Archive for the ‘Knitting’ Category

Back to school, possible KAL, knitted things

August 23, 2012

I’ve been incredibly behind hand on keeping up with knitting related social thingies. (I’m sorry. My brain is completely out of whack.) School starts on Wednesday and normally that would herald an exciting influx of time available for knitting and writing and cleaning, but this year I start school on Wednesday along with the kids! It’s so so exciting and so scary at once. I’ve cut down on my submissions to books and magazines because I have no idea what my time will look like, but I’m hoping to keep Knitting Kninja alive as I become a full time student. And that means finishing old series I’ve let fall by the wayside and releasing new patterns and trying to write in this blog when I can.

SO! In that spirit, I am proposing a knit along. Mosey on over to my Ravelry group, Dangerous with Pointy Sticks, and post in this thread to tell me what pattern you’d like to knit. There’s a coupon code for 20% off any individual pattern that you can use to get started. I will be adding yarny and pattern prizes after I comb through my stash and find some pretties.

As to what I’ve been up to on the knitting front, I have been working on a new sweater pattern for wee ones. You can see an in process picture below.

Twin sweater

It’s knit in Quince and Company Lark and I am completely smitten with this yarn. You guys. It is so round and plump and lovely to knit with, I can’t even tell you. It is the perfect yarn for cables, truly a knitter’s yarn.

I have some other, more secretive projects underway, but I’ll update with those as soon as I can! In the meantime, I hope to see you for the KAL!

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Jolie with Pointy Sticks

August 18, 2012

Well! It only took me AGES, but I finally have a little collection of accessory patterns available, just in time for autumn.

I’ve talked a little about the philosophy behind this collection as I’ve worked on it, but I’m going to mention it again. The idea behind this collection was to create a somewhat cohesive set of accessories that could be mixed and matched to offset a fall and winter wardrobe. Like most knitters, I have an absolute ton of hats and cowls and mitts and such, but they’re often knit in isolation from one another and can’t really be worn together without making me look a little crazy. Watching old movies, one of the things that struck me about the curated wardrobes of the actresses was how well the accessories worked together. I wanted to create small patterns using minimal amounts of luxury yarn that would create a set of accessories that could be worn as part of a well matched wardrobe.

Myrna 3

Myrna cowl and mitts

I’ve listed two sets as individual patterns, meaning that while there are six patterns listed for the collection, there are actually instructions for eight different accessories: two hats, two cowls, two shawls, one set of mitts, and a cravat.

So let’s talk a little about the patterns! You’ve seen Rosa and Dorothy before.

Rosa and Dorothy

Rosa has been updated to include a second, larger size, and a second suggested yarn. Both suggested yarns are from Rocky Mountain Dyeworks. I love the rich colors that Hasmi, the creative force behind Rocky Mountain Dyeworks, teases out of fibers. The original red Rosa was knit in Bow Falls Fingering, a tight BFL. The new version is knit in Kicking Horse Sock, a merino/bamboo blend with a soft hand and oodles of drape. I asked Hasmi if she had any colors suggestive of a yellow rose, and she dyed me THREE absolutely gorgeous shades, which I alternated to create a subtle gradient from light to dark. I absolutely love the result. If you previously purchased Rosa, you should have received an update to the pattern, and if you wish to purchase the whole collection, the price of Rosa will be automatically discounted at purchase.

Dorothy is included in this collection as well, the only way to purchase the pattern through Knitting Kninja. Unlike my other shawl patterns, Dorothy is a raglan shawl, which makes it easy to drape over the shoulders and wear. It’s also easy to wrap around as a scarf. I used Knit Picks Imagination sock yarn for this version, an alpaca blend that adds a fuzzy halo to your knitting. Each section is fast and fun to knit, with a great deal of texture.

Clara

Clara is a bobble and lace hat. I don’t always love bobbles, but there’s something about a bobble hat that I adore. I have a saved picture in my files from ages ago of a bobble hat with diamond lace and I knew I wanted to make something similar one day. Clara is that something similar. It’s a one size hat, because the lace makes it very stretchy in order to fit a wide range of head sizes. Clara’s lace comes together in the decreases to make a star shaped top that just added to the fun little details. Knit in Sanguine Gryphon Traveller, it’s a warm hat despite the holes. I suggest substituting Cephalopod Yarns or Verdant Gryphon Traveller. Each skein is enough to make at least two hats.

