mishi2x Designs

MISHI2X DESIGNS

HAND KNITWEAR DESIGNS

BY MICHELE WANG

YouTube!!!

It's finally happened. I have been toying with the idea of starting a YouTube Channel for quite some time, and trying to figure out the how and where and what and when... and why. The "why" was the most important question I wanted to answer before diving into this endeavor.

When I closed Gauge + Tension, I started to feel a void. I loved sitting there on a quiet Saturday and have someone roam in, curious to see what my tiny shop was all about, and getting into a wonderful conversation about the yarns I carried and why I carried them. The most satisfying interaction would be one that was cut short. I would start to give my 5-cent tour of the yarns, and the knitter's eyes would grow large, they would stop listening to me, and with arms outreached, head straight over to a yarn behind me. "Wow!! This color is amazing!!" they would exclaim, and I would happily sit back and let the yarn speak for itself.

I miss that. So, finally I found my "why". So tune-in! The first episode is a simple haul video (one of my personal faves to watch). But subscribe to the channel if you'd like to be notified of new videos! And please comment, like or dislike, and we can grow this channel together! Join my YouTube fam!!

The Return of knit.wear

Not only have I been enjoying the welcoming back of longer days and warmer nights, but I've been waiting, rather impatiently, to welcome back knit.wear. Last year, knit.wear was changed over to knit.purl with an obvious shift in look and feel from something modern and sophisticated to something lighter and younger. I, for one, was confused by the change. knit.wear filled a void, while knit.purl seemed to cannibalize Knitscene.

When I heard that knit.wear would be making a return, I was ecstatic! I was even more ecstatic when they asked me to write an article about being a designer. I accepted, excited to share my thoughts, and then immediately froze not knowing how to put something that swirls around in my head into words and onto paper.

 Some of my everyday tools

Some of my everyday tools

It's not easy to use words to describe something abstract. It's even harder to talk about something so personal and intimate as well as abstract. So, much like creating a design, I sat down and really tried to decipher and compartmentalize my thoughts.

 A Collection Board

A Collection Board

Describing the 1-2-3 process of bringing a design to life is easy. Describing everything before that is not so easy. Well, I hope you enjoy the article... and the return of knit.wear!

 Always swatching.

Always swatching.

Purchase the digital issue here.

Pre-order a hard copy here.

And, I believe the issue is in stores already.

An Early Spring

The weather has quickly turned to Spring outside. It felt good to crack open the windows and let in some warm air. While Winter will always be my favorite season, I cannot deny the intoxicating effects of Springtime.

Although I could not have predicted this weather when the Brooklyn Tweed Design Team got together and planned out the Gansey collection, VANORA seems to strike the right note for Spring. In Brooklyn Tweed's light LOFT and in the color Fossil, it's definitely going to be my go-to when I take a walk along the river.

 PHOTO © Brooklyn Tweed / Jared Flood

PHOTO © Brooklyn Tweed / Jared Flood

Using the Gansey as inspiration, I combined two elements that traditionally adorns the Gansey: a rope cable and a geometric knit/purl combo. When I played around with placement and took a look at my swatch, it looked feminine to me.

 © mishi2x Designs LLC

© mishi2x Designs LLC

Maybe it was the soft Fossil color, or because I tried it in the fingering weight Loft, but as the ideas started to brew, I could really only envision something soft and feminine - quite the departure from the traditional Gansey originally worn by sea faring fishermen.

 © mishi2x Designs LLC

© mishi2x Designs LLC

I'm so happy with how VANORA turned out. When designing a hand knit garment, a lot of faith is involved. Sometimes, the finished piece is exactly what you had hoped for. Sometimes, it's a little different and better. And, sometimes... not better. Thankfully, I was pleasantly surprised with this finished garment.

Designing, designing, designing

It has been an incredibly hectic past year with no end in sight... thankfully. I'm grateful for the work, and happy I've been able to get through it all without missing a deadline or worse, completely screwing something up. Oh except for that sample that the post office lost. It was finally delivered almost 3 weeks later, but I missed a release window and I decided it was best to backburner it until Fall 16. ANYWAY...

So much of what I do, I can't share. Yarn companies and publications like to keep things under wraps until they're ready to announce it. I understand, completely. But it leaves me very little to talk about regarding my day-in and day-out activity. But know I'm working on lots of goodies for you!

