Saturday, November 30, 2013

Winter Part I

Vogue Knitting LIVE in Chicago just wrapped up a few weeks ago, and the NYC event is fast approaching.  I love that event.  It's really a top-notch, well-produced show, and I feel so lucky to be part of it.  I'm teaching several new classes at the NYC event, so please register early!  Classes for that one are already selling out.

I have a lot of new projects in the works - a sock spread for Vogue Knitting for the Early Fall issue that you'll instantly fall in love with, a 10-piece collection for Tahki Stacy Charles, and my own small collection for release in February for the Fall/Winter 2014 season.  

I barely have time to make little quick projects that give me that instant gratification jolt, but an exception has been made!  The Abbey cowl was inspired by the old gothic cathedral style church lanterns.

You Ravelry users can get it here: 

Happy Knitting and I hope all of you have a wonderful joyous holiday season!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

It's ok to frog.

There is talk about frogging.  Knitting has its own language, and not surprisingly, elicits strange looks around non-knitters when something like "Argh.  I have to frog this" is said.  The "ripper" begins spewing obscenities and sometimes even calling the "rippee" horrible, horrible names.  A little dramatic, perhaps, but true.  And sometimes it's just a simple "eh, doesn't look good" that suffices.

I was recently reminded (and inspired to write this post) about the process of knitting and designing.  It reminds me of my own growth as a knitter and designer.  I used to be the "brace for impact" kind of knitter - someone who took my needles and yarn, casted on the number of stitches I thought I needed, and hoped for the best with the final project.  Thankfully, I've evolved into the kind of knitter that sees it more as a practice, a meditation.  Of course I want everything I knit to turn out perfectly and everyone to love it.  But that's the same expectation as wanting everyone to live peacefully, love generously and stop letting their dogs pee on our flowers, never mind the destroying of flowers.  It may never happen.  So, before I start knitting anything, I try to remember to let the yarn tell me, not the other way around.  It's a way of setting aside everything I think I know about the fiber, drape, color behavior and grace vs. awkwardness in a fit.  So when I have to do this it's all ok:

In case you're wondering, yarn is (clockwise in a spiral from top) Zara, Brown Sheep's Top of the Lamb (dark), Brown Sheep's Top of the Lamb (light), unknown cashmere brand (green and blue), and Rio de la Plata in Rabbit (no longer made)'s all ok.  Say it with me now.....

It's the same reason I don't write this blog to be famous or accumulate 100 comments about something silly I've written.  I've had blogs/abandoned them, written/not written, and then always feel the need to apologize for not being "around".  It's all part of the process.  Who cares if I haven't been "around" anyway?

Happy (process) knitting....

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

R.I.P. Sunflower

Few things make me shake my head in disgust like the need of someone to destroy something beautiful.  Alas, they have.  My partner and I (mostly him though) have been maintaining a tree bed outside our building for the last couple years, having had varying degrees of success with growing, planting, bulbs, color, balance, and fertilization.  It's been a journey, an experiment in gardening.  There have even been sleepless nights researching organic materials, soil pH, minerals, and disastrous things to watch out for and from which to protect your little garden.  We seemed to be doing it all right, even drawing neighbors out of their shells who would normally keep their heads down and just get to where they're going to stop and say, "Thank you for doing this.  It's so beautiful".  Making friends through the beauty of nature.  The power of something bigger than us to bring us all together to celebrate.

But what we never planned for was someone so full of rage and pain that they would feel so compelled to rip our beautiful sunflower off its 7 foot tall stalk and tear it to shreds.

I rode my bike to work and had some time to reflect on my reaction to this unfortunate event.  What I focused on was unusual, especially for me, who's normal inclination would be to seek out the person who did this and teach them a lesson.  Among other things.  I remembered being told by one neighbor, "You know it's just a matter of time before someone rips that off, don't you?  It's a zen garden, you have to let go".  Turns out he was right.  Very right.  The act of letting that magnificent sunflower go and remembering its short but gorgeous life was a real gift.  It allowed me to be at peace with the things this world can be, not the things that it is not.

I stopped by that sunflower last night, like all nights, before I went inside for the evening.  One, I never thought that would be the last time I would see it.  Two, I'm eternally grateful I stopped and smelled the intense, rich honey-like smell it was producing.  It finally became heavy enough to bow and allow me close contact.  I breathed so deeply I swear it took root in my heart.

I'm also eternally grateful I took photos and saved them at key points in this sunflower's cycle:

Ironically, neither my partner nor I realized sunflowers form a heart in the middle as they are nearing the final blooms, and they produce hundreds of tiny hearts while the stamens are unfolding.  Last night my best friend said to me, "Mother Nature is showing her appreciation".  See, to me, the sunflower is merely a physical object symbolizing something larger.  It's a power greater than me.  Call it God, The Universe, Mother Nature.  But my serenity lies in knowing that I am a person who is 100% capable of seeking and surrounding myself with beauty, and not someone who is in so much pain that I seek to destroy it.

These are the things I will remember.

