How about that second-to-last episode, guys? It’s not a secret that Mad Men is one of my favorite shows on television. (I named my first sweater pattern after one of my favorite episodes). I’m gearing up for a real cry-fest in anticipation of the final episode. What will I do once it’s gone?
One of my favorite things about the show’s ruthless attention to detail are Janie Bryant’s amazing costumes. If you’re a Mad Men obsessive like me, you are reading Tom and Lorenzo’s Mad Style every Wednesday to delve into the visual clues Janie is giving us through period clothing alone.
I thought I’d go back through the seasons and pick out a few of my favorite pieces of knitwear. This post will contain spoilers. Maybe you should get watching!
Helen Bishop’s Cardigan
I’ve been in love with Helen Bishop’s mustard cardi since it appeared in the first season. It’s a great piece with little garter stitch texture throughout. I think this ginger needs to borrow some of Helen’s style.
I wrote about Don’s cardigan here. Still in love.
Peggy’s wardrobe has really picked up over the past few seasons, huh? If you want to get some of her style, check out this pattern.
It’s almost all over. I’m going to miss this show so much. Let’s have a moment of silence and watch these gifs of Peggy being a boss.
screens via Tom and Lorenzo
When I was getting ready to go to Rhinebeck, I realized that I had nothing to wear. I’d designed a bunch of sweaters in 2013 and 2014 but I didn’t have any of them! Some knitters may not know that when you design for a publication you don’t always get your samples back and, when you do, you often don’t see them for a long time. (It’s kind of a funny surprise to get a sweater you made a year ago in the mail.)
I found out that I might be able to get Ilsa back in time to wear for the big event so I was pretty excited to show her off. But I got an email that basically said, “Vickie Howell would like to wear your cardigan for an episode of Knitting Daily TV that’s shooting just before Rhinebeck. Sorry that we can’t give it back!” And I was like, “If Vickie Howell would like to wear my design on TV, I will find a hat to wear to Rhinebeck.” This is not something that happens to a girl every day!
And she really did! The Ilsa Cardigan is featured in Episode 1402 “Thick of It” and Vickie looks great in it! It was styled so well. I love the way the bunched sleeves make it look over-sized and casual. It’s a really fun piece and I’m honored to be part of her show! Check out the trailer:
I haven’t seen the episode yet. Vickie Howell’s show for Interweave airs on your local PBS station! If you don’t get that channel or you’re too cool or cable, you can get a DVD of the complete season here. I’m going to get one for my mom so she can be proud of me forever.
Have you seen this episode of Knitting Daily TV? Were you like, “I wonder where I can find the pattern for that gorgeous cardigan”?
This post contains some mild spoilers, of course, so continue at your own risk! Also, I haven’t read the books!
I resisted at first but it wasn’t long before I became one of the many knitters that was devouring Starz’s new series Outlander. I love historical fiction especially of this period but I’m not into historical romance so I didn’t want to jump on the bandwagon. But the early reviews all outlined how cool the protagonist, Claire, is and how the show is not your ordinary premium cable television show. I have to say, those reviews were on point (except, Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ, that voice over is maddening!) and the show has stuck with me between viewings.
In case you missed the buzz, Claire, a British army nurse, is reconnecting with her husband on a genealogy-themed vacation when she is transported from post-WWII Scotland to the 18th century. Kilts! Brogue! That theme song!
While there’s tons of really adorable knitwear (that I would actually wear in my 21st century life), I’m going to save all of that for another post. I really want to talk about the fifth episode because it really tickled me! While Claire is on the road with Dougal and co, she stumbles on a group of women that are waulking wool.
Waulking (or fulling) is a process of cleaning and thickening new wool cloth. Sure, there was the gross-out, thank-god-I-don’t-live-in-the-olden-days fact that they are using boiled urine (yum!) to clean the oils out of the fabric and then beating it with their hands. (The smell of wet wool alone is bad enough, I can’t even!) But, considering wool is just about everywhere in the daily life of a highlander (tartan short gowns and berets and just the most beautiful blankets), this was an important common chore of the time.