Since I can't write too much about what I'm doing, it's been a very very fun distraction posting pics of pretty makeup and fun things I've been getting my hands on. Things have changed a lot since I last went makeup shopping. Most importantly, the quality! Almost nothing has bothered my skin which is sensitive, finicky and eczema-prone.

But, I have two product fails to report. (Of course, fails to me could be completely successes for you.) First, Kate Somerville's Exfolikate Intensive Exfoliating Treatment.

Aside from it not really doing anything and smelling pretty bad, it gave me a very minor rash that disappeared within 24 hours. Not sure which of the ingredients irritated me, but after reading Paula's Choice Beautypedia write-up, it could be any number of things.

Next is Buxom's Full-On Lip Polish. It's supposed to make your lips more... buxom?

I am so so sad about this product. I loved the color and texture when I put it on. A pretty my-lips-but-better color with just a teensy bit of a sheen and not that sticky! But slowly a tingly sensation started to set in. Unfortunately, the tingly was more of a burn on my sensitive lips. I'd say if you're eczema-prone and/or if you have sensitive skin, stay away. I had to wash it off as the feeling didn't fade. If you like the menthol-y feeling, you may really like this! But, not for me.

Anyway, more positive reviews to come!! And follow me on Snapchat, if you're not already. I'm at: mishisnaps. This old lady is trying to get used to this new platform, so hopefully My Story will be more interesting as time rolls on. xoxo

Lip Care

I have quite the history with makeup and my lips. In high school, I developed a severe case of eczema on my upper lip. Nowhere else. And it was unsightly, to say the least. Since then I've had a tumultuous relationship with makeup and skincare. Some made it worse, some made it better. A lot of times, the "made it worse" scenarios turned me off from putting anything on my face for years. Recently I've made peace with it and have taken much better care of my skin, paying closer attention to signs of an impending eczema flare up and reacting quickly.

For the past few months, it's been the big push for Fall 16 designs. I've been holed up at home, swatching and mainly spending my time in front of the computer. When I'm stressed or deep in thought, I bite and gnaw at my lips nervously. And last month, I realized the occasional moisture my lips get from leftover face cream was not enough. My lips were starting to crack and peel.

So, I went on the big hunt for lip balms. A lot of the drugstore brands did nothing but coat my lips in an annoying wax layer, while some started to bring out my eczema. One ingredient that brings out my eczema is sunscreen, so any products with SPF is automatically off the table. So many companies add SPF to everything they can, and when it comes to lip products, my skin can't tolerate it. (I'm also uncomfortable with inadvertently eating sunscreen all day.) 

Anyway, here's what I ended up with as my favorites:

The Chanel Hydra Beauty Nourishing Lip Balm is amazing. I started slathering that on before I went to bed and woke up with lips that were buttery soft. It has the slightest fragrance that is very pretty and not irritating. I also enjoy the larger diameter jar that it comes in. I always find with these pot-style balms that eventually my nails dig in once it gets low. While the balm is mainly colorless, there's some Chanel Magic in there that gives your lips a "your lips but better" look.

The Glossier balm dotcom is also one of my favorites. It has a silky texture, not sticky and I find it absorbs quickly. It's a universal salve, for dry skin, cuticles, etc., so I like carrying this one around in my bag. If I don't feel like reapplying my lipstick, I smear some of this on and it remoisturizes and evens out whatever lip color I have left. And since it's in a tube, any lip color I get on my fingertip doesn't end up in the rest of the balm.

And the Herbivore Coco Rose Lip Conditioner is a lovely rose-scented balm. It is a little hard in the pot, but once you warm it up with your finger it's lovely and light. It's one of those products that just makes you feel pretty.

For those low-maintenance days, I'm really digging the The Korres Jasmine Lip Butter and Dinoplatz Lip Balm.  The Jasmine Lip Butter has a teensy whiff of cocoa and the Dinoplatz in "Spilled Wine" has the freshest berry scent. Both colors are subtle, but just enough to add a little something. The Korres evens out my lip color and the Dinoplatz adds a nice hint of red wine stain.

Winterize Hands

I'm sure I'm not the only one, but as soon as the temperatures dropped, my cuticles started splitting and my skin started cracking. The effects of working with my hands, and a youth of not wearing gloves started to show. As I get older, I'm realizing that not only am I not producing any natural moisture, but I'm also having a harder time retaining any moisture. The time had come for me to get serious and to graduate from using body lotion to moisture my hands (or leftover face cream), and to invest in some honest to goodness hand cream.

