welcome

This new home is all shiny and cosy, so please come in and make yourself comfortable as I hand you a virtual cup with a warm drink to take a moment with me and enjoy the new digs as I settle in. And if you wish to know, I can tell you all about it. But anyone who have worked building a website before you must know that it is not a speedy process, especially when so many creatives are involved. The same can be said about this one, has been long time in the making and went through some challenges and dilemmas, the ups and downs and changing concepts – just as the ever evolving market we live in. I was looking forward to a new platform that would inspire me to write better and more often. In my old blog it felt the walls were closing in and regardless the updates, I felt constricted.
The new colors make me happy, they are me and words are easier to share. And with the first day of Spring today it is only appropriate to have feelings of renewal and fresh inspiration.
Here is the new RSS feed if your reader cannot pull it up. http://olgajazzy.com/feed
Even though the weather has been completely erratic – one days it’s snowing, the next the the birds are singing of imminent Spring and you just want to hide all the winter coats away, but as for the knits, they will be sticking around for a bit longer I am sure.

Earlier this week I have released a new design for a cabled hat, Kemuri Hat, the design that I’ve scrupulously poured over and have re-knit several times before it reached perfection in my eyes. I have scored the last skein of The Plucky Knitter Sweater from the shelves of Fibre Space last fall and knew right away it was destined for a hat. I have noticed that the abundance of hats that I own and ones I actually wear steer more towards the neutral colors, silvery and medium grey in particular, with lots of texture.

kemuriblog1

And as you can see, there has been a recent addition to our family – meet Squirrel, another grey cat who we got from shelter when she was just a tiny 2 week old kitten. She has grown so fast and proved to be quite a character, just as most of the grey cats I’ve known. Example #1 – highjacking my photo op. She is cute, so I’ll let her have this moment of fame since my Instagram feed has been subjected already to too many cat pictures (is there such a thing as too many cat pictures?)

Kemuri  Hat features 2 voluminous cables running aside the hat, beginning almost at the cast on edge. The two cables are similar, but each twists at different intervals and that bit of texture helps to create a more dimensional look. And with the hat being worked in the round you can actually choose how to display this cable when worn. To have this hat look even more polished I have included the technique for Tubular Cast On for 2×2 ribbing within the pattern that you can learn if you like or you can just skip it and go with your preferred method of cast on and proceed with the rest of the instructions.

kemuriblog2

Knowing that knitting is such a personal thing for everyone, just like hand-writing, this time I have included instructions for both – written and charted. So whatever your preference might be or mood you are in, you have that choice within the pattern.

Queue Kemuri on Ravelry

USD 6.00

Happy Knitting!

Triangulate

Continuing in the New Year with a resolution to blog more, yet again. And actually having a lot to share, but not quite having a lot of time to write all I want to say about a certain process here and there. Thoughts are fleeting and majority of the time they want to become sketches and stitches instead of words…

Today I want to take you through my process of designing a really fun accessory, that actually have started the triangles theme for me last year while still in Japan and as the inspiration continued catching on, it gave life to Sankaku Shawl, but here is what it all started.

I admit I have not always been good at or admired geometry. In my younger years math was a bit of a struggle, maybe that is why I sought out education as a linguist and a teacher, but as time goes by I get more and more intrigued how I found my way back to math and geometry through my love for knitting, bit backward I am sure, but it now excites me just like solving riddles of creating a new stitch pattern or puzzles of construction that I like to take on.
In my recent posts, I have described that I have discovered a really cool dot grid notebook from Muji that is really versatile – you can draw using dot grid as visual markers or join those lines to create square grid for drawing a stitch pattern idea as well as for flat sketching of your schematics. Since I prefer doing it old school vs drawing directly into a computer program, notebook and my erasable pen are now a ritual.
On one of those rituals I took these tools to “town” having fun drawing out some geometric shapes.

fractalssketch_675

Once I spend a certain amount of time thinking about this patterning, I feel my mind becomes more and more open and I start noticing it in various incarnations around me. Fractals are actually nature’s geometry at work! But my fascination with them was simply enhanced..

