all of the elements

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Almost a year ago, Carrie Bostick Hoge of Madder asked me to join an exciting project that she has been thinking of along with some of the other wonderful designers called ELEMENTS. When I joined in, FIRE was among remaining elements and although I do wear and love an obscene amount of grey in my wardrobe, orange is my favorite color. I am just very particular about the shade of it, I like it on the red side more than yellow as that is the orange that looks best to me. And at that time I had just discovered that Quince & Co came out with a stunning new shade called Poppy and this cardigan was destined to be in that color and I have picked Quince & Co Lark, I lovely worsted weight 100% American wool. Which joined in harmoniously with the other ELEMENT yarns already lined up with the other designers.

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I have worked previously with Carrie as you might have recognize her signature and style of photography from my “Circles+ Dots“collection that I have created a while back. True to her vision, she has created a wonderful story and a dreamy visual to show off the knitwear at it’s best, including my Fire Cardigan.

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The stitch pattern for Fire cardigan took some time to develop as I wanted a stitch pattern that would translate not just through color but possibly texture. And in the end the textured meandering pattern of this oversized cardigan was created to correlate with the element of fire. It reminds me of the tongues of flame, licking at the air on that last summer campfire as cooler weather sets in. Being a cousin to the stitch from my Moko-Moko Cowl design it has the unusual modular process of building the knit fabric which creates the intricate surface design, juxtaposing positive and negative spaces of knits. Culminating when the stitches are dropped at the very end, revealing the true texture of the cardigan. The uninterrupted mold of stitches continues to form neckline shaping while keeping ribbed edges intact.

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Drop sleeve construction and positive ease allow this boxy cardigan to drape loosely over the body, allowing for layering as well as fitting in a way that creates slightly raised front hems without requiring extra shaping.

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ELEMENTS is currently available for purchase in a variety of options:

Limited Print Edition + eBook Package

eBook Only

All of the patterns are available as single pattern pdfs as well.

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Today I am also excited to be giving away a copy of the limited print book edition of ELEMENTS.

The rules are simple, for the next 5 days just remember to leave me a comment on this blog post. The entries will close by the end of the day on Friday, December 12.

Good luck and Happy Knitting!

 

ONPA WINNERS

Congratulations to Awana, Suzanne, S.E., Ada and Kathy for they are the winners of ONPA shawl or stole pattern!

Thank you everyone for participating! I promise there are more giveaways in the near future as well!

ONPA knitalong has now kicked off, but some are still at the yarn picking stage. Stay tuned for a new post on how to pick the right colors for you!

Here I leave you with the image of my Onpa Shawl knitting in progress in Grellow colors in Brooklyn Tweed LOFT in Soot and Hayloft and my tea in NPR mug. I love that their address 1111 is very similar to the actual patterning happening in the shawl. When things just couldn’t have gotten more relevant than they already are! Hope you can join me this winter for the Knitalong!

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ONPA

It feels like forever. I have been working and waiting to publish these designs for a while now.  Meeting all the deadlines I’ve committed to, preparing, re-organizing. Waiting for that perfect moment.  One may wonder why it takes me this long to “birth” pattern designs into the world, but I feel the further I work with knitwear design, more I strive to perfection. And end up spending more time concentrating on quality of my patterns, editing and testing them and then editing again. And all of those things take time.
I have been exploring combining colors for ombré / gradient effects before via use of solid yarns. If previously, in Aranami, I used a modular technique worked up into a design, for these new designs I have been wanting to try another technique I’ve worked with before! Would some of you recall my Trace vest from Wool People 3? Similar, but not the same. And that’s why it’s new. But first I will start at the beginning of this story.

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Rewind back to Summer of 2013, when we just moved back to DC area from Japan and dear friend Emily invited us to the friends and family day at new NPR – National Public Radio – headquarters in Washington, DC. Besides the privilege of visiting and touring this new building, it was a fun experience on its own – seeing the studios, people at work at news station, the Tiny Desk and enjoying stellar views of DC. It was great to see one of nation’s respected news channels from the inside and a spectacular view of the newsroom floor from the bridge.