If you follow me on Instagram, you probably have noticed that I've recently dove back into the world of makeup and beauty, and am having way too much fun playing around with new and new-to-me products. After trying a multitude of different hand creams, here are my favorites:

The Jo Malone Vitamin E Hand Treatment is my absolute favorite. As someone who is always using their hands, the greasiness of the typical hand cream made me cringe. I would usually apply and then promptly wash off. But this cream is very lightly scented, rich enough to moisturize but light enough to be absorbed quickly and leaves a velvety feel, not greasy.

Aesop's Resurrection Hand Balm is a close second. The formulation is a little thinner, and absorbs very quickly. It moisturizes almost as well as Jo Malone's, but not quite. It is still incredibly lovely and a thousand times better than anything else I tried. The scent is a bit stronger, but is fresh and fades fairly quickly.

And for those especially dry days, my night routine has been to rub Tatcha's Camellia Beauty Oil into my cuticles, and then apply the Jo Malone over it.

The oil has been an absolute dream. I wake up to cuticles that aren't in pain, and hands that are ready for a new day.


Winter has arrived.

Winter really took its sweet time to get here in the northeast. On Christmas Eve, I wore a short-sleeved mini dress with sandals to dinner and on Christmas Day, I was enjoying drinks al fresco. Today, however, I'm bundled up inside as my heat has been going non-stop. 21F is what my Apple Watch is telling me and as I look down at all the people on the sidewalk, I can see their breath as they race towards the subway.

This past weekend was a phenomenal way of ushering in the cold temps. Olga Buraya-Kefelian stayed with me over the weekend. She was in town promoting her Capsule Collection Book at Gauge + Tension. And VKLive was going on! Olga and I were able to pop in Friday night (after a shopping spree at Sephora) and say hello to a few of our favorite people and meet some new friends. The rest of the weekend was spent at Gauge + Tension teaching short-row techniques, eating a lot of bagels, drinking a lot of lattes, and swatching new yarns. We had so much fun and I'm sorry that it's over.

But with all this excitement, I haven't gotten the chance to really sit down and look at the BT Winter 16 Collection. We work on collections almost a year before they're released so when they drop, it's like seeing it for the first time. Even though so much time has passed, I can still remember what inspired me and what brain-space I was in. For me, I find the BT Winter Collections always drop at a time when I really want to knit something for myself. I'm not knitting a Rhinebeck sweater or a holiday present, but rather something I want to hang out with, bond with and hopefully wear for a long time.

Cadence was a nod to my past. Bedford was one of my first designs for Brooklyn Tweed, and I wanted to make a sort of sister sweater to it. And what better way to showcase some of the newest BT colors! With three neckline options and two sleeve length options, you can customize your Cadence to your liking. 

And for me, Tallis is the sweater I would wear day in and day out. It's a little modern, but very wearable. With minimal shaping, and mostly stockinette this makes for the perfect TV-watching or sitting-in-front-of-the-fireplace knit.

And there was a little indecision when it came to Snoqualmie. I originally had rope cables just running up and down the entire piece, with a larger cable motif at the center back. I had definitely done that before and felt like it was time to move on (Rowe, Stonecutter...) so then it was just rope cables all up and down the whole piece. That also felt odd. Too simple? Too blah? So, I finally settled on trying an all-over pattern, crossed my fingers and hoped y'all would like it as much as I did. 

I'm finding it increasingly difficult to design things that are effortless to wear, could hopefully become a wardrobe staple, but not boring to knit and definitely not boring to look at or feel like it's been done a thousand times.

I hope you enjoyed this collection!

ALL PHOTOS © Brooklyn Tweed

 

Looking forward by going back in time

Here we go. I'm reverting back to a paper planner. For the past ten years, I dove headfirst into digital planning. Palm Pilots, Blackberries, iPhones, iPhone Apps and while they're convenient, sync (most of the time) and fast, they don't actually help me organize. They allow me to see what's happening when and where. I can list things, remind myself of things. But they're not actually helping me and my process.

So, I dug through a box I had in storage and found my old planner. I remember making the move to this book style because those thin little pages in a ring binder always ripped out. That used to make me crazy. I would suddenly be missing two days of my future. And since I can't easily add pages to the book, this puts a cap on all the crap I can stuff into it. Perfect for me.

Ah, the promise of a brand new blank planner. Digital's got nothing on this.

