After many months from concept to execution, the patterns in the Ferrovia booklet are finally finished and ready for purchase.
It was while we were living in Como, Italy that I started to take note of the many examples of decorative wrought iron around the city: gates, fences, transoms, railings; many were simple or oft-repeated, but occasionally I would spot a unique and/or particularly striking specimen. However, the inspiration for this first booklet came from the Exposition des Arts Decoratifs, an exhibition of architecture and decorative arts held in Paris in 1925, and which gave rise to the term "Art Deco;" after my interest in wrought iron was piqued by our time in Como, I found a book which included photos of many of the unique wrought iron pieces from this exhibit.
I confess that much as I love the results of stranded knitting, for me it is a slow process, as I have not yet learned to carry a color in each hand, or two colors in one hand; I pick up and drop the separate strands of yarn each time there is a color change. So I decided very early on to use stranded motifs as accents rather than an allover pattern.
Technically the stranded portions of the two sweaters are a bit challenging; although the swirls within the motics do mirror each other, they are linked in such a way that the overall designs are asymmetrical. The hat motif is simpler, and clearly symmetrical. The longest floats span 7 stitches in the Renee Pullover, 6 stitches in the Quotidiana Hat, and 8 stitches in the Brandt Cardigan.
The Renee Pullover, Quotidiana Hat and Brandt Cardigan can be purchased as separate patterns (all patterns are sold in the form of downloadable PDF files); each individual sweater pattern is $7, and the hat pattern is $4. But the Ferrovia booklet, at $12, is a substantial savings (33%) over the total price of the individual patterns.
Now that these patterns are finished, I can turn to an extensive library of photos of wrought iron I took around Como for further inspiration; and then there is all of the wonderful Art Deco ironwork in New York City; Paris; San Francisco; the gorgeous Niagara Mohawk building in Syracuse, NY (where I grew up); and then I can envision not only stranded, but cabled and textured designs using wrought iron as inspiration... so perhaps someday I will get around to Ferrovia booklets II, II, IV....
I have a pattern in the new Summer 2012 issue of interweave Knits: the Menemsha Pullover. The lace cable pattern I used for the yoke is one of my all-time favorites. It was created by Norah Gaughan for the "Open Rib Cable Pullover," first published in VK Summer 2005. I loved this pullover's vertical lines, and when I spotted the lace cable stitch pattern again, in the VK Stitchionary 5, I knew that if I were to include it in a design, I would have to come up with a very different way of utilizing it. So I played with several ways of using it sideways as a sweater yoke, and while swatching, discovered that openings could be gracefully incorporated into the stitch pattern.
I was lucky enough to meet Norah Gaughan in person at the last VK Live, and told her I had incorporated her original stitch pattern into one of my designs. I wasn't sure how she would respond, but she told me that she feels that once a garment pattern has been published, stitch patterns used in that garment may be utilized in other designs. Good to know, for any Norah Gaughan fans like me!
I also was lucky enough to meet Stacy Charles at VK Live-- yes, that Stacy Charles, of Tahki Stacy Charles and S. Charles Collezione yarns (producers of Solaris, the lovely linen/rayon blend yarn used in Menemsha). Unfortunately when I mentioned to him that I had just used one of his yarns for a design for Interweave Knits, he asked me which yarn it was, and I couldn't remember. Duh.
Anyway. I noticed that in the IK photos, the neck opening looks extremely wide. I think it was photographed like that so that the edges of the neck opening are straight. But as you can see in the above photo, the sweater also looks very nice with the neckline draped slightly, and in fact the sweater sits more naturally this way-- and then the ends of the neck opening are not so close to slipping off the shoulders.
By the way, Menemsha is a fishing village on Martha's Vineyard; the interwoven cables and netlike panels within Menemsha's yoke reminded me of a fisherman's nets and lines, heaped on a dock and bleaching in the sun.
...now, back to work!
Here is a sneak preview of the Brandt Cardigan, knit in yummy Frog Tree Meriboo (merino/bamboo). I'm hoping to have the pattern done sometime in May. (As usual, my seasonal timing in releasing patterns is perfect...perfectly off, that is.)
(No knitting content today!)
Here is a sneak preview of the Quotidiana hat, the next design in the Ferrovia series, inspired by wrought iron architectural accents. The large-scale stranded border was patterned after a wrought iron grille from the Exposition of the Decorative Arts in Paris in 1925. I added garter stitch earflaps, spiraled tassels, and a contrast rolled edge-- but these can also be easily omitted for a simpler cap. Pattern coming soon!
And the winner of Connie Chang Chinchio's Textured Stitches is Misty! Misty, please email me with your mailing address (I also sent you an email using the address on your blog).
In other news, I am trying to finish up a project that I've been repeatedly placing on the back burner for months now (as other, more urgent deadlines have come and gone). I rather ambitiously pictured this collection of three patterns as the first in a series, inspired by wrought iron architectural accents, especially Art Deco. The patterns are for a pullover, a hat, and a cardigan, all incorporating stranded motifs inspired by wrought iron designs from the Exposition des Arts Decoratifs in Paris in 1925 (the exhibition which gave rise to the term "Art Deco"). I plan to offer the patterns for sale both together and individually, and hopefully they will be finished within the next month or so. (And as for future installments in the series-- who knows?!)
