I’m on TEEVEE! Well, YouTube. Check it.
I’m on TEEVEE! Well, YouTube. Check it.
Greetings! It’s been a while, hasn’t it? I’ve fallen silent because I’ve been fervently working on a new project. As you might know, I’m the new Creative Director at Skacel Collection. In addition to design, social media and yarn development, one of my major missions there is to spread the word about the fabulous yarns that live alongside the famous addi Turbo needles.
I’ll be doing that in a brand new studio, the Skacel Fiber Studio to be exact. I will still maintain this site, and will cross-post when it makes sense, but for now all things Skacel will live on that site. It will be a fiber-filled space, so I already know it’ll be a happy one.
See you at the studio!…
This year, I’m celebrating Chinese New Year. It is the Year of the Dragon, the year I turn 30 (along with Vogue Knitting magazine, I’m in FANTASTIC company) and the year that I truly began my duties as Creative Director at Skacel. My skills were immediately put to the test planning for two of the hottest industry events, the third Vogue Knitting Live in NYC and the biannual TNNA show (the January show is usually in California but has recently moved to Phoenix, Arizona). You can see all of my photographic notes from this whirlwind of a month here, but here are some highlights in the meantime…
Before heading off, I knit myself a Twin Cities headband using one ball of Schulana Cashmere Moda. It is a major party foul to work a booth and NOT wear at least some of your yarns. This fit the bill perfectly: it knit up in no time on my size 4 Addi Clicks and only took one ball of luxurious yarn in the color of the year, Pantone #17-1463 Tangerine Tango. I barely took it off all weekend, not even when crammed into the back of a limo with Alice Starmore and over a dozen other knitting denizens!
I also had to carefully consider my polish options for the weekend. I settled on a favorite neutral, Butter London’s All Hail the Queen. Appropriate when spending time with knitting royalty like Debbie Bliss, Sarah Hatton, Josh Bennett and Trisha Malcom, no?
What followed was a weekend full of fashion shows, bento boxes, shopping and chatting with friends and new to me knitters. Every hour seemed to outshine the last and I spent all of them with my vivacious new boss Karin. I knew she was a kindred spirit when we hit my beloved Momofuku Ssam Bar the first night in town. We devoured a plate of pickles, then artisanal ham, then pork belly sliders, then crack pie…we both couldn’t stop snapping photos and saying “MMMM!!…” She even indulged my fan girl squealing when I spotted and subsequently fawned over Amanda Brooks.
Together we ran a cafe themed booth where we introduced the latest in the Click line. Interchangeable needles with long but pointy tips, a lifeline threader built right into the cable…very exciting stuff!
At Loopy Mango, an incredible blend of haberdashery, antique shop and boutique. I am really, really glad this store is all the way in Soho and not Seattle!!
The same is true for Brooklyn General, a yarn shop that more than lived up to the heaps of praise I’d heard about it (they stock TONS of our yarns, too, maybe I’m a bit biased…) I especially fell in love with this giant squishy cowl, knit in Imperial Stock Ranch Bulky 2-Ply, a roving style pencil yarn that comes in giant wheels.
Clearly, I love New York. More and more with every visit. If I find myself missing it I will watch one of my favorite NYC movies. In no particular order:
3/1/2012: You can find part two of my January travelogue here.
UPDATE: As though on cue, the darling Ragga Eiríksdóttir reminded me that today, DECEMBER 15th, 2011, is the last day to get Early Bird Pricing on the Body, Mind + Lopi retreat that Stephen West and I will be teaching in gorgeous, enigmatic ICELAND. I cannot WAIT for this excursion and I am busily plotting a mini-collection to shoot with Stephen while we’re there. Hope you can join us!
I am heading into my first winter here in Seattle, and I must say, I really miss snow! It could be the visual thrill of a sparkling expanse of clean white, or the noise dampening effects of a fresh blanket of cold powder. It could be the fun of trudging through suddenly silent woods, or the cozy feeling of being trapped indoors while a storm rages outside.
