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Studio Chic Knit Blog

MUSE: the Power of the Swatch April 17, 2014

knit blog
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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The Fiber Gallery and Chic Knits invite you… April 8, 2014


If you’ve been knitting for awhile, you know it doesn’t take very long to find and make good friends…

Back in the beginning days of Chic Knits, some of the first knitterly folks I met and had fun with were the ladies from The Fiber Gallery up in Seattle, WA, the lovely Mary Harris and Jessica Rose.

We’ve been on each other’s needles ever since, in KAL’s, the shop and shows and now, I am happy to announce, we’re going On The Road together!

This year, the Fiber Gallery is celebrating their 10th Anniversary and as part of their yearlong celebration they are hosting a wonderful event.


And, what’s really thrilling for me, is that it’s going to travel through my neck of the woods!

This past fall, I toured and kayaked the Deshute River region and fell in love. It is a most beautiful area of the Pacific Northwest, an area surrounded by mountains but with rolling high desert plains graced with beautiful rivers and lakes.

In the middle of all this lovely nature is Shaniko, home to Dan and Jeanne Carver and their 30,000 acre Imperial Stock Ranch. Here you’ll find a continuously worked spread that’s been around since 1871.

It’s peaceful and beautiful and the perfect spot for the Fiber Gallery celebration:

IMPERIAL STOCK RANCH RETREAT

  • When: October 24-27, 2014
  • Where: Shaniko, OR
  • What: 4 days of yarn fun on Oregon’s scenic Deschutes River

Join me for a great day of workshops where you’ll explore and learn to master sweater architecture for your unique size, style and wearability…

For the complete schedule and to register
click HERE

Hope to see you there!
 …Bonne Marie

Knitting Tips & Techniques – April 1, 2014

Knitting Tips: Chic Knits Knit Blog
v.3 How I Knit Sleeves

I’ve said this before and I’ll say this again: Knitting Sleeves is in the top 10 things knitters (including me) just don’t like to do…
 
But what’s a sweater without sleeves? (three guesses and the first two don’t count cuz that’s a joke son!)


Lately, in the multi-project sample world I’m living in, there are WIP’s in various stages all over the place, so at the very least, if I am stumbling in my motivation to finish something, I can reward myself by working for a short while on a different design.

But at some point, it just has to be done…

Here’s how I knit sleeves without losing my mind:

  • one part Organization: gathering all the materials together that will make it a less frustrating outing. On hand? Needles, wound yarn, hanging stitch markers, measuring tape and snacks. :)
  • one part Nurturing: not procrastinating to the point of having to do both sleeves in less than 2 days – no elbow blow outs or repetitive stress please.
  • one part Commitment: know that the thing is just not going to knit itself and the only way I can wear or show the new garment is by biting the bullet (and then biting some chocolate).
  • and most importantly — one part Temptation: mainly in the form of viewables (movies, tv, netflix, etc) heavily supplemented by liberal periodic rewards of, again(!) bitti-bites of chocolate, not a lot, just a smalll break in the proceedings. THIS is my version of being a (sleeve) WHISPERER…and I will attest, it works.

Here’s what I’m working on right now – the first sleeve of a sample cardigan in lovely blue 10 ply wool — this is the result of two evenings knitting –

Knit Blog

All of the above tips were corralled and put into play in the making of this sleeve.

The viewable? Game of Thrones Season 3: episodes 1-4!

This is actually a little more of an action/intense oriented background event than I usually indulge in because of…

…no, not all the sword-play BUT the the fantastic WARDROBE dressing that is on all of the characters!

It’s a bit distracting because I want to stop and rewind and inspect the details of all those glorious costumes instead of keeping up a nice even tempo with my stitching.

This sleeve is being worked in-the-round (top-down) using two circular needles. This, for me, is the fastest way to make a consistently even fabric. YMMV, toolwise but the goal is the same.

Also, I’ve used my favorites, hanging markers to easily keep track of all of the sleeve shaping. Before I started, while gathering the yarn, needles and measuring tape, I counted out markers according to the number of decreases the pattern called for, using one color for the first row-decrease rate and a second color for the other row-decrease rate.

After I complete a shaping decrease, I hang a marker through the center of it. That leaves a trail of marker “bread crumbs” along the shaping line and there is no need to count anything except the rows/rounds between the decreases. When your markers are used up, your sleeve is almost done.

Then, when I’m making the second one, I take the markers from sleeve #1 as I make decreases on sleeve #2.

This is the easiest way to to not having to seriously pay attention while you’re stitching! You can just go round and round and round and every 8 or six or ten rounds or whatever’s called for, do the shaping as needed.

Not sure if I should admit this, but if it’s a Stockinette st sleeve, chances are I’m not even looking at it for a great amount of time while I’m working on it. At some point, a rhythm gets going and you only have to engage visually when you feel the end of the section and turn for the next needle’s worth of stitches.

All the more merry time to watch the on-screen drama or reach for that chocolate reward…

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