I recently made the choice to up-end my life. I resigned from my day job working in IT at an international law firm, and left a career I had been building for 16 years. It was sudden, but something I had fantasized about for quite some time. I'm pleased to announce that I'm forging ahead as a freelance hand knitwear designer. Scared? Yes. Happy? Hell, yeah. But like most change, it wasn't easy. And like most good decisions, it was a frightening one to make.
The reality is that I lost my appetite. I went to work every day (mostly) and sat there waiting for the hours to pass. The passion was gone. (Although, I don't know if it was ever there.) I didn't strive to do better. I didn't want to learn more. I didn't want any attention in case that meant more work. And, it wasn't any way to live.
So when I had the nerve to give it all up, I did.
I'm coming to the end of my first week of liberation. And my mind is slowly coming around to the idea that I'm not on a vacation, but that this is my new life. I still have a lot of things to work out, like a schedule and a budget. (What's that?!) But, it feels good to be an active participant in my own life. I had let things happen to me for far too long.
Whenever the feeling of panic starts to well up, I just turn around and feast my eyes on my new life.
I'd like to make a toast: here's to living life, making the hard choice but the right decision. Cheers!
This morning, Brooklyn Tweed announced LOFT, the fingering-weight cousin to SHELTER. I am simply beaming with pride. Aside from a memorable afternoon of hem’ing and haw’ing over colors, I had very little to do with the actual yarn. But I have had the pleasure of continuing my design work with BT for this collection and couldn’t be more pleased with the results.
I remember waiting not-so-patiently for LOFT to arrive at my door so that I could begin swatching. When it finally arrived, I remember thinking how it really did resemble SHELTER. Seriously. It’s just thinner. And just like SHELTER, it had a tremendous range.
When I first swatched with SHELTER, I went straight for the US 7’s. Then realized, that I could probably go up to 9’s, so I swatched in both 8’s and 9’s. The resulting fabric in all of the swatches wasn’t identical even though they looked similar. They felt quite different from one another. The 9 swatch had more drape in the hand, but visibly you couldn’t really tell. It was like a dream!
As hand knitters, we become obsessed achieving GAUGE. But we only focus on the number. How many stitches and rows am I getting to the inch? Rarely, do we think about the feeling of the fabric we’re creating. Sometimes I get gauge, but the fabric feels stiff, dense and almost bulletproof. Not something I’m usually going for in a sweater or hat. The fabric’s feel, its hand, is just as important as those numbers. And that’s one of the main reasons I absolutely love working with SHELTER and now LOFT.
With LOFT, I swatched on US 1’s and went all the way up to 6’s. All of the swatches yielded fabrics that were stable and usable. The range really blew my mind. The Edie sweater was knit on 5’s, and made such a beautiful fabric. It hugs the body, but doesn’t cling.
© Brooklyn Tweed/Jared Flood
And after blocking? Total dream. The yarn feels like fleece - soft, fluffy goodness.
For the Jaffrey hats, the size that worked for me was a size US 3. It gave the twisted stitches just the right spring and elasticity without making it feel stiff or too loose.
© Brooklyn Tweed/Jared Flood
The fabric had body with just a little drape, and that was exactly what I was trying to achieve.
And when I initially cast-on for the Pei cowl, I used size US 4. I didn’t want the lace pattern too “lacey”. Since it was going to be a cowl, I didn’t want it to be flimsy. (Maybe that’s a better word.) But, I overshot using size 4’s. The lace edging was a little stiff. And I did want it airy, not lifeless. By going up to size 5’s, I was able to achieve a slight gauziness to the stockinette part, but also retain a bit of body to the lace edge.
© Brooklyn Tweed/Jared Flood
Pei was the last design to be knit, and at this point I was thoroughly convinced LOFT was the only yarn that could achieve the desired effect for all of my designs.
I hope you’ve had a chance to check out LOFT's Look Book. It has 72 pages full of beautiful photos, a signature of Brooklyn Tweed. The gorgeous Color Stories will sure to mesmerize and inspire you. Enjoy and happy November!
I love the word texture. It's one of those rare words that sounds like what it means. To me, texture has meant cables, purl bumps and raised twisted stitches. Those elements give hand knitters an infinite combination of stitches to create beautifully textured knitted fabric. But what if all the texture is in the yarn?
