Shear Charlie

Shear Charlie (Sold)

I've always liked green. It seems to do this magical contrasting thing with skin tones. I guess that makes sense because the compliment of green is red. Our skin isn't the color of a fire truck, but those warm flesh tones are enough to demonstrate that visual contrast.

So when I found this green J Crew sweater, I was pretty stoked. It's 100% lamb's wool, so it's nice and soft, and it's the same weight as that charcoal lamb's wool I always use. Score.

Shear Charlie WiP

I had to figure the math for a while to make this work. Most of the time I'm shooting for a 12 inch length as a general minimum, and the pattern changes need to happen before I run out of room. In total there are four rib patterns in there that look great both outside and inside. I was seriously considering flipping it inside out. Maybe I'll just reverse certain parts. Hmmm... I better sketch that a while.

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Divide Alpha 2

Divide Alpha 2

Either I procrastinate way too much, or this hat sold before I could spit this post out. I suppose both are true.

After knitting up the first Alpha (the brown one), I felt it needed more length so I added about an inch to the pattern and made a duplicate. This brought it up to the proper size for a length-induced slouch and a nice meaty fold-over.

Anyway, after that second brown one I made this gray one, incorporating that additional length. So yeah, more hat. This recycled shetland wool is almost gone. I think I have enough for one more hat. I'm gonna miss this perfect gray.

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Reflect Charlie

Reflect Charlie

It's a little mind-boggling how many different variations of this technique can be achieved. And by that I mean bumping markers around to create an angular effect. That's like.... all I do. Okay there's that, and the improvisational-ism of my scarves, but that's all I got. Really.

It's been two years this month that I picked up some knitting needles my mom hoarded from some garage sale, and tortured myself for days, figuring out how to get the yarn to roll smoothly through a stitch. After it 'clicked,' I did a couple of totally lame (free) patterns and got hung up on this idea of bumping the stitch markers around. It was like an irresistible urge or something. I liked it so much that I never stopped doing it.

Reflect Charlie WiP

So here's another variation of my OCD these past two years. That wide column style ribbing is really growing on me. I like how it looks when you fold up the brim and expose that pinstriped reversal. I think the sharp contrast compliments the angularity quite well, too.

The yarn is a recycled merino thread weight that I quadrupled together. It came from a barely worn long sleeve polo by Club Room (that's Macy's). The richness of this navy blue really appeals to me. Lately I've been substituting blacks with this color. It looks great with gray. Wait.... everything looks great with gray.

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Fa├žonnable Cotton
J Crew Lamb's Wool
Jhane Barnes Silk
BR Silk
They're hard to break. Killing sweaters is one of them. The past few scarves I've done have been bought up through private sale, and I'm grateful, but getting through these projects was a huge commitment. I was knitting forever.

Deconstructing sweaters is my respite from all the production, like the beer after a long day. I guess that's why I tend to tweet what I'm drinking while unraveling stuff. Hmmm... now I want beer...

It's also nice to know I'm unraveling big business to piece together small business.


Divide Bravo

Divide Bravo One

I like the purl side of knitting. It's sometimes referred to as the "wrong" side, but not because knitters hate it or anything. It's just a name. Recycling sweaters has exposed me to hundreds of sweaters in all their diverse constructions, but it's the more recently designed styles that are exposing that bumpy underside. In fact, the D Squared sweater I recycled this yarn from incorporated stranded color sections that were constructed inside out.

Divide Bravo One

In the Divide Series (and previously in the Carve Series) I use the purl stitch to negate alternating sections of a dual rib stitch pattern, but I also do it as a visual negation of space. I've referred to stockinette as negative space before, but the purl side of stockinette seems to fit this description more accurately, especially when used to contrast other stitches.

Divide Bravo

Divide Bravo contrasts purls with an alternating garter ribbing. I prefer to have these diamond sections closer to the brim so that they expose that familiar knit side when folded up. I like how the angularity plays with that folded edge.

Purl side play coupled with the reversibility of ribbing affords some cool possibilities.

Divide Bravo WiP

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Shear Bravo

Shear Bravo

The basic rules of Shear are the parallelogram shape in the middle, flanked above and below by bands of contrast stitches that match the crown section stitches. Alpha and now Bravo have both incorporated standard stockinette stitch in these areas.

Shear Bravo

The upper band is basically invisible since it's adjacent to the crown section itself. For now this upper band only serves as a visual gap between the upper parallelogram and the ribbed decrease columns. In later editions I'll explore the possibilities of this invisible divider, but for now I'm still rockin' that stockinette "white space," as I like to put it.

Shear Bravo WiP

Rather fitting since this piece is very understated overall. The double seed stitch that sits between the ribbing ended up quite restrained, perhaps due to the combination of my loose knitting and a dark yarn. It's like a checkerboard shadow.