I recently designed a simple cowl that could be knit in one snowbound evening. It calls for 4 balls of Schulana Cortina Nuvole, a yarn that reminds me of freshly fallen snow—soft, fluffy and light. Download the free Columbia Cowl pattern here.
I’ll be heading back East to celebrate the holidays with family, and I’m crossing my fingers for some snowfall. Until then I’ll content myself with holiday nail varnishes and my Yuletide board on Pinterest…
Even though it is premature, I’m already feeling the January self-improvement impulses kick in. I have many goals, including updating my 5-year diary more regularly, eating more healthfully, carrying a more ladylike purse, learning to watercolor, working diligently on all of my deadline knits (!!!) and learning to manage stress with a bit more grace than I did in 2011.
Hope your winter is inspiring you as well, snowy or not…
I recently moved into a new house. Moving twice in one year, not so fun. Getting my very first dedicated crafting space? Extremely fun! The very first thing I did was unpack my most used, most loved craft books. I usually arrange by height, but this time I tried something new, something borrowed from one of my favorite yarn shops, Purl Soho. Even though I’m 3000 miles away, I consider it an LYS. They arrange their yarn chromatically and I really love the effect that sorting method has on my books:
I always love getting a peek at other people’s bookshelves, so I thought you might like to take a peek at mine. Some of my current and/or enduring favorites:
What are some of your favorites?
Hello! It has been extremely busy here at Bricoleur Knits (btw, I will finally explain the blog name this weekend). I’m delving into my new job as Jr. Creative Director at Skacel! It’s so exciting to join a family business that just happens to make some of the best knitting needles on the market. Most knitters don’t even realize that they ALSO distribute many fine European yarns. Luscious luxury fibers from Schulana, wildly inventive sock weight yarns from Schoppel Wolle, stalwart sock yarns (and much more) from Zitron…and that’s just a sampling! I’ve had these yarns in my stash for years, it’s going to be fantastic fun working with them. What else have I been up to? Stream of consciousness update:
…I celebrated a birthday, the last of my roaring 20s…
…I visited Los Angeles for the very first time and adored it. I was there teaching for VK Live: Los Angeles. As a total media junkie I was tickled to be walking by movie sets, talent agencies and production houses. I was giddy when I saw Janie Bryant at Bloomingdales. I had an incredibly awesome encounter with Danny Strong, an actor who stars in THREE of my favorite shows (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Gilmore Girls and Mad Men). I practically fainted when I boarded my plane and saw Seth Green, aka OZ the sitting in first class. The Hellmouth is Los Angeles!…
…VK Live, hands down the most glamorous knitting event! Runway shows, amazing lectures from masterminds Kaffe Fassett and June Hemmons-Hiatt, leisurely dinners with old friends, YOGA, sassy new friends…oh yes, and TEACHING! Classes full of wise-cracking, awesome knitters. It was an honor to have them share their weekend with me…
…new pattern, the Annex Snood, featured in Weekend Hats, a new book edited by Cecily Glowik McDonald and Melissa Labarre. Knit in Dream in Color Smooshy (truly dreamy) it is just the thing for dodging paparazzi ;)…
…and perhaps most exciting of all, Body, Mind & Lopi was announced!! Stephen West and I will make our way to Iceland, a place I’ve obsessed over my entire life. Ragga Eiriksdottir puts together incredible Icelandic experiences and I can’t wait to get to know her and her gorgeous country…
…I think that brings us up to speed! Fall is creeping in and I am going to be hunkering down with my book projects and cooking my way through Love Soup! And oh yeah, moving O_o but only to a different Seattle neighborhood this time. If you’d like to see a few more pictures from VK Live click here.
I’ve been putting off this post, hoping it would coalesce into something more intelligible, but I am realizing now I just have to go for it…
I have been admiring Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s media mash-up project hitRECord for over a year now, so when I heard he was bringing a live show to Seattle, I jumped at the chance to see him live and learn more about the endeavor. Beyond being a fan of his work (and, ahem, his visage…) I am in awe of what he is doing. Here is an actor who could absolutely rest on his laurels, or spend his days in a money-fueled narcotic haze, but here he is, earnest as all get out, making art and encouraging others to do the same.
