Posts filed under ‘Spinning and Knitting’

Interview: Naomi Parkhurst, Gannet Designs.

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Meeting of the Waters

I’m secretly using the GAL as an excuse to interview one of my favourite designers. 🙂 Naomi Parkhurst of Gannet Designs

I first met Naomi during the 2014 GAL. Since then we’ve become friends, I’ve woven her secret code stitch patterns into many of my own designs, and we’ve collaborated on several projects.

Clockwise from left: Blood and Roses, Paper Snowflake, Ellerbe Hat.

What got you started designing?

My family in general in places a high priority on being able to do traditional crafts, and one piece of that includes a strong emphasis on being able to modify patterns and improvise one’s own. In my childhood this was intensified because none of the sewing patterns for dolls fit my dolls and stuffed animals, so I had to learn to make my own patterns.

Fast forward to when I finally took up knitting in my thirties. I learned some basic recipes for socks and bags and things, and starting just improvising my own patterns. I posted pictures on LiveJournal, and people asked me for patterns. I like sharing, so I quickly dashed off some badly-written patterns and stuck them up. (These are currently unavailable or have been rewritten, depending.) After I joined Ravelry, I found a local knitting group, who also encouraged me to make patterns for the things I made.

Combine that with working part-time, and then quitting my paid job when I started homeschooling my son, and selling patterns seemed like the way to go. Fortunately, I’ve learned a lot from other designers on Ravelry and from a book or two about pattern-writing, and so I’m not embarrassed by my pattern-writing anymore.

What are your favourite parts of the process?

I like thinking of unusual but practical shapes and then trying to make them into shawls. I enjoy solving problems or coming up with something slightly quirky and then figuring out how to turn it into a pattern. Most of all, I like seeing other knitters’ interpretations of my work.

And the challenging parts?

Scheduling the photography is one major problem. Actually sitting down and writing out the pattern for a sample. And figuring out which of the many ideas I have to work on next.

What would you like to explore (or do more of) in the future?

I would very much like to do more work with my hexagon lace ideas, both shawls that are pictures (kind of like Niebling’s work, but in my own style – this feels hubristic, and yet it seems like a worthy goal) and things that involve code work.

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Suffrage

Do you have a favourite design?

I suspect this is a pretty common answer, but it’s usually whatever I’ve worked on most recently. At the moment that’s Suffrage, though I am also particularly fond of New Hope Creek, which is a good way to tone down a difficult yarn and which fits nicely over the shoulders.

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New Hope Creek

Have you decided what you’ll knit for this year’s GAL?

I’m starting out with Lisa Chemery’s Boy Sweater (http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/boy-sweater), and then plan to knit Elwood, by Jenny Wiebe (http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/elwood), and then, who knows? There are thousands of amazing patterns in the GAL.

Thank you so much for the interview!

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November 27, 2016 at 8:35 am Leave a comment

Pattern release: The Dragon’s Tale

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I’m going to release a dragon into the wild tonight!

I’m really chuffed by The Dragon’s Tale as I had to step right out of my comfort zone to make it, and would have been thoroughly lost if it hadn’t been for a number of very kind helping hands. (Thank you Catnach, Sandra8981, Madquilter, Alpacaspinner, and the whole group of testers..)

I’ve been quietly in love with this stitch pattern ever since I first saw it. I spent several hours just looking at its construction, and I’m honestly in awe of it. Apart from its sheer rippling beauty, the amount of experience and understanding that went into working out where to place the increases and decreases to get the scales to lean and flow as they do is quite remarkable. My sincere respect to Marjorie Bialkowski for either creating it, or passing it on to the wonderful Barbara Walker.

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However turning it into a sideways shawl presented some challenges, for me at least.

I’m airing my ignorance woefully here, but I figure that if even I could manage to knit this, then anyone could.

Because:

– I hadn’t worked side to side before.
– I hadn’t tried an integrated I cord edge.
– I hadn’t worked pattern on the WS before and I had to turn my brain inside out to figure out how to work a ssk on the WS, (I was still turning my work around to work out which way I was supposed to lean for the first 3 pattern repeats! Fortunately there is only one decrease and a yarn over worked on each WS row, and the placement and direction is established on the previous row, so it doesn’t take long to get into the swing of it.)
– And I hadn’t used anything above fingering for a couple of years, so this was a stretch in every direction.

In my (albeit limited) experience, dragons tend to be rather opinionated creatures, and this one proved no different. In my imagination, it was originally going to be a shawl, however it was determined to be more lithe and serpentine than I had envisioned, so it became a scarf instead.

Then it needed a tail tip. Apparently all the really cool dragons have them, and this one wasn’t happy without one.

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Playing with beads and buttons for eyes until Mr Postman makes a delivery from Etsy.