Edith

Edith is a beret and cravat set knit in A Verb for Keeping Warm Metamorphosis. Metamorphosis is a gorgeous silk/merino blend with a somewhat rustic hand. The beret is covered in little twisted stitch cables that interlock and wind up the hat. They are echoed slightly in the ruffle cravat. The hat comes in two styles, a shallow beret (shown) and a slouchier version for those who want a little more substance. You can make a shallow beret and a cravat in any size from just one skein of yarn, which makes this a good value for an expensive and luxurious yarn.

Ida

Ida is a colorwork cowl knit in the inevitable Malabrigo yarns. Inevitable, because, let’s face it, I love Malabrigo. I am not the best at colorwork, so the thick Malabrigo Worsted made this a breeze, since it knits up fast and limits the amount of colorwork you actually need to do. Stranded colorwork meant a lot of loose strands inside the cowl and I was worried about snagging, so I used some Malabrigo Lace to knit a lining. If you haven’t knit with Lace, it’s kitten soft and just a delight against the skin, which means that my cowl is unbelievably warm and soft. I made it a bit oversized to compensate for the extreme warmth of a stranded, lined merino cowl.

Myrna

Finally, Myrna. Myrna hasn’t gotten a lot of attention on Ravelry since I added it, but in some ways, it’s my favorite pattern in the lot. Knit in Sanguine Gryphon Bugga!, I wanted to utilize what I think is the absolutely perfect stitch quality of the yarn. It knits up more neatly than almost any other yarn I’ve worked with, and I wanted to show off the color and quality of the yarn. Myrna is knit on small needles to create a neat, stretchy set of mitts with negative ease. There is nothing fancy about these mitts other than the yarn and the button tab. They’re simple as can be, but perhaps because of that, they’re my favorite to wear. The matching cowl uses stripes of stockinette and a textured slip stitch lace pattern that creates little half moons all around. Another button tab pulls the cowl down in front and turns the stripes into a gentle accordion shape.

The whole collection is available for US $16.00.

Digital books from Melanie Falick

July 20, 2012

I was really excited to get a chance to review a number of new digital editions of Melanie Falick/STC Craft books. I really love the quality, layouts, and gorgeous photography that they utilize for their knitting books, and I was very excited to get a chance to look at these books on one of my portable devices. The iPad is quickly becoming my favorite place to store knitting PDFs and books, as I can take it along with me and I don’t lose it as easily as I tend to lose paper patterns.

The first thing then to know is that, unfortunately, the file format of these books is currently incompatible with the iPad or the Kindle. The books have to be read in something called Adobe Digital Editions, and although they are saved in an epub format, they cannot be opened in iBooks. For me, this meant that the only place I can read the review copies is on my large desktop computer. I think these editions would be most useful to someone who owns a laptop, which I unfortunately do not. In the meantime, I’m just going to have to hope that Apple and Adobe hash out their differences and make it easier for the consumer.

If you do have a laptop, and you like to take it with you to coffee shops and knit (this is what I imagine people with laptops do, because it’s what I’d do if I had a laptop) then I think these digital copies of some really great books could be ideal for your purposes. You don’t have to lug around a library’s worth of hardcover books to be able to access the pattern you want, nor do you have to photocopy the pattern and risk losing a sheath of papers. Instead, you could be sitting at a table, laptop open in front of you, sipping a tea, and working on a cute little hat for a friend’s new baby. See how glamorous your life is?

The two books I looked at were Last Minute Knitted Gifts by Joelle Hoverson and Weekend Knitting by Melanie Falick. Joelle Hoverson is the brilliant mind behind Purl Soho, and she’s a master of color and texture as well as elegant and striking simplicity. This makes her a really ideal author for a Melanie Falick book since their aesthetics are very compatible.

