AWA-AWA

Awa-Awa is another onomatopoeic word that means “soap bubbles” in Japanese.

I must admit, ever since I have gotten my knitting machine back in 2011 in Japan I have discovered a whole new way of looking at hand knitting in absolutely new angle! Machine knitting and hand knitting couldn’t be any different from each other. Complete polar opposites in my mind, but the thinking that machine knitting triggers for a hand knitter is so illuminating and it opens up a well of new techniques and ways to explore that knowledge and implement it if possible into hand knitting! I remember talking to my friend and fellow designer Kirsten Johnstone , who together with her friend Suzie Fry just had taken their machine knitting course and we got into conversation about how various techniques can be achieved. My excitement about my new “toy” often wouldn’t let me sleep. As I explored around in search of any machine knitting courses while in Japan, I was out of luck for not being fluent in Japanese to take them. Machine’s manual, YouTube videos. Numerous swatches later I felt like I was learning a new language. Even though it is still both knitting, they reside in separate universes. Later on thanks to Marianne Isager who introduced me to Mette Hyllested-Winge, Danish machine knitwear designer living in Tokyo at the time, who basically became my machine knitting teacher. She let me ask all the questions and work out all possible ideas I had brewing in my head. I have been so lucky to have met her! Engaged into two different worlds of knitting we often spent hours and hours contemplating and bouncing ideas off of each other, and get inspired by one another! That’s how I have discovered what is called “plating” in machine knitting world, which Awa-Awa’s technique is inspired by.

When Carrie (editor of Making magazine) approached me about my submission for DOTS issue , I had way too many ideas. I had some still lingering from my mini-collection with Quince & Co called Circles+Dots and I had just heard about Yayoi Kusama’s exhibit coming to a museum DC with a retrospective show. She is the world known Japanese artist famous for her works reflecting love of polka dots, circles and their infinite use among many others. I was eager to dive into the process and explore, to swatch and discover which marriage of stitches, yarn and color might be the best option to fit the indigo-themed issue. Several attempts and stumbles later resulted in a pile of new swatches and techniques, where Awa-Awa‘s patterning resonated both with Carrie and me. But why is it that I enjoy the process of development so much – I got 3 more solid concepts using circles, that I filed it in my “ideas bank” to knit up later.  For me personally, this is just an example how endless swatching and brainstorming can lead one thing to another, and end up being something that can be knit and hopefully enjoyed when being knit and worn by others as well. And remember, inspiration is all around us, sometimes you just need to look down, like this awesome manhole cover I photographed somewhere in Japan.

Just as in any knitting with color, picking them can present a challenge, so I have swatched several options for you to consider based on the color values.

The yarn used, Woolfolk Tynd, comes in an array of colors that you can carry together and pairing them together can produce truly different effect each time.

Left to Right : High Contrast, Medium Contrast, Low Contrast.

In original Awa-Awa I used Woolfolk Tynd in color 1 (white) and color 9 (light blue), which created a combination somewhere between a low and a medium contrast fabric.

But what’s so great about a range in colors is that you can pick your own and choose how pronounced and sharp you wish your “bubbles” to be visible.

High Contrast Swatch shows the polar opposites and among favorites of mine for daily wear: Black and White. Quite stark and bold as a result, this swatch used color 1 (white) and color 15 (black).

Medium Contrast Swatch has quite a bit of bright color in it, but the effect is moderate and both “bubbles” are equally noticeable without harshness of the lines. This swatch used color 7 (medium bronze) and color 14 (pine green).

Low Contrast Swatch of mine still shows quite a bit of color, but the values are much closer. This swatch used color 4 (dark grey) and color 12 (burgundy).

And here are the same swatches again only converted into greyscale, where all the color is removed, but you can see the values and their contrast. If you are interested to learn more about picking your colors using value scale, you should read this wonderful 2 part blog post from Jared.

