Posted in knitting, knitting pattern, poncho, sweater pattern

Willow, Bold, and the next thing

This weekend, our weather app predicts 100% chance of rain.  Usually they’re not so certain and like to hedge their bets a bit, but rain must be a pretty sure thing around these parts today and tomorrow.  (And, actually, it’s pretty much been raining non-stop since I started the first draft of this post earlier this morning).

This changes my plans somewhat, but it’s always a pretty safe bet that my weekend forecast includes chance of knitting: 100%.


You may have seen that I recently published Willow.

The name Willow evokes all things graceful: willows are strong and elegant, and, well, willowy.  I find myself wearing my Willow often.  It’s great to throw on when I get home from work in the evenings; I often get chilled, but if I can get my shoulders warm, the rest of me is warm, and Willow does that for me.

Willow is worked flat using bulky/chunky weight yarn, then seamed together with two quick seams.  There’s even a tutorial for the seaming, here: Cabled Poncho Seam. This would be a great pattern for someone just starting out with cables.

Beth made this beautiful purple Willow.

I love what she says about her Willow:

I finished my Cabled Poncho test knit for @knitequalsjoy and I LOVE it! I thought I wasn’t a poncho person…turns out I just hadn’t found the right one. I knit mine in @blueskyfibers Extra, (alpaca and merino blend) which has beautiful drape and will keep me warm! And of course, it’s purple.

Such beautiful knitting!  Thank you, Beth!


Currently in testing is Bold…with undertones of chocolate.  Now, whether you interpret that as referring to coffee or to beer is up to you!

Bold is an oversized sweater knit top down, seamless, and stockinette-side-out. It took a bit of engineering to get the sweater to be reversible and to include a giant cable, so I was thrilled when I was able to make it work.  If the ends are worked in carefully, the sweater truly is reversible, and can be worn with either the stockinette or the reverse stockinette side out, depending on your whim.

The pattern will be available for 5 sizes ranging from 32-50 in. (bust measurement).  If in between sizes, one can choose from the actual finished sizes for the best fit. It’s worked on size 8 and 9 needles, so it’s a pretty quick knit.

I’ve worn my Bold to work a couple of times and have felt like a million bucks in it each time.

The pattern should be released sometime in the summer or early fall.


Finally, I’m working on a new sweater design.  I recently found this yarn by Yama Fibre Arts and was smitten by its colors and textures. This is the YAMA Merino Linen Singles in Grey Sage and Nomad B3.

I’m using the two colors together.  It’s a subtle contrast, and I love it, but I can see this sweater in so many different color combinations.

 

A few designs seem to write themselves (like last year’s Autumn Spice Pumpkin ) – and this one seems to be doing that as well. I think the color, fiber content, and spin of the yarn must suggest what will work for the yarn.  It doesn’t always happen; sometimes the yarn puts up a stubborn and dogged fight against my ideas for it, but that’s another story…

This is worked in fingering weight and small(ish) needles, so it will be in the works for awhile before it’s ready for testing.  I’ll probably be posting lots of progress pictures on Instagram, so you can catch those in either the Instagram feed or the Knit Equals Joy Facebook page.


I hope that you all have a wonderful weekend and that the chance of rain wherever you are isn’t 100%!  Maybe your chance of knitting is.

xoxo

Carol

Posted in colorwork, design, The Creative Process, The Design Process

The Creative Project from H-E-Double Toothpicks

Over a year ago, I was struck – “hit up ‘side the head” one might say – with the inspiration and desire to design a colorwork sweater. Nevermind that I had never designed a sweater. I was confident about the colorwork; not as confident about the construction of the sweater – but I had my reference books, so I was ready to go.

I started by building a secret Pinterest board – a mood board, so to speak. It is now a public board, if you want to check it out, here: Tee Inspiration. Using it as a springboard, I began choosing colors for the tee, charted out a flower, and began swatching.

Sand, Espresso, Pickle, Black, Lagoon, Melon, Earth, Carrot, Moss, Bronze, Rose, Mist
Sand, Espresso, Pickle, Black, Lagoon, Melon, Earth, Carrot, Moss, Bronze, Rose, Mist

I know that many of you have followed me through the process of working on this design.  I’ve written about it often over the past year:  What I Learned from the SwatchWhat’s in the Hopper2016 – Possibilities…and we have color!Winter RamblingsSweater Surgery, or How I Cut Into my Sweater and Lived to Tell About ItJust a Little SketchYes, I am still working on the Colorwork Tee!, and Colorwork Tee Update.


