Yarn: A Film With Fiber Friends

Last week I invited my crocheting friend Brittanny of Loops and Bounds Co. to join me at a local screening of the film “YARN” in Atlanta. It was a morning filled with fiber friends, free giveaways and a really great film.

YarnPoster.png

The Atlanta Knitting Guild hosted the screening at a local movie theater, and they went all out to make sure everyone had a great time. Thanks for such a fun experience!

I’ve never seen so many people excited to talk about and watch a movie about yarn. There were beautiful handknit scarves and sweaters everywhere I looked. And the patterns were unlike many that I’ve seen, like this one called “Fox Paws.”

“YARN” is a movie from Una Lorenzen, Heather Millard and Thordur Jonsson. It follows four artists who are redefining knitting, crochet and traditional views of how use yarn.

Take a look at the trailer for the film:

I loved everything about this film. The colors, the artistic effects, the narration, the artists … everything.

It starts with narration from writer Barbara Kingsolver about the joy of yarn, knitting, and all it encompasses.

And in spite of their various natures, all these strings can be lured to sit down together and play a fiber concerto whole in the cloth.       – Barbara Kingsolver

The animation of yarn strings dancing across the screen paired with these words from Kingsolver was absolutely my favorite part about the entire film. I could watch those scenes every day.

But the artists featured in the film were the focus, and the filmmakers told their stories in beautiful ways.

yarn4

Tinna Þórudóttir Þorvaldsdóttir appeared first on screen in Iceland. She’s a yarnbomber, and throughout the film you follow her from windy, sheep-filled Iceland to Spain and then to Cuba. Her perspective on women and knitting is inspiring.

yarn2

Toshiko Horiuchi MacAdam is a textile artist from Japan who began crocheting playground sculptures for children in the ’70s. “YARN” followed her to one of her installations at an Italian museum where kids could swing, climb and jump within her crocheted structure.

yarn3

Tilde Björfors and Cirkus Cirkör looked at yarn as more of a metaphor for life’s entanglements and struggles. The acrobats in the performance had really interesting perspectives on how they portray those ideas in the show — and the acrobatics were just plain cool to watch 🙂

yarn1

OLEK is a crochet artist taking her own path into the art world. Her scenes had the most laughter and reaction from the movie screening crowd because she was just so fun to watch. She crocheted entire body suits for friends and set them free into the city streets, covered an entire locomotive in yarn, and crafted a mermaid tail for a swimmer and took it straight to the ocean.

And because Atlanta Knitting Guild is so amazing, check out the stash of free patterns and yarn I came away with!

yarnfilmloot_edited

I love this mohair pattern book that was included, but alas, looks like I need to learn German to read any of the patterns.

GermanPattern_edited.jpg

This Saturday morning was one that knitters and crocheters dream about — a chance to spend time with other yarn lovers, meet up with new fiber friends (hi, Brittanny!), and get to know my local knitting guild. I’m really interested in learning more about the guild, and I wouldn’t have really known about them without this fun experience.

You can stream “YARN” online a few different ways, or see if it’s coming to a theater near you.

And you can read Barbara Kingsolver’s incredible essay here.

YARN film stills via facebook.com/yarnthemovie.

Knitting Challenge: Arm Knitting

The 2017 Knitting Challenge is officially underway!

This post is belated, but on the last weekend of January I decided to tackle an item off my Knitting Challenge list — arm knitting.

Arm knitting really started showing up in magazines and all over Pinterest last year or so. It’s easy for non-knitters to pick up since no needles are involved, and it only takes 45 minutes or so to make a project as big as a blanket.

But I never tried it — or it’s cousin, finger knitting — because I thought it wouldn’t be as fun or satisfying as traditional knitting.

How very wrong I was.

I am officially an arm knitting evangelist.

My boyfriend surprised me with this Ohhio merino yarn for my birthday in December. It was giant, it was soft, and we had 4kg to work with.

ball

Do you SEE how big this one ball is?? That’s a regular size coaster and candle on the right for reference.

I didn’t do much research about how to arm knit until the moment I was ready to begin. I figured it couldn’t be that difficult since I know how to knit.

