home sweet home

The hubbie and I bought a house, moved out of our old place and got overloaded with unexpected repairs at almost every turn—painting, replacing doors, windows, walls and rotten wood, repairing the roof.

Life is barely returning to a normal rhythm. Originally, I gave myself a week, thinking I’d easily unpack and find the perfect spots for all our things. That turned into a month. Then two. And here I am nearly six months later and still surrounded by boxes.

But, rather than achieving “perfection”, we’re learning to take our time to adjust and return to the things that give us joy. And so, I’m finally getting back into knitting again. I’ve uploaded my second written pattern—a felted knit laptop sleeve that somehow turned out a bit owlish looking:

A quick and simple knit using mixed materials, great to use up leftover yarn in the stash or to knit up a last-minute gift.

It feels great to be flexing my knitting muscles again!

categories: Personal    { Leave a comment }

no new knitting

Sad to say, I’ve started a few projects here and there, and being unhappy with the result, I’d frog and start all over. This has pulled the wind out of my sails and I haven’t been able to get really going on anything since my last owl sweater project.

But I do have a lot of knitting on the mind! It’s the getting-it-out-into-actual-stitches that seems to be the hurdle. The other night, I even dreamt of a knitted bikini (so odd, since I avoid any opportunity to wear bathing suits, let alone bikinis). The perfect construction, down to details like waterproof bra liners, were all worked out in my dream (this was a functional knitted bikini!).

For now, I am putting aside Elizabeth Gilbert’s advice and, instead of “showing up,” I am waiting this one out and letting the ideas roll around in my head until my knitting mojo decides to return.

And if anyone out there has any suggestions on how to kick-start this return, I’d love to hear it!

categories: Creativity, Knitting    { Leave a comment }

the creative genius process

A wonderful talk given by Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love, on the burdens and blessings of the creative process. She is so articulate and funny to boot, I was thoroughly impressed with her speaking skills as much as what she was saying—and what she says is so freeing and inspiring for anyone in the creative field.

Elizabeth Gilbert on Nurturing Creativity via poppytalk
categories: Creativity    { 2 Comments }

ikat + knitting

I’ve been toying with the idea of creating a handknit item resembling ikat, an Indian and Southeast Asian textile art with designs that have uneven, softer edges—like the edges you get on an ink blot when holding a felt marker for too long on paper.

Some ikat textiles remind me of watercolor or Impressionist paintings and it’s the challenge of achieving that look in a knit that intrigues me.

Here are some examples of beautiful ikat textiles (from The Pepin Press book Ikat: Patterns from Indonesia, Malaysia and India):

I think one option would be to use laceweight yarns double stranded, gradually switching out the color of one yarn then the other until the new block of color is achieved. I don’t think some of the more intricate designs (with leaves and thin branches or coiling lines) can be done—but I’m hoping to be pleasantly surprised.

categories: Design, Knitting    { Leave a comment }

craftsmanship & process

A good friend recently returned from NY and, as a souvenir, gave me a bar of chocolate. It hailed from Brooklyn and read “Mast Brothers Chocolate” with this particular bar sourced from the Dominican Republic.

It was gorgeously wrapped in a heavy, uncoated paper printed with a pattern reminiscent of vintage book endpapers. The chocolate itself was delicious—like fine wine, in fact, with a sophisticated depth of flavors. It wasn’t cloyingly sweet (like most available chocolates that I think do this to hide their flavor flatness/blandness). I savored every bite.

Just today, I discovered a video (via Honest Fare) on the two brothers who are the craftsmen behind this chocolate. They talk about their process and the video really gives a good sense of the care and dedication with which they approach their chocolate-making and -selling craft (each bar is hand wrapped!).

The Mast Brothers
from The Scout on Vimeo

And here is a picture of the packaging which I’d saved (along with a package from a different chocolate—also good but trumped by Mast Brothers Chocolate):

It’s inspiring to witness their quiet passion and the level of detail on which they focus. Amazingly, all of these qualities are conveyed through their packaging.

categories: Craftmanship, Packaging    { Leave a comment }

new year, new space

The beginning of this new year has inspired me to look around and not only review the year just past but re-examine my current physical space. This conscious pause,  spurred on by the onslaught of home decor catalogs I received during the holidays, causes me no small amount of depression and angst—I have too much stuff and not enough space or money!