And once it had a little barbed tail, it just didn’t look complete without a head, so back to the graph paper we went again. This time we (the dragon and I, that is) played around with cables for dramatic effect, and then got way too carried away with the button jar trying out different eyes, which was great fun. (If you happen to be looking for some serious dragon eyes, I can highly recommend ArtistJP on Etsy, he has a great variety, and is very helpful.)

But we still weren’t quite done. All this was merely a scarf, and ‘we’* wanted to spread our wings and truly fly, so Dragonflight, the shawl version, was born. This is a deeper crescent (and adaptable to become deeper still, and or longer/shorter) with a wider border, and designed to work with lighter weight yarn, in this case from fingering up to DK, compared to the DK and up for the Dragon’s Tale scarf. It’s testing at the moment and should be out in a couple of weeks.

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Dragonflight shawl, sister to the Dragon’s Tale scarf.

So the moral of this tale seems to be ‘beware of dragons, because they’re bossy’. Or perhaps that following your imagination can get you into all sorts of fun mischief.

*Dragons apparently believe they are entitled to use the royal ‘we’.

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The amazing Solstice Yarns ‘Sea Fey’ is a beautiful green gold by day, and turns to secret dragonish gold at night.

The Dragon’s Tale is the second in the Oriental Tales series, along with The Peacock’s Tale, Scheherezade’s Tale, and the tale of the flying carpet, which will hopefully come off the needles in the next day or two. And after that there are a bunch of fairy tale archetypes I am itching to play with, and then.. well, the list is getting rather long.

December 5, 2014 at 2:14 pm 4 comments

Designer interview: Terri of Ninja8tofu

As part of the Ravelry Giftalong, I’ve been given the opportunity to interview the wonderful Terri Kruse of Ninja8tofu Designs.

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Abernathy sweater

Tell me about yourself
My name is Terri Kruse and I am the designer behind Ninja8tofu Designs. I live in North Dakota where I am given ample opportunity to wear knitted items.

And how did you come up with your name?

It was really random. I had to think of a username and I happened to be making tofu that day and I like ninjas…so I just put the two together. 8 is my favorite number. Together it all kind of sounded slightly humorous.

How would you describe your style?

Also, sometimes kind of random. I have ever-shifting tastes I think. I like classic styles, but I also like a bit of quirkyness. Personally, I like things that are really comfortable. Some might call it “lazy”.

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The beautiful Foster.

What got you started designing?

After I learned to knit, I started modifying things almost immediately. It was kind of in my nature already, I had been sewing clothing since high school and I modified almost everything I sewed, too.

What aspects of designing do you most love, and what do you find most challenging?

The actual knitting is the easiest and most fun part for me. Writing out the first draft of a pattern is the hardest, sitting down and putting it all to paper (and I do this before I knit) is just almost like torture!

What’s your design process? Where do you start?

I start, generally, with sketches and swatches. I will sketch something out and file it away and when I’m ready for it, I will pull it out and swatch, usually several swatches.

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Extremely cute Pigwidgeon mitts and matching hat.

Do you have a pattern that you’ve most loved designing, or project you’ve most loved making?

Pretty much any of the kids’ patterns. I really love knitting up little things. They are more instantly gratifying, though not necessarily easier, sometimes it’s hard to fit things on so many fewer stitches. Or colorwork. I love colorwork.

If someone was to knit just one of your patterns, which would you recommend?

Hmmm…that’s tough. It depends on what they like knitting. I think I would pick a kid sweater, maybe Go Buffalo. I liked it so much I just finished the adult version (though in Kings colors).

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<a href="http://Go Buffalo

Have you planned what will you be knitting for the GAL?

Well, I don’t have a lot of time to do “fun” knitting, but I think I may do a hat or some sort of colorwork. I don’t know what yet. I will have to look over the patterns and see which I will want to do.

I will have several patterns coming out during the KAL…Likely the Adult version of the Abernathy, which will go on presale in about 2 weeks. I don’t have a definite on that one but approximately 2 weeks. I’ll be running a KAL for that and the little version.

Thanks very much Terri!

Some other examples of Terri’s work, just because they’re beautiful –

Momo

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Anonymous Vampire

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And Cadenza

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November 22, 2014 at 11:55 am Leave a comment

Pattern release: The Peacock’s Tale

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I’m queue jumping here – I was going to post about the Otherwhere adventures, as the last of these was released on Monday, but The Peacock’s Tale was released to the wild just last night, and you know what peacocks are like! They like attention. 🙂

This is the pattern I’ve had in my head right from the start, the one that made me want to start designing. I’m so glad I waited, as I was able to make the design much more .. everything.. as a result!

In what seems to have become a dominant feature of my patterns, it has a modular approach which is highly adaptable. Any yardage of lace to heavy fingering weight is workable.