Here is my favorite piece of architecture in Tokyo, Prada Building in Aoyama. Every time when I was in the vicinity I would try to walk by it. It is truly inspirational!

pradaaoyam_675

And my friends, knowing me now so well surprised me by getting me this Baobao clutch for my Birthday (aren’t they amazing!!!), which is basically triangles adhered to fabric, but allows movement, so every facet helps transform the shape of the bag. And I heart it so much!

baobaoclutch_675

A WONDERFUL find which is this silk fabric, that got procured with the help of a friend in Australia and which I turned into the scarf and it makes me utterly happy when I wear it!

fabricsilk_675

I really miss taking trains everywhere in Japan, the trips were quite lengthy and here is the prototype being worked on in fingering weight yarn.

koigufractals_675

fractalspink1_675

Nature of fractals is that it is a set pattern and altering it a tiny bit in the beginning would be very hard to adjust for later on and still stay within pattern.
So I had to design my hat with the right yarn weight and needle size! And this entire process was very much worth the result.

fractalsblog_675

See more images here

I have picked a very new to me yarn, Anzula Cricket, which is merino and cashmere with a dash of nylon. Being colorwork, it worried me for a second if my yarn choice was right, but after washing my swatches, I didn’t doubt that the result will end up what I was needed it to become. The yarn really bloomed, evening out colorwork and transformed into luxurious bright hat.

I have always loved grellow color combination (maybe obsessively so), but recently I have been really enamored with camel and pink together. It is such an unusual combination, yet very fun!

And the result is Fractals hat  comes in 2 sizes, has charted and written instructions and my now favorite tubular cast on. So find your favorite Sport or Dk weight yarns and fall in love with geometry all over again!

Find Fractals Hat On Ravelry

buyitnowbutton

$6.00

2014

HAPPY NEW YEAR of 2014!!!
Wishing all of you the best and knittiest year yet!!!!

Back to school

Or rather I have been back to teaching knitting since last November.

And I meant to talk about it sooner, but just never got to it because of packing, moving and all the fuss. Last November I was introduced by Marianne Isager to textile artist and textiles designer Reiko Sudo. If you know something about Japanese textiles, you may know that Reiko Sudo and Jun-ichi Arai started NUNO back in early 80ies. Reiko now is the directior of NUNO and NUNO textiles are known all over the world on their novelty and mind-blowing texture. Meeting Reiko was an extremely humbling experience for me since I have been doing research on NUNO while writing Ori Ami Knits. And I was lucky enough to visit “Fabrics of Feathers and Steel: The Innovation of Nuno” exhibit back in 2009 in The Textile Museum in Washington DC prior to our move to Japan and admire those textiles in person. Imagine my awe when upon our meeting Reiko became so fascinated with my work in knitwear that she asked me to teach her and several NUNO members. I know I was questioning myself whether that was real life or some illusion! At the time of our meeting I had only 7 months left in Japan and she wanted to start classes immediately and every single Saturday I would travel to Tokyo to share my knowledge with one of the most revered Japanese textile artists. Below is the photo of our last class. Reiko’s apprentices have become textiles artists of their own and they are NUNO members as well.

Left to Right: Gaku Masui, Yuki Abe, Kazuhiro Ueno, myself, Reiko Sudo, Yumi Yasue and one is missing – Bun-chan!

After our last class my students gifted me this funny drawing of ourselves drawn by Yuki-san.

Reiko is also a professor at the Tokyo Zokei University of Art and Design in Japan. Last spring I was invited to give a guest lecture along with Reiko who also helped to interpret. The lecture was for her 4th year weaving students and the subject of it was 3 dimensional knitwear, explored through a variety of my designs that they continued on working.

And this morning I found out that those students completed their projects and then some! The students took their own approach with creative modifications of the existing pattern designs. But what is even cooler that their finished knits were turned into exhibit and are now on display at Tokyo Zokei University and Reiko named it creatively after my book title “Ori Ami Knits”!!!