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While exploring around the building and its new, minimal and fresh hallways, my eye caught upon a certain wall decor simply depicting the sound waves.  My friend told me, that her work a lot of times consists of staring at those “waves” on her computer day in and day out. So seeing that sound wave graphic incorporated into interior design felt like a great idea. The subtle changes of grey into white and going back to grey which triggered my thought of using similar pattern in trying to depict ombré, color gradient in knitwear and in this case by using colorwork technique.

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Colorwork can be both – intimidating and frustrating, beautiful and rewarding! I do not consider myself a colorwork connoisseur, but I have turned to it multiple times to reach the desired effect in a knit garment or accessory. And every time it was worth all the efforts and patience. With every project my confidence grew and my skills have been getting more  practice. I have discovered better ways for me of working it and making little discoveries and tips that might help other knitters with their process. I admire designers who are almost exclusively create and design with colorwork and fair isle. They are truly an inspiration to me. One has to have a good eye, taste and knowledge for harmonious color pairings to turn tiny intricate patterning into wonderful garments.

Back when I was working on Trace I’ve been fantasizing to use that similar effect for something else, a different graphic, a different clothing item. So when I had begun my stitch pattern development I have been reverting to the similar color distribution and usage. I’ve had begun by obsessively swatching and trying to find the best possible way to work in more colors. I have knit a shawl prototype with 5 different colors, however the colors I used were not close enough in palette even though they were in the same color family. Their contrast was quite stark and to me it didn’t feel right for what I was trying to achieve. Unfortunately, not all ideas can translate and work out in a different stitch pattern. Now, months later, I know how I might have solved that issue but it would have given me a bit different design than I had originally planned. Thus I have abandoned the idea and decided to go a bit simpler route and work with 2 colors only.

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I have picked an already trusted Brooklyn Tweed LOFT yarn, knowing how reliable and perfect it has been behaving in my hands while doing colorwork. Squishy and lofty, just like a marshmallow, all while having enough “grab” to maintain even floats. Easy to spit-splice and colorwork that will lay flat and even that when done properly would look great on the reverse side.

Other biggest excitement in my process while working on this design was picking color. For triangular version – Onpa Shawl – I’ve chosen a slightly muted burgundy that is called “Homemade Jam” and paired it together with the heathery “Sweatshirt” grey. And for rectangular version – Onpa Stole – I went with the beautifully saturated blue “Almanac” and winteriest color of grey “Snowbound”.

I knew the moment I cast on for the triangular version that I must make the rectangular version available as well.

So what’s the difference,

Onpa Shawl is a triangular version

USD 7.00

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Onpa Shawl is worked flat top down and uses techniques like provisional cast on and working colorwork flat. Meaning that you not only knit, but also purl while maintain color pattern. I am a Continental knitter (the combination kind) and many years ago I’ve taught myself how to knit English style, just so I can use stranded method and work with both hands carrying a color while doing colorwork. But because I am mainly Continental style, I have discovered that use of this nifty little tool – Yarn guide – helped me speed up my process while producing even floats. Mind you, that it does take some time getting used to, but I’ve heard amazing things from Continental knitter friend of mine who works her colorwork in the round now at incredible speed and she helped me in producing of the stole.

Onpa Stole is a rectangular version

USD 7.00

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And that brings me to Onpa Stole. This design has more potential from wearing point and offers more customization options . Because the way this pattern is worked and built, you can make it not just as a stole – you can work less row repeats and turn it into a scarf which would be just as graphic. You can play around with the number of the repeats, work double width, but reverse the orientation to create a beautiful throw or a blanket. You can cast on less stitches and omit the steek and turn it into a cowl. So versatile!

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One of the goals for these shawls was also to discover a better way for trapping my floats in a neater way, I am so glad that I have succeeded and more. The floats trapped in both of these designs in such a way that renders them both reversible, while creating slight patterning of their own. I am especially happy with how the colors look in reverse gradient on the back side of the shawl and I have included all those tips in the pattern.