The techniques used in Awa-Awa are not complex, you need to know how to do some basic colorwork here and there. Within the pattern you will find tips and details on how to trap all your floats, and you’d trap them in pattern. Since this is a wrap and you wouldn’t want any floats catching on jewelry or buttons, and it simply makes a nice clean finish on the wrong side as well. With this technique you don’t have to utter world “intarsia” and the shapes that you can create are limitless – circles, diamonds, squares, hearts… anything you desire and put your needles to!

Awa-Awa Wrap pattern is currently only available as part of printed issue Making No.3 DOTS . You can purchase the issue directly, subscribe to Making or find it in your local yarn store. Making is a magazine that encompasses a lot of crafting skills within it’s pages – sewing, dyeing, embroidery, weaving, crochet, knitting – all types of stitching!
Currently, the original Awa-Awa Wrap sample is on it’s way to Loop London and you will be able to touch and try it on there very soon along with a couple of my other trunk show pieces for the couple of months.

GULD is GOLD

…in Danish that is!

But GULD is also my new deep V-neck pullover design for Woolfolk LUFT collection, that just launched on Earth day. I feel lucky to be in this group of talented designers showcasing Woolfolk’s brand new yarn called LUFT, literally meaning “air” in Danish. And it, in fact, feels just like air! What strikes you right away is the juxtaposition of bulky gauge yarn and how extremely lightweight the yarn feels in a skein, but also the feather light garments it produces. And that makes you really wonder what is this yarn and how is it made!? LUFT has an unusual construction of organic pima cotton cage or a tube that gives that crisp feeling once you handle it, but the inside of that tube is still filled with amazing Ultimate Merino® fibers!

Once you have worked through the skein or two, you experience this deja vu feeling as if you are working with cotton, except you are not, not really. The “hand” of this yarn is truly unique, you feel you are being constantly deceived whether it’s cotton as  you might feel the subtle grab on the needle, except the peeking through fibers help it move along and knit up very fast. Once washed and blocked the yarn blooms even more, the tube allows just enough of the fibers to show and bloom through, and the difference in color of the cotton and the fibers create this really dimensional effect in the finished garment or accessory. Just like in my GULD here, the color is L.04, the cotton tube is of medium grey hue, while the fibers inside are vibrant ochre color, and when mixed in they produce this muted, complex, yet sophisticated color.

I wanted to create a sweater design that would feature the most qualities of LUFT and to do that I have chosen to create an updated classic pullover. V-neck is deep but easily can be layered with a camisole underneath. Slipped garter rib trims and all over garter stitch give it this sumptuous all over texture. But modern fit and updated details turn the process of making it fun, while still keeping it as an intermediate level project. Front and back have a little bit of hem difference and a split. Both are worked flat, then seamed at the shoulders with an exposed seam. The sleeves in turn are shaped in the round with sleeve cap for a modified drop shoulder, which is then set in using Mattress stitch. Same seaming technique is used for the side seams. And with subtle positive ease, this pullover is really great for several of the seasons and the transitional weather, whether layered or worn on it’s own, it still feels light as air.

photos ©woolfolk and vanessa yap-einbund

DENPA

As it’s true for many, most of the process on each of my designs often takes place over a period of time. Sometimes it’s months, sometimes years!
Having ideas in my notebook sitting around awaiting that perfect match with yarn to be made. But sometimes it’s the yarn color(s) that strikes the inspiration pot to start churning.


Last year I was visiting my parents and the weather has been quite typical for their summer, numerous thunderstorms and couple of hot days, but the views afterwards have been quite stunning that I had to document them. As I kept looking at those images when I got back home I got reminded about 2 sets of gradient kits that I got from Miss Babs trunk show hosted at Fibre Space the year before. I’ve bought Taurus and Ursa Major colors without a design or idea in mind, simply because I was being drawn to that unusual color combination.