But actually, when you’re used to knitting on a small scale and all of a sudden the yarn is almost as thick as your wrist, it’s a little hard to catch on to! I felt like a character in “Honey, I Shrunk The Kids,” and it was a little hard to adjust my brain and muscle memory at first.

But Ohhio has a great gif-filled tutorial that I just kept watching over and over. And soon I had my arms laden with wool.

arm1

That’s my upper arm on the left and fingers poking out on the right.  

img_20170129_180543_197

My furry friend really wanted in on the merino fun.

Before I knew it, the two GIANT balls of merino yarn were turning into a wonderfully chunky blanket.

arm3

Each stitch is not perfect on my blanket, but I shaped it a bit at the end to even out some of the most lopsided stitches.

img_20170129_211643_763

I made the Medium blanket size in the tutorial and it is perfect for laying at the foot of my queen bed. It comes about halfway up the mattress.

This project was so much fun, and I was sad when it ended so quickly! I imagined it taking at least a weekend because knitting a blanket this big with regular yarn can take months.

I’m really inspired to find other arm knitting (and finger knitting) projects. My Pinterest board is gathering a few ideas, and the blog Flax & Twine is filled with unique projects, like baskets and pet beds.

But while I’m dreaming up my next arm knitting project, here are my five tips and takeaways for when you try to make this blanket for yourself.

Arm Knitting Tips & Takeaways:

  • Don’t keep the loops on your arms too tight. You’re making the loops at your wrists, but eventually those loops have to fit all the way on your upper arm. And, well, my upper arms aren’t quite the same size as my wrists 🙂
  • Try sitting instead of standing. This much yarn gets heavy to hold on your arm. Find a space to sit where you have lots of room to let it lay instead of hang, even if it’s the floor.
  • Have a friend there with you! When you get all the loops on your arms, you can’t exactly bend your arms or stand up to go get the second ball of yarn. You’re going to feel like the Michelin Man. It helps to have someone there who can unravel the ball as you go and make sure the second one is there waiting for you.
  • Make sure you have enough free time to make your project in one sitting. Arm knitting goes by really fast once you get into the rhythm of the “knitting.” But you can’t exactly close up your half-completed project in a bag and leave the needles on until you’re ready to work on it again tomorrow. It’s just easier to do it all at once. This blanket took me about one hour or so.
  • If you have kids or pets, consider a different yarn than this merino. It’s basically loose roving so if you rub on it much, tufts of yarn are going to rub off. Mine has been perfectly fine over the last few weeks, but I’m mostly leaving it untouched on my bed. It’s also not machine washable. Ohhio is, however, coming out with a new machine washable extra chunky yarn.

I’m glad I chose arm knitting as my first challenge to cross off my 2017 Knitting Challenge list. It was fun, relatively easy, and I now have a super warm merino wool blanket to keep me warm for the rest of the winter.

I’m not sure which challenge I’ll be choosing next, but looks like I better get started soon since February is halfway over now!

Looking for more arm knitting inspiration? Check out my Arm Knitting Pinterest Board here.

Missed the original 2017 Knitting Challenge post? Catch up on all my goals here.

New Pattern: Two Hearts Handwarmers

We’re just about a week away from Valentine’s Day, so it’s time to kick those knitting needles into high gear.

Yesterday I talked about a fun craft project you can make with some pompoms and floral wire (no knitting experience required!). My sister and I had a great time making those.

Check out the Valentine’s Day Pompom Wreath instructions here >

But now I can finally share this heart-themed knitting pattern I’ve been working on!

Meet the Two Hearts Handwarmers:

twoh4_edited_edited

These fingerless mitts bring out one of my favorite things about a simple, little ol’ knitting stitch: the v’s of each stitch look like tiny hearts if you look closely.

I made a few swatches and came up with this vertical pairing of two “hearts.” I love the way they look like a perfect accessory for Valentine’s Day, but the pattern is also subtle so they can be worn year round.

twoh1

Keeping this as a fast, easy pattern was top of mind for me as I was designing the warmers. I rarely plan far in advance for smaller holidays like Valentine’s Day, but I always get inspired to do a ton of last-minute crafts.

