It really is. Like a quilt I mean. Bits into strips, then strips into sheets. Come to think of it, I've never made a quilt, but I'm guessing that's what you do... maybe that wasn't a very good title if I end up being wrong. Oh well, that's how I did it. This wrapping paper is made from a Gap Inc. annual report, and an Anthropologie catalogue.
The how-to of it all is pretty self-explanatory, but one thing worth mentioning is that I used a glue stick. I've used spray adhesive before, but learned that it renders paper un-recyclable. Glues such as those found in glue sticks are fully recyclable.
I wish you all a happy holiday season!
As I progress from one iteration to the next, I find the stitch counts rising. My hats are getting bigger and bigger every year. This is the fifth version of Divide Bravo, and with this new version comes --well, I guess I already said it-- more stitches. More hat. And with more hat comes more slouchiness. I had already upped the stitch counts on Divide Alpha, so now it's Bravo's turn.
Bravo Five made the jump from 96 stitches per row (spr) to 108 spr. For any other hat design that would have no bearing on the amount of rows, but with angular transitions it tacks on 6 additional rows to complete each transition. Okay, I'm getting too technical. It's bigger because it's colder this time of year. I think everyone can see the logic in that.
This is that same recycled lamb's wool I've been using since way back when, and there is still much more to go before it's all gone. I know I'll be bummed when it's all gone. But hey, there are plenty of sweaters out there waiting to be recycled.
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I like pushing these design concepts further. All this angularity started off as really basic shapes, and now they are maturing into intricate, nuanced designs. It's funny because the things I used to think were a pain in the neck are now pretty much standard design elements.
Take this trefoil shape for example. It has always been there, on the crown of every hat I've ever done (except the very first one, but I frogged that one). As the designs developed more complex combinations of ribbing, it became necessary to align the trefoil columns with the ribbing.
This lead to what I've been calling 'isolation decreases.' When the columns are aligned with the pattern ribbing a discrepancy occurs in the amount of stitches between each column. In order to rectify it, I'll decreases these bigger sections until all sections are equal. Of course it gets more complicated than that, but you get the idea, and I don't want to alienate all you non-knitters out there.
Now that the alignment thing is second nature to me, I can push forward, and incorporate the pattern elements into the trefoil. I've already been doing this with Divide and Shear. Since they're lower in gauge, it was easier to figure out. Now I feel confident enough to apply these full trefoils into Reflect, the highest gauge hats I offer.
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If you follow me on Facebook, you'll recognize this one. When I first started posting pics of Reflect Echo Two, I referred to the color as Roger Sterling's hair. Its like a luminescent gray, like silver. When it was done that luminosity asserted itself in the early modeled shots. This yarn seemed to reflect a lot of the warmer light in the room, and that subtle variation in the color proved problematic for me. I try to get as close to the actual color as possible, and this was a serious wrench in my gears. I managed to get it as close as possible, but I think I just need to man up and buy a gray card already.
This yarn is a recycled merino thread weight knitted in quadruple strand. What can I say… I love this hat, not just because of this dynamic neutral, but because it's a Reflect Series piece: The highest gauge I offer with the best fibers I've collected and recycled.
This is definitely the best color I have found so far in terms of defining that Gridjunky look. I'm all about the neutrals, especially complex neutrals like this one that play with light, and demonstrate a sophisticated contrast when paired with equally subdued colors.
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I'm not sure if I'm unlucky, or if pure blacks are just rare, but this is the only black merino I've ever found. Maybe I've griped about it before, but sweater recycling usually means you get what's available, and there's never any black. Sometimes there is, but the condition is horrendously faded, damaged, etc. I guess people really love their black sweaters. So much that they either never give them up, or wear them into the ground. Maybe that's it.
The baseline stitch of Reflect Echo is 3x1x1x1. It's like a 3x3 rib alternated with a 1x1 rib. I incorporate seed stitch along the transitional banding, and then directly into the baseline stitch. The resulting seed stitch verticals sort of look like vertebrae to me, and the diagonals subtly warp the ribbing.