The rolling cloud shapes are very often interpreted in variety of ways in knitwear, but for striped wave effect I wanted to have the most of color visible as possible! Old Shale is probably one of the oldest stitch patterns around that I could immediately think of when wanting to create waves with the stripes and through years there have been so many wonderful renditions in different designs of it. I wanted to do something different, I definitely didn’t want to do lace. I wanted for the texture to be as much of a key player as the color of these beautiful gradients and with them being worked in a way that would showcase each color when worn. The most exciting part for me as a designer these days is the mathematical puzzle that a stitch pattern can present. Settling in with some graph paper and a pen first, then some charting software on the computer, I created first couple of increasing motifs that made me giddy with excitement as I dug into my swatch. How long and how wide… but the idea of having all this is shaping to be incorporated directly into the patterning indeed have worked out!
Math, you thing of beauty that make this knitter’s heart sing!


I rated this pattern as Beginner Intermediate, which is a rare one for me. Those who have knit several of my patterns know that I love puzzles and creating patterns that teach or have some unusual twists to them! All you need to know is to how cast on, knit, purl, increase, decrease, bind off! I am also offering a narrower, scarf-like size of Denpa, just in case you are not used to or not keen on wearing wide shawls as much!


The thing about stripes is that if you cannot find a gradient kit available to you or if you don’t have enough yardage, you can easily customize and substitute the ombré dyed yarns with solid dyed colors. Find a yarn that you love and that has a big range of colors available, so that you can build your own gradient. And it doesn’t have to be 2 gradients, you can choose to do 1 gradient but for the contrast pick one color only that would compliment and work with all of the colors of that one gradient. You can put the solid color into foreground or into background. You can do the entire wrap in 2 colors only. The choices are endless! Just let your creativity and imagination loose and I am sure you can find the right color and yarn for your Denpa to make it unique, and to enjoy knitting and wearing it!

You can find more details on Denpa pattern here. And don’t forget to check Denpa projects already in progress on Ravelry.
Remember, if you share your project on social media/Instagram, make sure to tag it so I can see it #denpashawl

More FW2017 runway knitwear

Today’s post is about probably one of the exciting colors that was seen on the runway – ORANGE! It is among my favorite colors, but even that doesn’t mean that I wear it a lot. I personally prefer to have it in the accessories, that’s why I unearthed my stash of now discontinued Shibui “Merino Alpaca” and in their now discontinued color “Jumpsuit” to work up some sort of accessory for the next season for myself to wear. It’s a tough color for many, or as me and my friend like to say that it’s all about the “good orange” that works. And to me this is in the top of the best oranges! One may find that it’s much easier to style the slightly subdued and sophisticated rust orange, which brings back memories of the origins of knitting for me. The color of yarn that my mom gave me when she taught me how to knit when I was 4… now that’s the color of orange many can wear in a sweater or other larger sized garment.

 

All images from vogue.com

Pre-Fall & FW 2017 trends

FIERY RED SWEATER

The anticipation of this time of the year when all designers finally start showing their new Pre-Fall and Fall Winter collections for the upcoming season. I haven’t had that much time to keep a closer look, but after scrolling through several of them it became obvious that in mostly dark and somber colors this year there is at least an outfit or two in a shocking fiery red. Some have more of the orange hue, just like my beloved, but now discontinued color “Jumpsuit” that Shibui yarns used to have and I am proudly hoarding some of “Merino Alpaca” in that.
I am glad to see that many designers chose to show that color off in their knits! It’s not exactly my thing personally – never owned or wore a red sweater, as I just don’t look good in red but I can definitely appreciate the  statement color! Then there are some who picked rusty orange to apricot orange as a softer color which is quite pretty as well, but I will post those next!
Here are some of the faves so far:

J.Crew

Agnona

Hermes

Ulla Johnson

Ryan Roche

Lacoste

Altuzarra

Some yarns that have that perfect hue of red came to my mind, those would match perfectly well:

Brooklyn Tweed Arbor in color Firebrush

Brooklyn Tweed Shelter in color Cinnabar

Quince & Co Chickadee (sport) or Lark (worsted) or Osprey (aran) in Peaks Ferry

yarn images by Brooklyn Tweed and Quince & Co
all runway images via vogue.com

TETRAPODS KAL

My recent travels and adventures were so inspiring and eventful that on my last flight I had decided instead of pining after the quiet days being at home, I must cast on something selfish that will help me reconnect with my love for knitting and make something I am proud of and something new to me to explore. To remind me why I do what I do. Selfish knitting it is!

