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?
You caught me guys. This column is really just an excuse to talk about my favorite movies and television shows. I admit it. But I think you’ll allow it once again since Pee Wee’s Big Adventure is one of the best films ever made. I have a degree in Film and Video so I think I’m more than qualified to be handing out such judgements (speaking of film school, imagine four years of me reciting the lines “I’VE BEEN READY SINCE FIRST CALL. ROLL!” whenever someone asked if we were ready for a take).
Seriously, I can watch this movie over and over again and it still makes me cry with laughter. I couldn’t tell you my favorite line or scene but I know basically every word of the script. (Apologies to anyone who’s had to watch it with me.) Okay, maybe the part where the pancakes say, “Can I have the Mr. T cereal?” is my favorite. Or, “Yes, that’s me. I am Chuck.” And I challenge you to offer a more important moment in cinematic history than the Tequila dance.
But today I’m here to talk to you about a piece of knitwear. Because I haven’t forgotten that there’s a point to this. Let’s talk about this disguise Pee Wee puts on to fool the law. (THE LAW!) This crazy house coat/jacket thing is AMAZING. Rendered in seafoam green mohair (I can only imagine), with a big moss stitch pattern and even bigger bobbles and that Peter Pan collar. I love it.
Why don’t you take a picture? It’ll last longer! Not sure I’d add this to my fangirl knits list because it’s pretty hideous and I mean that in the best way possible. I am a big fan, though. So is that cop. Big ups to costume designer Aggie Guerard Rodgers for this fantastic piece.
Do you love Pee Wee’s Big Adventure? I know you are, but what am I?
ps. Don’t forget to check out my Michelle collar KAL!
The factory collapse.
I wasn’t going to write about this because I don’t really know what to say. I like to keep things light hearted around here but my heart feels so heavy. I don’t like to write about things that make people sad especially on a Friday because I am a fun distraction from the work you’re supposed to be doing or the laundry you don’t feel like folding. But I can’t keep it in any longer. I don’t really know how to put it into words and I’m not sure if I’m the one who should say anything. I don’t know the history and I don’t work in the industry. But I keep seeing the numbers rise and every time I do, my heart aches.
As someone who makes clothing, even just as a hobby, maybe, especially because it’s a hobby, because for us it’s frivolous and trendy, I feel like I should say something because I know. I know what it takes to make a piece of clothing. I know that it’s not magic. I know that it’s a craft. I’m sure that I’m preaching to the choir here. But this is where my soap box is located.
Being a part of the DIY movement which is in full swing today, especially in Brooklyn, people are starting to get back to the root of it all. Where does our food come from? How is furniture made? What things can I create with my own hands instead of paying a big company? I like being part of that. Because I feel like I’m more aware of what I’m putting on/in/around my body and I can better appreciate what I have. It’s gotten me in touch with countless other women who have sat down to make things today and over the course of history. It’s reminded me of my great-grandfather who cut patterns in the garment district and my grandmother who made my kindergarden Halloween costume. It’s big.
In fact, I enjoy the thought of someone halfway around the world living a life so very different than mine making something that effects my life. That, even though we don’t speak the same language, we are connected because we both know how to make something that you wear. But I can’t come to terms with the fact that so many people are exploited and certainly a number of them are putting their lives on the line.
When I saw this photograph, I cried. (I thought about posting it here but I think it deserves a warning. But please look at it. It’s very powerful and important.) I thought to myself that I could never buy a regular piece of clothing again. That blood was on my hands. That’s incredibly dramatic and also unrealistic but seeing this photograph made me immediately sit down with tears in my eyes and write this. I’ll admit it: I’m going to buy clothing and I alone am not responsible. We have a broken system.
So what can we do?
Here’s what I plan to do. It’s four steps and they don’t seem very big but this is it.
1. Buy less, make more. I’m not going to pretend I have enough time to make everything that I want to wear. But when I do buy, it won’t just be furiously hoarding sale items into my shopping cart and crossing my fingers that they fit. I am going to make sure what I’m purchasing is something that I need and that I love. Pieces that are simple and versatile and timeless. I’ll be honest with myself: while I’d love to always be on trend, it’s just not that important to my life and the greater good. And I think that we can all agree that we’d love to have more dollars in our wallets and room in our closets. Of course, I’ll supplement my wardrobe as I always have by making pieces that I put care and thought into – garments that I’ll be sure to keep for the rest of my life.