The colors of some of the photos were a little faded in the compression, but overall the images were clear, bright, and cheery. In some cases, an entire page of the publication was composed of a single picture, something that I think works better in a print format, since it’s more integrated into one’s view of the page spread. It wasn’t distracting, but I’d have preferred to see these photos moved into a page with text so I could mentally pair it with the words. All page numbers and pattern names were clickable, making it easy to navigate to a referred to example. In the case of pattern names, the navigation took me to the page on which the pattern started, often skipping a photograph of the item in question, so a little back tracking was necessary. This is something I think might be more seamless on a touchscreen device, leading me once again to hope for a resolution of Adobe and Apple’s differences!

Both books are excellent in their own right, and I enjoy the simplicity and elegance of the patterns. The Baby Bonnet from Last Minute Knitted Gifts is a gorgeous example of a simple concept made special through a combination of interesting textures and elegant color. Weekend Knitting has nearly 40 patterns including a couple of beautiful examples of two color brioche stitch. The nice thing about both of these books is that the patterns can serve as base recipes from which the knitter takes off and adds his or her own touch. The examples provided really show the effect color and texture have on a simple knit, so it’s easy to extrapolate and add a personal touch in a way that can be a little harder with a more complex pattern.

While I would like to see these books available in more formats, the quality of the patterns, photography, and the convenience of an ebook lead me to recommend them to those who have laptops. For the rest of us, our day may be coming soon! If you’re interested in trying a free pattern to see what it’s like, enjoy this pattern for the Airy Scarf from Last Minute Knitted Gifts.

Dorothy

June 27, 2012

KnitPicks catalog Dorothy

Yesterday I opened my mailbox to find the Knit Picks catalog with my Dorothy shawl on the cover! Dorothy is a shawl I designed specifically with Knit Picks yarns in mind. It’s a two color raglan with very simple patterning that changes often enough to hold one’s interest throughout. It starts off with an easy slip stitch pattern that creates great texture, then moves on to an eyelet stripe, and finally ends with a very simple chevron lace.

You can purchase Dorothy as a kit (and at a discount) in one of two color pairings, or as an individual pattern. I had originally envisioned the shawl in red and white, so I’m thrilled that Knit Picks used that same color combo for their own version. I hadn’t pictured the brown and lime shawl, but I love it. It’s got real pop and a completely different character than the red and white shawl. (And it’s actually not far off from my swatch, which was knit in brown and hot pink.)

I will not be offering Dorothy as an individual pattern through Knitting Kninja, but I WILL be including it as a bonus pattern in an upcoming ebook that I have been struggling to finish. I hope you like it as much as I do! I think it’s a really fun summer accessory. I still need to get a good photograph of my own sample, which is knit in a completely different yarn (though very similar colors) to the version shown here. Knit Picks was out of the Stroll Tonal in the colors I wanted at the time, so I ended up using Imagination, their alpaca blend sock yarn. I really enjoyed using it and it created a rather lovely texture to my sample.

Cinnamon toast

June 25, 2012

Cinnamon Toast

I have this cardigan. It’s my favorite cardigan. There’s no good reason why it should be a favorite. It’s boxy and loose and cropped and it’s made of acrylic and I bought it in high school. It’s the dull mint color of hospital walls, and yet, somehow, it goes with everything and it’s comfortable and I love it. For years now I’ve been thinking I should knit a new version of my cardigan in nicer material than acrylic and in more colors than dull mint. What you see above is the result of getting off my tuchus and actually doing just that.

It currently lacks buttons, but that’s my new cardigan, modeled on my old cardigan, and I love it! It’s knit in Tosh Merino Light in Rosewood, a lovely brown with warm pinks peeking out every so often. I thought Rosewood would work as a neutral without being so neutral as to be dull. I think it does, at that. It did grow a bit more than I’d calculated, which was great for the sleeves, less so for the body. I had intended to make the sweater oversized, but it’s still a bit larger than intended, something I intend to correct with the next sweater. Because this is absolutely the first of several of these cardigans! Everyone needs a plain cardigan, I think. I may write up a pattern next time.