The Two Hearts Handwarmers are knit flat then seamed up the sides (with a space left open for your thumb to peek through). I love doing colorwork in the round so I don’t have to purl at all, but I promise the two-sided colorwork here is still easy.

And look how pretty you can make the wrong side when you only have two colors to manage:

img_20170131_190903_721

As the designing of the pattern was coming to a close, I started thinking about what to call these fun little handwarmers. Well, there’s the obvious “two hearts in the pattern” inspiration for the name Two Hearts Handwarmers, but there’s also this song from Katie Herzig. Give it a play, and I think you’ll see why I hear it every time I look at these handwarmers:

(Two hearts are so much better than one, right?!)

I mentioned one of the things I love about the pattern here is that it’s subtle. It doesn’t scream “HEARTS! LOVE! VALENTINE’S DAY!” like a lot of other themed accessories can.

So I’m looking forward to making these in other color combinations for other times of the year. Here are some color pairings I’m thinking of for my second set:

The yarns above are Knit Picks Brava Worsted in  colorways (starting with top row, left to right) Almond, Clarity, Dove Heather, Blush, Persimmon and Fig.

The Two Hearts Handwarmers knitting pattern is available in both my Ravelry and Etsy shops.

P.S. If you’re looking for a fun Valentine’s hat project, check out my Be Mine Valentine’s Hat pattern on Ravelry. It’s a FREE download!

Valentine’s Day Pompom Wreath: Free Craft Project!

20170204_162833.jpg

Valentine’s Day has always been a day for making fun, cute crafts with my sister. There’s been everything from tissue paper flowers to heart shaped cookies over the years. If you pass through the room during these crafting days, you’re most likely to hear only the words “How cute!””Look at this!” and “Aww, I love that!” over and over.

So why make this year any different? The tradition continues! And we’re crafting a bit earlier than normal so you can make one of your own by Valentine’s Day.

The idea for this super simple Valentine’s Day project came to me right as I was climbing into bed one night. I was doing some cleaning earlier that day and found a bag of unused faux flowers and floral wire. (At some point it was supposed to be a flower crown but, well, I never made it.) I wondered what else I could use the floral wire for, and so the 2017 Valentine’s Day craft idea started to form.

What if I took that floral wire, shaped it into a heart and strung red, white and pink pompoms onto it for Valentine’s Day? So simple! Plus it’s easy for both knitters and non-knitters (but my knitting friends will especially love how they can use up leftover balls of yarn in this project).

To do this craft, just gather up some floral wire, yarn and a pompom maker.

Oh, and put on the tea kettle. Because what’s a good old fashioned crafting day without some tea?

Check out the instructions below to make your own Valentine’s Day Pompom Wreath.

Valentine’s Day Pompom Wreath

Free Valentine’s Day Craft Project

Materials

  • Floral wire
  • Various Valentine’s color yarn (pink, red and/or white)
  • Pompom maker (any size you’d like; we used the 1 5/8 in. size)
  • Scissors

Crafting Time

Approx. 1 hour

Instructions

  1. Cut 18 in. of floral wire for a heart approx. 7 in. tall. If the wire is thin like ours was, cut 2 lengths and twist them together to make the heart frame sturdier. It’ll get weighed down some as the pompoms go on.
  2. Using your hands, carefully bend the floral wire into a heart shape. The ends of the wire should be positioned at the point where the two curves at the top of the heart meet. Leave the ends disconnected for now — we’ll join them together at the end of the craft!20170204_145834
  3. Start making your pompoms! Choose one color, alternating colors or three colors at random. Maybe even try making a two-color or color-dipped pompom.20170204_1646232

    You can try a different size pompom maker than we used as well. Mix it up and use multiple sizes on one heart, if you’d like. This step is entirely up to you. Just keep it fun and let it reflect your personality! That’s the only rule here.

  4. After you’ve made a handful of pompoms, start stringing them onto the wire right through the center of the ‘pom. Position the first one at the bottom point of the heart. Continue to fill both sides of the wire heart with your pompoms until there’s no space left.20170204_162242.jpg
  5. Carefully secure the wire ends by twisting the two together. Adjust the pompoms to cover up the twist.20170204_162326

That’s it! Congrats on your new craft!