This blog examines the design process. When I am designing, I’m not only designing and coming up with something that is (hopefully) pretty, but I am also thinking about how my mind is processing information in order to come up with that design. Basically, I’m thinking about how I think while I’m thinking. I believe this caused me some anxiety when the design wasn’t coming together like I thought it should. I was experiencing roadblocks, and I didn’t know why. I do know enough from experience to know that when this happens, I should stop whatever I am doing and let my thoughts go work on some other problem for awhile.

However, at this point, probably 9 months after the initial inspiration, I had too much invested in the design. I felt driven to finish it. Even if it didn’t come out exactly as I had hoped, I just wanted it DONE.

So, I finished it. I finished the knitting, I finished the writing, and sent the pattern for tech editing. Whew, such a relief!

I think it’s telling that what I love most about the pattern are the photos. That photo shoot was great fun and practically all of the pictures turned out well. I also loved being able to use the Kitchener Stitch with this sweater and working with the fabulous yarn.

In grasses, shading eyes (683x1024)
Love this photo from the photo shoot

Still, I don’t feel confident in this pattern. I don’t think it is ready to go out into the world yet. A friend is testing it, and I worry that it’s not going to fit correctly. I know that sometimes those worries are completely unfounded; yet, there it is.

What this tells me is that the pattern needs to go into time-out for awhile. Perhaps I won’t ever publish it. Perhaps more time needs to go by and I need to work on other projects. Then suddenly one day, something will click, and I will know what this pattern needs. In the meantime, I may make my sweater into a dress (with a feather and fan skirt) and add long sleeves in teal. –Perhaps that’s what the pattern needs. Maybe I stopped too soon by making it a tee instead of a dress.

I’ll conclude by saying that now that I have finished writing the pattern, I feel incredible lightness. My brain cells are freed to think in other directions and about other designs. I had felt as if the life had been sucked out of me – and now it is back.

…more to think about in the design process…when something takes over like that and becomes nearly an obsession, perhaps that is the time to drop it and turn in another direction. Or perhaps one must pursue it to its conclusion to learn whatever lessons there are to be learned.


Note: This post was written a couple of months ago, in July. The pattern is still in time-out. Other patterns have been written. Is it time to move on? We’ll see…I’m still considering other methods of construction and other variations for the colorwork sections – kicking those ideas around to see if they will coalesce into something new.

Thanks for taking the time to stop by and to read about my experience with the project from H-E-Double Toothpicks!

Posted in art, design, knitting, knitting patterns, The Creative Process, The Design Process, Wordless Wednesday

Wordless Wednesday: Sketches

Sketches.  Used to capture and make more concrete the wispy impressions of design ideas.  Or used to convey them to others in a third-party submission.  Some of these morphed into something else, perhaps recognizable to you.  Others, well, they were just thoughts.  A look into a sketchbook.Colorwork Cowl Sketch (2)

 

A sweater sketch

 

Route 66 Mitts (3)

Route 66 Mitts Blue (3)

 

Hat prototype

Timberline Scarf - p

Posted in design, inspiration, Oregon, photography, Salishan, The Coast, The Creative Process, The Design Process, Wordless Wednesday

Beach. Texture. Love.

If you have followed my blog for long – or read my “about me” page – you know that I LOVE the beach. Part of what draws me to the beach is the endless variety of texture to be found there.  Especially here on the rugged Oregon Coast, the objects to be found on the beach are richly varied, always interesting.  I’m always looking for something unusual, something new, something lovely or striking.

barnacles

Texture strikes me.  It draws my attention.  It is beautiful in its order and in its variety. Visually, as light moves over the surface of an object or vista and the eye detects changes in line and shape, this is texture.  As light plays over differences in density within an object, and we see these differences, we see texture.  And when the eye travels over a surface and, along the way, discovers changes in the nature of that surface, we recognize this as texture.

Ebb pattern by Susan B. Anderson

The pictures in this post were originally published in a Wordless Wednesday in August 2015. There were reasons for choosing these specific photos, so I wanted to revisit them  – and to think about the nature of texture.

During a ridiculously long walk along this section of the beach in Newport, which I paid for later with complaining, swollen ankles and aching muscles (note to self: no more beach hikes wearing flip flops!) I was the winner in finding amazing textures, such as those in the barnacles and driftwood above.

And what about these wind shadows?  I found them enchanting – sand protected from the wind by small items on the sand blocking the movement of air.  This interesting textural phenomenon was all around that day.sand shadows

Fascinating: an object masquerading as something quite different in nature from its own nature.  shell as leaf

And finally, when I was heading back on that Newport hike, I came upon this impromptu sand and driftwood sculpture.  Well worth the price of admission!