This is such honor and these images are truly heartwarming, just like when I see photos of newly finished projects of others knit from my patterns!
I am really missing Japan this crisp Fall afternoon… And winter is coming soon, so time to be knitting away on those woolies and get ready. But it’s also time to get excited for my classes in the States are coming soon!

Irokata

 

I was planning to publish this design much earlier in the summer, but silly me for thinking that with major knitting deadlines and international moving I could keep up with all of my designated plans. Alas, making things works little by little! Finally got our furniture 2 days ago, and most excitingly my yarn and knitting chair. Would be nice not having to MacGyver things around the place on everyday basis.

I find, however, that a lot of my creativity thrives under pressure, so nothing like creating 7 new designs before taking that international move to keep one’s goals straight!

 

That time in April when things were warming up finally, I have started dreaming of wearing linen again and all the great benefits of it during a really humid summer as we have been having here on Atlantic coast. And keeping a close eye on fun color blocking trend of t-shirts, shoes, knits and everything popping in stores I decided to get my hands on some more of Shibui Linen. I have been looking forward to using that yarn again every since designing Sanagi dress previous summer, but using it as a single strand. Most of color blocking in my mind comes with a scary word to some – ” intarsia”, but this time I have decided to take a different approach.

Irokata – 色形 – from Japanese meaning “color form” or “essence of color” – is a great light summer tee that is designed to be worked flat and then utilizing some short rows for shaping and color direction, but nothing more complex beyond that. And in the end it is only 2 spots to graft and 2 mattress stitch seams that complete this summer tee.

 

The color placement lines are well thought-out as one can pick to do lighter front and darker back for a more visually slimming effect. Or the other way around, just like in the original to bring more attention to one’s shoulders and help to balance out body proportions.

 

Personally, I love to pay attention to every single detail and believe me there is a lot of deliberation and choice making goes into something as simple as why this increase method was used and not the other. To me, every design, however simple and minimal looking, needs to have that something special that any knitter can enjoy learning or doing with their hands for the sake of a perfect result. Maybe you can even spot the incorporated I-cord running along the sleeves’ edge. Quick and neat!

 

Irokata knits up fast even on US 4 needle, you start with less stitches and then you progress.
I now need one in a brighter color combination as well! Suitable really for any fingering weight linen or cotton or bamboo blends yarns that would provide enough drape and keep you cool with your favorite bottoms.



Queue IROKATA TEE on Ravelry

Level
Intermediate

To fit bust sizes
30-32 (34-36, 38-40, 42-44, 46-48, 50-52, 54-56, 58-60)”

Finished measurements
Bust 32 (36, 40, 44, 48, 52, 56, 60)”

Yarn
Shibui Linen (100% linen; 50g, 246yds/225m)
MC – color Tar 2 (2, 2, 2, 2, 3, 3, 3) skeins
CC – color Ash 2 (2, 3, 3, 3, 4, 4, 4) skeins

USD 8.00

buyitnowbutton

 

Thinking of Fall

Even though it’s August, many stores have started getting their Pre-Fall and Fall 2013 collections in already. There are some interesting trends and seeing all the knits certainly is exciting, inspirational and makes me look forward to cooler temperatures and maybe, just maybe wrangle up a new sweater for myself?! I am dreaming of knitting cables when the weather outside my AC bubble is trying to sky rocket to 100s again…  But maybe I will skip cable this year for in me favor of a big ribbed or loose pullover with oversized collar?


Reed Krakoff

Alexander Wang

Belfast

Gabriele Colangelo

Gabriele Colangelo

Celine

Rochas

Rochas

Rochas

VPL

VPL

VPL

One triangle, two triangle

 

I had to laugh thinking how many times has it taken me to get this shot! Road to perfection requires lots of attempts while taking a photo by yourself or have a photographer do it. It took me 23 tries.