The are 3 different styles of feathers (each of which can be repeated indefinitely before progressing to the next one) and then an expandable edging which can be worked at least 2 different ways – either as straight feathers, or alternated to make an eye within the feather tip.

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One of the testers came up with a fantastic variant which looks like the tail has been dipped into a lake, reflected back on itself.

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Another used the alternating feather pattern first, then an extra long straight section before another alternation, so that the feathers keep growing.

Some tried just a single repeat of each feather, others expanded whichever phase appealed to them.

There was a surprising rainbow amongst the testers’ colours, several pink or red phoenixes, and of course there had to be a pure white one.

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(See the pattern page in the first link to find more details on the shawls shown here.)

I can’t wait to see more join the flock! Each one is quite unique.

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Happy knitting!

November 20, 2014 at 8:35 pm 3 comments

Designer interview: Amy van de Laar, Baroque Purls

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Amy’s stunning ‘Beeswax Hat’

As part of the Ravelry Giftalong 2014, all participating designers get to interview a couple of other designers. This has been great fun, and has already given me the opportunity to meet some amazing people.

First up, let me introduce Amy van de Laar, of the beautiful and colourful Baroque Purls.

Tell us a little about yourself.
I design knitted accessory patterns – mostly hats, but also cowls, mitts, scarves, and shawls. My business (and blog) name is Baroque Purls, and I’m baroquepurls on Ravelry. I’ve lived in Melbourne, Australia for the past two years – before that I lived in Wellington, NZ. My partner Willie got a job over here, so we crossed the ditch. I’m finally, after two summers, adjusting to the heat!

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Amy’s ‘Paper Snowflake’ hat pattern was released on Friday – it’s the last in the very cute ‘Paper Hats’ series, and modelled here by Amy herself. 🙂

And how did you come up with your name?
The name combines music and knitting references – a ‘baroque pearl’ is a rough, irregular pearl, which gave its name to the Baroque era in music (roughly 1600 to 1750). The label started as an insult about music that was seen as too ornate and weird! My absolute favourite composers, Bach and Monteverdi, wrote during this time period. I sing soprano in a choir, and I also do a lot of messing around with singing and piano-playing on my own. I studied the history and literature of music at university, so it’s an ongoing obsession!

How would you describe your style?
My designs are generally brightly-coloured, and inspired by either the natural world or pop culture. So far I have designs inspired by honeycomb, Daleks, rainbows, ferns, Tetris, waves, stars, vinyl records, and origami…

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I’m going to have to make one of these – it’s a Paper Boat hat!

What got you started designing?
I have a (sometimes inconvenient) need to optimise everything, which in crafting manifests as making lots of modifications to patterns – some of which work out and some don’t! Designing is sometimes an extension of that for me. Other times, a design springs from a cool idea that I really want to work through.

What aspects of designing do you most love, and what do you find most challenging?
My favourite part of designing, hands down, is coming up with the stitch patterns and/or colourwork charts, and swatching them and refining them. The most challenging has got to be knitting the actual samples, especially when they’re large items like scarves. I have a fingering-weight scarf on the needles at the moment that’s dragging on a bit!

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Insulate! Everybody needs matching dalek mittens and hat!

What’s your design process? Where do you start?
I tend to get inspired by an idea for a stitch pattern, or some special yarn that I want to really make the most of. I start by charting the stitch pattern ideas and playing around with them.

Pattern you’ve most loved designing, or project you’ve most loved making?
One of my earlier patterns is ‘Queen of the Night’, a beaded laceweight stole. I traced star charts onto a knitting chart, and beaded all the constellations in and around the zodiac. I’ve loved astronomy since I was little, so this was a fun, nerdy exercise for me. I’d like to make Audry Nicklin’s ‘Southern Skies’ too (once I find the right yarn for it), so I can have a bead-less constellation shawl for less formal occasions…

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Queen of the Night, where knitting meets astronomy.

If someone was to knit just one of your patterns, which would you recommend?
I think my ‘Bushwalk Beanie’ hat is lovely with its fern-frond-lace pattern, but it hasn’t been knit very often! If you’re tempted to try merino-possum yarn, you’ll only need one ball to make this hat. I love possum-blend yarn.

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Fern-inspired Bushwalk Beanie.

Have you planned what will you be knitting for the GAL?
I’ve started swatching for a ‘Park Slope’ tee by Laura Aylor, which will be my main GAL project. If I have time, there are a couple of gifts I’d like to make as well.

Thanks very much Amy !

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The playful
Dyer’s Delight

The hardest part about this interview has been choosing pictures – I want to include them all!!

—-

November 18, 2014 at 5:35 pm 3 comments

New release: The Light Cycle Collection

Light cycle

I’m very excited to have released the last pattern in my second collection this week. The Light Cycle is inspired by the different qualities of light at different times of day, and all four shawls are designed particularly with gradient yarn in mind, so they are highly customisable to make best use of your yarn.