Squirrels

I finally explored the Salishan Spit in August 2014, after having been curious about it for years.  It can be seen across the Siletz Bay from the highway, but I had never been there – I couldn’t even figure out how to get there! Finally I did my research, took the eight mile hike, and was mesmerized the entire time. There was something new to discover every bit of the way, from the dark sand (called “tar sand” by some locals) to a desolate “tree graveyard” filled with sunbleached, craggy remnants of an ancient forest.

DSCN5820

Lovely, delicious, intriguing, ubiquitous texture:
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DSCN5795

When I returned to Gleneden Beach the following February to photograph the Salishan Cowl for the completed pattern, I was reminded again why this place had inspired this design.  The organic, curved shapes were everywhere, from the clouds in the sky to the patterns in the sand.

Salishan Cowl

DSCN5050

As my eye finds textured nuances like these, they are filed away in my brain under “inspiration.”  And some day, hopefully, bits and pieces of them will reconnect and reemerge – as a new and pleasing design.

Posted in The Design Process

An Online Advent Calendar – Creative, Uplifting

Holly and Snow (2)
unsplash.com, used by permission.

I’m getting into the holiday spirit – and being helped by a lovely, fun and unique advent calendar, the 2015 Jacquie Lawson Advent Calendar.  A dear friend gifted it to me, and I’m loving it!  It is a downloadable app for PC or iPad, and each day there is something new to unlock.  The theme is Victoriana; the scene, a Victorian village. A Christmas playlist, designing your own snowflakes, decorating Christmas trees, and a game in which you break ornaments are a few of the features I have found so far.  I love the design element of this application – the artistic and creative ways that someone applied her gifts to create something new.  This is designed by a team, actually, but that makes it no less creative, to my view.

I hope you will go check out the demo video.  This is a great Christmas gift idea – very reasonably priced, unique, and uplifting!

Posted in design, In The Wind Yarns, inspiration, knitting, knitting patterns, Oregon, pattern, Salishan, The Creative Process, The Design Process, Uncategorized

Salishan Cowl: A Look into the Design Process

The Salishan Cowl is another pattern which lends itself to a look into the design process. In this case, it was a matter of being immersed in a place as well as spending time pondering the building blocks of knit design, the stitches.

The place:

Salishan sign bestI’ve lived in Oregon for 25 years now, and have known of the Salishan Spa & Golf Resort since shortly after we moved here.  I’ve driven by it numerous times, but it wasn’t until last August that I finally stayed there.

When I arrived, I wasn’t sure what to expect.  I found that the grounds were quiet and peaceful.  The room was spacious; there was a choice of restaurants and the food was delicious.  The atmosphere was that of a mountain lodge even though the ocean was within walking distance.

This was to be one of my retreats at the beach, where I spend time knitting, resting, designing.  I spent the first few days knitting, taking walks and puttering around.  I threw a bunch of yarn (collected over the years) on a table, hoping that color combinations would jump out at me and inspire some designs:

yarn

The yarn led me down dead end paths.  Perhaps they were dead end at the time and may yet lead to new designs.  Time will tell.

As it turned out, though, the inspiration came from the place itself.

The resort is situated so that the lodge, restaurants and accommodations are on the east side of Highway 101.  It’s about 1/4 mile walk from the rooms to the highway, which you cross to the golf course, spa and shops.

shops sign

There’s even a lovely yarn shop in The Shops, In The Wind Yarns.  It was new to me then, but now it’s a must-stop place whenever I go to the Coast.   I love to visit and see all the new things they are working on and what new yarns they’re bringing in.  There’s always something fun going on!

ITW Storefront II

But I digress!  At last I was going to explore the Salishan Spit, which I had always been curious about. Viewing across the Siletz Bay from Highway 101, there is a thin slice of land with houses on it.   How does one get there?  During my stay, I learned that The Spit is accessible by car only to residents of the gated community or to guests of the resort.  Otherwise, it may be accessed by foot on a trail which begins next to the shops and golf course.

Map of Salishan Spit, Lincoln Beach, OR 97388

It’s a long hike to traverse the length of the spit.  As I approached the end of the spit, I turned a corner and was shocked to discover that we had black (or dark gray) sand on an Oregon beach! It was one of those amazing moments when you find something completely unexpected.  I had absolutely no idea we had a dark sand beach in Oregon.

You can see the dark sand over the light here:

DSCN5050

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And these organic shapes and lines:

kelp

DSCN5053

tree skeleton

It was all hauntingly beautiful.