2016

To quote one of my favorite villains, The Joker, "Why so serious?" These are words I hope to live by in 2016.

I've been a person of extremes my entire life. When I involve myself in something I quickly become obsessed - knitting being the perfect example. Before designing knitwear full-time, I worked in an unfulfilling career in technology and distracted myself with all things relating to fashion and beauty. It's something hard to ignore in NYC. You're surrounded by endless style, accessibility to every type of fashion and usually get first dibs on all kinds of products. I spent all of my spare time and money acquiring all sorts of goodies... a very popular past time for a 20-something. Before the internet, I would spend almost every evening and all weekend surrounded by fashion magazines, piling up tear sheets with products I wanted to try and accessories I needed to have.

But when I began knitting and entered the world of maker, I started to rethink what fashion meant to me. And in true form, I swung hard in the other direction. I quit my day job and began designing knits full-time. And once I started working for myself and from home, "high" fashion and beauty fell off my radar. It had no place in my new life. I had no need for it superficially, but I also had no need for the distraction. I enjoyed what I was doing for the first-time in my life. 

And here I am, 42 years old and thinking, "Wow. What happened?" I'm still happy with designing, and I love my life, but I feel like I completely abandoned my former self and all the things I loved. I basically threw out the baby with the bath water. And now in this new year, 2016, my goal is not to swing so hard in either direction and to introduce a lightness to my endeavors. Maybe I'm burnt out. Maybe I'm bored. Maybe I'm going through a mid-life crisis. In any case, I hope to find a middle ground for all of my loves: designing, making, fashion, beauty, food and fitness.

 Today's focus: Swatching Sunday Knits' Angelic, Marc Jacobs Primer, Chanel Lip Balm, Nars Blush/Bronzer Duo in Orgasm/Laguna. 

Today's focus: Swatching Sunday Knits' Angelic, Marc Jacobs Primer, Chanel Lip Balm, Nars Blush/Bronzer Duo in Orgasm/Laguna. 

As I reenter the world of beauty, I've been enjoying all those beauty vlogs and blogs everyone has been talking about the past few years. Not only am I learning about all the makeup that's come out on the market since I left like BB creams, highlighting / contouring, and strobing (still unclear), but I'm so impressed by how beautiful these beauty blogs are - no surprise there really. I'm definitely learning a thing or fifty from them.

I hope you'll enjoy the content I'll be posting in 2016 - a reflection of a more well-rounded version of me. 

 

 

Plucky-palooza

Once I got my greedy little hands on The Plucky Knitter yarns, ideas started popping up left and right. While the yarn itself is like candy for the knitter with its bright colors and endless selection of bases, the Plucky community is one that is dynamic, fun and warm. With knit-a-longs, retreats like their Shindig and events like Plucktober, I found myself drawn not only to the yarn but the tight-knit community on their Ravelry group. 

With the Shindig coming up at the beginning of September, and Plucktober taking over October, the Plucky Crew has been working in overdrive getting everything ready and providing updates for those needing yarn beforehand.

To celebrate the upcoming Shindig festivities and Plucktober, I've designed two new patterns. The first is SEAVIEW - a long cardigan knit in CREW. With 25% cotton, Crew is perfect for the warmer months and warmer climates. Named after the part of Fire Island I visit regularly, Seaview is a carefree cardigan with no closures meant to be thrown on in the mornings and evenings to ward off any chill in the air. With pockets integrated into the side seam, it's the perfect hang-around, casual piece.

 SEAVIEW, knit in The Plucky Knitter Crew, color - Lake Placid

SEAVIEW, knit in The Plucky Knitter Crew, color - Lake Placid

Knit at a loose gauge, Seaview is knit in stockinette with the collar band knit in a diagonal pattern of knits and purls.

Other suitable Plucky Knitter bases for Seaview would be SWEATER or TRAVELER DK if you're looking for something warmer. Or if you're looking for a denser fabric, you could substitute with a worsted-weight base.

Next up is BARTLETT, which is a shawl-collared cabled cardigan knit in SNUG WORSTED. If it looks familiar to you, you may know ARLO, one of my BT Kid's designs. By popular request, I sized it up and made it available for adults now.

 BARTLETT, knit in The Plucky Knitter Snug Worsted, color - Prickly Pear

BARTLETT, knit in The Plucky Knitter Snug Worsted, color - Prickly Pear

Other suitable Plucky Knitter bases for Bartlett would be SCHOLAR or any other worsted-weight base. Scholar would be an exceptional substitute for its tweediness and richness in texture.