This new pattern design Sankaku Shawl may looks deceiving that someone even suggested that I should have re-named it “This is not Crochet!” as there were so many people who confused this knit shawl worked in crochet or broomstick crochet. Sorry to disappoint you folks, but not sorry as it IS knit.
Sankaku means “triangle” in Japanese and that’s the impression this patterning gave me while working it up. It’s a mosaic of positive and negative triangles that has clean edges yet is very malleable and can easily be scrunched into a voluminous scarf.

 

I am personally very intrigued that there are still so many methods and ways of knitting to surprise. I think looking like non-traditional kind of knitting it can be a good challenge for knitters to test their skills.
To be precise, working short-rows, dropped stitches and if desired to learn how to work backwards – lots familiar techniques for intermediate knitters, but even beginners can wrap their mind around it just with a little bit of effort. It certainly helps to expand one’s horizons in sense of understanding  knitwear from a different standpoint.

 

One of the biggest joys of being back to the States was the luxury of being able to go to a yarn store and feel and see all the beautiful colors and fibers in yarn available.
I have picked new-to-me yarn to create this shawl and what a pleasure this yarn is to work with.
The Plucky Knitter Primo Sport has a unique blend of fibers and great tight twist of plies to keep the knit up fabric in a garment still very bouncy and crisp. And colors… let me say that I have been obsessed with the turquoise color for a while now as you can spy from my surprise hair color for the past or so year. But a good color that I love is called “Breakfast on 5th“… Think the color of the Tiffany’s box and Breakfast at Tiffany’s. That name is so smart! Sarah of The Plucky Knitter has been extremely supportive and a pleasure to work with. She and her team do amazing colors and no wonder The Plucky yarn is in such high regard and demand. All the yarns are colorfast regardless their intensity. What’s more, my local yarn store Fibre Space carries plenty of Plucky, so I know there is more of designs out of these yarns in my future.

 

Given the temperatures we have been having here in Northern VA this past week, summer knitting goes much easier while working on light sheer items. Sankaku Shawl first right into the category of fun summer knitting.
Not talking about designers like myself though, for us summer is a very busy season in preparation for upcoming cold weather, so in this household it’s lots of AC and cabled wooly knits in my lap.

 

And I know many might be curious but scared to try this pattern design, so to help and dispel any hesitation and mystery I have started a Knit-A-Long on Sankaku Shawl over at Olgajazzy Group on Ravelry. Please join us and share everything from your color and yarn choices and progress as well as if you need any help understand the technique. A photo tutorial is provided inside the pattern.

What will your Sankaku Shawl look like?

Some info about yarn and yardage
The Plucky Knitter Primo Sport (75% Wool, 20% Cashmere, 5% Nylon; 275 yards per 100g skein),
color “Breakfast on 5th”, 3 skeins.
OR 825 yds of any other sport weight yarn

USD 7.00

Tools of the trade. Part 2

I bet you never knew that the waste/scrap yarn that we normally use for provisional cast on sometimes comes in color and be a special one. In Japan, both Clover and the neon colored ones below by Munsell (a Yuzawaya company) make these colorful provisional cords. Provisional cord is very slick and comes in different thickness, and quite often just requires putting the stitches onto needle and then pulling the cord. It is so smooth that it comes off right away without need to unpick it one by one. Neat and very time efficient! I came across these for the first time in my machine knitting, since my Brother machine had one included in its tool kit. And bright stitch holders are just colorful notions that are also by Munsell.

 

Being a fan of everything versatile – function + appeal – I really got excited when I saw this! A cool sterling silver necklace with real pearls, but it is more than just a necklace. A friend in Seattle, the designer behind “Along the Briny Beach” has created this cool functional jewelry for knitters!