So here is a sneak preview of the Renee pullover, the first pattern in the Ferrovia series. An Italian word, "ferrovia" is a combination of "ferro"-- iron, and "via"-- way or route; although "ferrovia" is used to mean "railroad" in Italian, for my purposes I have chosen to interpret it in a more literal way.
Why beware the Ides of March when this might be your lucky day??* If you leave a comment telling me your favorite warm-weather knitting project (I'm always trying to work in a little market research!) you may be the winner of Textured Stitches, the lovely new book of patterns by Connie Chang Chinchio (all photos copyright Interweave Press).
These patterns exemplify Connie's talent for combining classic, wearable silhouettes with original, carefully placed details. Most of the designs combine various textured accents with smooth stockinette-- a great combination both while knitting (to stave off boredom while still allowing speedy progress), and while wearing (to elevate the finished project above the ordinary, and to call attention to areas such as neck, shoulders and wrists).
The majority of the patterns are sweaters, but there are also a number of accessories. Some of my favorites are pictured, including the two I test-knitted: the Professoressa Cardigan and the AnnaMaria Cardigan. I found the directions for these two patterns clear, logical, and easy to follow.
I also thought the photography was done very well, and with the knitter in mind: not only were the photos nicely composed and well-lighted, there are photos of almost every project from both front and back, AND photos of important small details such as collars, cuffs, side seams, and textured stitch patterns.
By the way, if you are already familiar with Connie's designs, you may be aware of her preference for finer gauge yarns-- but there are also several patterns using worsted weight yarns in this book.
Altogether a great addition to anyone's pattern book library!
(At left, detail of the Olivia Shawl).
*Comments may actually be left until midnight March 18th (Sunday).
It's been awhile since I've posted on my design process, so here are some progress notes and photos for a design I am now working on.
While at VK Live I was swatching for a cowl; I wanted to use a lace stitch pattern with decreases and yarnovers on every round, to keep the knitting interesting, and to generate a lot of movement and texture within the stitch pattern. I decided to use Spud & Chloe Sweater, a worsted-weight superwash wool/organic cotton blend, for its soft, squishy hand, great stitch definition, ease of care (machine washable), and neck-friendliness.
The original stitch pattern (above) was from a Japanese stitch dictionary, with the motif staggered (note the resemblance to "Frost Flowers," which has the same petal-like sections), and with rows of garter stitch inserted between lace pattern sections. I wanted the garter stitch rows to form continuous waves, so for my first swatch, I got rid of the staggered repeats. This resulted in double yarnovers on some rows, which I didn't like, so I added a stitch between repeats. I also decided to try a double decrease at the "peak" of the diagonal decreases, instead of having adjacent left- and right-leaning decreases. But I didn't like the garter stitch rows at all-- it seemed like there was just too much texture going on for a small piece like a cowl-- so I frogged that swatch.
For my next swatch (left), I got rid of the garter stitch rows. I liked the smoother overall look much better. I also worked some decreases into the stitch pattern, to make the finished cowl narrower at the top than the bottom: there are decreases on every row for the first few rows, and then on every other repeat. If you look closely, you can see that I also experimented with different double decreases at the center of the swatch: right stitch on top, center stitch on top, left stitch on top-- but I didn't really like any of them. So I decided to go back to adjacent decreases at the "peaks"- I thought this would give more defined shape to the petal-like areas.
Third swatch! I liked the "petals" better in this one, but halfway up the swatch, I added a purl stitch between them, to give them even more definition. I also added ribbing at the bottom, to soften the angles formed at the bottom edge by the abrupt decreases in the first few rows. Getting there... but now I realized that the decreases I had worked into the pattern were not decreasing the width of the repeat fast enough for my purposes-- I wanted the finished cowl to be about 28 inches in circumference at the base, and about 16 inches at the top-- about a 40% decrease.
Last swatch: instead of decreasing two stitches on every other repeat, I decreased two stitches on every repeat, and added additional decreases just before the top ribbing. The only thing I didn't like about this swatch was the purl stitch halving the bottom center section, so I decided not to begin the purl column until the "petals" first meet in the middle (see photo below). Close enough! I decided on a cowl with six pattern repeats and got started.
I did a little more tinkering with the top edge: at first the decreases before the ribbing were too drastic, creating a turtleneck effect, so I ripped back and re-did the top edging a couple of times, before arriving at the final version. I then wet-blocked, shaping the cowl to accentuate the curves in the bottom edge.
Hmmm... too wimpley? I do mean wimple-y, not wimpy, as in too wimple-like. Or maybe that's not such a bad thing. Thoughts??
Then...I started thinking about using the "cowl" as a capelet instead, or maybe the yoke for a sweater....
Thanks to everyone for your comments. I did not expect that virtually everyone's favorite lace project would be a shawl or stole! But perhaps I should have-- after all, a shawl is perfect for showing off beautiful lace stitches without worrying about pesky things like shaping, armholes, etc.
I was also touched by how many lace projects had a very special story associated with them-- including that of Robin in VA, who is the winner of Stitch 'N Bitch Superstar Knitting. Robin, please email me your mailing address so I can get your book in the mail to you!
Please purchase my patterns from Ravelry.com until I get download link issues resolved! And do not use the "Contact Me" Link--it is not working! Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or comments.
Featured pattern: The Treccione Pullover features a wide cabled yoke, worked sideways, then grafted; stitches for the body and sleeves of this classically shaped pullover are then picked up from the edge of the yoke, and worked down in the round. See more patterns