Oh, one more thing – I had trouble deciding how I wanted to knit the button bands, and in the end decided I wanted vertical bands. But I’d already knit the sweater and hadn’t incorporated vertical bands into the pattern. I don’t think my solution is perfect – it does create a little horizontal edge where it joins – but I made what I think of as afterthought bands. Knit vertically, they join to the sweater as you knit them, with the last stitch of the row being knit together with the edge stitch from the sweater on every right side row. It joins every to every other row on the sweater and I think makes for a really nice, sturdy band. Next time I’ll knit it straight into the sweater, but it’s a decent solution for the indecisive.

On wellness

June 15, 2012

I’m sorry to have dropped out suddenly and in the middle of my series on the male gaze, too. Basically, I’ve been sick for a month now, and it’s been really wearing. We went to the Maker Faire in May, our yearly big family outing, and we went for both days, which was a blast. But I was recovering from a head cold at the time, and surprisingly, heading out into a crowd and being really active for a couple of days when your immune system is on the fritz is not the best way to get better. I got sicker just after the faire and I’ve been sick ever since. I’m tired of it, but what can you do? I’m starting to get better now, and it’s slow, but it’s happening, so that’s good.

But illness is only part of my life and I’ve had a lot of good things happening in this time as well. As you may know if you’re a longtime reader, or if you follow me elsewhere, I have never finished my undergraduate degree, and I’ve always felt self conscious and embarrassed about this. Last autumn, I started applying to universities to go back to school full time. It was a harrowing process, one that I loathed along every step, but the end result is exciting: I’m going back to school this fall to finish my degree at Mills College in Oakland! Mills is a women’s college, the oldest women’s college in the West, and I’m smitten in every way. It turns out a lot of my crafty Bay Area friends are also Mills grads, so I’ll be entering some lofty company.

While being ill is hugely unpleasant in many respects, lying down a lot gives one a lot of time to knit and I haven’t been idle.

Cables in Lark

Cables cables cables cables

I’m working on a couple of little boy sweaters for a dear friend with two dear boys, and I’m in love with everything about this project. The yarn is Quince and Company Lark, which makes the bounciest happiest cables ever. The color is River, a cool, gentle blue that is very cheery and very much outside my usual range. I’ve progressed quite a bit since that photo was taken and I’m still just as crazy about the project as before. The yarn is a delight to knit with. It’s not a fancy yarn, but it’s so clearly well thought out for the hand knitter. It’s lofty and strong and bouncy and each stitch feels good on the needles.

Lovely pears

The lovely Bosc Hat, by Robin Ulrich

I also knit a Bosc Hat as a chemo cap for a friend’s grandma. The yarn is Knit Picks Comfy in Peony. The pattern, by Robin Ulrich, is clean, easy to follow, and results in a lovely hat. I plan to make another in wool, which I think will show the stitch pattern better, but the cotton blend is perfect for a chemo cap and will wash well. It’s very soft and very pleasant to look at. I highly recommend the pattern, and there is a matching scarf, should you wish for a set.

There’s secret knitting just finished and secret knitting started, and so my life is very full of knitting at the moment. And in the moment, it is my wellness. I may be sick, but I can make something. I can keep my mind and hands occupied. It takes the place of physical wellness until my body can catch up.

Dear Jane

May 2, 2012

Dear Jane 2012 1

Spring has sprung here in the Bay Area, as you can see by my delphiniums above! And I’m celebrating with a long delayed release – Dear Jane is back! I originally designed this hat for now defunct Sanguine Gryphon, and the yarn I got to use, Codex, was and is one of my favorites ever. Sadly, when the Sanguine Gryphon dissolved, Codex went with it. I went on a crazy buying spree in the weeks before the company closed its doors, but while I may have a supply of Codex for some time to come, it seemed wrong to release the pattern with a yarn so nearly impossible to obtain.

Dear Jane was designed with Codex in mind, and as it was a unique yarn, I wanted to find something that could live up to its shine, drape, and strength. There are a lot of single ply merino/silk blends out there, but Codex was a BFL/silk blend, and the longer fibers of the BFL lent it a strength that you just won’t get in a similar merino yarn. Enter Slick. As you probably know if you’ve read this blog in the past, I’m a huge fan of local-to-me A Verb for Keeping Warm. And Verb introduced their own BFL/silk blend last year. It’s a multi-ply yarn with a slightly different weight than Codex, but if anything could work in its stead, I figured Slick was the yarn.

