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Archive for September 4th, 2008

Casual, Elegant Knits Blog Tour

Thursday, September 4th, 2008

I am honored to host the first day of the Casual, Elegant Knits (new book) Blog tour! This new book is hot off the press from Martingale. The authors are Dawn Leeseman and Faina Goberstein, both of California. drivers-cap-small.jpg

Thank you very much for having us today. We are very excited to have this opportunity to talk about our book. The work on Casual, Elegant Knits was very interesting and rewarding. It was so much fun to plan, choose the color schemes, select the yarns to harmonize with the stitch patterns, sketch our designs and work on other small components of the design process.

We have learned from each other and have become stronger designers as a result of our collaboration. As a side benefit of our venture we have become close friends. And now we cannot wait to see the projects from our book made by other people. These designs were ours for two years now it is time to share.

LynnH: I am happy to have you join me.

triple-pocket-bag-small2.jpgLynnH: Dawn, I understand that you have designed all the bags in the book. Personally, I’m really curious about the Triple Pocket Bag. I am very fond of the Autunno yarn you used (held along with linen), and I have designed with close stitch myself. Could you tell me about the bag?

Dawn: Sure, I would be happy to talk about it. For our Elegant Afternoon collection we wanted to design a replica of a European men’s bag. It needed to be very functional, stylish and practical so a man would like to have it.

As you know, knitted bags always have a problem with holding a shape. We had to find a way to make it sturdy. We chose Autunno from Di. Vé that was featured in the Driver’s Cap for the main yarn, and added a strand of linen that would not be necessarily visible, but would add to stability of the fabric.

A dense Honeycomb stitch pattern was selected for the body of the bag to create a nice surface texture. For the flap and pocket the Close Stitch pattern was used, to provide a subtle contrast and add some interest to the design. The needle size used was smaller than for normal density.

We worked on the initial part of this design together, but I wrote the pattern for it and knitted the bag. Atriple-pocket-bag-small1.jpg stabilizing fabric lining was inserted into the bag to give the bag the structure.

Even though this was designed as a man’s accessory, we feel that it is a unisex bag and will be a great addition to a woman’s collection. Check out the pretty colors that Di.Vé has to offer.

LynnH: Thank you, Dawn. That was very interesting. I see that in the same outfit there is a hat that goes well with that bag. A few of my friends in Lansing have been very excited about this design (which I believe is very wearable by women as well as men). Who designed it?

Faina: This is one of my designs. I admire a good hat on a man. The shape of Driver’s Cap was always very interesting for me. It definitely beats a ski hat in terms of construction. I drivers-cap-book.jpgam always on a look out for different shapes. It is one of the things that I really enjoy in a design process. This type of a hat is not for very cold weather and is elegant, so it fits our Elegant Afternoon mood.

To begin this design, I needed to find the yarn and the stitch pattern that will give me the look of corduroy fabric. After some search, Autunno from Di. V̩ was chosen for the color and softness. The form must be soft and must hold the shape at the same time Рnot an easy task. This part of design work for the book we always did together. It was so much fun to try many yarns available for us.

There was a need to reinforce the main yarn. The best solution at the time was to add the thin linen. Using small needles, these two yarns, and the Close Stitch, was a winning combination. The construction of the hat was inspired by an old hat that Dawn’s grandfather used to wear.

The hardest part for a knitter in the pattern is shaping by using short rows on the hat itself and in the visor. At the same time it is something to learn if the knitter is new to this. Short rows are used for so many different things. Shaping shoulders, neckline, darts, turning the heel, and making a circle are just a few examples. I have to confess that my first try for this hat came out too big (it is still hanging on my wall) and I had to recalculate this hat completely. I am pleased with the final result, though.

It does look like I envisioned it. It looks like it is made out of fabric. Now I am thinking that the choice of yarn was great for this hat, if you want to make it look tweedy. I can see it made out of a solid color also. I would not suggest to use any fuzzy or soft yarn like Alpaca or silk. Remember the shape of this hat is not like the shape of a beanie where your head is shaping the cap. This hat has a shape of its own and it is a complement for your head.

So, Lynn, what is new with you? What are you designing and what is in your plans?

LynnH: My primary business is teaching knitting and related subjects, and we are heading into the busy season, which is exciting. Last year I did quite a bit of teaching outside of my local Lansing, Michigan area (including Dallas-Ft. Worth Fiberfest in April ’07) and I am putting together some plans to travel again in ’09. This year I have released my three most popular patterns ever, including the ZigBagZ collections (pronounce ZIG-Bags), both Maxi and Mini ; and the three-colored unmatching set of six Chippy Socks for Kids.

I have always loved colorful stranded knitting. Many of my more recent patterns evolved from my teaching of new knitters, and thus used only one color of yarn. These last three designs are all very colorful stranded knitting projects.

In October I will travel to Washington DC to the Textile Museum where they currently are showing an exhibit including some hats from the Andes. I own four hats from this region which are exquisitely knit at very dense gauges, some with three colors in one row. I am working on increasing my understanding of this particular knitting niche. There is little written material available on this culturally expressive colorful knitting style/form.

I did the same type of exploration with four pairs of Turkish socks I acquired a few years back, and I have been teaching Turkish Sock Design ever since. I continue to learn about Turkish socks, which can have many different forms, and I hope to get closer to that place with these amazing hats, as well.

ZigBagZ patterningI have also taken out an advertisement in the Interweave Knits Gift issue this fall, highlighting the ZigBagZ Maxi Collection (two larger carry-all bags in felted stranded knitting, for a large purse or a knit project carrying bag). I will be having some ad-related festivities here on my blog during the first week that issue hits the newsstands.

Faina: Thank you, Lynn, very much. It was great talking to you.

Tune in tomorrow for the Blog tour to continue. Carol Sulcoski, one of the authors of Knit So Fine and writer of Go Knit in Your Hat, will be hosting next.

Photos of hat and bag courtesy of Martingale and Company, photographed by Brent Kane. Photo of colorwork ZigBagZ pattern, ColorJoy by LynnH