos via HuffPost
When Charline sent me the work of Sao Paolo artist Rogerio Degaki, I was impressed. Colorwork is definitely my favorite part of knitting. And I love knitting presented in the context of art because it has such strong symbolism and connotations.
And then I realized that they’re paintings! And then my brain exploded. The level of detail in each “stitch” (if you will) is unbelievable. And you can even see shadows peeking out between the stitches as if it were an actual piece of knitwear.
I think knitting can be tedious but painting knitted stitches is a whole other level. I’d much rather knit something like this than paint it.
The idea of studying a piece of knitted fabric is so cool. Really looking at the way that light and shadow falls over each stitch. It’s absolutely incredible. I’ve looked at a lot of knitting but I don’t think I’d be able to draw stitches with such fine detail.
What do you think? Did you know it was a painting at first glance?
Now, I know what you’re thinking. An un-knitting machine is hardly the kind of thing that you should expect to see on a knitting blog. It seems a little counter productive. I, too, have felt the disappointment that is frogging a big piece of knitwear. It’s like watching your life flash before your eyes in reverse. But with a lot more swearing. And hopefully there’s alcohol to ease the pain.
But a few things caught my eye about Imogen Hedges‘ un-knitting machine, and I’ve been meaning to share it with you all for a while now. Wouldn’t the hurt of ripping out a sweater be made a lot easier by doing it painlessly and fast? And aren’t those bike pedals nifty? It looks like it’s about as fun as making the sweater itself.
What really struck a chord with me, though, is the recycling trend that I’ve seen on the rise on Ravelry. Knitters are salvaging old thrift store finds for their yarn, un-knitting them (if you will) and making brand new things with the yarn. There are some Ravelry groups dedicated to the techniques of upcycling sweaters. Some especially resourceful makers on Twitter and instagram are hand dying the yarn for an even more interesting look!
And the best part is that knitters can score a sweaters’-worth of nice fibers like cashmere and merino for $4 thanks to their local Goodwill and a little ingenuity.
Besides the price and the thrill of the hunt, this movement is really exciting for me. We knitters are innovative. (I mean, somebody invented a bicycle that unravels sweaters, for goodness sake!) We may not always mean to but making our own clothing helps take back from the industrial cheap fashion behemoth that is so omnipresent these days. We are investing time and love into custom pieces of clothing that will receive proper care and be worn for years. But why not take it a step further? Green DIY conjures up images of sock puppets and toilet paper tube Christmas wreaths but we can make it glamorous. We can take things that we already own (or someone else owned) and we can give new life to them. We can mend and alter our clothing instead of throwing away cash on cookie cutter closets. And we can get a sense of the work that our favorite independent dyers and spinners are doing.
My dad recently gave me one of his old wool sweaters. (It started as a request for a custom sweater since his was ruined and ended with me begging him to donate his moth-hole-ridden jumper for me to experiment with. He may have gotten the better end of the bargain.) I can’t wait to give un-knitting a try. I am ready to make brand new recycled clothes!
And to top it all off, now I can add to my stash (on the DL) when I’m away from the yarn store. And that’s a gift in and of itself.
Have you ever un-knit a sweater? What are your tips?
What a week! I’m finished with the move and we’re living in Brooklyn! There’s so much to do. I put down all of my crafts for a week while we finished packing and began unpacking. It made me a little anxious! I was super reluctant to pack up my cross stitch. I finally cast on a sock over the weekend because I just couldn’t take it any longer!
That said, I haven’t really got photos of any WIPs since progress came to a halt. But I do want to share some cool fiber art.
It was so cool to see Jo Hamilton‘s artwork up close and personal at Vogue Knitting Live. I love seeing yarn made into something that isn’t clothing. It’s so unexpected. I am so fascinated by her intricate pieces. So many layers. Check out the stop motion of this piece!
Who are your favorite fiber artists? Have you made any fiber art pieces?