Besides the whole pee blanket thing, it does seem like a pretty fun job and I’m kind of enamored by the community aspect of it. There are some great female characters in Outlander but they don’t really get to bro-out like the dudes do (telling dirty jokes, hunting, playing oldey timey sports, etc). I loved hearing these women sing and enjoy their work together.
Waulking songs are much like folk songs. Different lyrics are set to the same tunes and there is a call and response or a leader sings a verse while everyone else joins in for the chorus. The waulking songs are set to a beat suitable for pounding on the wool. I love old drinking songs and this feels like an especially female version since women were generally the waulkers.
I’m having a lot of fun finding waulking songs and exploring this tradition! Are you watching Outlander?
As soon as I saw The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug, I wanted to write about a certain piece of knitwear. I’ve been putting it off for a month because, well, I just don’t want to say what I’m about to say and I just can’t write about it without saying it. Here goes. I was so thoroughly disappointed by this film. SO disappointed. Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy really inspired me as a preteen. I’m not sure if maybe the magic has worn off since I’ve grown older and less interested in fantasy epics or maybe four years of film school have soured me to having any fun at the movies. But I have a feeling that this movie was just not what it could have been. It was long, it looked like a video game, and Orlando Bloom is not as fresh-faced as he once was (sorry).
Really the only good parts of this film for me were Bombur getting stuck in a barrel (definitely my Halloween costume this year) and giggling with some of my best girlfriends about how I’d snuck an impressive amount of candy into the theater. To have to go back and search through the entirety of this movie for a screen cap was just too much for me in this cold, bleak winter. But THDOS (is that the official abbreviation? Quite a mouthful.) has been nominated for three Oscars and this knit is not one of them. It’s time to talk about it.
Let’s talk about Gandalf’s sparkly scarf.
When I first noticed Gandalf’s scarf, I’d say right after the group stays with Beorn, I felt completely giddy. And every time it appeared on screen, one of my friends would say, “Sparkly scarf!” Despite the flashiness of said accessory, the silver scarf is a part of canon Gandalf costume. It’s specifically mentioned in the books so this is one serious piece of knitwear.
Of COURSE Gandalf has a beautiful, long, and mystical scarf. I’m not kidding about it being sparkly. It’s definitely got this rustic, tweed-y quality but then there is a metallic yarn woven throughout. I just loved seeing it swirl around in 3D magic.
If you’re interested in seeing the costumes in real-life close ups, check out this article. Or you can buy an authentic movie replica woven with real mithril (aka not actual mithril) for $99. Or, maybe, just knit one? (I’ve got a nerd bone to pick here. Is this book canon? I’m not really sure what good it would do to weave a scarf with mithril. I guess if you got shot in the throat with an arrow? Maybe we should start with mithril in hats and gloves and then maybe scarves if it’s particularly, dangerously cold outside. Feel free to discuss in the comments.)
Who do you think is best dressed in Middle Earth?
The Olympics are happening! Hooray!(?) I’m really not interested in sports at all especially ones that involve ice and/or snow so winter Olympics are kind of a drag for me. I also never have my shit together to participate in any Ravelry games so I’m just kind of no fun when it comes to these things. Sorry, everyone. But you have to watch the opening ceremonies, right? I mean, I hate sports, but I do love interpretive dance, Soviet imagery, and these guys. So it’s a win.
Everybody’s been complaining about the American Ralph Lauren ugly Christmas sweaters slash cardigan that my kindergarden teacher definitely wore in 1992 that are the uniforms. Haters to the left. It’s time the world sees America for the tacky-ass patchwork quilt that we really are. I loved them. I would not be surprised if I bumped into someone on Bedford Ave wearing one of these under their 500 layers and gigantic mustache. (It’s still cold here in New York. It’s like we’re actually AT the Olympics, right?)