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Even now I realize that the possibilities are quite infinite for either of these. Imagine using ombré  yarn as a contrasting color all the way through. Or use 3 or 4 or 5 solid colors in a color progression but only use them in a contrasting placement in the pattern. I am currently knitting another Onpa Shawl for me using colors of Brooklyn Tweed LOFT in “Soot” and “Hayloft”, those who know me are aware of my love for all things grellow and I am quite excited as I have chosen to reverse the color placements and made lighter color as a contrast this time. Can’t wait to show you!

I will write more about these designs in the upcoming weeks as I am hoping you will join me in this Winter’s ONPA Knit-A-Long hosted here and in my olgajazzy design group on Ravelry.

GIVEAWAY

5 lucky knitters will be gifted with a copy of either Onpa Shawl or Onpa Stole digital pattern.

The rules are simple – leave me a comment here at the bottom of this blog post and please follow me (unless you already do) on Facebook and Instagram

I will draw winners on Thursday morning October 30, EST.

Happy knitting and Good luck!

 

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Bubbling up

The whole time while living in Japan I’ve been admiring the abundance of modern architecture that spread throughout the entire Kanagawa prefecture and specifically Tokyo. So when Meri of Amirisu asked me to design a garment for their architectural issue my ideas immediately floated towards my favorite building in Tokyo – Prada building in Aoyama that was designed by Herzog & de Meuron agency in 2001-2002. The unusual structure in itself is the most fascinating thing about it, but for me it is the surface that is covered in convex and concave windows that in a pattern form the random bubbly impression. The thick glass structure captures the light in the most amazing ways, depending on the time of day you are witnessing it. So during most of my day trips to Tokyo if I ever was in the neighborhood, I would visit the building and say hello and snap a photo or two just to admire it once again.
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And as you can see here the building looks so different during the night hours and you can even spot the different colored cells from the inside that allow the company to decorate yet be visible on the outside.
pradayellowblockAlas, delegating can be hard at times when there is a lot at work simultaneously. Unfortunately, I was too late with my cardigan to make the deadline of the architectural issue. So Abuku cardigan (from Japanese meaning “bubble”) was published in the newest woodland issue of Amirisu. Abuku cardigan certainly started as a design from the ways of thinking up of numerous ways possible to translate the impression of bubbles into knitwear.

I have worked with a similar stitch patterning before while developing my Cowry hat design, only this time I took it further! The Bubbly panels are worked separately and grafted together on the back neck to create a seamless, uninterrupted look of the texture and later attached to the fronts and neckline of the cardigan. But what makes this cardigan different and remarkable is that the “bubbles” slightly diminish in size as we progress towards the neckline. Which gives a nice shaping details without sacrificing the overall texture while being reversible in case you chose to flip the collar down.

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The cardigan, worked in Quince&Co Chickadee yarn, used a brand new construction for me – it is worked in one piece till underarms, then the 3/4 length sleeves are worked in the round till underarm as well. The yoke is then shaped simultaneously in 1 piece in a set-in sleeve look, which leaves us only with 2 shoulder seams and 2 underarm seams to take care of. Knowing how much some prefer to avoid seaming at all costs, this design doesn’t eliminate it, but cuts it down significantly. Walnut – a yarn store in the heart of Kyoto and the brainchild of the same Amirisu duo is currently hosting Abuku cardigan Knit-A-Long and you are welcome to join with us to make this light cardigan which would suit these transitional temperatures for a great layering look.

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So why Amirisu and what is Amirisu? Amirisu in translation from Japanese means “squirrel” hence the appearance of it in the logo. They are a bilingual Japanese and English knitting magazine which started as a webzine and now has slowly but surely has expanded into a printed magazine as well! 6 of the patterns from woodland issue including Abuku cardigan are also printed inside the paper magazine accompanied by inspiring interviews,  the distinct style photography and articles. And starting next issue ALL of the patterns are going to be available inside the printed issue as well as continue being available in digital form.
Amirisu is breaking all the rules to knitting pattern style known in Japan. If you are familiar with the ways most Japanese patterns are written, you know that it is a chart and a schematic with numbers on them, which is quite easy to follow and read once you grasp the concept, it is really quite brilliant! But there are several drawbacks – such as those patterns are most definitely ever available in one size only and as much as we might have wished we are not one-size-fit-all people, so a knitter purchasing the pattern is most likely in need of changing and re-calculating and tailoring that pattern to make it fit properly. And ladies of Amirisu are bringing a new era to Japanese knitting world by offering written patterns in several sizes for those who wish to make them without needing to go extra math miles to figure it out on their own.  Don’t get me wrong, the current style of pattern writing in Japan certainly has its benefits and works for many people, but it is also great to see the initiative that is striving to improve and bring the needs of each knitter into modern times with this new format. And now you can subscribe to Amirisu as well!