Speaking of which, this is a 100% lamb's wool yarn recycled from a Gap sweater. I think this is the fourth hat I've made out of this sweater. With what's left I think I can muster up one more hat. Maybe one for me?

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Duality Alpha 2

Duality Alpha 2

This is a custom Duality I finished a while back. It's a larger version of Duality Alpha in a charcoal gray 100% cotton. Since I shipped it out the day after finishing it, I feel a little more heartbroken over it. The dude who bought it really liked it though, so that's cool.

That's the tricky thing about working with recycled materials: you rarely get the same yarn (sweater) twice. Even if I do make another, it will likely never be exactly like this one. Good thing I took pictures.

Duality Alpha 2 WiP


Recycling Roundup

Lauren SilkPolo CottonJCrew Lamb's Wool

Things have slowed down on the recycling front. It's not that I don't want to or anything, I'm just running out of room to put all this yarn. Yes, that's a good thing, but so is pumping out hats and scarves which is what I've been more focused on lately. More stash-busting, less stash-fluffing.

Over the past few months I've been getting more selective in terms of fiber content. I'm phasing out synthetics and focusing on natural fibers. It's a little discouraging sometimes when I find great colors only to put them back down because of the acrylic content.

ESWS Lamb's Wool BlendESWS Shorts

One exception was this light gray cardigan which was given to me by my aunt. It's 80% Lamb's Wool and 20% Nylon. Sounds like good sock yarn, but what I like about it is the color. I brake for grays like this. The mid and dark grays are great too, but I like how these lighter ones brighten up an outfit while maintaining a sophisticated restraint.

I even kept the shorts (that's them in the 's' shape) which average about a yard or so in length. They might make for some snappy fringes, or pompoms or uh... kumihimo embellishments? I'm not sure what I'll do with these. Maybe something will come to me.


Divide Alpha

Divide Alpha

I'm getting better at these angular transitions, and messing with them more. The last time I did simultaneous multi-directional transitions was on Reflect Zero. I think before that it was Pyramid Charie. This time I took two transitions and intersected them, then added a steeper-angled transition after that. This resulted in some nice symmetry, at least in the design of it.

Well guess what: I like to break symmetry. So I used this intersection to split a ribbing pattern in two. And that might sound as confusing as it did to me at first, but then that's what sketchbooks are for. After confirming the math, I dove right in.

Divide Alpha WiP

The yarn is a 100% wool that I recycled out of a scratchy sweater quite some time ago. These rustic wools are great as hats, and show off some cool texture.

The Divide Series will give me a chance to do some lower-gauge stuff which I tend to avoid doing. I guess It'll be appropriate for the upcoming months. Plus these worsted weight yarns are starting to pile up on me.

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I'm Officially Less Ghetto

I'm still a little excited from yesterday when I received my new labels in the mail. I started putting them on the existing stock as well as the private pieces I kept for myself. The hat shown in the picture is Reflect Zero. These are a great finishing touch to my stuff.

It wasn't as hard as I thought to find someone locally to do these for me, and it was an added bonus that Print for Brand offered shorter runs at a great price. Now I can say "Made in San Jose" and really mean it.

At 3/8 inch by 2 inches, these are perfect for my hats and scarves. They're small, but precise. I'm not one to be flamboyant with any of my work, and the understated reiteration of my logo type connects well with my restrained, methodical nature.

Now I don't feel so ghetto. Next big buy: some sort of packaging.


Nudge Alpha

Nudge Alpha (Sold)Nudge Alpha WiP

By now I'm sure many of you have noticed my visual interest in geometric forms and angularity. Finding new ways to demonstrate these forms in knitting leads me to some interesting places. Nudge Alpha takes it's visual cue from crystalline structures, specifically their striated surfaces.

The technical premise of Nudge is simple: Treat a series of random numbers as ribbing while nudging to the right on every other row. This creates a continuum of numbers traveling up the work diagonally, and since it's ribbing, it's reversible.

The random number selection (1-9) asserts an improvisational nature. It's important to me to add these unpredictable elements. They represent the organic characteristics of the forms they demonstrate. A friend of mine described it as "i ching knitting."

This yarn was recycled from a nicely broken in sweater, so the the drape turned out pretty fantastic. It consists of a 9 thread multi-strand with 5 dark grays and 4 medium grays. They work up as a subtly striated charcoal reminiscent of brushed metal.

There are lots of directions to go with this design, and I'll definitely be screwing around with it.

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Shear Alpha

Shear Alpha (Sold)

I'd like to think all my ideas are good ones, but that's really not how it works. Things get sketched out on paper, then I pick something and run with it. Sometimes only part of it's good. Sometimes the whole thing doesn't work at all. Sometimes it rocks my socks and makes me not want to show it to anyone.