 BARTLETT (back view), knit in The Plucky Knitter Snug Worsted, color - Prickly Pear

BARTLETT (back view), knit in The Plucky Knitter Snug Worsted, color - Prickly Pear

Have fun knitting, and hope to see you at the Shindig next month!

SHATSU with The Plucky Knitter

The Plucky Knitter and I have been hard at work this summer cooking up some new designs! When they proposed doing a design in their Cashmere, all I could think about was doing a hooded Snuggie-type situation. Who wouldn't want to be bundled up and completely covered and smothered by cashmere?! But, when I realized the timeline, and that this design would be dropping in July, I reeled myself in and sat down with the Cashmere to have a serious talk.

"What do you want to be?"

"A onesie."

"Be serious. No one wants a cashmere onesie in July."

I decided I needed to take full advantage of the softness and drape of this luscious yarn and wanted the beautiful hand-dyed Plucky colors to speak for themselves. So a simple versatile tee was born. SHATSU, is a garter stripe boatneck tee that works perfectly as a layering piece over a tailored shirt, or even a tank top.

 SHATSU in The Plucky Knitter's Cashmere; colorway Steelhorse

SHATSU in The Plucky Knitter's Cashmere; colorway Steelhorse

Knit in only two pieces, front and back, you'll love knitting this on your next road trip, summer vacation or conference call (yup, I said it). Of course, we couldn't stop there. I mentioned to The Plucky Knitter that I thought it would be perfect in their Single base too. And man oh man, is it great! The merino/silk blend has the perfect balance between stability and drape and the silk makes the colors really shine.

 SHATSU in The Plucky Knitter's Single; colorway Dive Bar

SHATSU in The Plucky Knitter's Single; colorway Dive Bar

This design is being sold as an exclusive Plucky Knitter Sweater Kit this Sunday, July 19 at 8pm EDT and again on Monday, July 20 at 9am EDT. (The pattern will be available for individual sale next January.) For more information and details on purchasing the kit, check out The Plucky Knitter's Ravelry group here

VERDEA with The Plucky Knitter

I feel like I'm doing a Masters Series having just written about Catherine Lowe. But today, I must talk about Norah Gaughan. She has been an inspiration to me since the very first day I started knitting. When I started poking around yarn stores, Norah's Knitting Nature had just been published. As soon as I opened up the book, I was hypnotized by Norah's shapes, the hexagons spinning in front of me as I stared unblinkingly at the pages. Of course, I bought it immediately thinking, "If this is knitting, then I'm in."

Fast forward to last year when Jared announced to us that Norah was joining our team. I fell out of my chair, peed on myself and started giggling uncontrollably. Actually, that didn't happen. What did happen was I stared at Jared as those hexagons appeared and started spinning in front of his eyes like a Tim Burton character. I was speechless and shocked that I would be working with "NOOOOORAAAHHHHHH". I probably said that about 10 times with a growing urgency with each repeat. That did happen. I think Jared was worried about me.

At Brooklyn Tweed's last Design Retreat, I was about to meet Norah for the first time. I knew what she looked like, having stalked her a few (thousand) times at TNNA, wondering how someone so petite could have produced such epic designs. When she walked in, I stuck out my hand for a nice brisk, businesslike shake wanting to put my best professional foot forward. She came right at me with arms outstretched ready for a hug. I, the consummate NYer, taken aback returned her hug stiffly, smiled even more stiffly, and became deeply aware that I was in the presence of greatness. And she was HUGGING me. I almost didn't let go hoping by some sort of magical osmosis, I would obtain some of her talent.

My latest design, while not worthy, was completely inspired by Norah. 

 Verdea in The Plucky Knitter's Snug Worsted, color - Good Old Days

Verdea in The Plucky Knitter's Snug Worsted, color - Good Old Days

I was partnering with The Plucky Knitter for another sweater kit, and this time of year is tricky for me as a knitwear designer. We're going into the warmer months, but it takes awhile to knit so maybe something for early Fall, but it has to appeal to knitters now... the but's just keep coming. So I figured I would do something true to a knitter's heart - worsted weight, cabling, but use a silhouette that would make it a nice layering piece for the warmer months.

Like a light shining from above, I recalled a design Norah had done for Berroco that I was slightly (very) obsessed with, Aeneas. It had a fun, cropped silhouette that I just adored.