That being said, the French probably had my favorite uniforms. I’ve heard people hating on that too but I want a grandpa cardigan parka! I’m coveting that Canadian Hudson Bay coat more than anything (feel free to donate $300 to my Olympic coat kickstarter). The Mexican team looked like a winter Mariachi band.
But you’re not here for my fashion advice. Let’s talk about knits, people.
First off, those sign-holding mini-skirted snowflake ladies (or many many Snegurochkas) were actually wearing really pretty (from what I could tell) cabled slouchy hats under their giant crowns. I always feel really awkward for the sign-holders but good for them! You were in the Olympics.
The team from Belarus sported these great hats and scarves that matched their flag. I had no idea that their flag had that cool faire isle-y bit to it (God, the opening ceremonies always remind me how ignorant I am to the rest of the world, so embarrassing!) but I really love it. They get the gold for best flag.
But holy crap. Slovakia’s matching hats, mitts, and scarves really knocked my socks off. I love the colors and hearts. So simple but just really cool. Good job, guys. Everybody go home, they won.
There were so many other countries with great knitwear. The women on the Iranian team had beautiful jewel-toned, sparkly hats. The Russians were wearing great turtlenecks I wish I could’ve seen more of. And I’m 99% sure that Tajikstan had three hand knit scarves. At least, they looked hand knit to me.
Which country had your favorite uniform? What are you knitting for the games? Yay sports!
Alright, ladies and gents. If you were psyched about the Katniss cowl discussion, I have a treat for you. Lolly commented earlier in the week with her pattern for the cowl and I just had to share it with you.
I really love the look of Lolly’s cowl. It’s probably the closest I could imagine coming to the real thing considering that the original isn’t knit. I haven’t had a chance to take a look at the pattern yet but I’m loving the herringbone stitch and thick yarn. If you got started now, you could probably have one ready in time for the premiere later this month!
The pattern is available on Ravelry for free!
Occasions like these make me so excited to be a blogger! Talking to the knitting hive-mind can get you information in the blink of an eye. From Jess’s research on the cowl’s original designer to, just a few days later, Lolly’s pattern for her version of the piece, I’m reminded that the knitting community is absolutely amazing. Without the magic of the internet, we all may have just said, “That’s a nice cowl” and left it at that but check out the resources we have now!
Will you be knitting a Katniss cowl?
Hunger Games: Catching Fire comes out next month which means a big dose of one of my favorite things: Jennifer Lawrence! While my love for JLaw and the Hunger Games books is no secret, something new has caught my eye and I know I’m not alone. Lots to cover so let’s dive right in and talk about this fantastic cowl.
I caught a glimpse of this cowl months ago when the teaser came out and I knew this was going to be a big deal. Now that the trailer is here, I’m basically just drooling over this gorgeous piece. I love the rustic tweed. It reminds me of Roman Hills’ Winters Bone color way! (Winters Bone, Jennifer Lawrence, IT’S MEANT TO BE!) While it’s kind of earthy and has that hand-crafted look, it’s got a fantastically futuristic shape. I love knits that are minimal and trendy and I’ve found that it’s really really hard to pull off knits that are cool in a modern way instead of a comfy cozy camping kind of way. But this piece finds a way to straddle both looks perfectly. I’m really in awe.
When Jess and I were tweeting about the cowl earlier in the week, we started doing some research. The cowl, featured in Capitol Couture’s profile of Katniss, was designed by Maria Dora. I’m now completely obsessed with her work. Her pieces are being worn by celebrities right now and it looks like she only has more interesting things to come.
This stunning photo really shows off the details and amazing construction of the cowl! A cowl with an arm hole, YES PLEASE.
Jess reached out to the designer and Maria was nice enough to tell us that the cowl is woven not knit. (Doesn’t stop my imagination from running wild!) But! She said that they are developing a knitting pattern and would keep us posted.