Each series of hats follow a set of structural rules, with variations occurring within those parameters. The Skew series is up to six hats now, and from these works I've chosen the structural elements that clarify the design while also offering some new and interesting opportunities for variation. In short: Skew has evolved into Shear.

Shear takes all the basic structural cues from Skew while adding bands of contrast stitches above and below the parallelogram (The parallelogram shape is fundamental to the design, so that part will never change). Additionally, whatever stitch pattern used on these bands must also be used in the crown section. The brim and center sections are independent of each other, but they are free to match as they do here.

Shear Alpha WiP

The trefoil crown (which is on every hat I make) is now free game. I've never messed with the propellers before, so this should be interesting. These ten-stitch columns are free to match any section.

The Alphas set the basic standards of the series, so what you see here is Shear at its most minimal. Stay tuned to see where I go from here.

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Reflect Bravo

Reflect Bravo (Sold)Reflect Bravo WiP

After a significant diversionary period (customary during the summer months) Reflect Bravo is done. Similarly to Reflect Zero, it consists of two stitch patterns reflected vertically. This one works with 2x1 ribbing, with the second stitch pattern introducing an alternating seed stitch column. Stockinette bands accentuate the transitions, just like the Alpha.

What pulls me from my comfort zone with Reflect is the ribbing at the crown. Unlike Skew the ribbing extends up into the crown, and needs to line up properly. That takes some futzing around with the math. Another thing I have a problem with is that SSK on the left of each decrease column. But hey, practice makes perfect.

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Looking Back

Hemp Kumihimo no.1 Hemp Kumihimo WiP

Over the last week or two I've been digging around. This summer has me in an experimental mood, and I wanted to do something I haven't done in a while. After picking up Jacqui Carey's Japanese Braiding: The Art of Kumihimo at the library I remembered all those hemp necklaces I used to make. So I decided to go for it, working a three strand split weave with these painted porcelain beads.

Carnelian Darks & Naturals

While digging for the beads, I found these carnelian rounds and oblongs. I honestly don't remember where I got these, but they don't seem to have been graded. There are some great quality pieces in here with perfect color/opacity contrasts, yet they were strung together with some lower quality ones. I isolated the rounds to make these two necklaces, using the oblongs for the backs. I didn't string the rest of the oblongs though, prefering the fruit-like brightness of these irregular rounds. They remind me of pomegranate seeds and giant orange cells.

These make me glad that I save things. These are materials and techniques I was using over fifteen years ago.


First Bloom

So I'm geeking out about this the past few days. This is the first bloom on a cutting I took about a year ago. It's called Autumn Splendor. I ganked it from the San Jose Heritage Rose Garden thinking it'll probably die like the last time I tried propagating a cutting. But no. This one sat under a mayo jar and rooted in about a month. No problem. Once I got it outside I thought it would start blooming, but all it did was get leafy. For the past year I've been watering it and keeping it in a nice, sunny morning spot waiting patiently for the magic to happen.

Autumn Splendor blooms into a bright orange with red tipped petals. The flowers tend to cluster which is what drew me to this particular rose in the first place. I like orange, and clustering minis like this one have a dense look to them that I like. One interesting thing I've noticed is that aphids don't attack it. I guess that's a good thing.

It was about a week ago that I noticed this bud pop out. Yay! So now I've transplanted it into a larger pot for the summer, so this ought to be the first of many orange explosions to come.


Skew Foxtrot

Skew Foxtrot (Sold) Skew Foxtrot WiP

For number six in the Skew series I wanted to try some consecutive transitions. Nothing major, really. I worked the transitions in the same direction as usual, with shifted 6x2 ribbing creased by a thin transition of stockinette to accentuate that characteristic parallelogram shape.

The yarn I used was recycled from an H&M sweater consisting of lamb's wool (50%), Nylon (38%) and angora(12%). At twelve percent, the angora content adds a very sparse furriness to this piece, and the nylon anchors the fibers quite securely.

It kinda looks like I hugged a rabbit with it.

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Reflect Zero

Reflect Zero Reflect Zero Detail

I do this a lot. I'll work on something until it's the way I want it, even if it means it's too much work, too meticulous, or takes too much time. So now I finished Reflect Bravo Zero, and clocked so much time on it that the selling price would dwarf all my prices. So I'll be hanging onto this one. Whether I'll end up selling it is still up in the air.

These multiple speed transitions have occurred before on Pyramid Charlie, which I gave to my sister. The variations create a nice break from the standard angles of single speed groupings. As a second attempt at this technique, I found it easier to keep up with. I remember having to frog back or dig down a few times on Pyramid C, yet this time I understood the dynamics well enough to juggle four simultaneous multi-speed transitions.

