Sunday, January 27, 2013


Let me preface this by saying: do you know how hard it is to blog when The West Wing is playing in the background? For example, this was meant to be another lightning-round 15 minute blogpost, and we're already on minute thirty.  Because I love this show SO much.  Heaven help my productivity if I keep watching!

Tearing myself away from my decades-long crush on Josh Lyman, I wanted to talk a little bit further about my latest design, Linnae, which came out with Quince & Co. a few weeks ago.  Linnae was inspired by Scandinavian design, Mod style, and my rabid love for polka dots. 

(Seriously, twenty minutes just went by.  Damn you, Aaron Sorkin!)

(all photos by Carrie Bostick Hoge!)

This past summer, my parents brought me back an Scandinavian interior design magazine from their trip around the Baltic (yes, I know, I'm crazy jealous, too), and the clear, fresh colors and simple, clean lines were amazing to see.  There was also always a little hint of quirk--a splash of color, a fantastic print, a mug with a squirrel tail for a handle.  I loved the aesthetic so much and, of course, began scheming how I could translate it into a knitting pattern.  The idea of polka dots was almost instantaneous--who doesn't love polka dots? They remind me of the fantastic style of the Mod era, another of my perennial design inspirations.

(Another twenty minutes.  It was a Josh and Donna interlude.)

The key to working with such a quirky accent was keeping the shape and style of the sweater clean, as the magazine had demonstrated.  I went with a simple, bottom-up raglan, with some gentle waist shaping to tailor the whole.  I also played with tiny details like contrast color edging on the hems and a centered polka dot motif on the raglans.  

(The raisin muffin email debacle! I'd forgotten about that!)

Being able to add little details like that are what make me love designing! 

The other part of this design process was narrowing down the colors for the Fair Isle.  I originally had my eye on Kittywake (the current main color) and Rosa Rugosa, a deep pink-red, but in keeping with the original Scandinavian inspiration, I ended up with Bird's Egg, a clean, clear grey-blue that I also used in the Bristol's Cowl.  But I also had a wonderful time daydreaming about what other colors of Chickadee would be amazing in combination.  Here are a few I've put together:

(let Bartlet be Bartlet! God, I love this show.)

Top row, L to R: Chanterelle and Twig, Kittywake and Honey, Twig and Marsh
2nd row: Marsh and Honey, Lichen and Iceland, Frost and Leek
3rd row: Frost and Winesap, Carrie's Yellow and Bird's Egg, Kittywake and Iceland
Bottom row: Bark and Gingerbread, Gingerbread and Apricot, Dogwood and Pomegranate
(can you tell I like neutrals, greens, and yellows?)

I could go on for days picking color combos.  My current plan is to spin for this during this year's Tour de Fleece, using a solid neutral fleece for the body and a hand-dyed roving for the polka dots.  Which colors would you use? 

Linnae is available through Quince & Co. here, can be found on Ravelry here, and Chickadee can be found here!

(That only took me two hours.  Damn you, Sorkin!)

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Everyday Nesting

I was feeling so pleased with myself today for everything I've accomplished this weekend (Math! Charting! Cooking! Coordinating yarn support and catching up on the past two years with one of my favorite dyers! Taking a nap!), when it hit me with a thud that the blog was gathering a little dust.  So, a la the Mason Dixon ladies and their 15 minute blogging (p.s. do you see what Ann's knitting?!), here's a quick burst about what's happening in my life.

First and foremost, not much knitting! I'm in the throes of finalizing and teching past projects and swatching and mathing future ones, so most of my evenings have looked a little like this:

(I will apparently use any scrap paper to make myself pattern notes in the midst of knitting, even a Cirque du Soleil ticket.)

And this:

Suffice it to say, I'll be happy to be getting back to my normal evenings of knitting.  

There has also been a lot of time spent in the kitchen.  I am rarely happier than when I'm puttering around in there, especially when it involves baking.   The past few weeks efforts have included cheese gougeres from Amy's recipe

These were delicious, and didn't last two days.  I pretend they were healthy and protein-rich because of the number of eggs and amount of cheese in them, but I'm really stretching it there.

Today's baking was this cake; I had pinned it on Pinterest a few weeks ago and have been looking for an excuse to make it ever since.  A get together tonight was the perfect excuse! Despite a few hitches (apparently browned butter can turn into black and smoking butter in less than an eyeblink, and I always think I own confectioner's sugar when I don't), this cake is off the charts amazing.  I will be making it often!

Now that I've got the cake-making itch out of the way, I've got a tiny bit more math to do, and then it's smooth sailing on a new sweater design.  What are you working on these days?

(14 minutes!)

Thursday, January 3, 2013


First things first--happy new year! I hope your final weeks of 2012 were as lovely as mine; I got to spend Christmas being extremely mellow with my family (read: multiple naps occurred), and then had a wonderful and fun New Year's Eve playing board games with friends and laughing a lot.  I ended the night in the wee hours on the couch in my jammies with a cup of tea, and I can't think of a better way to kick off a new year!

One thing that happened right before Christmas was the release of the latest in Brooklyn Tweed's amazing guest designer series, Wool People 4.  Now, I know I'm a wee bit biased about Brooklyn Tweed stuff for obvious reasons, but I think this collection is breathtaking.  The color sense, the photographs, the location, and the unbelievable designs--I love it and am so proud of it all.  I was lucky enough to be part of this collection with my shawl design, Thorn

(all photos copyright the unmatched Jared Flood/Brooklyn Tweed)

Leila Raabe, one of my fellow designers in WP4, my coworker, and my good friend, designed the Kindling shawl for this collection.  We joked that my Thorn and her Kindling were the sequels to Winnowing and Ashby.  While it's always true that designs and designers develop over time, building on what's come before, I definitely feel like these two of mine are linked together.  I will never tire of sweeping lines, of ribbing against textured background, of unexpected shapes and sweeps. I apparently will also never tire of never-ending borders.  :) They just tie things together so nicely!

The idea for Thorn started a few weeks after Winnowing came out, when I was continuing to experiment with unconventional shapes and increase rates.  I had swatched a shape where the increase rate grew exponentially over the course of the shawl, creating a gentle, asymmetrical curve along two of the edges.  However, the increases on that shawl were placed traditionally, on the edge.  Things only started clicking for Thorn when I shifted that increase rate into the body itself, and used it to create the sunburst of stockinette and garter stitch.  I knit on it during Medomak and during the knitting designer meet-up, and was completely happy when it came off the needles.  This is a design that I am really, truly proud of, and I couldn't be more pleased with its reception so far!

You can find Thorn on Ravelry here, and find the Loft to knit it here.  It takes four skeins and about 1,075 yards, so could also be knit from about three typical skeins of fingering weight sock yarn. 

Oh, did I mention the best thing about it?

It's my favorite color. 

One final note: I took a leap tonight and started a Ravelry group for discussion of my designs.  You can find it here, and I'd love to have you!