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?
When I wrote about the lack of good craft shows on television, I mentioned The Fiber Factor briefly. It’s a really fun web series that I’ve been enjoying. Skacel and Addi have come together to make a show that’s (sorry, I hate comparisons like these but!) kind of a Project Runway for knitwear design. Twelve contestants are given challenges with a range of yarns to work with and their pieces are judged by a panel of industry experts. It’s obviously done on a small budget, there’s a lot of great design going on and it’s so inspiring!
While I certainly haven’t had time to be swatching along, I am inspired by the challenges and themes. Nothing like a good theme to get me thinking. Throughout the first three competitions, I’ve really been routing for Meghan Navoy. I’ve admired her work before the competition but I’m loving her submissions to TFF. I love her style and simplicity.
I recently caught up with Meghan to find out more about her fiber follies.
Tell me a little about your background in knitting.
I started knitting in high school (so 5 years now) and I was really bad for the first like 2 years I learned. My first project was similar to many other beginner knitters of a garter stitch acrylic that was probably 6 inches at one end at 20 inches by the time I finished it! I would probably still be knitting very basic scarves and things if it wasn’t for my internship at Wool and the Gang freshman year of college. I learned a ton there (normal stuff like slip the first stitch of stockinette, etc) and got a glimpse into the design process.
Why did you decide to compete on The Fiber Factor?
The Fiber Factor sounded like a great opportunity to me when I first read about it because I had been wanting to design my own patterns more and this was the perfect push to get me to really do it. I have always struggled to find something on ravelry that I actually wanted to make because not many patterns are really my style or geared towards ‘younger knitters’. Now I have more ideas for knitwear than ever. I love having someone give me parameters of what to make. The hardest part of design for me is not even knowing where to start!
What’s the most challenging part of The Fiber Factor?
The most challenging part of the Fiber Factor is having to quickly decide which yarn you’d like to use for the project. Luckily they give us generous amounts so if you decide to go another direction you have some leeway. Generally we are given about 24 hours or less to hear the prompt and then not only decide what we are going to make but calculate how much yarn is needed for the project as well.
They definitely picked a variety of different knit designers for this competition, which I think has been interesting. I know I haven’t been doing great in terms of judging but I’m still really glad I did it and have learned a lot from being a contestant!
What are your post-Fiber Factor plans?
After Fiber Factor, I would really like to continue designing my own patterns. I’m hoping to start publishing some of my own patterns. I would also like to be able to devote more time to my Etsy shop A Wool Story which has kind of been put on hold while I work on the Fiber Factor.
Thanks for giving us a little insight into your competition process, Meghan! And good luck in the upcoming challenges! The fourth challenge will be announced on The Fiber Factor site tomorrow!
Have you been watching The Fiber Factor? Have you swatched at all?
Things have picked up so much over the past few months! I can’t even explain how crazy it’s been and, frankly, I’ve had a hard time keeping up with it all! It’s all been worth it, though. And I can finally begin to reveal what I’ve been working on so feverishly!
I designed a sweater!
Monday morning, Allyson posted a few preview pics of my design for the Holla Knits Fall/Winter 2013 collection! I won’t get into any spoilers here but I will say that I am very proud of this design and I really look forward to seeing other people make and wear it! Writing this pattern was probably one of the most difficult things I’ve done in a long long time and I loved challenging myself.
It’s an odd sensation knowing that the sneak peeks are out. I’ve thought about this sweater for so many hours of my life, it’s crazy to think that people are checking it out for the first time. Maybe working on this has unraveled my brain a little. Probably.
See more photos of my design along with sneak peeks of the rest of the Fall collection over at the HK blog! What do you think? Are you itching for more?
A lot of people are dissing the gown Maggie Gyllenhaal wore to the White House Down premiere. They are wrong. THIS IS THE BEST DRESS I’VE EVER SEEN!
Gyllenhaal wore this Christian Dior dress to the New York premiere. It’s got a cabled skirt with a crocheted peplum. It’s chic and crazy and I don’t think that anyone else could ever pull it off. In fact, Maggie looks psyched about it. High five, girl! Black and white knits are so in. It’s a great piece of knitwear that showcases a lot of different stitches and shows the versatility of knitted fabric
Here it is on the runway for the Fall 2013 collection.
I’m pretty sure the bottom is navy while the top and peplum are black. I’m not sure how I feel about that but I just can’t hate anything about it. This is a thing that I wish I’d made. It’s outrageous in the best way possible. What have I been doing with my life? I quit knitting forever.
What do you think? Do you love it or hate it?
photos via Tom and Lorenzo
How perfect is it that this video came out over Father’s Day weekend? My dad is a biker and a big fan of Steve McQueen so I’m obsessed with this animation by Ruth Herring and the Baker-bunch. The scene, re-creating the climactic moment of the film, was made in honor of the 50th anniversary of the film’s release. The bike chase scene was allegedly added to the film in order to appease Steve McQueen when when he refused to swap costumes with James Garner (you can read more about it in the video’s description).