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 some photography ©Amirisu and Kimiko Kaburagi

Extra Giveaway Winners

Congratulations to Anita Jamieson and Jacqueline – ladies you each have won a skein of Blue Sky Alpacas Extra and a copy of Tokyo Tower Bandana pattern! I will send you emails shortly for some contact details.
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Thank you ALL so much for playing along and participating, I loved hearing from all of you about your favorite landmarks! Funny how architecture in different aspects plays such an important and memorable part in our lives. It made me think that I hope I get to travel more to new exciting places of the world to see at least some more of those landmarks you all mentioned!
Happy Knitting!

Extra! Extra!

The Destination collection was released by Blue Sky Alpacas earlier this summer and I was happy to contribute to this curious new series with my own adventure. I’ve got to think of my design and play with the new yarn while still in Japan. And even though I’ve traveled a lot and seen so many landmarks and architectural wonders that inspire me, somehow I ended up with the image of Tokyo Tower to remind me of my life in Japan. Particularly the last months of my residence I have gotten to greet the tower as my old friend over coffee and a baked treat while en route to teaching my classes. Painted in brightest orange red, my favorite color, it feels soothing and majestic at the same time. In earlier days we’ve visited the landmark and even went up it, but also once going up Mori Tower observation deck in Roppongi Hills, it presented a great view of my “friend”. It’s also hard to miss, Tokyo streets are quite easy to get lost at as there are no street names or numbering system that might make sense to a westerner, so Tokyo Tower saved us with its beacon several times.

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Once folks at Blue Sky Alpacas supplied me with a challenge of presenting a design reflecting Japan, I didn’t have to think long that it would be the favorite landmark. Then it was onto the task which technique to use and how I would portray it. I’ve chosen lace on a solid knit fabric to give the outlines of the Tokyo Tower simply that it was one of the ways using only 1 skein of yarn of new scrumptious Extra and produce a wearable quick accessory. But also since I don’t get to see my “friend” anymore every week, it almost looks like a fizzing image in my head.. it’s there, but so far far away! It was a beautiful memento, which makes me think of Japan every time I put it on.

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New yarn – EXTRA – comes in an exciting palette to satisfy probably the pickiest knitter with tons of neutrals (I’d take all the greys, please!) and vibrant brights that are always great for quick gifts and bigger garments. The yarn comes in hefty 150 gram skeins which is enough for almost any accessory and the nice tight twist is great for exploring the range of various gauges. I would go from US 8 (5mm) to US 11 (8mm) and it will still render beautiful fabric once washed. The baby alpaca content gives the slight fuzz and extra warmth while merino provides a great drape and structure. Tokyo Tower Bandana compiles elements of a cowl and a triangular shawl in one. Worked top down, first in the round, then flat. It still might rank among TV knitting, but only in the beginning, the lace part is custom and quite tricky so might require more concentration on that part.

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photography © Blue Sky Alpacas

And now onto even more fun part of this post! A giveaway and a Knit-A-Long announcement! I understand that getting your hands on new and exciting yarns and patterns is not always that easy, thankfully team at Blue Sky Alpacas understands that and  kindly sponsored this giveaway! I am giving away 2 skeins of Extra accompanied with my Tokyo Tower Bandana printed pattern in a cool new format that includes photography of the details and beautiful layout and packaging.

Just leave a comment below, making sure to link to your contact information, letting me know which is your favorite landmark that you might have grown up around or encountered during your travels by end of Sunday, August 17th. And I will announce the winners on Monday, August 18th.

Concurrently, starting Monday, August 18th I will also run a week long Knit-A-Long in Friends of Blue Sky Alpacas group on Ravelry. So please join me as we knit our Tokyo Tower Bandanas in which mine will, of course, be grey.

