Let The Yarn Dictate The Project

Lately, I’ve been taking inventory of my yarn collection trying to remember the intended purpose of each purchase.  Well…it’s been quite an exercise.  A great majority of my selections were impulse decisions without a particular project in mind.  I liked the color, feel, or was stimulated by the environment in which I shopped.

Attending Stitches West surrounded by one giant color wheel detailed by the different gauges of yarn, the tactile experience of the many different combinations of plant and/or animal fiber along with the social camaraderie of like-minded individuals, stimulates my senses and wets my appetite for creativity.  Hence, lots of yarn without a project.  Recently, while shopping at one of my favorite yarn stores in the East Bay, a sales person mentioned, “Don’t let the project dictate the yarn.”  Interesting…

While attending Stitches West about five years ago, I purchased two hanks of a bulky/chunky weight hand-dyed yarn from Urban Fauna located in SF (since closed).  I wanted to make sure I found just the right project for the yarn.  Spending time on Ravelry definitely provided a multitude of knitting options.

L’Enveloppe designed by Sally Melville caught my design eye.  “It’s not a  cape, not a poncho, not a shrug, not a shawl, not a cowl.  It’s small enough to wear under a coat, but big enough to wear instead of one, and it envelops us in style.”  The pattern is offered in four different gauges and two different stitch patterns, garter and seed.

img_20170204_173916_931
Photo credit:  Mary Lou Fall

Here is my knitted interpretation of L’Enveloppe.  I decided to knit the pattern in garter stitch, which combined with the yarn creates a well-defined three dimensional surface. The pattern is interesting to knit, with straight-forward instructions, and the fit is amazing!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Design With A Conscience

Today is a day void of unnecessary noise.  A day so peaceful, I can hear myself think. No streaming Netflix, texting, working out at the gym or listening to music. I can hear myself turn the pages of one of my favorite knitting books looking for something new to knit, along with the tapping of my laptop keyboard as I write this post.

Within the last week, I’ve discovered how small the world of creativity has become.  For the last five years, I’ve attempted to use my blog to fill a large empty space in my heart.  I wanted to channel my energies into something positive, and not dwell on a not so pleasant situation.  So, I exposed my creative self  to the world through this blog.  I viewed my blog as a means of communication and education about what interests me, hoping along the way, someone else would enjoy this journey.  I’ve always been cognizant to give credit where credit is due.  If I post a picture, I site the source.  If I reference a book, I credit the author and publisher.  But of course, I don’t own a large yarn distribution company, and I haven’t written a book (even though I could), nor do I pound the pavement looking to teach at my LYS (been there done that).

knitting-kit-petite-wool-binary-snood3

I am flattered that We Are Knitters finds my use of Binary Stitches© worthy of using as a title for their new snood kit.  Check out my blog post of August 9, 2016 where I discuss my development of Binary Stitches©2016.

 

haigire

This is such a beautiful new scarf kit “Hagire” from Habu Textiles.   I too was inspired by Habu yarn in 2013.

Sampler of Textures #2
Photo credit: Mary Lou Fall
Stitches and Yarn Textured Scarf #2
Photo credit: Mary Lou Fall
wpid-20140816_143043-1-1.jpg
Photo credit: Mary Lou Fall

*The above pictured scarf is my design using Habu Textiles and the shawl is Loopy and Luscious found at Knitty.com

Unlike the designers at Habu, I wasn’t trying to use up leftover yarn, my use of Habu Textiles highlighted the unique qualities of combining and playing with texture and color.

It’s been said, “Imitation is the best form of flattering.”  Well, “I’m over it!”  How about, “Give credit where credit is due”  or perhaps “Design with a conscience.”

 

Letting Go

Finally, the heat has subsided and temperatures are back to normal for this time of year.  I decided to take my needles and yarn outside for a change of scenery.

California Dreamin'_1
Photo credit:  Mary Lou Fall

I was greeted by three bromeliad pups.  The plant basically gets ignored, but always seems to provide us with such beauty every year.  I decided to organize my knitting space within eyesight of nature’s gift.

During a recent visit to Avenue Yarns on Solano Avenue in Albany situated not far from Berkeley, I decided to finally embrace short-rows.  Just by coincidence, a pattern I was also checking out on Ravelry was recommended I try, Breathing Space, designed by Veera Valimaki. “The sweater is worked from top-down with a raglan yoke and the asymmetric shaping makes it very stylish and at the same time very easy to wear.”

California Dreamin' #2_1
Photo credit: Mary Lou Fall

After starting and restarting a few times, I finally figured out short-rows with the help of Purl Bee’s online tutorial   http://www.purlsoho.com/create/2008/06/18/short-rows/.  The main color I selected for Breathing Space  from MJ Yarns, Simple Sock Fingering Weight, 75% Superwash Corriedale/25% Nylon, Col. Fresh Mowed, and the yarn for striping Wollelfe M/S Gradient 400 Fading to Grey, 65% Merino extra fine, 35% Silk.  I did gauge swatch the yarns and found Simple Sock Fingering did shrink a little.  The pattern is written with clear concise directions, and definitely exercises the brain cells.