Dear Jane 2012 4

I chose Thai Iced Tea as the color. Man, I love that color on every single Verb base. It comes out slightly differently on base to base and from time to time, and I have yet to see an iteration that I don’t love entirely. The yarn was a delight to knit with, and I think it has just the right amount of drape that is needed for this sort of turban-hat. The new pattern includes a small photo tutorial about how to thread the ribbons through the eyelet holes. For cost reasons, I tried to keep both sizes down to one skein of yarn, but it’s easy to adjust ribbon length or the amount of slouch up top to use the amount you want to use.

If you previously purchased Dear Jane through The Sanguine Gryphon and would like an updated copy of this pattern, please send an email and let me know.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a female knitter must in all likelihood have a weakness for Jane Austen. When contemplating a literary design, Jane Fairfax of Emma sprang to mind. The name Dear Jane refers both to Jane’s introduction through her letters to her aunt and to the way she is clearly perceived by her author. The Dear Jane hat is modeled on fashionable Regency turbans, part of a trend in which the far reaches of the British Empire were treated as both exotic and tame. Ladies’ turbans were ubiquitous, fashionable, and seemed rather daring to their wearers. What looked like a turban was really a hat, sewn into shape and prêt-à-porter. Dear Jane is similarly easy to wear. The unusual construction results in a hat you can pull on and style in a variety of different ways just by tightening or loosening the ribbons. Perfect for a girl who can use a little romantic spice in her life!

This hat has a very unusual construction in that you begin with a long ribbon knit in Tunisian rib, then pick up the brim stitches from the center of the ribbon before joining to knit in the round. The dangling ribbon ends are eventually woven through the large eyelets placed at strategic points along the hat body. The ribbon can be woven through in a large mock cable as directed, or straight, if so desired, and it can be used to adjust the shape of the hat as well by pulling tight or leaving loose. Crown length is given as slouchy, but can easily be adjusted for desired style and length. The new version of the pattern includes a small photo tutorial for how to thread the knitted ribbon through the hat.

Dear Jane 2012 3

SIZES
Adult S/M (20-21 inches), Adult L (22-23 inches)
17 (19) inches at brim

MATERIALS

  • 1 (1) skein A Verb for Keeping Warm Slick (70% Superwash Blue-faced Leicester, 30% Silk; 240 yds per 4oz skein); shown in Thai Iced Tea. Note: One skein may cut it close for size L, so it would be wise to purchase a second skein for insurance.
  • U.S. size 4 (3.5 mm) needles
  • U.S. size 6 (4 mm) 16” circular needle
  • 1 set U.S. size 6 (4 mm) double pointed needles OR long circular needle for Magic Loop
  • 3 split stitch markers OR waste yarn
  • start of round marker
  • tapestry needle

GAUGE
19 sts/29 rows = 4 inches in stockinette st on size 6 needles

Buy it now for U.S. $5.00

Mango Lassi

April 30, 2012

I don’t know what is wrong with me – I released this pattern weeks ago and completely forgot to add it to the blog. It’s been a little bit crazy around here, but still, that seems particularly silly. I’ll be rereleasing Dear Jane tomorrow, too, so stay tuned!

Mango Lassi gold 1
A mango lassi is a hot weather yogurt based drink from India, refreshing and relaxing. Mango Lassi is a simple knit tank top, relaxing to make and wear, and easy to style. Knit in a drapey fingering weight yarn, the top breathes and makes use of the Outlast © to keep you cool and comfortable in the spring and summer heat. An easy twisted stitch textural argyle pattern in the bottom corner of the tank adds interest to the knitting and a cute detail for later. Knitted in one piece to the bottom of the V back detail, Mango Lassi is then knit flat with the V back becoming the two tank top straps. Rather than place all the weight of the top on the two buttons, the straps are seamed to the garment and decorative buttons added afterward. This is a great project to show off your favorite buttons!