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linen bird

As I mentioned in the last blog post the urge for something new and linen-y has been eating at me for a while. Since I do not have much time to knit for myself these days, I was looking through my extensive linen yarn collection and trying to decide what can I make quick enough yet create one of those garments that I have been missing from my wardrobe. I do have quite a bit of Louet Euroflax which is a good staple wet-spun linen, but for being Sportweight I had to move onto something thicker…

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I remembered that just recently Quince & Co released their new bird – Kestrel – into the wild. At first sight this yarn is not what it seems, it is absolutely not what one would expect it being knit up. I do not have much experience with the tape yarns, but most of them that I tried earlier in my knitting years ended up not in my favorite pile. Kestrel is quite thick and a chainette construction yarn, that is flattened into tape. I was skeptical that the yarn might be too novelty looking when knit up. And I was wrong! First seeing garments from the Kestrel Collection and then seeing Jamie of Fancy Tiger knit on her Kestrel tank at TNNA in May gave me a chance to look closer and touch and assess that the knitted look of Kestrel is what I want right now, right this minute! Malleable, soft, textured, yet not into dangerous territory for me. As we know, plant fiber based yarns tend to grow after wash and wear but the construction that this yarn has I am pretty sure it will do the its best and keep it in shape much better! As more and more projects started appearing online I was certain my only problem would be picking the color… I really love Rosehip colorway, but I chose Pebble for my Davis pullover by Pam Allen from Quince & Co Kestrel Collection. I see it as a in-between seasons, late summer nights sweater, a minimalistic luxurious sweatshirt, which I can wear every day if I please.

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I don’t think there is a more gratifying knit! I got to 75% of the said sweater within just 2 days. Since this has been chosen to be my reward sweater after doing all the work in between, I have now set it aside simply that I get to enjoy knitting it longer… I am a result knitter, but with this I want to learn to become more of a process knitter, it’s just this good. And I can say it has already paid off, since I came up with an idea for a new tutorial. And I cannot say enough of the pleasure it has been working from a pattern that is already written and I just need to blindly follow instructions. Even designers need a break from designing from time to time, but it doesn’t mean I have to stop knitting.

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I must admit I have missed blogging these past couple of months! So many travels and so many happenings are afoot and I am looking forward to telling you all about them. I don’t remember when I have spent such travel intensive months last but I am certainly very happy to be back home, so I can catch up on all of my work knitting and try to squeeze a new thing to wear for myself! Afterall, I need to enjoy making things for myself from time to time. While traveling the increasing temperatures in Japan and here, in the Northern Hemisphere, got me thinking that I do miss wearing and having more linen clothing and knits. Linen, ramie, cotton, bamboo – these plant fibers have been on my mind a lot as of late and desire to knit something out of yarns with either inspiring me to fill those holes in my summer wardrobe. Honestly, I do have quite a bit of linen yarns in my stash and I can certainly put them to good use.
I did remember my favorite shirt from last summer, Irokata Tee below which really saved me in some extremely humid weather. In fact, I am considering next color combination to make! So many possibilities… White certainly seems to be the “IT” color for summer this year and I am thinking to switch the dark and light sections this time, just for fun!

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And if you are trying to put your linen to good use and get the most out of it  you may want to take a look at this Transform Garment – Sanagi Dress. It’s created on a thicker needle and worsted weight yarn or in this particular case 2 strands of Shibui Linen yarn held together. Linen is amazing when it comes to drape, cool flowing and playful during wear. Plus it  wicks moisture, that is why linen is still among top fibers in woven cloths or knit for summer. Sanagi’s versatility provides you with over 10 styling ways that are hip and suitable for many occasions. Here is the styling video for it that I made when the pattern was published a while back. Imagine you having all that fun in one garment!