Because of the multi-strand structure of the Reflect Series, this yarn will get used up pretty quick, so it's not likely that I will have another one available for sale after this one. Unless, of course, I luck out and find another black merino sweater to recycle.
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I think one of the biggest challenges with using recycled yarn is having to reexamine potential gauge (that's stitches per square inch). All commercially made sweaters are knit with a machine, and although I would like to say I too am a knitting machine, knitting by hand does have it's limitations. Delta One was a prime example of that. It got downright painful trying to match the gauge of the original sweater. The next time I make Delta One I'll have to go up one needle size, lest I carpal tunnel myself to death. But anyways…
Shear Delta Two uses a triple strand of lamb's wool to achieve the same gauge as Delta One. Prior iterations of Shear have used a double strand which has more breathability and is therefore more suited to the warmer nights of summer when such articles would be worn. Now that Autumn is here, it's time to thicken things up. This is a very subtle upgrade that people won't even notice, but I think it's worth disclosing. Basically: Spring/Summer is double strand Shear, and Fall/Winter is triple strand (and some quadruples).
Multi-strand is of course dependent on the native yarn weight of the sweater from which it was recycled. I've recycled a lot of sweaters, and most of them were machine knit multi-strand. So when I would unravel them, what I'd be getting is a yarn consisting of two or three strands already held together by the machine. Other sweaters I've recycled consisted of just one strand which I'd have to double or triple, as was the case for Delta Two.
Then of course there's the sweaters that have been machine knit as five strand bulky weight, and I have to separate each strand and reassemble them into the weight I want… yes, all this recycling is a lot of work. But I won't bore you with anymore technical babble. Enjoy the bonus pictures.
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I think I managed to sneak this one by everyone. These worsted weight projects go by fast, and I end up forgetting to document more of my process like I promised myself I would.
Anyway, this is the third iteration of Divide Alpha. There have been some structural tweaks here and there. For starters, the stitches per row has been increased. Also, the brim section before the first transitions has been lengthened from 6 rows to 12 rows. In a nutshell these changes have yielded more hat. It's a bit wider, and a bit longer.
The yarn I've used was first seen on Skew Foxtrot way back when (wow last summer). It's a lamb's wool (50%) Nylon (38%) Angora (12%) blend recycled from an H&M sweater. I've held together four strands to achieve a worsted weight.
And it occurred to me during this photo shoot that this is the only red shirt I own. I find that shocking. I need to buy more red shirts. These subdued reds look great with brown.
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This one initially started of as a test knit to see if I could meet the gauge requirements for the Shear Series with a thicker yarn. Up until this point I've been using yarns consisting of two strands of lace weight which is how many of these commercially made sweaters are produced. This particular sweater was constructed with a three strand yarn, and I was curious to see if it would work up significantly larger. It's a 55% Shetland 45% Merino blend that's quite soft and light.
I guess technically it did, but not by much. The design gained about an inch or so in both length and circumference, which I think turned out to be a good thing. Visually, it just makes it slightly more slouchy, and I like that.
The brim stitch reversals I did on Shear Charlie are present here, but the length increase causes the fold over to cover them. It still adds some complexity to the overall stitch sequence though. I like the diversity it adds to the central textures, and I like how it unifies with the brim.
All in all though, I have to say this hat was physically strenuous. The yarn is too thick for the needles I used, so knitting felt very tight. I haven't decided yet if I will do another one of these with this particular yarn, maybe if I go up in needle size. I'll just have to swatch it out and see what works.
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And by that I'm referring to the shade of gray on this merino thread weight. In natural light this yarn seems to radiate a warm aura, yet the color itself is a heather gray.
It's kind of mysterious. Such dynamism to me suggests metallic associations, where light plays an integral part in the appearance of the color. This looks like brushed silver to me.