2. Make do and mend. I have lots of cheap clothing that I bought years ago and some that I got last season. None of these $5 tees are not supposed to last long. You get what you pay for. But I’m going to stretch those items as long as I can. I’m going to fix holes and add buttons and I’ll do my hardest to make adjustments even though I’m a novice. I’ll care for these pieces as best as I can when it comes to laundry and storage and I’ll always look out for hand-me-downs and vintage pieces even if they need updating and love.
3. Speak up. I don’t just mean writing blog posts where I preach to you guys. That would be annoying. Like I said, I can’t go the rest of my life not buying clothing. Of course, I hope to be buying from companies that are small and local as much as I can afford. After the collapse, I read a lot about what I could do, where I should be shopping. A lot of new stores are on my radar and I want to share them with my friends. But one article said that garment makers fear boycotts because a drop in revenue can cause workers to lose the jobs that pay them the little money that they need to survive. But I’m not just going to use that as an excuse for lazy consumerism. I plan to get in touch with companies that I buy from and let them know how I feel. The customer is always right, right? I’m going to demand that they be transparent and ethical because I do love their clothing and I do want to buy it. I’m going to tell them that I don’t mind paying more. That they can count on me if I can count on them. I’m going to tell the companies that produce in the US or pay their workers living wages that I appreciate what they’re doing and that I want them to keep up the good work and that I’m happy to spend money with them. It sounds idealistic but maybe if enough of us do it, we can make a change.
4. Teach others. To make, of course. If you teach a man to fish, he can eat for the rest of his life. Each piece that they make on their own is one less that they have to buy and you can pat yourself on the back for that – for teaching someone how to do it for themselves and helping them understand the effort that goes into making clothes. Let’s all dedicate ourselves to starting the cycle of buying less and making more and mending what we have by showing others how good it feels to make a piece of clothing from start to finish.
These are the small things that I can afford to do. I wish they were enough but I think it’s a good start. And if I ever find myself coveting a piece of clothing I should otherwise not purchase, I’m going to take a long, hard look at that photo because I think that sometimes I need to remind myself of my priorities.
What will you do to help fix what’s broken?
I feel like a broken record but this week I’m getting started on two knit-a-longs! And today I want to invite you all to join me!
I’ve been going crazy over accessories recently. I’m usually a sweater girl, it must be the weather. I whipped up a pattern for a cute little collar for spring. Collars are big this season and this one is the perfect piece to add a little feminine touch to any look. It’s crazy simple to knit. The hardest part will be picking out the perfect button!
The collar is knit with Kollabora’s Like a Rolling Stone silk and baby alpaca yarn. I’m so in love! It’s super soft and delicate and the colors are great for spring. (I’d love to knit a summer top with it! Hmmm…)
Check out all of the details here including the free pattern! I’ll be updating with more instructions next Monday so there is a bit of suspense! But cast on and check back. You can find all of the supplies on Kollabora but this would make a perfect stash-busting project. Make a bunch for all of your friends!
You can join in on the fun by clicking the “Make” button on the project page. I’d love to see what you make!
How will you customize your collar? Embroidery? Buttons? Ribbons? I’d love to hear about it!
You may have read about it on the twitter already but I have a cool announcement today! In honor of yesterday being Mother’s Day, I am working on a mother-daughter knit a long.
My mom taught me how to knit when I was in fourth grade (and then again when I wanted to get back into it when I was in high school). She is a great knitter. She made me so many things growing up and I’ve always been inspired by the way she picks up her needles to shoot off gifts for just about everyone that’s expecting. I come from a family of crafty women and I owe this blog and everything I’m doing now to their awesomeness.
So we’re knitting together! My mom requested that we knit the Stonecutters cardigan. Being a fan of Amy Christoffers must run in the family! I’m also very excited to knit one of Amy’s patterns for this because she’s a mom, too! I’m going to knit with Brooklyn Tweed Shelter in Wool Socks. My mom will cast on Berroco Brookstone Tweed in Marsh. It was awesome fun texting with my mom, debating over yarn choice and chatting on the phone about colors. We’ll have two matching garments that represent ourselves. It’s going to be really fun!