If you want to change things up and make some different versions of your Valentine’s Day Pompom Wreath, try these ideas:

  • Cut a longer length of wire for a bigger heart, or do a smaller one with less wire.
  • Vary your pompoms by size and color, as mentioned in Step 3.
  • Tie a fun ribbon on to help hang it.

Check out my sister’s and mine side-by-side. Hers is the fun multicolored one. Mine reminds me of a fluffy bunny tail with that white pompom at the bottom.

20170204_164551.jpg

 

And that’s our 2017 Valentine’s Day craft project! We had a fun time making these in one afternoon, and hope you have a great time doing the same.

P.S. Knitter Friends, stay tuned for a brand new Valentine’s Day special pattern release. It’s a fast, fun project that there’s still time to do before the special day!

 

 

The 2017 Knitting Challenge

I’ve decided 2017 will be THE year.

The year for more…
knitting
reading
organizing
learning
stashbusting
writing
dreaming big
…and designing big.

Yes, I know this declaration is nothing new to read. January is when we’re all thinking about how to make this year better than the last. But this year I’m feeling really motivated. (Maybe a 30th birthday at the end of the year has something to do with it.)

I know exactly what makes me happy, what makes me feel refreshed, and what I want to work towards. I want more of the good stuff! And for me, that’s THIS. Knitting, writing, envying other knitter’s projects, and learning new techniques.

And that brings me to the 2017 Knitting Challenge.

I love lists, and one of the last things I did in 2016 before the holidays was make my 2017 Knitting Challenge list. So this year will be all about crossing off each line and having fun along the way.

What’s in my 2017 Knitting Challenge? I’m so glad you asked.

I’ve picked a variety of techniques, methods and experiences to fine tune my knitting skills and challenge me as a designer. They won’t all be complicated, but they’ll all be fun to try out. I’ll choose a new one each month and will be blogging along the way. So hopefully by the end of the year I can say that I’m better at my craft. Or that at least I tried 🙂

2017 Knitting Challenge List

  • Brioche
  • Steeking
  • Welting
  • Fair Isle
  • Double-Sided Color Knitting
  • 2-at-a-Time Socks
  • Duplicate Stitch
  • Latvian Braid
  • Arm Knitting (new addition, see below…)
    Completed February 2017! Check out the post here >
  • Participate in a Knit-A-Long (KAL)
  • Use My Knitting Loom
  • Adapt a Pattern
  • Make My Own Version of Something I See in a Magazine, Movie, TV, Etc.

So stay tuned, join me in your own knitting challenge, and wish me luck!

P.S. Have a technique you’d like to see me try? Leave a comment below! I’ll try to work it in as a bonus #13.

UPDATE: My boyfriend reminded me about the project we were supposed to do together – arm knitting a macro blanket. How could I forget that? So arm knitting is now included, too!

January 2017

What to Knit: The Fall Edition

Autumn is my time. It’s the excitement of seeing the leaves change, feeling the crisp air return after a long, hot summer, and seeing so many great new things to knit on magazine and book shelves.

I recently went to the bookstore to flip through some of the latest issues of my favorite knitting magazines, and came home with the Fall/Winter 2015 issue of knit.purl and the Fall 2015 edition of Vogue Knitting.

magazines

 But as soon as I opened knit.purl and saw designer Amanda Bell’s Skinny Pop Pullover, I knew that was the sweater with which I wanted to welcome the coming cold weather. It has a classic feel, just enough detail to keep it interesting, long lines so I don’t have to extend the length for my torso, and just a pop (or, “skinny pop”) of beautiful fall color that will keep it (fingers crossed) a staple in my wardrobe for years to come. I ordered the yarn this morning, so as soon as it arrives, expect my needles to be busy knitting away.

poppullover

In the meantime, what am I keeping busy with? Stash busting!

I just recently finished a cotton sweater for in-between seasons that used up some yarn that I bought (cough, cough) five years ago. I love the drop shoulder and visible seaming in Patty Lyons’ #01 Scoop-Neck Pullover.

magentapullover1     magentapullover2

And now for something that takes less focus when following the pattern but has perhaps even more impact, I’m working on Color Affection by Veera Välimäki. Sometimes you need a pattern palette cleanse after making a sweater, right?