Deciding to focus on the positive, I culled items from a CB2 catalog (a younger, more modern sibling to Crate & Barrel) to see how I’d put a knitting/craft/design studio together after falling in love with some of the industrial chic items they’re now offering. And the end result is…

My CB2 dream work/studio space

How great would this room be? I’ll be using my visualization techniques more often to dream up new possibilities.

In the meantime, I’ve moved some things around in my current place to breathe new life into the space—and it worked! A fresh orientation is a cheap but cheery way to greet the new year.

categories: Covetables, Interior spaces    { Leave a comment }

the artful drape

Here it is, in the middle of a freezing California winter downpour, and I am itching to knit with laceweight yarns to create light, ethereal tops and tunics perfect for spring. It was all inspired by two books—Drape Drape and Drape Drape 2 by Hisako Sato.

The gorgeous covers of these Japanese sewing books immediately caught my eye:

Sculptural and full of timeless and current fashion (cropped/capri harem pants anyone?), I immediately started to think of how to apply some of the techniques and silhouettes for knitting projects.

A top and a dress from Drape Drape

A top to be made with a lovely, slub-y lace or fingering weight yarn, maybe in a silk/linen blend. And though the dress would be rather unflattering for anyone who isn’t a beanpole, I loved the details: the twisted straps, the gathering point at the low back V.

A vest from Drape Drape 2 and a top from Drape Drape

This vest combines everything I love in a design—form meets function and artful drapes become pockets. I wonder about the halter neck and its feasibility on a handknit vest but I imagine it could grow a little higher to become a small shawl-like collar with stitches picked up along the bottom edge and knit down to create the back. A short-sleeve top in a now familiar silhouette but with a slight ruching detail added.

Maybe if I start now, I could have one of these done by the time spring does roll around!

categories: Knitting    { Leave a comment }

deconstructing a sweater re-do

I modified Kate Davies’ witty Owl Sweater pattern to go from a pullover to a long, oversized (sort of) cardigan. This pattern had been sitting in my queue for a very long time—I blame it on inertia & lack of just the right yarn. Then I discovered the lusciousness of Rowan’s Cocoon (an uber-soft combo of merino and kid mohair in a chunky yarn) a few months ago and I was determined to knit this up.

BUT, something still didn’t quite jive for me. I love sweaters, but usually in the form of longer tunics/cardigans with a looser fit—modern with clean, graphic lines that highlight the form of the garment (not the wearer!). I spied a mod of the Owl sweater by a raveler named Chiko & combined that with a boxier, more forgiving silhouette of a Vince sweater to create the ultimate comfy/cozy cardigan!

Mixing sweater options

Owl Sweater as knit by raveler Chiko | Vince Oversized Sweater Coat

My first attempt didn’t quite live up to my dreams (see before pics below). It was passable but after wearing it a few times, my unhappiness with it finally got me to sit down one day to undo the snaps, frog the button placket and neck/collar down to the owl portion and redo everything that bothered me:

  1. decreased the neck 1 more time than the pattern calls for (rather than the 3 additional decrease rounds I did the first go around) for a wider neck
  2. added increases at the end of the collar to start widening it out as it got longer to create the open shawl & an asymmetrical neck closure
  3. I didn’t knit the collar quite as long as before & used short rows to create the nice curve along the back when the collar is open
  4. knit a wider button placket
Before & After: Deconstruction of a Knitted Sweater

Now this has become my staple sweater coat—perfect for a grey, colder California winter day. It has grown in length and if I were to redo it entirely over, I’d knit it on a smaller needle for a tighter gauge and hope that I could work out the math to go up 2-3 sizes from what’s available on the pattern itself (for even a slightly boxier fit).

categories: Knitting    { Leave a comment }

hello world?

I always thought blogs were for extroverted exhibitionists, people who wanted to share everything with the world and had a lot to say. Now I’m realizing (after actually reading some great blogs) it’s the perfect way to gather thoughts, especially around specific topics (like knitting or design), to focus ideas and keep notes on current adventures for future {personal} reference.

But perhaps the best part of a blog is that this {personal} reference could help someone else on a similar journey. Or elicit great feedback to improve a current/future project. Or perhaps even inspire!

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categories: General    { 1 Comment }