Mango Lassi back 1

SIZE
XS, S, M, L, 1X, 2X, 3X
Actual size at bust: 29 (33, 37, 41, 45, 49, 53) inches

MATERIALS

  • 2 (2, 2, 3, 3. 3. 3) skeins Lorna’s Laces Solemate [55% Superwash merino, 30% Outlast ©, 15% nylon; 425 yds per 100gm skein], shown in colorway Satsuma
  • U.S. size 2 (2.75 mm) 24” circular needle
  • U.S. size 3 (3.25 mm) 24” circular needle
  • U.S. size CD (3mm) crochet hook
  • 3 stitch markers, one distinct for start of round
  • cable needle
  • tapestry needle
  • waste yarn or holders
  • 2 large decorative buttons

Mango Lassi outside 1

GAUGE
24 sts/31 rows = 4 inches in stockinette st on size 3 needles

Tech edited by Lauren Cross

Buy it now for US $5.00

The male gaze in knitwear photography: The crafter’s gaze

April 15, 2012

This is a continuation of the exploration of male gaze in knitwear photography. For the working definition of male gaze as I’m using it, click here. For the second installment, about the spouse as photographer, click here. If you are interested in contributing to this series, either as a photographer, or as a writer, please contact me.

If gaze exists, and there is such a thing as a male gaze, then there are surely other types of gaze as well. Early in this exploration, it was suggested to me (by Alex Tinsley of Dull Roar) that there might be such a thing as a knitter’s gaze. I’m broadening the term to refer to crafters in general, because I think Alex is right, and I don’t think this gaze is limited to knitters. If we refer to the working definition of male gaze, then the crafter’s gaze would be media presented from the crafter’s point of view, looking at object or people as a crafter might, and idealizing or objectifying them accordingly.

I think, though, that the crafter’s gaze is actually derivative of male gaze. If we extend the word crafter to include cooks, then we can see a well documented trend in which a lot of food photography is actually based on heterosexual pornography. In other words, the visuals of desire are a language that is codified by the heterosexual male appetite and view, and by being presented to us over and over again from birth as the visual norm, we internalize it and learn to express desire in those terms, whether we are male, heterosexual, or otherwise part of the normative view ourselves. While the crafter’s gaze may, at first glance, appear sexless or feminine, it is in some ways an expression of male gaze internalized and used to express a different sort of lust and desire. Oftentimes, in photographs which express the crafter’s gaze, the human body is incidental or unimportant, which can make it seem as though this is a very different sort of view than we are usually exposed to. However, if we look at the photographs of examples of desire applied to objects rather than people, then I think the view shifts slightly, and some commonalities might be exposed. This is not to say that all photographs from the crafter’s gaze are explicitly a product of male gaze, or that there is only one visual language of desire, but rather that we should not assume that this is absent. I would add that I think this particular view is a bit of a two way street – the visuals of desire may be determined by nature to some extent, then used in combination with the male gaze, and manipulated by advertising.

Clothilde 2

Clothilde shawl, photographed by me.

This photograph of Clothilde is the one I use as the main pattern photo on Ravelry. As you can see, there is no human being present in the photograph, and no real detail in the photograph other than the shawl edge. It does, I hope, convey to the knitter some of the detail they would want to see and know about before knitting the shawl, but it’s also decidedly a beauty shot, despite just being a picture of a shawl tossed over the back of my couch. I chose the couch as a background because it gets really nice light and because I thought the red made a nice contrast to the silver shawl. I chose this photo for use because I liked the composition and the colors. Red as a color has a long association with danger, probably due to the fact that it’s the color of blood and also the color used in nature by animals to signify poison. In a safe setting, this danger becomes exciting, making red a slightly more daring and sexualized color than blue or green. It’s not to say that I think the above photograph invokes sex, but I do think it would have a very different effect were the background a different color.

Clothilde with different backgrounds

Like so.

None of these backgrounds is bad, but I don’t think any has the same pop as the red background. The fact that our brain is automatically sending danger signals when we see red makes something safe seem more exciting. A red dress on a woman has a similar effect, and there’s a reason why a red dress is considered more daring than a blue one, and more vampish than a white one.