Before I started spinning, I would barely glance at thick 'n thin yarns or (gasp!) novelty yarns. But now that I've started spinning and have finally been able to achieve a consistency with my yarns, I find myself very curious about all those other techniques. Now, my hands dip into those baskets with Knit Collage yarn, wondering how on earth it's created. Why does this yarn look so different from all the others? How did they get that silk flower in there?
Lo and behold, Purl Soho was offering an Advanced Spinning class. My questions were about to be answered! I signed up, and last Tuesday night I felt like a beginner all over again. My very patient teacher kept throwing out advice, tips and hints about each technique (bless her heart). I was slowly starting to catch on when class ended. So I rushed home to keep practicing. My frustration and denial was at an all-time high when I finally admitted to myself that I needed a bulky flyer. I ran back down to Purl Soho and picked one up. Then, bee-lined it home and attached that big bad boy to my Ladybug.
My OCD kicked into high-gear, and I've been practicing all the different techniques I learned in class around the clock.
Obviously, a lot more time needs to be invested.
On the left is my attempt at Corespinning - the main reason I took the class. I love the little cocoon slubs you get with this technique. I assumed it was just clumps of roving in certain spots. Boy, was I wrong. As "luck" would have it, I had the toughest time with this technique.
The purple monster in the middle is my idea of the technique called Candy Stripeing. It's almost like plying, so not so bad.
Last, but not least, Thick n' Thin. You spend all this time when you first learn to spin to achieve consistency with your yarn. All those clumps were ripped out, and pounds of roving wasted. Now, it's wanted. Of course, it's not a matter of undoing what you've learned. There is a certain technique to this as well. I was not amused, but I think I finally got the gist of it. And, by the way, it's a total fiber hog. You can fill up a bobbin in 3 minutes flat.
Class No. 2 is Tuesday night. We'll be plying. I'm not sure what more could be done to this fiber, so stay tuned.
Since I started spinning, I've been looking at fiber in a whole new light. What used to be wool is now BFL, Merino, Shetland or Wensleydale. Once you start spinning and develop likes and dislikes, it's only natural to begin looking into the different fibers you've spun and others you might enjoy or stay away from. It has been a blast experimenting with the different fibers out there.
It starts out quite broad. For example, I pretty much know I enjoy spinning most animal fiber. Silk? Not so much. I can see how that's going to be an acquired taste. I haven't bothered with cotton or linen yet. That just looks hard. And within all the different animal fibers, I've realized that I will pretty much like any wool but may never spin alpaca again. It was nice, soft, silky, and not difficult to spin but the hairs got everywhere and I can't say the final result was more interesting than any yarn I could buy.
My first go was with some Bluefaced Leicester, aka "BFL". I was just starting out and after all the cursing and swearing was over, I enjoyed that wool quite a bit. Then, I moved onto Corriedale. I bought some from the Louet site and had read that it was "easy to spin". I enjoyed this too. Next was Shetland. Not my favorite. It's a bit rough and not the best thing for beginners. I'll have to revisit that one in the future.
Just as my obsession with wool and sheep (do you know how many shearing videos are on youtube?!) was growing, uncontrollably, I walked into Knitty City last week and wouldn't you know it... two sheep farmers from Upstate New York were about to make a presentation about their flocks. I couldn't believe my luck.
Cecilia Tkaczyk and Virginia Scholomiti, two neighboring farmers, were kind enough to share their experiences. Cecilia breeds Jacob sheep and Virginia breeds Wensleydale and Teeswater sheep. Two completely different types sheep. They brought a lot of their yarns, handspun and millspun for us to touch, feel and buy. But what caught my attention was the big pile of Jacob roving, light and airy. Since Jacob sheep are spotted, the roving is naturally multi-colored.
Between every task and with every spare moment, I sat down to spin up the Jacob wool. What a delight! I was able to try the long-draw drafting technique. After playing around with the alpaca, I was really thirsty for something not so dense, with a lot of air and fluff. I definitely got it with the Jacob. I can't wait to knit with it... perhaps a cowl?
To help my obsession along, I also ran out (actually ran to my desk to get online) and bought "The Fleece & Fiber Sourcebook". That has been my bedside reading for the past few nights. Perfect for counting sheep.