So I say not to the person who ripped this flower to shreds, but to the sunflower:

Just know you were loved while you were on that big beautiful 7 foot tall stalk, and you are loved now.  Wherever your soft little petals and delicious golden pollen are, you will continue to live in our hearts.  The bees will find you, sit tight.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Sideshow Freaks and Knitting

Whether you live under a rock or not, I don't think it's easy to escape the news these days.  Personally, I try to strike a balance between listening to what's out there and completely shutting everything out - which I think most people try to do.  Though sometimes I just want to crawl under a rock, literally.  There is so much hatred and ill will in the world today, it's hard to focus on the good stuff, but I keep trying.  I'm very grateful I have a creative life because I think I might go bonkers without it.  My bliss lies in being in my studio, listening to Florence and the Machine, losing myself in crafty little details.

I've been extremely busy with designing and articulating a new frontier in my knitwear practice, which will hopefully end up as a small collection soon.  It's inspired by a good friend of mine who is an acrobat/contortionist with Cirque du Soleil, but more broadly it's inspired by circus sideshow freaks and performers.

But first, this is a nice vintage-y shot of two new designs I just finished for Willow Yarns:

The cowl is a merino/silk blend with lots of squish, and the belted cardigan is a linen/cotton blend that's just like a soft T-shirt when machine washed and dried.

If you don't know Willow Yarns, it's worth investigating their products.  Simple clean yarn at a great price.

I will be teaching again at Vogue Knitting Live in Chicago from November 1-3.  Some classes are already sold out, so if you're thinking you might want to go, it's a great idea to just commit.  You won't be sorry, it's an amazing event.

This little felted vest work in progress is part of my new frontier:

It's a wool felt vest with leather trim along the neck.  Exactly what you want to see pictures of while most of the USA is engulfed in a heat wave, right?  I'll post some photos of it when it's finished.  I don't think it'll make it into the final collection, but there's more where this came from.

I've recently begun embracing more of my creative side when working in my studio, and letting stuff just flower and become what it wants.  Hopefully more to come...stay cool!!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Spring? Hello?

I think spring is coming.  I think.  

But I have two new patterns I just finished:


Both patterns are available now on Ravelry.  The two are made with Madeline Tosh chunky.  The first colorway is Boxwood, now discontinued I believe, and the second is Cosmos.

I love yarn that has squish factor.  And this yarn doesn't disappoint.  In fact, you may spend more time squeezing the cowl than wearing it.  

I am working on the 4th of a series of kerchiefs, bandanas, neck things for spring.  They are all cotton, machine washable ideas that hopefully you'll fall in love with.

Happy knitting!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Healing Sweater: Finished

I had a great time last weekend at Vogue Knitting Live! here in NYC.  It's always such an honor to be one of the keepers of the craft, as we move from one generation to the next.  There are so many cool things happening these days in knitting, crocheting, dyeing, spinning and designing.

At the event, I had the pleasure of a little inspirational moment with one of my students, who I now lovingly refer to as one of my groupies.  Before one of my classes, we had a minute to catch up and shoot the breeze and she told me about a relationship with her sister that was less-than-perfect (don't we all have those?), but more importantly how they were able to be in Chicago for October, 2012's Vogue Knitting Live! together, knitting, and the yarn and needles seemed to be just what they needed to bond with each other more than ever.  She said that knitting was just that one thing they couldn't ever fight about.

I, too, believe there is healing power in knitting.  Whether you knit prayer shawls or not, there is a centering focus that boils all my anxieties about my own imperfect relationships down to a single moment:

Buttonless Healing Sweater
This sweater has been a few years in the making, but it is finally finished.  I've imagined the whole time what she'll look like in it, what experiences she'll have with it, etc.  I've also been worried sick it won't fit.  Oh yeah, there's the whole "it should fit" thing.  So once again, leap of faith.  Now I have to write a letter.

I'm leaving the 7 small buttons off - she'll probably want to choose them.  And as cool as I think buttons made from whale bone or rare bugs found along the coast of Indonesia are, they probably wouldn't be her first choice.

Stitch details:

Now on the needles - a lace-weight alpaca scarf for the niece.....more to come on that one.

Important future info:

Keep your eyes open for my radio show interview I did for Black Sheep Yarns in Kent, CT:  Fiber Arts with Nancy.  I'm not sure what the air date will be, but I'll keep it posted here.

Upcoming dates:

Feb 21st: The Boston Knitting Guild
March 9th: A Good Yarn, Sarasota
April 5-7th: Vogue Knitting Live! Seattle, WA

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Healing Sweater v.2

Just a quick check in to report Healing Sweater progress:

Maddy Laine's Garden Paths a.k.a The Healing Sweater
The only things I have left to do are seam the right side body, both under sleeve seams, and finish the button bands, which the stitches for those are being held on stitch markers.  One is actually a bona fide stitch marker, complete with bright blue plating, but the other, sadly, is a safety pin.

I teach seaming.  I love seaming.  I know, call me all kinds of names.  But I've actually learned something about my own seaming process while doing this sweater.  I've taken my time while doing it (novel concept, right?), and it has been much more tidy, enjoyable, and clear.  It might have something to do with the fact this sweater is going to a family member, guess I want it to be perfect.  I want it to show that things can actually be put together pretty well, despite what they may behave like.

In the upper left corner of the photo is the scant quantity of yarn I have remaining.  But, like this sweater exercise as a whole, I'm going to have faith it will get me where I need to go.

Happy New Year and Happy Knitting!