After studying Aeneas and swatching like a crazy fool, Verdea was conceived.

This design was sold as an exclusive kit through a Plucky Knitter update this past March. But the pattern will be available for sale in my Ravelry store in late September.

I do hope I did Norah proud. I could never dream to reach her greatness, but at least I can say I hugged it.

Catching Up // Lowe Cardigan

Oh how I've sorely neglected this blog. My apologies, Dear Blog. But, I'm here today to make amends and finally pay you some very deserved attention. I've got a lot of catching up to do, beginning with my Woolfolk design, the Lowe Cardigan.

Earlier last year, I started hearing about this new yarn "Woolfolk". I knew Kristin Ford, previously of Shibui, was the brains behind this new yarn endeavor so I was especially excited to see it. She managed to keep a lot of Woolfolk under wraps until the great reveal this past Fall. And what a reveal it was.

I read about the origins of the wool and learned about Ovis 21, a nature conservancy dedicated to maintaining the grasslands and increasing the profitability of businesses in Patagonia. It's actually a bit more in-depth than that, and includes raising and managing sheep and cattle. The merino sheep from this area are unparalleled. There is nothing like it anywhere else on earth. It's just as soft as cashmere (if not more), but has the characteristics of wool. I was in fiber heaven when I laid my hands on it.

Kristin, the genius that she is, produced the worsted weight of this Ultimate Merino Wool® fiber, FÅR, as a chainette constructed yarn, giving it stability and strength. After regaining my senses after the initial shock of feeling something so luxurious (micron count of 17.5), I knew I'd want to be swathed in yarn this fine. A coat-like cardigan was a must.

 Woolfolk's FÅR

Woolfolk's FÅR

The last thing I wanted to do was design something too big and frumpy. When I thought about the kind of woman I wanted to emulate with this design, my mind kept wandering back to one of my dear friends, and knitting goddess, Catherine Lowe. Catherine is always elegant, timeless and sophisticated and that was exactly what I wanted in this piece.

After swatching a number of different stitch patterns, I couldn't help but think that I needed to let the yarn really speak for itself. The stockinette was so glorious, I decided not to mess with it.

These days, I rarely design as I knit. I usually map it all out and then it gets knit. But as I went along, I realized I needed to add pockets. I know I know - how could I have forgotten pockets?! Yes, pockets are totally functional, but what occurred to me in this case was that I needed to break up the length of stockinette with something. It would have looked too robe-like without the visual break. So pockets went in!

As for the collar, I wanted to have something that really surrounded the neck, but I didn't want anything that flipped over like a shawl collar because I felt like that ends up exposing the neck, and this fabric needs to be against the skin at all times! So, the collar narrows a bit at the neck so it stays up like a mock neck.

Lowe-6.jpg

If you haven't tried Woolfolk's yarn, I say get your hands on some pronto. It's 2 die 4. Like buttah.

Woolful Podcast Interview

Finally!  My interview with Ashley of Woolful has finally aired!  She released it two days ago, and I've gotten the most positive and supportive feedback.  Knitters, spinners, and all crafty folks are awesome!!  Thanks for the great chat, Ashley!!  

I'm paired with Caroline Rose Kaufman who is an incredibly talented fashion designer who uses yarn and knits as her medium.  Definitely check out her website for some fresh inspiration.  Her color combos are amazing!

Here's the podcast:

 

Don't forget to comment on the Woolful blog if you want a chance to win my Paffuto pattern and a skein of Quince's Puffin yarn!

 Paffuto knit in Quince & Co.'s Puffin yarn.

Paffuto knit in Quince & Co.'s Puffin yarn.

And next week, a brand new pattern for Woolfolk being released!  Here's a little teaser pic:

 A new pattern in Woolfolk's FAR coming next week.

A new pattern in Woolfolk's FAR coming next week.

(Psst... there's a coupon code on the Woolful blog for this pattern.)

Creative Yarn Entrepreneur Interview

Marie Segares of The Underground Crafter has a wonderful podcast called The Creative Yarn Entrepreneur. She contacted me to do an interview, and I jumped at the chance to talk about the "business-side" of what we do.

Check out my interview here:

I'd love to hear your comments, thoughts and any questions you might have - please comment below!

And a big thank you to all that have made it out to the pop-up. It has really been a pleasure so far, and I look forward to meeting those that are yet to visit.

Drop Spindle? Huh?