Just by changing my “breathing space”situating myself in an environment of beauty and calm, in a different space and time, I  was able to reflect on one line in the pattern description that resonates with me in a very personal way, “The art of breathing, something we rarely really pay attention to, is so much like letting go.”

 

 

Machine Knitting 101

Today, I dusted off the box of my Lk150 Kntting Machine and went to class.  The class was an introductory class with guest designer and instructor, Mike Horwath of http://www.onehookproductions.com at Purlescence Yarns in Sunnyvale, CA.

Machine Knitting 101 #2_1
Photo credit: Mary Lou Fall

An introduction to the machine parts and purpose familiarized us with the set-up of the machine. Immediately, the machine was threaded beginning with a cast on edge.  The test swatch included stockinette stitch, increasing, decreasing, performing purl stitches, unknitting, fixing dropped stitches, and binding off.

Switching from knitting needles to using tools was a bit of a challenge for me.  I wanted to manipulate the yarn with my hands, instead of using the transfer tools and tappet tool.

Machine Knitting 101_1_1
Photo credit: Mary Lou Fall
Machine Knitting 101 #3_1
Photo credit: Mary Lou Fall

By the end of class, I started to get a bit more comfortable working with a machine versus the relationship between knitting needles, the sensory touch of yarn and my own personal rhythm with the needles and yarn.

 

 

Step By Step

Sometimes, the best adventures are those not planned.  On the spur of the moment, my husband and I decided to take a day trip to Point Reyes National Seashore.

Point Reyes June 2016_1
Photo credit: Mary Lou Fall

The main attraction for the day was the Point Reyes Lighthouse.

Point Reyes June 2016 #4_1
Photo credit: Mary Lou Fall

After evaluating the path down to the lighthouse, my husband decided to wait for me at the top.  So, I began the journey step by step.  Along the way, I captured beautiful photographs. Here’s one of them.

IMG_5409
Photo credit:  Mary Lou Fall

I successfully reached the lighthouse, and began the journey back to the top.  On my way up to the top, I noticed each step was numbered.  There are 308 steps down and 308 up.

Point Reyes June 2016 #5_1
Photo credit: Mary Lou Fall

It was sheer determination that motivated me to walk down to the lighthouse.  For the last five years, I’ve realized how determined I am.  Specifically when it comes to learning something new with challenges.  Take for instance, I attempted to knit a pattern with short rows twice. I’ve decided to try the pattern again.  Perhaps the third time’s the charm.

Silke designed by Julie Weisenberger of Coco Knits “is a drapey, flattering tunic with front points that hang down lower than the back” in a slip stitch pattern.  With this attempt, I decided to knit and block the swatch due to the linen content in the yarn.

Step By Step 2016_1_1
Photo credit: Mary Lou Fall

The damp swatch was pinned vertically  to test the effects of gravity  on the gauge. This makes sense to me because the garment hangs vertically when worn.

Step By Step 2016 #2_1_1
Photo credit: Mary Lou Fall

I’ve cast on 226 stitches using a Size 7 needle in  Schoppel Leinen Los 70% wool, 30% linen, Col. 7653M.  The tunic/cardigan is knitted from the bottom up in one piece.

Step By Step 2016 #4
Photo credit: Mary Lou Fall (Rocks collected from Drake’s Bay, Point Reyes National Seashore)

I need to work straight until piece measures 9″ from the CO edge, and then the cardigan fronts are worked independently. I am determined to knit this pattern step by step.

 

 

In My Happy Place

This week I needed to get a way for a day.  I decided to return to the stacks at the University of California, Berkeley’s Anthropology library.  During my stay as a student, I spent many hours focusing on Art History, with little regard or time for anything else. Now I have the time to explore other disciplines.  I was looking forward to picking up a book I had on hold at Doe Library, Decorative Patterns Of The Ancient World, by Flinders Petrie. On my way, I captured a picture of the infamous Campanile.

20160121_142650

Photo credit: Mary Lou Fall

Such a relief to relax and take in the atmosphere without worrying about the next paper or test.  I headed over to the Anthropology library and ventured into the world of prehistoric textiles.  Three books, Women’s Work: The First 20,000 years,  Making Textiles In Pre-Roman And Roman Times, and Textile Production In Pre-Roman Italy,  I was excited to discover because they support my area of interest.

My interest in textile arts began at the age of eight.  Through the guidance of a 4-H leader, I walked the runway in my first sewn dress. I continued to sew through the years and decided to purchase my first weaving loom.  Toting my infant daughter on my hip, I warped my loom for the first time.  From weaving, I moved on to knitting, felting and dyeing yarn.  Throughout the many years of developing my expertise in the textile arts, I didn’t give much thought to the people, places and identities of the individuals that came before me, until now.

On my way across campus to the parking garage, I captured a few more pictures.

20160121_141830

Photo credit: Mary Lou Fall

20160121_142133

Photo credit: Mary Lou Fall

20160121_114522

Photo credit: Mary Lou Fall