I don’t think my photo is an explicit example of the male gaze as it translates to the crafter’s gaze, but I do think it borrows from some elements of a glamor photograph. It’s a portrait, but a portrait of a shawl rather than a person, and as a portrait, it’s easier to see the line, horizontal rather than upright, stretching back into the distance, and the color, and the softness of the light on the reflective yarn. In other words, if this is a portrait, it’s a bit of a sexy portrait.

There are photographs that demonstrate the crafter’s gaze that borrow less from this internal language. I encourage you to look at each of the following photographs as portraits of knitwear rather than simply a photo of a scarf or a hat. As portraits, they offer slightly different messages and meaning. I deliberately chose photos where any human bodies in the picture are somewhat incidental to the knitwear itself.

Vahl Hat, designed and modeled by Alex Tinsley. Photo by Vivian Aubrey.

Alex Tinsley’s Vahl Hat is shown here as a hat, the human head necessary only for showing the shape when worn. This is a pretty and also utilitarian photo – the star is the hat, and we’re shown what makes it special and different from other hats by focusing on the crown and back where there is interesting shaping and adornment. As a portrait of an object, I’d say there is little subtext – we are being asked to look at a hat as knitters and see what would be fun about it in terms of making it. The two parts of the picture that stand out to me are the feather tassel and the sequins. These are equivalent to jewelry. If I were to make this hat, my own might not have them, but they’re both so pretty that I can’t really take them out of the equation when I look at this picture. In other words, although I intellectually know I don’t have sequined yarn or feathers in my stash, it’s next to impossible for me to discard the information of feathers! sequins! from my brain when I imagine this hat as mine. In terms of the hat’s character, this extra adornment on something otherwise simple, if clever and pretty, adds a certain interest and richness. I see nothing in this photo to suggest that the person looking at it is male, and more than that, the objectification of the object depends on the visual interest of the tunnel like shape formed by the stripes, creating an optical attraction that is not based on anything cultural. All culture is kept to the pretty little extras.

Fast Forward, designed by Natalie Servant.

I really like this picture of Natalie Servant’s elegant unisex scarf, Fast Forward. We are treated to seeing how it would look in three strongly contrasting colors, focusing on the detail that makes the scarf special, and we’re given a picture of how it would look when worn without a single human being in the picture. In this photo the trees can be seen as stand ins for human models, and I think they do an admirable job of being composed as a group of people without clearly indicating male or female. Both the number and the grouping are familiar and pleasing.

The Acheson Sisters, by John Singer Sargent

Portrait of Charles Roeber, Tom Reece, and Jim Mikulenka.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By eliminating the human figure but keeping the humanity, Natalie has found a way to let crafters ogle her scarf as crafters without giving them an imposed idea of whether the scarf is for men or women. These trees could be the elegant women in the Sargent portrait, or they could be the tough cowboy types in the image from Texas history. They could be another group altogether. Because the “figures” of the trees are upright and confident in their demeanor, there is no real imposition of view here, just a template into which we can drop our own images. I think Natalie’s picture is a good example of gaze that lacks a specific viewpoint.

Morningtide, designed by Becky Herrick.

I chose Becky Herrick’s Morningtide mitts for an example of hands as they appear in knitwear photography. Hands are much easier to model if they’re holding something, and it’s not uncommon to see pictures of hands holding mugs or garden implements or flowers in photos depicting gloves, mittens, or mitts. The point of the hands in this picture is to give you as much of a view of the different angles of the mitts as possible. Becky’s added some setting to give the picture a narrative and a composition. As part of her collection of handwear themed around time, these mitts need the setting to keep the storyline intact. As a portrait of mitts, this one is pretty formal, depicting both the mitts and their accoutrements that depict their overarching theme. The colors and picot edging are enough, with our cultural context, to establish them as female, despite a lack of any other clear indicator in the photo. They are angled to create a composition that pulls the eye diagonally across and up the scene. Hands can certainly be depicted as sensual, but here they are more relaxed and casual, lounging, but not preening. As a portrait, I see these mitts as feminine and depicted as feminine under the societal mores we live with. The view here is a crafter’s view, but perhaps guided by a broader societal picture of gaze that allows us to clearly understand that a pair of mitts are female without clear cause.