This is a two ply thread weight 100% merino wool I'll be using for Reflect Echo Two. I finished up washing/drying this yesterday, and today I'll be splitting one of the skeins into four 25 gram yarn cakes. I can't wait to see how this knits up in a four thread multi-strand.
I'm getting around to some sweater killing again. I need the change of pace lately. I've been busy (on what? I'll tell you later). Anyway, this practically vintage men's sweater is one of three yarn batches which will be combined for… something. Don't know yet.
This sweater dates around 1998-2000 or so. The Gap was really pumping these out during that time. I know because I bought quite a few. In fact, the other two thirds of this sweater yarn combination project are from my very own closet. The first one was unraveled a while back, and the yarn has just been sitting around because I've got no plans on breaking out size zero needles, at least not for cotton. That's why I'm combining all these, possibly shooting for size three needles. The third one is just sitting in my closet waiting to meet it's demise.
So yeah, it's a pretty fine yarn. It's more like fat thread. This is a double thread multi-strand that's wonderfully over washed. I guess twelve years will do that to cotton, but surprisingly enough, there were no breaks during unraveling. The charcoal color has cooled significantly, however. This was another reason I wanted to combine this, as the subtle color differences of washed charcoals from three different sweaters should yield an equally subtle result. I like subtle, especially when it originates from a complex, pain-in-the-ass process.
California summer is in full swing. These summer nights are what the Shear Series is all about. The open, loosely-knit ribbing breathes so well, especially on those night time bike rides. If you've never gone on a bike ride on a warm summer night, you probably don't even know what I'm talking about. Go do it tonight. It's awesome.
This is Shear Charlie #3. I clarified the design on the second one, and I wanted to do one in this charcoal lamb's wool. This is the sixth hat I've knit from this yarn batch. It used to be a men's sweater from The Gap. I have enough for one more, but I did manage to find another one of these sweaters. The exact same sweater. That seriously never happens, so yeah, awesome.
Charlie 3 is definitely my favorite Shear so far. I dig the way the fold-over matches the banding. Shear also does a lot of subtle, technique-type things which would just confuse everyone if I tried to explain it, so I won't even try. I dunno what I expect you to walk away with from that last sentence. Maybe that as a conceptual design, the parallelogram element has matured significantly since it's inception in the Skew Series which managed to go from Alpha to Foxtrot (that's six versions) before evolving into Shear. And yes, I'm still pushing forward.
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Spring/Summer is in full swing, and although Spring is pretty much over, I still want some color in my shop. I don't list much during these hotter months. There just isn't a market for such things this time of year. But I look at this as an opportunity to let the stock pile up.
I've made a slight modification to this design. The original had more of that 1x3 ribbing near the top. I've shortened that section to harmonize with the 1x1 ribbing near the crown so they both frame the central section. This meant tweaking the math slightly where the garter rib meets the 1x3. In order to achieve the same length as the original, I had to re-orchestrate the transitions to stay within the confines of the row totals. That's starting to sound complicated. The 1x3 ribbing section is shorter. That pretty much sums it up.
So by doing this the parallelogram shape is framed by a 1x3 section at the top, and a 1x1 section near the brim. This does a couple of things to the design that I'm really geeking out about. One: it adds variety while still maintaining unity. Two: since both framing sections are the same length, this variety can be seen whether the hat is worn long or folded up.
This hat looks particularly awesome when it's worn folded up, as the 1x3 ribbing aligns with the brim section which is inversed (3x1). I really like how it does that. I suppose that's one of the reasons why I like messing around with ribbed hats. You can play with these reversals that occur at the brim, and unify elements in fun ways.
Aside from this slight clarification to the design, nothing else is different. The yarn is the same 100% lamb's wool as the original, a rich hunter green recycled from a J Crew sweater. I feel motivated to do another, so I may just do a light gray one. And a charcoal one.