The building blocks:

Also during my stay at Salishan, I spent time poring over my stitch dictionaries.  One stitch in particular, the Japanese Feather, struck me as very beautiful and elegant.  An added bonus:  as far as lace stitches go, it’s pretty straightforward and easy.  And it’s apparent to me that my subconscious zeroed in on that stitch pattern as a representation of all the lovely lines and shapes I had seen during my wanderings – even including that “S” in the Salishan signs.

The process and the pattern:

During the next six months, the impressions from Salishan and the thoughts of that stitch remained with me.  Sometime in December of 2014 or early January 2015, I found the perfect edging for the cowl: the Herringbone Stitch.  It would create a pleasing contrast of a highly structured edging with the organic shape of the Japanese Feather.  Additionally, it was a stitch that wasn’t being used by a large number of designers, so it would create a unique look.  And finally, it’s a fun stitch to work, albeit time consuming.

The pattern also includes the option of working a Seed Stitch border.  It is easier and quicker than the Herringbone Stitch border, and it still creates an elegant look.

Worked in Malabrigo Silky Merino, this cowl just floats!  It also is lovely in Rowan Felted Tweed.

Salishan in itw window
This luminous Salishan Cowl in the window at In The Wind Yarns was made by Janet

This design is really one of my favorites. Not only do I feel like a million bucks whenever I wear this cowl, but I have the treasured memory of finding this beautiful and unexpected, somewhat hard-to-reach beach, which I hope to visit many, many more times in the future.

 

Posted in inspiration, knitting, photography, The Creative Process, The Design Process, Wordless Wednesday

Wordless Wednesday: Why It Belongs in a Knitting Blog

When I first started the Wordless Wednesday feature, my main goal was to have a weekly feature and to be able to share my love of photography.  However, as time has passed, I see that the photos and themes I choose definitely tie in with my knitting and designing, more significantly with the latter.

The first installment, Wordless Wednesday – Well, Nearly…, was mainly an introduction to the feature and, perhaps, to me.

WoodmanseeDSCN6797DSCN6798

Three of the Wordless Wednesday stories deal with a huge inspiration for me: color.  Color for me is visceral; beautiful color, whether a single hue or several in combination, elevates.  Wordless Wednesday: MonochromeWordless Wednesday: Multi (1) (because I fully expect there to be further “Multi” stories), and Wordless Wednesday: Green.  These beautiful colors inspire my knitting and my design ethic.

Salmon River, Oregon
This golden color may very well be my favorite…
…as evidenced by my use of it in many projects and designs.

Wordless Wednesday: Texture (Beach)Wordless Wednesday: Water, and even Wordless Wednesday: World’s Smallest Harbor explore texture and light, which always, always inform my designs.

I discovered this beach, Gleneden Beach, which is on the Salishan Spit, the year before the Salishan Cowl pattern was written.  I was so shocked and delighted to discover that we had a black sand (or dark sand, at any rate) beach in Oregon.  How could I have lived here for over twenty years and not have known we had such a beach?!?  The wind- and surf-made texture in the sand was a direct inspiration for this cowl.

Salishan Cowl
Salishan Cowl

Wordless Wednesday: Faves and Wordless Wednesday: Colorwork are about beautiful things that are inspiring to me.  I love how these two disparate photos contain nearly the same colors:

Garden Abundance

The Colours of My Life
The Colours of My Life

Wordless Wednesday: What They’re Looking At ponders point of view.  The subjects of these photos are intently looking at something, thinking about it and taking it in. The practice of taking the time to examine something in depth often leads to  design inspiration, at least for me.

cliff and eric on hike

This week’s post will be Wordless Wednesday: Stonework.  Recently we visited the grounds of the Historic Columbia Gorge Hotel and Silver Falls State Park, both of which feature some beautiful stonework.  I was taken with the beautiful warm colors within the stonework and the play of light on the surface of the stones.  One of my favorite photos is of a stonework drinking fountain (!).  I love that a basic, everyday object was made into a beautiful work of art…and that’s what I attempt to do with my knitwear designs.

Wordless Wednesdays serve to share stories with you about what I’m seeing and thinking about, and they serve to keep me rooted in the images – the colors, textures, emotions and impressions – that inspire me.

Thanks for checking in and taking the time to visit!!

Posted in craft, design, knitting, The Creative Process, The Design Process

Collaboration, Inspiration

I’m very fortunate that another designer lives in the same small town where I live.  Actually, we counted four, but that’s a story for another day….  I’m even more fortunate that this designer is my friend and that we love to get together.  We have such a good time chatting about anything and everything, particularly about designing, creating, knitting and yarn.  This friend is Marie Greene, of Olive Knits.

with Marie
Marie, me

Some time back, we started thinking about how we could collaborate on a project.  Could we write a pattern e-book based around a theme?  We set up Google pages and a secret Pinterest page.  It’s one possibility.  Limiting factor: time.