ColorAffection

So here’s to fall knitting and finishing more projects rather than just buying new stashes of yarn!

Follow my projects on Ravelry

A Visit to My Local Alpaca Farm (And Baby Hats!)

A dream of mine is to quit my job and WWOOF for a year on a working fiber farm. Whether or not I would (or could) actually make that happen is still up in the air. So when I discovered there was a working alpaca farm only about an hour away from me and that they gave tours, I immediately made a reservation.

Southern Estate Alpacas in Adairsville, Ga., is a small family farm in the hills of Northwest Georgia. They mostly raise and breed champion alpacas, but they’re beginning to make their own 100% alpaca yarn. They’re passionate about what they do and want to educate the public about the industry. But most importantly, they offer visitors some quality time with their award-winning alpacas.

Alpaca12
Alpacas really are friendly. And no, they don’t spit as much as people lead you to believe they do.
Alpaca1
Feeding time!
Alpaca11
Freshly sheared, just a couple weeks before my visit.

After talking with the owner, I’ve made some baby hats for their on-site store! All are brand-new patterns, and I’ll be writing up the pattern instructions in the next few weeks to sell online.

Until then, here’s a peek at what they look like!

Alpaca10

Have you visited your local fiber farm? Look them up online and see if they give tours! It’s a great experience to talk with the breeders, learn about the process, and know which alpaca/sheep/goat you can thank (by name!) for your skein of yarn.

And don’t forget to invite me to go with you!

 

 

 

 

 

 

What to Knit: The Summer Edition

Like a lot knitters, I feel most inspired to hit the needles when fall and winter roll around. I love flipping through magazine pages to see lofty sweaters and sitting on the sofa knitting something nice and woolly.

But what do I do here in the South when there’s no chance of the temperature sinking below 70 degrees between March and November? I plan, and I learn to start liking [gasp] summer knits.

I know. It seems contrary to what I love most about knitting (warm, squishy yarn!), and it’s a big adjustment, but I think it’s the only way I’ll make it through this time of year without pining for cooler days.

So here’s a look at the patterns I’ve got my eye on this June. I can’t help but laugh when I look at a lot of knit patterns tagged as “spring/summer,” because if you wore most of those patterns here in the South, you’d have heat stroke in less than 5 minutes. You won’t see any of that here. Just light, breezy knits that I can actually wear in the South. Hopefully I’ll cast on something soon or get inspired to create my own summer knit pattern!


Strathcona by Jane Richmond

Strathcona by Jane Richmond

I’m a sucker for a quick knit. And Strathcona could be just that for me. A stash-busting project, and one that could dress up a tank in summer or a long sleeve tee in the fall. I love how the ends of the scarf are solid and the mesh knit fills in the space between the two. I love all of Jane Richmond‘s patterns that I’ve made before, so I know it’d be a fun project. Plus it features bias knitting, which would be a new technique for me!


Allonge Tee by Bristol Ivy

Allonge Tee

I’ve yet to make a knitted tee, and I think I would get a lot of use out of it, especially one like this. What most appeals to me about Bristol Ivy‘s Allonge Tee is how the back and color block detail takes a simple design and turns it into something that I can’t take my eyes off of. I think the beauty of the butter yellow yarn and its varying colors has a lot to do with it, but I’m curious to see how I can make this look with some yarn I have stashed away. I can see myself wearing this to work a lot throughout the summer.


Ouverte Tee by Emily Ringelman

Ouverte Tee

I started knitting a tee like this a few seasons ago, but didn’t quite calculate the right amount of yarn I needed, so I stopped. I may pick that one up again (with different yarn) or start fresh with this Ouverte Tee by Emily Ringelman. I like the vertical chevron look of the knitting and think it would hold its shape well over time with the right yarn.


Axil by Norah Gaughan

Axil

I’ve really wanted to try one of Norah Gaughan‘s unique construction pieces (especially after her Brooklyn Tweed pattern Chainlink). And I want a nice summer tank, so this could be a good fit! Only thing I would seriously consider changing is the yarn — I don’t see myself enjoying a summer tank made of 50/50 alpaca/wool, so I’ll be on the lookout for a good substitute yarn (probably a linen or cotton mix).