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In an effort to wrangle more control over my online content, I'm examining my blog post tags. This has given me a chance to look hard at the content of this blog, and see the bigger picture. From the start this has been a place for me to share what I'm up to creatively. Very rarely have I posted something on here that wasn't created by me. Original content.
So this process of tag analysis led me to delete a few tags, and create a few new ones. The two primary content types are 'Craft' and 'Creative.' As you can see they branch out into their own subcategories. Blog posts are tagged with the primary tag, then the secondary tag, then the tertiary tag where applicable.
Interestingly, I realized the tag 'Graphic Design' was unnecessary. I didn't need it. As a primary tag, 'Creative' covered everything better, and the secondary tags proved to be more accurate. I guess that was weird to me since this blog started as a graphic design blog. I dunno, whatever. I'll be dropping a few others eventually, too.
This post is tagged with a new secondary tag that I've added, 'Process.' I hope that by sharing creative process with you that you may find it helpful in understanding your own content. I'm not gonna act like I'm the king of content or anything, I'm really not. I suck actually which is why I'm doing this in the first place.
Here's another light weight knit for the springtime. People seem to dig Reflect Bravo, so I made one in charcoal. I mentioned previously that I don't have much of this color, and that got me thinking of solutions.
What I ended up doing was combining yarn recycled from two sweaters. They're both charcoal merino, but one is slightly darker than the other. As I knit this up the only discernible difference was that the combined color was lighter when viewed from afar, but that's it. The heathered nature of charcoal yarns seems to visually equalize the hue values.
So yeah, it looks pretty great. I think I'm gonna focus on these high gauge pieces for the shop during the warmer months. I'd love it if my shop was nothing but high gauge. I'll just have to work on that.
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It never fails to amaze me how strong these thread weight merino yarns are. I unraveled these sweaters directly from the disassembled pieces onto the swift. Typically I have to pull out a few yards, then wind the swift in a two step process, but these came apart very smoothly with minimal tension. I just attached the end, and wound away. I suppose them being in great condition helped somewhat.
The Ann Taylor was a short sleeved crew neck number in a country blue. The other was a long sleeved cardigan by David Jones Plus, the first true black I've found thus far (stoked about that). Both are 100% merino wool, and will undoubtedly be quadrupled for the Reflect Series.
This bear coat I got from the army surplus has pretty much achieved 'go-to' status in my wardrobe. For something that costed a paltry fourteen bucks, that's quite a feat. The actual name on the tag is "Shirt, Cold Weather," but it's generally referred to as a 'bear coat' or 'bear jacket.' It's typically worn under a military parka, so the sleeves run short to accommodate layering. I wear it like a jacket though, and that draft at the sleeves makes for an uncomfortable bike ride.
So what's a knitter to do? Well, okay, you can see what I did already because of the huge pictures. The only appropriate black I could find in my stash for this was a batch of Red Heart that I bought back when I didn't know any better. But in actuality, an acrylic yarn seems appropriate considering the shirt is polyester to begin with.
As far as the knitting goes, it's really not all that complicated. I casted on 52 stitches and worked 30 rows of 2x2 ribbing, casting off with all knits so that the seam edge would be uniform enough to sew into the sleeve.
What's cool is that I can fold them inward if I want to layer over it. But the main reason for this modification was to seal the sleeves because they ride up when I'm on my bike, and I hate having to bother with gloves. Anyone who rides a bike in cold weather can appreciate sealed sleeves and warm knuckles.
I rarely do any custom orders. This one is for a friend, so don't get any ideas that gridjunky is now stocking baby items, because that just aint gonna happen. My focus will always be menswear. For like… full grown men.
This is a scaled down version of Divide Bravo, adapted to hit a gauge of 8 stitches per inch. As you can see I've tripled this 100% cashmere thread weight to achieve that. What a fantastic fiber. The softness makes it the only choice for baby.