From the very start, the show was crackling, effervescent, emotional and more than anything, fun. I found myself trying to categorize the beautiful short films so I could explain the project to others, and so I could start to get a toehold and contribute myself. I couldn’t do it, and moreover, I realized that it didn’t matter. The work is alternately whimsical, hilarious, political, stripped down…most of all, the work is in a liminal state, all of it subject to remixing and reiteration, open-ended art in progress. To quote a hitRECord, I love living in the future!
The themes at work at hitRECord are themes that I’ve always been interested in: originality, ownership, creativity, reference, and of course, bricolage, but there is a bracing positivity that permeates this work. Whereas Guy Debord and neo-Situationists like Kalle Lasn take culture and détourn it by adding a cynical or didactic spin, hitRECords seem to emphasize simultaneously personal and collaborative work. In a time of intellectual property battles and homogenization in every sphere, the work that comes out of these collaborations feels honestly new.
That’s not to say it is without flaw! There is something übermeta and almost stifling about recording every movement, but here it seems less about broadcasting minutia and more about collecting observances. JGL acknowledges the need for things that are special only in the moment by playing music that can’t be used on his site, i.e. Lithium by Nirvana. These records still end up on the web, but I really like the sentiment.
An interesting side effect of the project is the commentary it prompts on Internet friendships in general. Since the project is basically a digital bee, it’s natural to assume that participants are the kind that prefer to work in solitude, who are socially maladjusted in some way. Quite the opposite: being in a room with people who use the site or intend to was thrilling. I went alone, but ended up connecting with a Twitter friend (who wrote a thoughtful write-up here) and three others, all of them delightful, smart people.
Beyond that heartening experience, I noticed that the nucleus of the project himself was setting an awesome example of what it means to be our age (30-ish) right now. I’d wondered whether MR. JGL was merely “narcissing” himself with this undertaking, but he seems genuinely committed to pulling stories out of other people, which is something I thought our generation had forgotten how to do, something I thought the Internet killed. As I Tweet and blog and blather, I remember something from the Almost Famous screenplay:
103 INT. HOTEL ROOM -- DAY 103 They sit together, hair askew, in sunglasses, resting against the headboard. Carefully, Russell identifies his thoughts. RUSSELL I feel... like his parents. Penny runs a worried hand through her hair. PENNY I know. RUSSELL I wonder how that happened. PENNY You ever notice that all our sentences begin with "I?" RUSSELL I hadn't, no. PENNY 'Cause we should work on that. He looks at her, plays the guitar a little.
JGL and his growing legion have taken up the challenge, and I’m ready to join them!
I was so very lucky this week! I had a chance to hang out with Mary Jane Mucklestone, a lively, accomplished, totally inspiring knitter/designer/stylist/all-around fibrous lady. It was great to hear all about her upcoming book projects and to share our thoughts on styling, a shared passion (see pictures from our visit to Earthues here). I had to laugh when I saw her arrive—we were both in shades of blue, plaids + stripes and were both toting LeSportSac bags. Some kind of knitter’s uniform, or Pacific NW Chic?…
I brought a copy of I Love Your Style by Amanda Brooks. So often books about style are slightly bossy or overly cheeky or just plain boring. This book is right up my alley, with a hugely diverse and incredibly literate range of references. I love that she includes lists of sartorially inspiring films to take in, and not just the usual like “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.”
MJ, Amanda and I all share this tendency for referentiality, and we’re hardly alone. Friend and founder of Ravelry Casey Forbes recently tweeted a link to Steven Soderbergh’s so-called Media Diet. He basically assigns himself a steady diet of specific media that will help him develop his aesthetic.
I am currently in the middle of rewatching Mad Men (and reading the comprehensive and sartorially focused re-caps by TLo), and Mary Jane and I are both over the moon for Downton Abbey, both available on Netflix Instant. Gorgeous television makes all of our deadline knitting tolerable, and it heightens our respective visual repertoires. It’s so much more than passing time, it’s new color combinations, inventive framing and postures we’d never think to use, moods and places conjured for us while we do the more practical work of turning yarn into garments.