 

You get a long sterling silver necklace with a chain that wouldn’t tangle in your knits (like silk mohair sweater I am wearing in a photo) or your hair and a teardrop shape pendant that looks impressive on its own or when it is housing 6 real pearl stitch markers. One of which is different when you need to use a marker to indicate beginning of the round. Smart and thoughtful!
When all the markers are off and being used, there is still a pearl sitting at the base of the teardrop that doesn’t compromise the shape and appeal of this necklace! I love that Delores is offering so many custom lengths and colors of the pearls to choose from – so many tastes, so many choices! How about turquoise? The hip color for Spring this year!

 

Scissors for knitwear are quite important to have around. Especially those small ones. However, remember these are not good in case you are traveling!
From top to bottom:
Clover thread clippers are great for clipping short bits of yarn, but I’ve cut thin leather with them too. Very handy!
Merchant&Mills Wide Bow Scissors were a gift to me and they look rather extravagant. They are made in UK. I haven’t used them yet, but they are a great size and look.
Gingher 3.5″ Scissors – those who sew are very familiar with the brand name of these scissors and they are ones I use most. Tiny, sharp and rather minimalistic design that I like. Made in Italy.

 

Blocking and finishing of the knit item is as important as knitting your stitches at the correct gauge. Soaking the fibers of the yarn in your knit item helps all your stitches relax and for over 5 years I have been a Soak wash devotee. Being in Japan, I have discovered some new flavors they use in food like Yuzu, which is a citrus that grows here and used largely in cooking and absolutely delightful, tart, fragrant yet light. When I heard that Soak got new flavor Yuzu I couldn’t be more excited! I used Soak for washing all of my handknits and store bought knits. For work knits I use Scentless for many people can be allergic to different flavors (models or people who handle the garment in production). Personally, I have always liked Celebration scent and relatively new – Lacey scent. And now I am adding Yuzu to the list. Accompanied with Handmaid, a lotion that is great for when your hands dry out after knitting for many hours. Some agents that are used while processing yarns can affect the  skin on one’s hands, so some Handmaid to the rescue and put some silk or cotton gloves for even better effect. Travel size Soaks are also great, just carry one in my purse in case the klutz in me spills something on my clothes. Works great as a stain remover too and I don’t have to feel guilty in ruining my clothes!

 

Rolls Royce of blocking pins, at least to me! These are absolutely amazing, I think I have collected at least 4 sets of these and they are amazing for their “fork”, bent at the angle, the metal part moves and that way you can pin and pin to get a more even edge. These are made by Clover and their US site indicates it as a new product now! Worth the price and I don’t use my T-pins much anymore. Why? For each 10 T-pins I have to only use 5 of these steel pins. I have been using them for over 2 years now and I am not going back to anything else, because these are my absolute favorite, so get them when you can! I keep them in a nice deep bowl, so when I am ready to block I just grab it and set to work.

 

So here are my favorite tools and notions! I hope you find something useful for you and share with me if there is something special you found and I absolutely need to have!

Happy Knitting and I am back to packing boxes!

Tools of the trade. Part 1

 

I know many of you who knit are always in search of better tools and things that make our knitting life easier as in our stitches more even and knitting itself smoother. I am always on a hunt for new tools that makes my knitting process enjoyable and finished garments a success!
During my life in Japan I have discovered several interesting items that I haven’t encountered in the US market before and I thought today I would share my new finds as well as my old favorites. With the impending move back to us I made sure to stock up on some, but I really hope that these products will be available in the future in the continental US as well.

As any ideas start from a sketch or a doodle in a notebook, I found these particular notebooks extremely convenient. The dot grid inside allows you to build a grid if you like or to draw a chart or to create a schematic for your design using dots as visual points. A5 compact format allows me to always have it with me. They are from Muji, a Japanese chain store that literally is translated “No Brand”. There are 3 stores and online store in US already, so hopefully you can get your hands on them too.

 

Erasable pens! Maybe many of you have heard about those, but I discovered them only recently. They are tricky though – make sure you do not expose what you have written to extreme heat, as Wendy of Knit’n’Tonic blog discovered for herself – your writing will vanish!
But these are great “pencils” as they are smudge-proof and have great line definition. Pilot Frixion gel ink in a pen tends to run out quicker than any normal pen, so make sure to get plenty of refills!