The finished piece is 13.5 inches (34.3 cm) in circumference, and 8 inches (20.4 cm) in length. It's interesting to see how perfectly scaled down this version is, compared to the original. The yarn weight, and consequently the needle size make this happen, and it's pretty straight forward, but I can't help but see the possibilities.
A while back there was this forum thread on Etsy where someone was using acrylic yarn for baby items. Somehow I was appalled by that. Maybe I'm missing something there, but the way I see it, they're only babies for a brief moment. Shouldn't we celebrate that with better quality?
The Handmade Movement is about providing quality and craftsmanship, not shortcuts and sale prices. If I want something cheap, there are plenty of mass-produced options out there. Why represent Handmade with mediocre materials? Well, this knitter says screw that. When I think of handmade baby gear, I think of cashmere. Nothing else. Okay, maybe merino, but that's it. Go for heirloom quality.
So to put my money where my mouth is, here's a couple of recent cashmere additions to my stash. I've recycled that gray one specifically for some baby editions of Divide Bravo which are currently in progress. Stay tuned for Divide Bravo Mini because… well, I just don't do baby, so this is totally exclusive.
I take a long time to do things. Sometimes it's because I'm focused on doing a good job. Other times (such as with the Reflect series) it's all about committing to a project that is inherently time-consuming. I like doing the hard things once in a while.
And now that holiday season is long gone, I have the breathing room to bust out with the hard stuff, the high resolution knits that fly in the face of a market over-saturated with the chunky, the bulky… the easy. I better just stop there before I start ranting again.
Reflect Delta takes the alternating seed stitch ribbing of Reflect Bravo and flips it inside out. The reversibility of these stitch patterns afford some nice possibilities. It's good practice to shake things up and then harmonize the math.
The 1x1 ribbing I've come to despise lately finds a welcome place as banding, where I don't have to do too much of it. It also shifts the base pattern math, breaking the threes with twos. I like the visual contrast that's happening there, where the increased frequency of the repeat overtakes the base pattern.
I don't have much of this charcoal merino, so this will likely be one of two (possibly three). Holding four strands together will do that I guess.
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I've got this vision in my head of white scarves. It's slowly coming to fruition with one silk project under wraps and slated for spring, but I've been keeping my eyes peeled for various whites in cotton. The idea is to combine the strands into one yarn. When knit up, the analogous variation creates a visual depth to the color. I first noticed this on the charcoal cotton I used on Nudge. The fabric has this subtle striation that takes advantage of the multi-strand structure.
By combining this pure white with that Façonnable Cotton I got a while back, I should be able to get the same effect, but I still need to swatch it all out. Who knows, it might suck.
This charcoal merino is another multi-strand candidate, this time in the merino category, although it's nice enough to stand on it's own. But then again, a halter top women's x-small didn't yield much yarn, so some combo action could happen, depending on the project. Either way it's nice to have it, charcoal merino is always welcome here.
See how much I like this pattern? This is Divide Bravo again. One of the things I like a lot is how a 2x1 rib retains shape. I like 2x2 too, but it contracts the finished hat like a sweater sleeve so that the crown looks pointy. I prefer it to look more bulbous. Having just one purl on the repeat works out pretty perfect.
Another thing I like about this pattern is the mathematical harmony. All the pattern stitches are equal. That is to say each one is based on a stitch count of three, with the base pattern being a knit 2, purl 1 rib (2+1=3). I guess that consistency is pretty easy to achieve when you think about it since lots of things can happen in a three stitch repeat.
The yarn I used is a 100% wool recycled from a women's J Crew sweater. It's an interesting blend of colors. Along with the light blue and white fibers, there are traces of red that play with the overall appearance, dancing between light blue and lavender. The color complexity lends itself well to pairings with warm neutrals like brown and tan which pull these visual hues back towards light blue.
I guess I should move on though, and begin sketching out ideas for Divide Charlie. Winter is young, and I have way too much yarn.
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