I am lucky to have such an amazing mother who has taught me so many things. Although she sometimes drive me crazy, she always makes me laugh. She always seems to have that random button or recipe that I need and I’m always learning from her. I’ve always been in awe of how hilarious an creative she is. She is my number one fan and I can’t thank her enough for all of her support. I’m so excited to be part of her first KAL!
I’ll be updating here about my and my mom’s progress on our cardigans!
Have you ever knit with an important lady in your life?
I love music videos. I could watch them all day. I credit this OK Go music video (by the director of the next Hunger Games movie…time flies!) with inspiring me to go to film school. Not sure how effective that was since now I’m stitching more than I’m shooting. But I still have a passion for music videos. They can be over the top or super simple. They can have cinematic plots or just be a collection of images. There’s just a ton of freedom in them.
If you’re like me and you love music videos, you’ll love the new one for Janelle Monae’s Q.U.E.E.N. featuring Erykah Badu. It features my favorite colors: black and white (I’m aware those probably don’t qualify as colors) and some stunning pieces of clothing. The song itself is fantastic and catchy. Monae is all about individuality and it feels so genuine.
I’ve always been really struck by Janelle Monae’s style. I love that she almost always rocks masculine looks like tuxedos and bow ties. I’m a bit of a tomboy when it comes to clothes so I’m glad she’s doing it well and making that look accessible for girls. (Plus her explanation that her clothing is her uniform and she’s emulating her hard-working family is amazing. Love an artist that isn’t afraid a big message!)
Watching the video, I loved the use of these striped black and white dresses. The crazy black and white background mixing with the fabric makes for a kind of brain teaser and cutting between lots of stripes and the stripes in front of a white back drop is really stunning.The way that the stripes are off set really makes these dresses so interesting to look at.
I’m really glad that the black and white mod look is coming back right now. It’s really bold but also easy to wear.
But, hey, those stripes look familiar. Don’t they bring to mind Julia Farwell-Clay’s Albers Pullover that everyone’s been going gaga over? Those cool stripes are perfectly on trend! The pattern featured in Interweave Summer 2013 would look spot on in black and white. I might be putting this in my queue right now…
Will you be casting on an Albers in black and white? Will you be dancing to this song for the rest of the day?
Remember when I was making a cool Zelda cross stitch as a belated Christmas present for my cousin who is a really awesome? Surprise! It’s still not finished! Surprise again! I’m the worst.
I don’t have much to say since it’s really more of the same but I did feel like this poor thing deserved an update. I’ve been sharing photos on instagram between pics of the Williamsburg Bridge (get used to those!). I won’t pretend like I’ve been slaving away at this piece. I’ve actually had it packed away since we moved but I’ve been between knitting projects so I thought I’d give it some time while I waited for some yarn to arrive.
As torturous and mind melting as it can be, I have become a little addicted to cross stitching. I decided to skip right to the good parts with this session and start working on the title letters. Of course, they actually ended up being wonky. Somewhere along the line I miscounted or maybe I stitched a few too many in a place where they shouldn’t have been? In the end, I had to squeeze the E in a little. It looks noticeable here but it won’t once the shadow is added (I really hope). The shadow makes everything really pop and look like magic.
When I put this down last, I was starting to have a panic attack that I’d run out of room at the top. I obviously had no idea what I was doing when I started this thing. Now I’m not so worried or maybe I’m just so fed up with this insanity that I just don’t care.
I have some deadlines coming up so I have a feeling this is as far as this sad excuse for embroidery will get for another few months. I’d like to keep working at it and I can at least mindlessly fill in the pink background while I’m watching Mad Men. I have the Lon Lon Ranch song stuck in my head right now. I’d really love to finish this thing because then I can brag about it forever.
Has a project every driven you crazy? Do you think cross stitch is fun or tedious? Will this ever be finished?
I will admit that blocking has only recently become my favorite thing ever. I used to really hate it. I’ve mentioned that once or twice before. But it’s the best. THE BEST. When I finished knitting up the Poolside top, I was really excited to block it. The lace definitely needed a little relaxing and I was hoping that the stitches would lay a little bit neater.
Here’s the thing. I’m still not the biggest fan of cotton yarn. It was fun to try out a top in this fiber and the Blue Sky Alpacas really does cotton justice. It made me re-think the way that I feel about cotton. That being said, the stitches are VERY defined. It’s a nice, crisp look but it also highlights wonky parts were weaved in and where new skeins were joined. And basically if my tension varied at all, you could tell. So this guy needed a blocking.