 

Pilot Frixion also has an erasable highlighter marker – isn’t that awesome?! Mark what is necessary and when you are done, just erase it!
And for more permanent result I use Pilot Jetstream. All of the pens above are of my favorite 0.38 mm line gauge. Thin yet, not too thin.

Knitting needles are the #1 tool of any knitter. I have about 60 different kinds and materials and last year I met their replacement. Certainly, I still have the old ones sitting in their case all neatly organized, but I haven’t been using much of them except for the very small sizes since I got my hands on Addi Click Long Lace Tips Interchangeable Needle set.
Holy motherload of knitting needles! Skacel did it!
Besides a fashionably trendy hot pink case there are 8 needle sizes of shiny, smooth, long and POINTY needles. Ranging from size US 4 to US 11 which includes mostly used sizes by me I do not need to use any other needles! It’s so compact that it’s easy to travel with even for a short distances. Interchangeables make life so much easier!

 

The shiny army of pointy needles is crucial to my knitting because I am a combination knitter or “picker” and having a slick sharp point makes my knitting significantly faster. Skacel created Clicks with several options for the sets, there are bamboo, regular and shorter lace tips  – to each their own depending on your preference and needs.

 

And the cords.. the cords are magical and smart! The tiny holes on both ends of the cord allow you to pull through a strand of yarn if you need to create a lifeline. Just knit a row and the strand of yarn “lifeline” is simultaneously being carried through that row of stitches. Saves time and headache when it comes to ripping lace in case of a mistake.

 

Skacel has made it available for anyone to purchase extra cords and tips if necessary. My Long Lace tips Clicks set came with SOS cords of different lengths and a connector, but I decided that I needed more cords and the extra cord sets come with an extra connector. Connector essentially helps to create a longer cord in case you need one and you don’t have a 60″ cord in your set, for example.

 

But I see more useful applications for those connectors. Something that comes in very handy if you need to use that size needle tips for something else but they are occupied in another project. All you need to do is take the needle tips off and secure your stitches by locking the cord with stitches on it into a loop with the help of the connector! Voila! And you have a makeshift stitch holder! Or a funky necklace! 😀

 

And you bet that me and my Addi Clicks are inseparable! I think regardless the price if you knit a lot and realize how important it is to have quality tools that feel great in your hands, better your knitting experience and result they are worth every penny!

When it comes to notions I am a known fan for Clover products and I use many of them on a regular basis. I have been using Locking stitch markers for years and they are my “work horse” markers as they serve as markers and can be used as pins when I need to hold knit fabric together when seaming.
However, I was given as a gift these Merchant & Mills black bulb pins , that I use to attach tags for my garments during trunk shows, but their unusual shape actually allows me to use them as a handy stitch marker if I don’t have others on me. There is a limitation of course what size of the needle they would fit, but I thought it was cool way to utilize the “universally useful” statement on its box.

 

The Clover affair continues into my collection of crochet hooks that are either teflon-like covered hooks that come in many sizes and steel hooks that are sometimes are also called “needle hooks” for finer gauge crochet. Or as I discovered they are great to use when you work with beads in your knitting. A while back when I got the steel hooks on etsy they were only available in Japan, but now I know they are widely popular and sold in US. I don’t crochet much these days except for cast on and borders, but their ergonomic handle is quite comfortable!

 

I prefer to use good old double pointed needles when it comes to knitting in the round of small tubular parts of the garments or accessories. And although I have several Clover Bamboo Takumi Velvet DPNs, I have been using a lot and enjoying my set of Blackthorn DPNs made out of carbon fiber composite. Carbon fiber composite that is used in making some of the jets and airplanes and I guess living on a Naval Air facility for the past 3 years satisfied the geek in me when I am using these. Light as wood but behave like metal, they are very unusual and certainly hoping to grow my collection of these through time.

 

 

More about my favorite tools of the trade tomorrow!