Each shawl will incorporate two patterns which explore the intriguing paradox of light as both a wave and a particle. In each design, the two parts can be extended to any size, allowing you to make use of the whole skein.

I’ve always been fascinated by the concept of paradox. Perhaps it’s because it calls to mind my own internal inconsistencies of thought, or perhaps because it is an example of the unknowable within everyday life.

Clair de Lune (Moonlight)

Clair de lune shawl

Super quick and easy knit, very relaxing, and let’s the yarn do all the work. Would be beautifully ethereal and cobwebby in lace weight but I opted for sock to show that this works too. Not formally beaded, but I scattered some little beads randomly in the mesh section for a little starry twinkle here and there.

Soleil d’Or (Golden sun)

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Much simpler than it looks, this shawl knits up surprisingly quickly, and is adaptable to a range of yarn weights. Switch between the two main patterns when you like.

Nightfall

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Nightfall creates a dynamic effect with a more bold pattern set with twinkling stars. The edging is simplicity itself, just the one row repeated as many times as you like until bind off.

Daybreak

Daybreak

The last in the set, daybreak is a soft, romantic knit, with a gently flared edging. Shimmering and lacey, but deceptively simple.

All Nimble Knits patterns are currently $1 off until the end of the month to raise awareness of the Ebola crisis. For each pattern sold, $1 will be donated to the Red Cross, to help with their efforts. More info here Donations also being collected, for those who don’t need a pattern, but still want to help the cause.

October 18, 2014 at 8:45 pm 1 comment

Atlantis adventure test knit

An Atlantean adventure shawl

What does knitting have in common with Atlantis? Not very much.

However, the boys are fascinated – as most small boys are – with volcanoes. We watched a documentary recently about the dig at Thera near Santorini, in Greece, where an eruption four times larger than the infamous Krakatoa, so large it blotted out the sun on the other side of the globe for days, ejected 60 km3 into the air, triggered the downfall of an entire civilisation, and may perhaps have been the basis of the story Plato wrote, which inspired the myth of Atlantis that is still intriguing us almost two and a half thousand years later.

Atlantis or not, archeologists in the town of Akrotiri on the island of Thera have discovered a fascinating and remarkably advanced civilisation. This was the pinnacle of the Minoan civilisation, and this event was probably it’s downfall, as Akrotiri was the main trading point between … But I’m getting carried away by history, when all I meant to say was that this pattern was inspired by the idea of the complex and intriguing people who lived on this island, painted their walls with gloriously colourful and intricate frescoes, had mysterious religious rituals. And by all the individuals who went about their day to day lives in a time so long ago as to have passed beyond verbal memory, yet has been captured like a magic time capsule by volcanic ash, a snapshot of a time we would otherwise know nothing about.

 

Thera lilies

This flower was thought to be a central part of their religious practices. Such beautiful, elegant forms. Art Nouveau wasn’t so nouveau after all, it seems.

 

Theran fresco

These flowers seem to have been very important to their culture – Isn’t this beautiful? This room doesn’t appear to have windows either, so this probably would have been lit by the fireplace and oil lights. Magical!

 

Funky blue monkey fresco

This blue monkey mural is pretty funky even by modern standards. I love the abstract shapes in the background too.

 

Dolphins of Atlantis, well, maybe.

Dolphins have long been treasured by the Greeks. The sea urchins are a nice touch, softening otherwise straight lines.

 

Akrotiri - Atlantis?

A glimpse of a sea faring nation perched on a steep and rocky mountainside. Note the lion chasing the deer on the ridge top in the top left corner!

I wonder what everyday life was like for your average Akrotirian?

Atlantis lace shawl

Well, after that unsolicited little history lesson, now for the reason for this post. The title tells of a test knit after all..

So here is my little tribute to Atlantis. In a shawl. Don’t ask me why.  Everything is in a shawl at the moment.

The small lace pattern is for those beautiful lilies, and the larger lace seemed suitably garlandy, or possibly wave-ish.

Where is the adventure?

Well you can have your lilies floating or underwater, in a manner of speaking.

You can use the lily lace before or after the garland lace, and you can switch between the two as often as you like until the yarn runs out. This creates the potential for many unique shawls, as the pattern created is slightly different going from large to small than it is going the other way around!

And then there is another variable too, as you can work a plain section first, and then start either large or small lace . (I had to do lots of maths, but I wrote it all down, so you don’t have to do any, I promise!)

Patterns should be ready to go out by Saturday. Anyone interested in testing is very welcome to drop by Nimble Knits and put their hand up. 🙂

Atlantis lace shawl

 

Now I can set to work on the next collection. This one is all about light and the paradox of waves and particles. Fun stuff.

 

Happy knitting!

September 6, 2014 at 12:57 pm Leave a comment

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