So what do you think? Ready to place a bet on what I’ll cast on first?

New Free Pattern: Be Mine Valentine’s Hat

Thought the “spirit of giving” season was over? Not here at Knit Julep. I’m extending the holiday cheer into Valentine’s Day with a new FREE pattern available on Ravelry! Download >>

Be Mine Valentine's Hat
Download the Be Mine Valentine’s Hat >>

I’ve never been a big Valentine’s Day person, but I’ll take any excuse to knit up something new. The Be Mine Valentine’s Hat is one that practically designed itself once I got to knitting. Simple colorwork creates the illusion of hearts in the main body of the hat, and the colorblock/colordipped look is topped off with a fun pompom. (See? I’m sticking to my word of making more pompoms this year.)

20150125_161654

The Be Mine Valentine’s Hat is a super quick knit (yes, even with that colorwork) because it’s made for sturdy worsted yarn and larger needles (size 10). So there’s still time to make one (or one for you and one for a friend) before Valentine’s Day comes! It can also be modified to fit whatever yarn you have in your stash between now and Valentine’s Day. I made a second sample with variegated red yarn that was more like roving, and made a two-color pompom. And one Raveler has already made their own adaptation with smaller yarn and both pink and red colorwork hearts.

20150125_163456

So what are you waiting for? Cast on before the Valentine’s Day cards (like these hilarious vintage ones) start arriving!

Download the Be Mine Valentine’s Hat >>

vintage-valentine-card-sock-with-red-heart vintage-valentine-card

Decoding the Knits of ‘The Imitation Game’

“The Imitation Game” has been on my list of movies to see ever since I saw the first trailer. Period drama, based on a true story, English accents – it had all the makings of a movie I would love. What I didn’t account for is the amount of wool and tweed that would fill the screen. And when you find yourself keeping your eyes peeled from one scene to another, looking for the next great sweater vest or Fair Isle cardigan to feast your eyes on, that’s when you know you’re a knitter.

Yes, the movie was great. Yes, thinking of how this happened in real life is amazing. But seriously. Let’s talk about the wool.

This was the first sweater vest that caught my attention. Look at the layering! Look at the muted blue color! Look how it brings out Benedict Cumberbatch’s blue eyes!

Benedict Cumberbatch

The ribbing is striking. I’ve never been a big fan of ribbing, because it’s always been too repetitive and not detailed enough for my taste. But that’s exactly what makes it work here. A simple 2×1 rib gives the outfit bold texture, and the repetition hints at the whole concept of pattern in Alan Turing’s computer work.  (Don’t think I came up with that on my own, though. Costume designer Sammy Sheldon Differ said it herself.)

So what other woolen goodies were in the film? Feast your eyes on this…

Benedict Cumberbatch

Imitation Game

Benedict Cumberbatch and Matthew Goode

Fair Isle hiding out in the background, but stealing the scene nonetheless.

Imitation Game Cast

I imagine all of these sweater vests were made in 100% British wool, which leads me to think they’re probably a little itchy. Too bad, boys. Deal with it, because you look great in them.

But the award for best woolen ware goes to Keira Knightley. Leave it to the strong female character to wear a strong wardrobe. She made me long for a classic cardigan comeback with this blue number.

Keira Knightly

And sealed the deal when she debuted this green Fair Isle beauty. These are never colors that I would choose for a Fair Isle sweater, but my eyes were drawn to the stunning green. It popped in every scene, especially since most of the other characters wore more muted color tones. It’s a bold statement but manages to keep its classic look. And the simple detail of leaving out one repeat of the green pattern creates the illusion of an amazing waistline. It’s the little details that can make such an impact.

Keira Knightly

Look how she stands out among all those brown and grey suits!

Imitation Game Cast

Cheers to Sammy Sheldon Differ and her crew. (Can I be your assistant in your next sweater-filled film?)

UPDATE: Thanks to Ann at Mason-Dixon Knitting for sharing this post with Kay and their dedicated readers! Ann made a cowl with the beautiful pattern on Keira Knightley’s sweater. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to watch “The Imitation Game” on Netflix…