Here’s a before shot. Don’t mind the dramatic shadows…
It’s all pinned down but you can kind of see what I mean about the stitches being defined in the left sleeve. It’s not really meshing and smooshing together the way that wool does, the stitches just kind of sit next to each other telling all of the other stitches to bugger off.
Anyway, when I went to block this, I wanted to make sure I was doing everything properly. I think I’ve only made dishtowels out of cotton yarn and those really don’t need to be blocked. That just sounds silly. Anyway anyway, I turned to this helpful guide from Knitty. Remember, kids: Different fibers need to be treated differently! You can’t just dunk everything into a basin of warm water and Soak.
Cotton needs to be steamed. This is how I did it since my iron is a piece of crap and I don’t have a steamer.
I took an old pillowcase and soaked it in the sink. I wrung it out a little and placed it over my sweater which was laid out on a blocking mat. (I pinned it down since I wanted the lace to stretch out a bit. Whether you pin your blocking is up to you and the way you want the fabric of your sweater to turn out. Think about that!) Then I ironed it out and removed the pillowcase.
Another pro tip: Ask someone else to take a photo of you ironing. It’s really hard and probably dangerous to photograph and iron simultaneously.
Ta da! That’s it! There’s what it looked like immediately after ironing. I tried it on after it dried for 24 hours. Cotton is tough. It doesn’t want to stretch out the way other natural fibers might but the neckline did kind of lose its shape. The lace, though, looks really beautiful in this color and fiber.
I’m really pleased with how it turned out and it’s always fun to try some new blocking techniques! More photos of the FO coming soon!
Have you ever blocked cotton yarn? Any tips?
Welcome to May! Let’s get you over the hump, shall we?
When my LYS is doing summer hours, I’m all like:
When my boyfriend complains that something I made him doesn’t fit right, I’m like
The first time I looked at a lace chart, I was like
When I teach someone how to knit
That’s all, folks! Stay tuned because actual informative things are coming up later in the week!
Thought I’d do a little spring cleaning this weekend and go through my notions bag. I keep my notions bag, as I do most of my WIPs, knocking around under the coffee table. Usually there’s a bunch of crap spilling out of it onto the floor or a pile of magazines. One day I will get it all together and my knitting life will be beautiful and tidy.
Until then, at least it’s all in one bag…
This brought the perfect opportunity to share with you what I do have in my dandy little notions bag. Here’s a little inventory of the rag tag band that helps me do the dirty work:
-2 tape measures
-a yarn cutter that looks like a ninja star that I once wore on a ribbon as a necklace in high school (what a loser!)
-teeny tiny scissors on a keychain
-a bunch of yarn labels because I hoard them and promise to paste them into a notebook one day and then usually I just throw them out
-toy button eyes
-regular old buttons
-an exacto knife?
-tags for knitted gifts
-a bunch of tapestry needles I can never find because they’re alway at the bottom of the bag
-stitch markers and little containers for them
-a paper clip I used as a stitch marker once when I couldn’t find those stitch markers
-an impromptu cardboard pom pom maker
-a bunch of scrap yarn that I use as stitch holders but refuse to throw out in case I need stitch holders because I hate cutting good yarn for scraps
-an old school stitch counter that I probably haven’t used in years and was actually surprised to find
-a gauge ruler/needle size thingy
-3 wrist support gloves (fourth is MIA.) not sure where I got the second pair though
And finally my nifty notions bag which my awesome Aunt Sherry got me (actually, she got me a bunch of the notions pictured above!). It’s got this crazy collage thing going on with clippings from probably a billion magazines and such.
The first notion bag I ever bought was a pencil case with rainbow hearts on it. I paid for it in the cafe at Barnes and Noble in high school because that’s where I did a lot of hanging out. Good times! Before that I was using a make up bag my mom got with some kind of Clinique gift set.
Anyway, that’s a lot of talk about notions. Where do you keep your notions? What’s a must for your notions bag? What am I missing!? And where did that damn tapestry needle go?!
ps. Thanks, everyone for entering the Craftsy giveaway! So great to hear what everyone is interested in learning about! I’ll be emailing winners soon with the info soon so check your emails!