Xochiquetzl, designed by Melissa Lemmons. Photo by Emerald Lemmons 2012.

I chose Melissa Lemmons’ Xochiquetzl for the last analysis, because I think her photo is a great demonstration of object portraiture and also of the sexiness that can exist in photographs of what should in theory be sexless objects. The foot pose in this photo is lovely, emphasizing the arch and curvature of the foot and creating a number of beautiful lines to follow. It’s also not a naturally comfortable position. (Try it. Arch your foot at this angle for a moment, and notice the ways in which your body tenses.) It’s a beautiful photo for showing off a beautiful sock, but it’s not just a picture of a foot. Again we have the lounging angle, this time somewhat more sensual because of the curves. It is ideal for showing off the elegant shaping in the sock, but also ideal for using the curves to create a feminine ideal. Once again, we have the sense of femininity without an explicitly female presence in the picture.

I realize I’ve gone pretty far down the rabbit hole in this post, and these interpretations are mine alone. I may be reading into these pictures only because I’m looking for signs of gaze as often as possible these days. I am also coming to this as someone with a background in visual art and analysis, so I’m used to examining images with the intention of looking for more than is explicitly portrayed. If I lost some of you on this foray, I hope you’ll come back for the next round or send me your thoughts for another view.

Grand Lake

March 21, 2012

Grand Lake, the shawl I designed for A Verb for Keeping Warm’s ProVerbial Club, is now available to everyone! There’s a lovely new sample, knit by a very talented sample knitter, and a new size, and some suggestions for modifications.

Grand Lake II 11

The new sample is knit in A Verb for Keeping Warm High Twist in Filigree, very different from the Floating used to create the original. Floating is a soft, haloed blend of alpaca, cashmere, and silk. High Twist is a tight twisted blend of merino and silk, strong and a bit ropelike before blocking. I think the way the pattern looks in each of these yarns gives a pretty good range to demonstrate the difference between different weights and different textures and how they affect a pattern. The High Twist is the light yellow, and the Floating is the warm pink.

Grand Lake 1.1

This shawl remains one of my personal favorite designs. I got to use so many beloved stitch patterns and ideas, and I think the end result is really pretty and special. The shawl is a dressy one, but as I think our second shoot demonstrates, it can be worn casually, too.

Grand Lake II 1

Although the stitch inspirations for Grand Lake come from fish scales and seashells, the end result reminded me strongly of architecture, specifically old movie theater architecture with its arches and flourishes and decorative motifs. Near Lake Merritt in Oakland, there is a 1920s movie palace called the Grand Lake. Kept open as a labor of love by its proprietors, the Grand Lake Theater is an Oakland landmark and a little piece of Americana with its beautifully cluttered mishmash of architectural styles. Wear your Grand Lake to a movie night and experience a little of the glamour of the old time movie palaces.

Grand Lake II 3

SIZE
Small: 52 inches wide, 21 inches in length
Large: 64 inches wide, 23 inches in length

MATERIALS

  • Small: 1 skein A Verb for Keeping Warm Floating 70% Alpaca, 20% Cashmere, 10% Silk; 400 yds per 100g skein
  • Large: 1 skein A Verb for Keeping Warm High Twist 70% Merino, 30% Silk; 660 yds per 100gm skein
  • Optional: 40 yards same weight yarn in contrast color for edging. Shown in Rocky Mountain Dyeworks Mistaya Lace.
  • Small: U.S. size 6 (4 mm) 24” or longer circular needle
  • Large U.S. size 5 (3.75 mm) 24” or longer circular needle
  • tapestry needle
  • stitch marker(s) (optional)

Grand Lake II 15

GAUGE
Small: 20 sts/29 rows = 4 inches in stockinette st on size 6 needles
Large: 21 sts/34 rows = 4 inches in stockinette st on size 5 needles

Tech edited by Lauren Cross.

Buy it now for $6.50 US