I admit it. I'm stubborn and sometimes it takes awhile for me to come around. My first attempt at spinning was with a drop spindle, and as I've recounted before: it was disastrous. I concluded hastily that spinning was not for me. But after some inspiring conversations with a good friend (Leila Raabe), I got into spinning, but starting with my Ladybug.

It was less than a month ago that I became inspired to try drop spindling. Another friend pointed out an article in the latest PLY Magazine called Spindle 7. "Michele - you have got to check out this article - it's about drop spindling on your train, the 7!!"  Huh? Drop Spindle? 7 train? I was utterly confused.

I quickly did a search and found Robyn Love, the fiber artist behind the Spindle 7 project. I watched the 7-minute long video and was not only inspired to try drop spindling again, but a newfound pride in my boro, Queens, and my train, the 7 started to emerge.

Obviously learning how to drop spindle has been much easier now that I understand the concept of spinning. But like different methods or crafts, the attachment and relationship to the material and final object touches upon a different part of the person, and dare I say, soul.

I've been using a top whorl drop spindle and what I find so interesting is the direction in which the fiber flows into yarn. At a wheel, it happens quickly, and on a horizontal plane. One basically feeds the yarn onto the wheel, pushing it away from them. Using a drop spindle, it happens slowly, and on a vertical plane. It looks and feels as though the fiber is pouring down onto the spindle like warm liquid right in front of your eyes. It's fascinating to watch, and even more fascinating to do.

As you most likely know, I've opened up a pop-up shop focusing on yarns and fiber. A customer asked me why I decided to open and what I hoped to achieve, and while my knee-jerk response is "to make money", that really isn't true. I feel strongly about the qualities of working with one's hands and it has meant the most to me to share materials I love and crafts that allow us to get in touch with ourselves - like drop spindling.

Stop by the pop-up this Saturday, November 8th at 2pm to meet Robyn and learn how to drop spindle with one of the best fiber artists of our time.  (We also have copies of PLY Magazine's latest issue which includes the Spinel 7 article.)  A rare opportunity!

3 hats are better than 1

As much as I love designing garments, I can't deny the appeal of a quick knit.  And to me, nothing is faster than a hat.  Generally knit in the round, using very little yarn, a knitter can usually knit up a hat in an afternoon, yet wear it all Winter and be warmed.  Quite the trade-off.

What better way to show-off a yarn that may not be familiar to some? I decided to design a few hats showcasing one of my favorite yarns we'll be carrying at Gauge + Tension this Fall, Jones & Vandermeer's Clever Camel.  

 J&V's Clever Camel - colors (from top left, clockwise): Classic, Naked, Poppy, Neat Navy, Carbon, Snowden Grey

J&V's Clever Camel - colors (from top left, clockwise): Classic, Naked, Poppy, Neat Navy, Carbon, Snowden Grey

It is 100% Baby Camel and so incredibly soft that it's hard to resist. When I first knit up a swatch, I couldn't tell the difference between it and cashmere. The only difference I could tell was that it was just a touch heavier. Cashmere's lightness is legendary, so I wasn't surprised. And camelids tend to have a heavier, silkier hair to them, even if just the fluffy under coat from a baby. But the micron counts are similar between the two, so in the hand you'll probably not notice a difference.

Although I don't claim to have a wool allergy, I do sometimes get the itchy forehead if I wear a wool hat all day. Why not a couple of super soft Clever Camel Hats:

 Torti in Snowden Grey

Torti in Snowden Grey

Torti is a take on my Tortillon pattern knit in Lana Grossa's Chiara. Although a lovely yarn, they stopped distributing it in the States to my disappointment. The Chiara is much thinner than the Clever Camel, so I redesigned it for worsted weight yarn and made it a touch bigger too.

 Torti in Snowden Grey

Torti in Snowden Grey

I also designed a slouchier hat for those not interested in a beanie-fit hat.  I liked the idea of using the color Poppy for Galeo.

 Galeo in Poppy

Galeo in Poppy

If that Chevron pattern looks familiar, it's the same one used on my Warren Street Cowl. A quick and easy knit, the set could make a lovely holiday gift or a little something for yourself.

Last, but not least, Paffuto. Of course, I needed to design something that could work for the men in our lives. I picked Quince & Co.'s Puffin because of its softness and bulky weight. Maybe I'm a selfish knitter, but it's nice to be able to whip up a quick hat even faster with heavier yarn.