What scenes and costumes and faces have found their way from your screens to your crafting? You can see just a few more of my favorites here.
What a weekend for the humble sock! Last weekend, Doug and I ventured to Portland, Oregon to attend the second Sock Summit and visit friends. Our farmer friend Caitlyn took us to Sauvie Island where we swam in the Columbia and ran into the wheat fields.
The lovely Leethal put us up for the evening and we had a great time getting accidentally drunk on delicious Hair of the Dog beers. A highlight of the weekend was meeting her super plush and adorably named cat BANZO, which is short for Garbanzo. We also spent some time hanging out with some urban goats that were hired to mow a lot downtown.
Lee and I are both in the issue of Twist Collective that just went live! Lee designed a pair of hats and I contributed a pair of knee-high socks (they’re FREE, btw). They are knit with Miss Babs Northumbria, a DK weight Blue Faced Leicester that is treated to be superwash. I absolutely adore working with BFL, it is so soft and so well-behaved. It was perfect for a pair of warm, cozy socks, and the heavier weight means you can knit these in the last few weeks of summer and have them ready for your favorite fall boots.
The colors I’m knitting tend to creep into my life, and this time was no exception. Wheaten, a soft yellow, showed up in my wardrobe…
…and in what I was watching. As I slogged through the second sock (I’m NOT a natural sock knitter) I watched Jane Campion’s “Bright Star” a second time. If you haven’t seen this film yet, DO. The costumes and color palette are sublime, and needlework plays a major role. These practical but beautiful beaded socks are just the sort of thing I can imagine Fanny Brice wearing as she lolls around the house reading letters from her love, John Keats. I borrowed the title of Keats’ poem “Endymion,” which opens with the line “A thing of beauty is a joy forever: its loveliness increases; it will never pass into nothingness…”
I’ve always had a hard time answering the question “Where are you from?” Truth be told, I’ve lived so many places I’m not even sure I HAVE a hometown. My family is based in New England, Texas and Washington, D.C. and since my father was in the military I’ve lived in Japan, Europe and all over the East Coast.
The wanderlust is ingrained, and in less than three years of dating, my boyfriend and I have been to 26 states together (he has been to all but Alaska), and I have moved from Western Massachusetts to Providence, RI to Seattle, WA!
Since I spent my youth moving around, I’m pretty adept at learning to love new places. There is always a period of stubbornness, but eventually each new place reveals its charms, I seek out new ones, and before long I am begrudgingly in love.
It happened in Providence, and it is happening again with Seattle. When I arrived in Providence, I wasn’t sure I liked the gruff, serpentine little city on Narragansett Bay, but I did a 180 pretty quickly. The crafty, gorgeous town seemed completely mine—every time I went to a tiny art house cinema or visited a boutique or rowed in the choppy cold water, it felt like my own personal dollhouse. That city and I are sympatico!
My first few weeks in Seattle felt a bit Twin Peaks to me, but the more I venture out on my own, the more I am won over. From the free dance lesson I stumbled across downtown…
…to the fully grown woman reading Calvin & Hobbes: Weirdos from Another Planet on the bus…
…it’s a delightful city. And it is just as aqueous as Providence!
Being so close to the water and the mountains mean that it can be chilly in July! The weather here is so much more than just “rainy,” and it’s kind of nice to be enjoying autumnal delights in summertime.
I’m currently working on a Gansey for the book that is inspired by these parallel maritime cities. Providence and the surrounding area had a hugely inspiring nautical feel (click here to see my visit to the New Bedford Whaling Museum) and Seattle shares the same feeling, with an added dose of Scandinavian and Japanese influence. Add that to the drizzly, cool temps and its a perfect storm for this knitter. Case in point: here’s a little sneak preview of a Cousteau/Zissou inspired knit I hope to release in the next few weeks…
But in the meantime, I have several deadlines staring me down, and oh yeah, Sock Summit in Portland, which is practically my backyard now. Can’t wait to go high-five some old friends and hit up a few food carts, oh yes, and BURGERVILLE…