Knitted stop motion animation is something that I’ve always wanted to try and what better way to do it than paying homage a classic cinematic moment. (As an aside, stop motion is the most tedious thing I’ve ever attempted. Big props to anyone who’s successfully animated anything without jumping off of a building!) I really love the great little set including plastic soldiers and great fair isle German signs.
I forgot how awesome Steve McQueen’s sweatshirt is in the film! (Another something I’d love to make for myself.) I highly recommend you check out this video! And, as I was preaching last week, make sure you like and subscribe to the K1P1 youtube channel!
And while we’re on the subject, Eddie Izzard on The Great Escape. Back to the cooler!
ps. Dad, I can’t knit you a motorcycle right now. I know you were thinking it!
So much going on! I hardly have time to write. Summer is here and everything is happening. I feel like I haven’t sat still in weeks but there’s lots of fun stuff going on that I will be able to tell you about in the future. Until then, there are some cool things that I’m ready to report. So listen up!
I recently had the honor of appearing as a guest on Kollabora’s new web series Nora Meets the Maker. The series is great, featuring lots of different crafters and cool projects. I’m really excited for more episodes to come out! My episode features a cool i-cord headband that I designed. It’s a really cute and simple project with tons of options for embellishment. I hope I have time to make a few more of them, actually, because I really feel like the possibilities are endless.
It was tons of fun shooting with Nora and the rest of the ladies at Kollabora. They are always such a treat to work with! The green screen concept is so great to play around with. It’s very silly in a public access TV show kind of awesome. I’m awkward as all goddamn but you can see my Poolside top in action! Nora cracks me up.
Check out the free pattern for the Libby headband on Kollabora and take a look at the other episodes!
Are you following me on Kollabora yet? Let’s be friends!
How was your long weekend? I basically did nothing but knit and switch between Doctor Who and Battlestar Galactica while drinking beer and eating bacon jam. I actually feel guilty about how awesome it was. But I can’t show you much of what I’m working on because (!!!) it’s a design for Holla Knits’ Fall/Winter collection! Isn’t that awesome? You’re all going to love it.
Between long stretches of knitting, I gave myself a break to check instgram (I have an addiction) and play a game that I’ve become totally obsessed with called Tiny Sheep. I decided to just come out and write about it here because I like to remind you that I am still a 15-year-old girl on the inside and I’m especially shameless when knitting is involved even in the slightest.
Tiny Sheep is an iPhone game (also available for Android) in which players run a sheep farm. It’s time-based so things grow and work while you’re away from the game. It’s a lot like those other annoying games that I was crazy about for a week and then completely abandoned. (I’m looking at you, Farmville. Guys, I played Farmville for a while. It was not the coolest thing I’ve ever done.)
But this time I can be a shepherd on my phone with pink sheep. Pink sheep!
I’m fertilizing grass and sheering sheep and spinning their wool into sweaters and Ugg boots (yeah, I don’t know). It’s pretty addictive. I’m pretty sure that this free app was developed entirely for my own amusement. Like a game of my dream life if my dream life were a game. I’ve never been interested in playing a game where I virtually knit things. I’m not really big into gaming in general because it takes my hands away from knitting. (I do love to watch other people play while I knit, though. Seriously. And when I do game, I get carried away.) But I like that this is a game of management and a lot of patience instead of marathon playing. And I like to dream about being a shepherd even if I have to be one on my coffee breaks at work.
Did I mention there are pink sheep?
ps. The final set of instructions for the Michelle Collar are up on Kollabora! If you were waiting for the whole thing, feel free to cast on now! What are you waiting for?
When Kollabora asked me to create a project using their yarn, you can imagine how excited I was. First of all, I’ve been creating my own accessories for a few years and I was ready to share with the rest of the knitting world.
Second, I got to dive into a giant box full of yarn and pick whatever colors I wanted. (I warned them ahead of time, this was a dangerous move.)
Well, here it is!
The mitts are knit in the round with Kollabora’s Alpaca au Natural and Nora’s Pantry yarns. The yarn is super soft and yummy. (The alpacas are raised in cold temperatures in the Andes!) I love the colors of the Nora’s Pantry yarns and, you know me, I can’t say no to an undyed alpaca! Making this was a lot of fun!
Coming up with a beginner/intermediate pattern was actually a bit of a challenge for me. I didn’t want to make something so simple that it had been done before or so easy that it was boring. But I definitely didn’t want to over complicate it. I realized that it’s difficult for me to gauge what is easy and what is “hard” (or, let’s say ‘advanced’) after so many years of knitting. When it comes to knitting, I am fearless; it’s just combinations of one stitch and it’s mirror, if you will. But newer knitters can easily be intimidated and patterns can quickly begin to look like complex calculus formulas.
Colorwork was something that I wanted to do when I first started knitting. So I thought that it would be a fun project. Also, it involves knitting in the round which is my favorite thing to do!
The pattern is available for free on Kollabora! You can even buy all of the supplies you need through their shop. I’d love to see your fingerless mitts!
Have you worked with the Kollabora yarns yet? What do you think?