Being naturally curious, my eye occasionally wonders as the trends evolve to a certain color or color combination and ever since Pantone announced 2 new colors for the year, I have been thinking how can I find a way and incorporate it into my wardrobe. Which hue I can have it a bit more fitting… I have been noticing this chameleon of a color. The quartz indeed, but glowing and barely there color, yet quite elusive when viewed under different lighting.

milly-pre-fall-2016-lookbook-08

glow2

Having gone back to sewing again majorly thanks to this amazing make space shop that opened up on the same block as my local yarn store, I thought this is a perfect opportunity to pull out that fabric stash or overhaul it and get maybe something new, while having something fresh to break apart my routine. I happened to buy some of the amazing Italian linen fabric just in that similar color, the glowing color which changes whether you are outside or on the inside. Between barely there pink and lavender and even a stark white when you look at it outside.

plains1

I have had a privilege of seeing Jared’s progress developing PLAINS yarn, the new limited edition Brooklyn Tweed yarn using 100% American Rambouillet Wool and when the final palette was launched the color Flurry really stood out to me as the color I was very much intrigued and excited by! And I absolutely had to make something with that color and a way to try this yarn.

PLAINS_flurry
©photography Jared Flood/Brooklyn Tweed

I do not work lace often myself, but I did decide to make something different. For my selfish knitting project I have chosen something easy and hard at the same time. As Japanese say “natsukashî” (なつかしい), meaning that it brings back memories, being nostalgic. With this project I am remembering days of living in Japan and the beaches full of concrete geometric figures everywhere. Tetrapods come in all shapes and forms and sizes there. And I used the tessellation of their shape as my inspiration for designing TETRAPODS SHAWL in my Capsule Collection by Brooklyn Tweed.

tetrapods_1

PRODUCT_tetrapods

©photography Jared Flood/Brooklyn Tweed

This stitch pattern is also something that to this date makes me excited! It is the first lace stitch pattern of such complexity that I ever designed. In my aspiration to be authentic and find the unique way of translation my inspiration into my work. Even though original TETRAPODS samples are made using Brooklyn Tweed LOFT, the crisper and finer gauge of PLAINS promises to make for a great summer project even when the humidity is making it hard for us here. And because the pattern comes in a variety of 3 different sizes, one can choose which suits them best! I am particularly excited to use lighter color and finer gauge for a more open fabric that I can get away wearing even during cooler summer evening.

And yet again, photographed in a slightly different light and it is showing absolutely different hue, this pale bluey grey. All 3 images of the yarn are of the color Flurry, haven’t I said how elusive it is!? And I really love that about it! And just because it has been a while….

plains2

JOIN ME FOR TETRAPODS knitalong starting July 4th! This KAL will continue through end of August, to make sure all of us can enjoy this lace project at their own pace!

Yes, for many it’s a holiday and vacation time, but it is also the best time to get some selfish knitting done! I have just gotten my 4 skeins of PLAINS to make the biggest version of the Tetrapods. My US 5 (3.75 mm) needles are ready to make my swatch! BROOKLYN TWEED yarn company has been kind to offer a special discount for my KAL participants! When you place your order for the Capsule Collection Book and PLAINS yarn you will get a $10 off your yarn purchase! It may be just the right opportunity for you to finally try PLAINS as well! Just include  Olga_Lace_KAL_2016 coupon at the check out and later join me on Olgajazzy Ravelry Group for a roll call and general chatter for all participants to connect!

At the conclusion of this KAL there will be giveaway prizes including more exciting yarn and patterns! Can’t wait to cast on!

slashed

I have been seeing the new pieces from Junya Watanabe’s Fall collection popping up here and there at online retailers and every time I could not stop admiring them as they resonate so highly with me. And no wonder, about 5 years ago I have published several knitwear patterns while still living in Japan and that were very much inspired by it. And I couldn’t help but share today these amazing Junya Watanabe pieces for their unique architectural looks. And how slashed fabric is creating “mesh” and adding dimension with positive and negative space for the unusual pieces for one’s modern wardrobe.

