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Just a Springtime Fiber Adventure April 22, 2014

This time of year the heart grows lighter as the temps grow warmer.

Suddenly it’s time to leave the confines and go a wandering…

A perfect destination?

Always: a fiber festival!

knit blog chic knitsThis last weekend I traveled out to Hood River for the Columbia Gorge Fiber Festival.

Now this was no ordinary day!

First of all, the drive from Portland through the Gorge is gorgeous (sorry)! The canyon road meanders along the Columbia River and in no time at all, one can feast their eyes on the Cascades and their outcroppings that come down to meet it.

From cliffs to unexpected waterfalls to some of the most lovely undulating green ever seen, there is a surprise around almost every curve. My friend Abbey, who’d never been this way before, wholeheartedly agreed. Just breathtaking – helped along by a on-again off-again rain shower. This is the land of rainbows, where the sunshine can be softly veiled by a tender mist…

What was waiting for us at the fest was another kind of banquet:

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Here, in a lovely high-ceilinged lodge-type room was an incredible assortment of all the types of things that make our little fibery hearts go pitty-patter while in the adjacent main building were workshops.

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From yarn (above is the Bumblebirch booth) to everything to make yarn

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including this forest of gorgeous drop spindles from Steve and Connie Paulsen of Spindlewood.

The festival was produced by the lovely Sarah Keller, (who I finally got to meet!) who also owns and operates Knot Another Hat on Oak Street in Hood River, one of the loveliest yarn stores I’ve ever been in -

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The picture I missed? A homey seating area that has a spectacular view of the river. Can’t wait to visit again and enjoy a little sit’n’knit!

I leave you with two Chic Knits as seen in the wild:

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AND some really really wild:

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This is a spectacular shot taken by Abbey out of a moving car window while I drove back to Portland – it was raining and making the mountains oh so misty…


Monday Muse April 21, 2014

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…(circa 1923) knitting in-the-round with friends, Albania via Frank Carpenter…

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MUSE: the Power of the Swatch April 17, 2014

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All day long 24/7 our brains are ingesting cues — into the mix pours a never-ending stream
of everywhere signals…

Putting together a new design takes the commitment to go down all sorts of roads.

The best itinerary is linear; draw, source, swatch, knit, etc. all the way to a modeled finished garment ready for its turn on whatever “runway” universe it is going to live.

This, however, is just like any other trip you take in life. It is never that straight of a shot. There’s always unexpected often third-party interruptions that make the road curve, change direction (or even disappear).

Consider: one of the primary essential functions of knitwear designing is matching a fiber to a style.

Chose one that is too dense and the garment is a one-man walking yurt; chose one that is too loose and drapey and the garment unintentionally goes to live only with the fairies.

And then, there is that quintessential moment: a look and feel that is not only wearable but tells a Story.

Shop any clothing site online and you will find those story categories. It would be odd indeed if all wearables were bunched together in a big closet in the sky and you only had to touch them with your magic wallet to get a match with all of the other pieces you might be putting together to make An Outfit. It takes engagement on your part.

This Outfit is your expression of the Story — where you take coverings for various parts of your body and sync them together to form a functioning whole.

Most often, An Outfit is tied to some kind of event. From your daily office wear to a walk down the aisle, there is going to be a stylized category that goes even deeper that lets you narrow your tale’s focus.

Different fabrics and styles combine together to make the statement that’s appropriate to an intended category.

Few people would wear denim to the prom or another type of touchstone elegant event; more people would wear something shiny, bright and a little more ethereal.

And when we’re knitting, we’re making those same decisions.

from the knit blog at Studio Chic Knits

Ultimately, we’re creating a fabric-centric wearable that has form and function. And here’s where it gets tricky.

Above you see a trio of swatches. One (no names to protect the innocent) is something that I recycled and thought would be perfect for a new prototype lurking on the design board.

It made it through about 1/3 of the way to the destination before it met its terrifying crossroad.

Up on the mannequin, there are no lies.

And even though this was shaping up to be a successful style, it was not making a successful fabric.

So back to the drawing board (or in a knitter’s case, the stash).

Two more similar gauge yarns took their turn on the needles. Only one continued on the journey.

While few would probably say it’s a best-case scenario to take steps back, in practice most often is the best choice. And, at this point, it is not that much of a detour because that huge “swatch #1″ was a fine proving ground that doesn’t have to be repeated, but now becomes a canvas to be edited and fine-tuned.

So, I embrace these changes as a fundamental part of the process.

This is a lovely round cul-de-sac not a dead end and that new momentum of having confidence in the fabric being created will boomerang a design straight towards its lovely finish.

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