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?
As I mentioned earlier, I put my crafting away to get moving done. Knitting is my number one distraction. When I’m working on a project, I can sit for hours watching season after season of Law and Order: SVU, ignoring the rest of the world. Laundry, editing, even friends are all ignored when I’m knitting. I’m sure you can relate. I was really afraid that my craft addiction would keep me from my strict packing schedule. So I put my needles in a box and taped it up so I had no choice but to get the worst of the move over with. It was tough and my fingers felt like they were itching to work. I couldn’t sit still in front of the TV when we were taking breaks. I was going cold turkey from knitting.
After we got into the new place, I promised myself that I’d keep my WIPs out of sight so I could focus on unpacking and getting back to normal. And I was pleasantly surprised by how long I was able to stop myself from thinking about stitching. I got a lot done around the house, I baked cookies, and then I became strangely obsessed with cleaning the kitchen (the building is brand new so I want EVERYTHING TO STAY SHINEY AND CLEAN FOREVER PLEASE.) I finally dragged out a sock who never got a buddy from my stash when the weekend rolled around so I’d have something to knit during the Super Bowl. (My faire isle sweater needed to be blocked before I could move forward and I didn’t think that that was a project that should be tackled with boxes all over the place. We also didn’t have a floor lamp for the living room yet so it was too dark to do any cross stitching. So I decided to go with the hibernating project.)
I realized upon completing this second sock, that I’d never written about the first sock here. I’d posted a few photos on instagram when I made it back in June but other than that, it’s story has not been told. I can’t believe I left the pair unfinished for so long! (But I did start Maxfield right after I completed the first sock. That might explain it!)
The yarn is Lorna’s Laces Solemate which I picked up in a Soakbox at Vogue Knitting Live (2011). This was an early Soakbox so it only had yarn, a small Heel lotion, and a travel-sized Soak wash packet. (I love the new ones with nail polish! I love nail polish, guys.) I have to admit, the Outlast climate-control technology in the Solemate yarn (I still have no idea how it works but it sounds really magical) was what really sold me. I love it when there’s “technology” in things that are otherwise not technological. (I also know that everything involves technology. You know what I mean.)
Here’s the thing: I don’t really like variegated yarns. (Omg, Am I racist against multicolored yarns? I love all yarns. Except cotton. I am a little racist against cotton yarns. Sorry! Just being honest.) I mean, I like hand-dyed yarns and their variations within but I don’t buy yarns with lots of different colors (unless I really like them). I think it has to do with my minimalist style. Also, purple is not one of my favorite colors. But I bought this anyway because it sounded cool and I was at Vogue Knitting for the first time and I kind of assumed this would go into my stash for a long long time.
I can’t tell you what made me pull it out and design this pattern with this yarn I felt so iffy about. It was a long time ago. But I promised myself I’d design a pair of socks that showcased the different colors in the yarn.
Here’s the other thing: when it comes to knitting socks, I refuse to knit cabled/lacework socks with variegated yarn. Makes me dizzy and I really want to show off the stitch pattern. That stuff gets lost with yarns that aren’t solid colors. I guess that’s why I don’t like variegated yarns as much because it means that I either knit a plain sock that looks cool because it’s variegated but is boring to knit or do a variegated/solid stripe which would involve some forethought because I’d have to buy a solid yarn to go with it. Not so good for my fast and loose stash-busting sock-knitting style. So that’s why, when I’m enhancing my stash, I try to stay away from those variegated yarns. (I’ve written ‘variegated’ a lot in this post.)
Long story short (too late) I made these. I used the linen stitch for the first time. I like that it is still elastic but looks totally unique. It really lends itself to the variations in the yarn. (In fact, a lot of people have mistaken my instagram photos for the Broken Seed Stitch Sock which is actually knit with a solid and variegated yarn since this colorway has white in it. You can tell by the toes that it’s one skein but I like the illusion that it might be two!) The pattern is toe up (because I refuse to believe that ankle down socks are a thing, there’s another thing I don’t like!), knit on size 1s with a slip stitch heel. Slip stitch heels are not my favorite and I think they’re kind of baffling but I wanted to break my short-row heel habit. It also has the perfect look with the linen stitch and actually kind of mimics it, too. I like that part!
I’m really pleased with how these turned out. I love that they took a skein of yarn I was otherwise stumped by and turned them into something unique that looks a little complex, too. Maybe I don’t dislike variegated yarns after all! We’re all kind of like variegated yarns deep down inside, aren’t we?
I love designing sock patterns. I recently realized that I’ve improvised more of my own sock designs than I’ve made from patterns. I’m always looking for new projects so I’m tempted to turn some of my sock designs into proper patterns.
What do you think? And how do you feel about variegated yarns?
Tags: broken seed stitch sock, design, FO, heel lotion, linen stitch, Lorna's Lacces, Maven, multicolored, original, oulast, pattern, second sock syndrome, slip stitch heel, soak, soakbox, sock, Solemate, toe up, variegated, Vogue Knitting Live, yarn