 Paffuto in Peacoat

Paffuto in Peacoat

Paffuto is a little boxier in shape giving your hair a little breathing room under there. Although 100% wool, the unplied Puffin is incredibly soft to the touch and I got no itchy forehead when I wore this around.

All three of these patterns are available on Ravelry for download, and hard copies will be sold exclusively in-store at , and Torti and Galeo online at Jones & Vandermeer.

Autumn, finally.

Back to school, blah blah, leaves changing, blah blah, apple picking, whatever... let's not get bogged down with all that stuff that comes along with the Autumn Season. Let's get right to it and talk about what we're all thinking: knitting! Am I right? You've been poking around Ravelry instead of Facebook more, sniffing around your stash and discovering those gems you bought last season, reading blogs like this one and planning out what you'll be knitting and the yarn you'll be buying as your budget for Rhinebeck keeps going up and up. I know. We're all there.

Absolutely nothing makes me happier than saying goodbye to summer... and hellooooo Fall! This Fall is especially exciting. I have probably said this before, but I think THIS ONE is my favorite collection: BT FALL 14. It's here. I love it.

The Design Team's inspiration for this collection was the Fisherman Sweater. I salivated at the very thought. Cables, cables, cables! That's all I could think about. But how to make them more modern? What's the twist, no pun intended, that I could put on a cabled sweater design. Many would argue that the options are infinite, which they are. But, I know when I'm dealing with something as traditional as the fisherman sweater and cables, I get stuck in my own brain. The same images of the same sweaters keep popping up in my head. In fact, as you're reading this, we're probably picturing the same sweater: off-white, aran weight, honeycomb or lattice down the middle, twisted rope cables on either side, crewneck, boxy fit...

Anyway, I started out swatching some cables, churned out some that I liked and put those aside while I decided on some silhouettes I wanted to use.  The shawl-collared cardigan, of course. Something oversized and comfy; something that could have been stolen from your Dad or boyfriend; something to wear while sipping tea in front of a fireplace; something to throw on to check the mail or walk your little special someone to the bus.

 © Jared Flood / Brooklyn Tweed

© Jared Flood / Brooklyn Tweed

Because of the oversized nature of this cardigan, Bellows, I liked using Shelter held doubled to give the fabric enough oomph.  It also makes stitches more three dimensional, and the two strands really make the knit-purl patterning stand out.  And it's "cable-light".  Just a few repeats up each front, and down the sleeves.  The rest is easily memorized and perfect TV knitting.

One swatch I had knit up really stood out to me.  i was determined to use it, but it took a while to figure out what kind of silhouette I wanted to use.  I wanted simple shapes to really show off the stitch pattern and make it the focus of the design.  The "arrows" or upside down V's at the base of Ondawa was the swatch I built around.

 © Jared Flood / Brooklyn Tweed

© Jared Flood / Brooklyn Tweed

  © Jared Flood / Brooklyn Tweed

© Jared Flood / Brooklyn Tweed

I really love Ondawa - the smaller scale cables and texturing really gives this piece a carved look. The front and back pieces are identical and are rectangles. No shaping whatsoever. The cropped silhouette was my attempt at making it modern. I know it's a hard one to actually wear though. But you can easily make the front and back longer to suit your taste. Just don't forget to add more yarn - cables and twisted stitches tend to eat up quite a bit. 

And then there's Shackleton. This scarf is lush with a big monster cable motif running up the middle.  Like Bellows this is also knit with Shelter held doubled. I love its magnified effect.  The cable motif really looks blown up.

  © Jared Flood / Brooklyn Tweed

© Jared Flood / Brooklyn Tweed

And last but not least, Rowe. What's Fall without a cardi-coat? I started with the large center cable on the back.

  © Jared Flood / Brooklyn Tweed

© Jared Flood / Brooklyn Tweed

And auditioned quite a few smaller motifs to use alongside, and down the fronts and sleeves.

  © Jared Flood / Brooklyn Tweed

© Jared Flood / Brooklyn Tweed

I love the thick bands of 2x2 ribbing that frame this piece. And instead of trying a tubular bind-off along the collar/placket, it's knit twice the length and folded under and crocheted down. It gives this cardi-coat some nice weight around the opening, making up for its lack of closure. I can't wait to wear this one around town. I'm thinking I may need one in Fossil, too.

So that is my interpretation of the Fisherman Sweater. I tried to design for all ages, tastes, styles and physiques, so I hope you'll find something to your liking!  Happy Autumn and happy knitting!