In the grand scheme of things, it's not all that surprising that this irish wool sat in my yarn stash for two years before I used it. The great thing about yarn is it's resilience. This is a nicely muted green 100% wool. Up close you can see the olive drabs and aquas that give it a subtle hue variation and visual depth.
I gave up trying to figure out yarn sizes a long time ago, but if I were to guess, I'd say it was a lace weight. I could be wrong. All I know is that I had to double it up on size three needles to get the gauge I wanted for this green version of Shear Alpha. That's what it's like working with recycled yarn. I can't control what's in that pile of sweaters, but I do have a clear picture of what I want. This yarn (or sweater) was one of those finds that made me say "Ah-ha!!" loud enough to slightly embarrass myself.
I have to say though (and I may have already) that after all the changes I made to this design, it still seems so plain to me. But maybe that's the beauty of it. Making all the uncontrollable variables work together behind the scenes is what makes such harmonious visual simplicity possible.
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I've gotten a few questions lately about photography, specifically the white background material I use in my work-in-progress shots of knitting projects. So I wanted to show you what it looks like.
This large poster was used as part of the display windows in Aldo shoe stores around 2001 or so. At the time I was working there as a stock associate, and when the time came to throw these out, I asked if I could keep a few. What struck me about them was how resilient they were, at least in terms of color quality. And considering the amount of time I've had them, I'd say that assessment was accurate. The value of the colors hasn't diminished despite being exposed to direct sunlight while hung up on my walls over the years.
But the real prize is that the back of the poster has remained a perfect cool white. I'm guessing it has everything to do with the material that the images are printed on. It resembles the white plastic used for weight gain formula jugs, but it's much more brittle. In fact, you can see from these photos where I've cracked the left margin edge (the bottom edge in these photos). Yes this one is battle-scarred. Good thing I have another one.
When I started photographing my craft projects back in 2010, I dug these out and cleaned them off. They ended up being the perfect backgrounds not only because of the white values, but because the rigidity of the material produced seamless gradients of white. They've served as backgrounds for countless photographs in the past three years, from basil to beads, and of course knitting.
Not bad for something destined for a dumpster over ten years ago.
Process is ongoing over here. My work is a series of implemented design changes organized by NATO Phonetic naming structures. I like working this way. It's slow, and methodical, and… grid-like. So one of the design changes I've been slowly implementing is what I call a "Full Trefoil." What I'm referring to is the crown design. Before, it didn't extend all the way down to the angular transition. Now they do. Or rather, I intend to work full trefoils on everything from now on.
This presents some interesting mathematical predicaments that I won't bore you with, but it wasn't that hard to figure out. As you can see, the alignment of the crown section and the central area brings the design harmoniously together. Implementing the existing garter stitch ribbing into the decrease column also helps to unify things.
The color of this yarn is significantly lighter, showing off all the detail better than the original. It's a 100% merino wool thread weight recycled from an Ann Taylor sweater. You can see from the picture that it was a short sleeve garment, size small. I didn't get a lot of yarn out of this sweater, just enough for two hats. One for sale, and one for me.
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You've seen this one before. The difference is in the structural math. In the past year I've been clarifying my designs to more accurately demonstrate their visual properties, and take full advantage of the individual yarns used in each iteration. This pursuit has had me changing needle sizes, increasing stitch counts, doubling up yarn… all sorts of things. I have a penchant for over-analysis.
Basically it's bigger. The structural math from Bravo Five has been applied to the original navy version. This is the last of this particular italian wool yarn, so it's the final one in this color. I have just enough for one more (for me). But yeah: bigger. Stitches per row has been increased, and this added about three fourths of an inch to the overall length. I think this one needed it because these thicker yarns don't slouch all that much.
Now I need to start focusing on the higher gauge stuff for Spring. With February looming, I need to start work on the Reflect Series, and it's going to be nice working with all the thread weight merinos I've been hoarding all winter.
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I've mentioned a few times before how the Alphas of each series define the parameters. But over the past year I've looked at Shear Alpha and thought it could be better. It could demonstrate the structural foundations of the series more eloquently. The goal of my alphas is to show the most basic representation of the design, but I think this one was a little too basic, so I redesigned it.
Firstly the structural math has been tweaked. I have increased the stitches per row (SPR) while dropping down one needle size. The row counts have also been clarified, as they were a bit unstructured before. Due to the SPR increase, the row totals increased, resulting in an increase in total length (about 1/2 an inch). This slightly higher gauge has improved the stitch quality tremendously while the added length contributes more slouch.
The other more obvious change is the addition of garter stitch ribbing on the trefoil crown. Something I had said in the blog post I wrote about the original Shear Alpha was that the crown section was also an area to add stitch variation. Yet the alpha had none, so this addition to the design was essentially addressing that.
Visually speaking there doesn't appear to be much of a change aside from the crown section. It makes the design much more striking, but I can't help geeking out about the smaller, structural clarifications that push my craftsmanship forward.
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