This aspect really excited me. I’ve been looking forward to writing about the cowl and saying, as I always do, “Oh, I’d love to figure out how to make my own.” But I’m crazy about that idea of a couture/high street designer sharing their brand with people who couldn’t afford it (or maybe just wouldn’t be interested) off the hanger. If you’ve been keeping up with knitting news, you know that Fred Perry tried and failed to do something similar but I hope other designers put some genuine thought into it. It’s a really interesting way to create conversation between makers that work on completely different scales (without, in my opinion at least, devaluing their brand). I do feel a little sad when I want to rip off designs that I see in stores and there are tons of knitters that don’t have the interest or skills or time to invest in knitting “knock offs” (sorry, I can’t think of a better way to put it but I mean that with love). I’d love to collaborate in this way with mainstream fashion.
Either way, I salute Ms. Dora for her fabulous work. It makes me not only excited to see this movie (the production design is just going to blow the first one out of the water) but excited for the future of knitwear. That’s a pretty big thing to say but I mean it!
What do you think about big brands sharing patterns with knitters? Do you think this cowl is funky in a good way or would you be afraid to wear it? How excited are you for Hunger Games? My weapon of choice is the knitting needle.
ps. Thanks, Jess, for fangirling over this cowl for like three hours with me!
Tags: armhole, braid, capitol couture, catching fire, costume, couture, Cowl, design, fred perry, futuristic, hand knit, hunger games, Jennifer Lawrence, katniss, knit, leather, maria dora, movie, pattern, production design, shaping, witchin in the kitchen, woven
It’s here! I just wanted to stop by to remind you that the Holla Knits F/W 2013 collection is out TODAY.
I haven’t shared any photos of the second sample which is knit with Unplanned Peacock Studio yarn. The shoulder details are knit in the same colorway as the rest of the sweater (but in the bulky weight) so you can see everything in monotone! Check it out!
You can purchase a PDF of the pattern right here!
And I hope you’re not tired of seeing The Crash because I’ll be hosting a Blog Tour Stop (with giveaways!) on Friday. Stay tuned!
Today I want to talk about my FAVORITE pop culture knit of all time. That’s right, this is a big one! I honestly have never wanted to write about it because I’ve always dreamed of making one of my own but I know that it will be a while before I’ve got the chance. So, without further ado, Danny’s Apollo 11 sweater!
The Shining is definitely one of my favorite films. It scares the crap out of me and I love watching it on a snowy day. Kubrick is amazing, Nicholson is fantastic. Steadicam inventor Garrett Brown, that crazy brown/red/orange carpet, and the titles that just say the word TUESDAY but still make me scream every time I see them. I really don’t need to go into all of the things that make this film so great and so terrifying and I certainly wouldn’t be the one to do it with any eloquence.
I’ve always been in love with the sweater Danny wears in the film. It’s really cute and childish. It’s very late 70s which I like a lot. I love that it’s very in your face. Danny could have worn any sweater in any color or pattern but this bold graphic with words really catches the eye. It’s an interesting choice and I really have no idea why Kubrick and costume designer Milena Canonero went with it. (I have a feeling it’s not from the book but I haven’t read it so I guess I haven’t done my homework here!) But either way, I really like it. (Did you know some conspiracy theorists believe that the Apollo 11 sweater is a wink to Kubrick faking the space landing for the government? Yeah, I don’t even.)
(Somewhat-related story: I made a set of Grady twins dolls as a final project for a Horror Genre class I took in college. No idea where they ended up and I have no photos of them. But they were fun to make. When you go to art school you get to take classes where you just watch scary movies and you’re graded on knitting dolls inspired by the films! Moral of the story is: I paid how much for college?)
One day I will make an Apollo sweater of my own and I will wear it always. Until then, I’ll be having nightmares about the ash falling off of Wendy’s cigarette.
photos via The Overlook Hotel
ps. Don’t forget to cast on your socks for the KAL!
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?