A 2x1 rib starts it all off, dropping out to stockinette before angling into the alternating seed ribbing of the central diamond section. All the multi-speed stuff happens at the middle. I did this to tighten up the position of the resulting second diamond. The numerous transitions basically translate to more length, and I wanted that diamond section to sit high in the design.

The native weight of this recycled shetland wool is in the neighborhood of DK, but I split it into lace weight. (The original yarn weight can be seen on Carve Bravo.) It's the kind of yarn that some would consider scratchy, but I happen to think that's a good thing, especially for a hat. Coarser wools repel water better, and with proper care they last for fricken ever.

So yeah. I think I'm gonna pack this one away until I decide what to do with it.


Skew Echo

Skew Echo Skew Echo WiP

Skew Echo is the fifth in the Skew Series. I took this opportunity to cross over into another pattern I've done, applying stitches from one series into this one. The stitch elements first occured on the soon to be released Reflect Bravo. It consists of a seed stitch column alternating with a knit column within the ribbing.

The stitch setup has been applied to the Skew pattern structure. 2x1 ribbing transitions into seed/knit alternations to form the characteristic parallelogram shape with stockinette stitch at the crown.

The yarn is a charcoal gray lamb's wool which recurs with frequency in my work. I like it because it goes with just about everything. It's been recycled from a Gap men's sweater.

I might just do this for all the Echo versions.

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Thrive Through Cooperation

Duality Delta is about symbiosis, specifically Mutualism in which two organisms benefit from cooperation. This relationship occurs frequently in nature, contributing to the stability of an ecosystem, and facilitating evolutionary survival.

For example, bees pass pollen from flower to flower as they gather it, facilitating plant reproduction. Clownfish enjoy the protection of sea anemones while protecting them from other fish. Mutualistic symbiosis occurs everywhere, and these organisms thrive through cooperation.

Duality Delta

Duality Delta demonstrates Mutualism by using a triangular format to suggest progression, and lengths of garter stitch emanating from the central spine represent life cycles. A reversal occurs at the center where the emanation switches to the outer borders. I use this to suggest the two perspectives of this relationship. While the left and right sides represent each organisms life cycle, the top and bottom sections represent their awareness and perception of the relationship.

The yarn is a navy blue 100% cotton recycled from a sweater vest, and knit on size 5(3.75mm) needles. The piece is set up on a three stitch garter tab with matching three stitch garter borders, and a sewn bind-off.

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This cat was born in a patch of jade plants on the side of my house. I would see him walking past the back door, or stalking gopher holes. My interaction with him was limited to spotting him through windows and glass doors. Feral cats avoid human contact, so he'd run if he saw me.

I liked having this wild thing just wandering around out there. I never fed him or anything, it seemed like he was doing just fine on his own. I just left him alone. I never even named him.

A few weeks ago I found his body in the patch of jade plants he was born in. He must have died a while ago judging from the decomposition. I found this picture I took of him back in '06, a rare shot of him in loaf mode. Pretty handsome, eh?

I know he was just some stray cat, but I always regarded him as my little analogy. I can relate to being resourceful enough to survive, and living this simple life untethered by human connection, yet appreciated from afar. He was wild and free. To me that's a pretty awesome life.


Sell or Keep?

I'm somewhat up in the air whether this will be Reflect Bravo or not. This is the third try, after starting over for various reasons. What I've ended up running with is 180 stitches cast onto size ones which is a finer knit than I'd intended for the Reflect Series (Alpha was 152 stitches per row on size twos). The combination of restarts and this higher stitch resolution is cause for pause. It basically translates to more work, and ultimately a higher price point. My instinctive response in this situation is to just keep it for myself rather than price it high, but I haven't decided yet.

"Reflect Bravo" WiP


Cool It Now

Lots of blue happening around here lately. I didn't intend for it to happen, but there it is. Fine with me, seeing as San Jose is blazing hot lately. Duality Delta is coming along rather quickly in a navy cotton multi-strand. Delta explores the idea of symbiosis, where two different organisms cohabitate for mutual benefit.

Duality Delta WiPLeg Warmers WiP

Ever since I re-opened the shop my personal knitting has all but ceased with the exception of some leg warmers I've been working on here and there. I've wanted a pair for some added insulation on cold bike rides, but the one I finished so far has been handy for warming this ankle injury I got (wasn't used to the grip teeth on these new bike pedals I got, went thrashing around like an idiot, and twisted my ankle).

Anyway, want more cool hues? Check out these new additions to my stash:

Kerry Classics WoolJ Crew WoolGap Cotton Blend