A couple of weeks ago, Marie had a flash of inspiration.  What if we each brought three items and put them together in a collection of six?  Then we each would look at the collection and see what it inspired in us.  I loved her idea!  We would have our own Designer’s Challenge!

It was really fun choosing my three items.  I considered a sea shell, but since we both had already discussed how much we love the beach and the ocean, I decided that would be too easy.  I saw a giant, lovely artichoke at the grocery store, and I loved it, but there were too many days yet to go, and I worried that it wouldn’t keep well.  In our home, we have a fabulous print I found a few years ago at the Salem Art Fair of glass bricks in a sidewalk.  I love the colors and the texture.  Too big.

First I settled on an Art Deco (or Art Nouveau?) vase which was my mother’s, and either her mother’s or my aunt’s before her.  I believe it is from the 1920’s.

My second item was a hand thrown ceramic bowl I found at the Empty Bowls sale.  Local potters create thousands of bowls (last year, 1,400) which are then sold, and all of the proceeds benefit our local food bank.  It’s a wonderful national grassroots movement.  I just love the bowls I’ve purchased over the years!

And finally, even though the huge artichokes were not to be found when it was time, I found a smaller yet perfectly acceptable artichoke for my third item.  Such decorative color and line!

artichoke and bowl

Marie’s items were a plate from the 50’s in a fabulous orange with a fun and interesting white decorative shape, a jar of flowers, which become even more intriguing as we looked carefully at the colors and textures, and a crisp white flour sack towel – local, with orange and blue printing.

I’m so intrigued to find out where our experiment will take us.  What elements will carry through to each of our designs?  What commonalities will our designs have?   I am confident that we’ll each come up with a unique design, and I also know that no matter the result, we are having a blast!

Check out Marie’s blog for her impressions about our collaboration!

Even the vase may provide inspiration!

vase

Posted in art, colorwork, craft, design, knitting, The Creative Process, The Design Process, yarn

What I Learned from the Swatch

A Design Idea and the Right Yarn

I’ve been dreaming of designing a top-down colorwork short-sleeved sweater, filling my Pinterest boards with images and colors that inspire me.  In the spring, I found all the colors I was looking for in a certain yarn line, only to discover that the yarn was spun too tightly for colorwork and that I didn’t like how it looked or felt for this design.

Finally I was introduced to the perfect yarn, Sunday Knits yarn by Carol Sunday.   I’m using her 3-ply yarn, with colors from three different fiber blends, Eden (100% Merino), Angelic (75% Merino, 25% Angora) and Nirvana (92% Merino, 8% Cashmere).  The yarn has a lovely hand, is available in over 60 colors, and is reasonably priced.  All of the fiber blends work well together.

Sand, Espresso, Pickle, Black, Lagoon, Melon, Earth, Carrot, Moss, Bronze, Rose, Mist
Sand, Espresso, Pickle, Black, Lagoon, Melon, Earth, Carrot, Moss, Bronze, Rose, Mist

A Swatch and What it Taught Me

I wanted to work a swatch to find out how the yarn behaves and to see how the colors would look together.

The first thing that I learned is that Sunday Knits yarn is my new favorite for colorwork!  Look how nicely the fabric lies, even before the fabric was soaked and blocked.

swatchie

Next I learned that if I initially don’t like a color, such as the Rose colorway in the swatch above, knitting lots of it will never make me miraculously like it.  Why did I think that knitting more of that pale pinky-red would make me like it more?  (Just to clarify, there’s nothing wrong with the color, I just wasn’t happy with the way it looked with the other colors.)

Conversely, if I do like a color, such as Bronze, which is the cast-on and is immediately below the blue in the swatch above, even in little bits it makes me happy!

I also was reminded that I really don’t like white in a piece like this with lots of different colors – the contrast is too jarring.  I will be using Sand as the light background color in this pattern.

And finally, basic algebra is still useful!

algebra

I can’t wait to work more on this sweater!  I will keep you posted!

Two Special Surprises This Week

My friend Meg sent me custom-made knit equals joy ribbon.  How special was that?!?  I have some fantastic friends!

knit=joy

A friend at work had two extra yarn bowls (!) and she gave one to me!  It’s so pretty!

yarn bowl

I’m so thankful for the kindness of others!  I wish you all a wonderful week, and may you find or share those special moments of kindness!