In fact I do covet several of them, which only makes me yearn to knit Hari (jap. needle, spike) again on a larger scale with worsted yarn for a more dramatic effect

hari

and create Ami-Ami (jap. knitted net) on a larger woolen scale for a malleable yet warmer piece to drape over my coat this winter.
amiami

And please enjoy the genius of Junya Watanabe below, courtesy of net-a-porter, nordstrom and farfetch websites.

606310_bk_xl

606320_ou_xl

606320_in_xljunyascarf

11113409_5326656_1000

606312_bk_xl

606312_in_xl

606315_fr_xl

11131886_5373961_1000

11131886_5373950_1000

 

 

 

 

Keep on swirling

spikes

Congratulations to Christina, Paula Castro and Archipurlago!  You three won the yarn and Swirl Necklace pattern to make your own!

Thank you to everyone playing along on this giveaway. I hope this little accessory inspired you to craft your own regardless the climbing temperatures.

And Happy Easter to all those who celebrate today!

 

Spring is in the air

Growing up, Spring’s arrival always coincided with the meteorological spring, but what has always stuck was the first spring holidays every year falling on March 8th, International Women’s Day. Men hurrying with tulips, cakes and chocolates trying not to leave their colleagues and loved ones out, that was sort of what we celebrated first before any Valentine’s day was introduced into our culture.

This year East Coast has been served an obscene doze of snow and harsh weather, but at least it wasn’t snowing that day here! I was treated to my most favorite Lavender Moon cupcakes as I got to pour over the pages of the new issue of now my favorite magazine – The Gentlewoman. A true collective of great journalism covering stories of different and amazing women around the world. I really was hoping to spend that weekend in New York trying to attend Bjork exhibit at MoMA, but decided it was still too cold for a field trip and should wait until the madness around the exhibit dies down a bit and the temps warm up, that is probably wishful thinking.

gentlewomanbjork

With Spring’s arrival many of us are longing to put away all those heavy knits and jackets to think of lighter garments and accessories we can enjoy wearing when the warmer weather finally arrives. One of the most gratifying knits I have found are accessories as they are fast and pretty and can use up small quantities of yarn. I have knit and designed several necklaces before and which brought me back to one of my all time favorite ones as it was inspired by something when I still lived in Japan. Swirl Necklace was commissioned by Blue Sky Alpaca‘s sister company, Spud & Chloe for their “On the Run” Series. Patterns for smaller projects that can be easily carried around and worked on while you on your way some place or have time on your hands in a waiting room. And all with a quick result!

Ever since creating the sample for this, I have been missing having one for myself. So I have picked a skein of Spud & Chloe Fine in Hippo colorway at Fibre Space, my LYS, and my tiny dpns just for the convenience of carrying small needles around to work on this. Later, I have found a cool 3 eye sliding lock clasp for it for minimal finishing and here it is!

swirl2

swirl3

swirl1

swirl4

Even though the original necklace is not seamed to allow for movement of the “curls” in the circles, you can definitely make it more permanent by overlapping and stitching it up invisibly in several points as shown with some pins in a photo below.

swirl5

And even though the holiday has passed I think Spring is the time for renewal, new expectations and beginnings. You can continue celebrating Spring and women in your life or simply treat yourself this small Swirl Necklace that can make as a simple yet curious addition to your spring outfit or as a gift brighten the day of a woman you know! Or simply let you practice and learn some new skills while working on a small project with a gratifying and wearable result.

Team at Blue Sky Alpacas/Spud & Chloe kindly donated 3 skeins of Spud & Chloe Fine and 3 copies of Swirl Necklace patterns for me to giveaway to 3 lucky commenters!

Please leave your comments by end of Monday, March 16th while I go dig out some spring clothes from my closet and hope for those temperatures to keep climbing up!

giveawaysc

Happy Spring, Everyone!