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Knit skirts are often overlooked for summer, but I love wearing them. They are fun to make and to wear, especially if you wish to add more texture in your outfit. Heichi Skirt is knit sideways and uses smart placing for waist darts by working those as short rows and the dropped stitches are created in the very end. It is A-line silhouette which suits most and it is seamless which means that regardless how thick the yarn you are using – it will look perfect around your hips. It has been knit in Shibui Heichi yarn which unfortunately is being discontinued but fortunately for you Knit-Purl is having a massive sale for it right now in store and in their online store. To remind you as well, Francis , a popular summer top I have designed for Shibui Silk several years back that has gained over 5 thousand faves was also knit using Heichi and it can be your chance to make it with the original yarn without the large price tag attached to it, with it still being 100% silk from Japan!

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While I was away the industry did release new linen “birds” into the wild and I am quite excited to try those new linen yarns. Some I have even gotten my hand on already and might have cast on for that one sweater for myself this summer. Some I have been even lucky to preview as they are being prepared to flee the nest next year. But more about it next time!

Now tell me which are your favorite items and yarns to knit with in summer?

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During almost 4 years of living in Japan I have tried to garner as much inspiration as possible and it was not hard at all – it’s all around us. I think when it comes to designing, I have found some ways to organize the actual process for me that helps me to trace back to my thought and the origins of it.

So to go back to the beginning of this new design – Suke-Suke Cowl – I must tell you about its inspiration.
Yokohama Bridge spans across several small islands actually consists of 2 bridges, Yokohama Bay Bridge and Tsurumi Tsubasa Bridge and both feature cool steel cables that form a linear pattern but differ on the top. Tsurumi Tsubasa actually looks “pinched” on top and it looks especially cool when you are on the bridge. The first time I have seen the bridge was from the top of Yokohama Landmark Tower, which was the tallest built structure in Japan before Tokyo Sky Tree was opened several years ago. This is the bridge that we had to take to get to the airport and back, so every time I was on the lookout trying to snap some images. Unfortunately, Japanese drive rather fast on Japanese roads, so all my attempts were futile. But thanks to the internet, here is a good image of it, taken from the water.

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The way I saw those lines, I envisioned them as pleats or as lines from dropped stitches, so it was more about doing the research and swatching several times before getting to a certain point that you know if the stitch works and is relevant to your inspiration. Swatching can be tedious and more of a trial and an error process, but a lightbulb might spring to mind during most random moments like dinner and you just know you need to drop everything and test the theory out. I even tried to work the idea out on a machine knitting swatch which didn’t render any plausible effect. So hand knitting it was the way for me.

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Last October, while teaching in Portland I have shown some of my earlier experimenting with this stitch pattern to my students during my 3D Knitwear class and how cool it was beginning to look.  To work a juxtaposition of something rigid and fluid, positive and negative space to create interesting patterning, surface design even only through knitwear. I have received great feedback about it which only inspired me to press on and keep working on it to perfect the make up and the finished result which you see here today.

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When it comes to yarn choice working these type of stitch patterns it can be quite grueling. I know as one might think – which yarn to use, First World problems? But to allow the stitch pattern show best the yarn had to be perfect for it. The Plucky Knitter Primo Aran was my choice for it. The pattern and the yarn compliment each other on every level and give the desired result, at least to me. The way that it’s dyed as a semi-solid with a subtle over dye and because of the different fibers inside the yarn, the dye shows differently which  helps to make this patterning even more dimensional. As a result you see below, the larger size cowl that I worked in the beautiful Narragansett Grey color is reversible. The stitch pattern has different impression on each side and the larger version allow you more ways to play around with styling this accessory. The whole process took about a year, from the inspiration to testing, to swatching, to swatching some more and then finally the resulting design and pattern, but I hope you like it as much as I do.

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The pattern is completely written out  and it comes with 2 different size options – 24″ and 45″ in circumference, both have same height of 8.25″. When I had my test knitters working on this pattern some of them were actually surprised that it is not as complicated as it might seem at first sight. I did rate this pattern as one for an intermediate knitter simply for the time it takes to work through. Some of the joining rounds for the pleats and that you need to pay special attention to pick up the exact stitches or in the end you might discover the dropped stitch ladders not willing to align correctly.  Otherwise, it’s really more of an advanced beginner type of a project.

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There are several versions of it knit up on Ravelry already. So which yarn would you choose? HAPPY KNITTING!!!

Queue On Ravelry

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$ 6.00