This year's Christmas wrap ended up being a no-brainer. This J Crew catalogue was fished out of my sister's recycling bin a few years ago, and filed away in one of my "re-use" stacks. I'm not sure what the paper size is, maybe an A3? I'm not sure. Anyway, with the help of a glue stick, I managed to double the area for the larger gift, and the smaller ones fit just fine with a single spread each. The ribbons (if you can call them that) are some of the leftover pages from that Gap Annual Report I used last year.
With the completion of the new hat designs, I'm pretty much done with shop production. I might knit up some re-stock on a few pieces, but I might not. We'll see. After this season, no work will be available for sale, so if you wanted to buy, now is the time.
I've never liked using the term "one of a kind," but there are pieces that I've produced and sold that will never be made again. Others were of a limited run of two to five. That's the way recycled yarn lots work. I've recycled a lot of sweaters, and only once have I found the same sweater a second time. Once. Aside from the limited nature of recycled yarn, there's also the work itself to consider. A lot of hats I've sold were simply a pain in the ass to produce, and because of that will never be made again. Then the recycled yarn of the original piece will get used up, and the opportunity to duplicate will be gone. I guess the whole point of this long-winded paragraph is that good work is already "one of a kind," and that if the work is truly original, then using "one of a kind" as a selling point comes off to me as… I don't know… redundant?
My work has always been about design. Divide, Shear and Reflect (at their most basic) are shapes: the cross, the parallelogram and the diamond, respectively. Throughout each series, I have demonstrated that knitting technique diversifies the compositions of a single shape in some pretty cool ways. Each sequential variation within each series has utilized the space of it's designated shape uniquely, and I've organized them with NATO phonetic naming structures. It's all "Process." I produce tangible demonstrations of visual thinking. My work has never been about knitting. What I'm selling is my creative process.
Or at least I will be until I close my shop on December sixth. When will it be open again? I have no idea. Why am I closing? Because I want to do something else. I want to learn something new. I want to offer something other than hand knits. So in order to do that, I need to creatively explore. I need to go get lost in the wilderness or something. I need to evolve. And let's face it: the shop is just one aspect of my web presence. I'll still have this blog, my Facebook and Twitter, and all the rest. I'll never stop doing creative things, they just won't be for sale (for a while).
I don't do this enough. I don't usually have the time. This was one of those projects where I had an idea in my head, and I just ran with it. I wasn't bogged down by preliminary preparation, or mathematical assurances because I already know the math works. I learned that from Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, Delta and Echo. The math works. I sketched a little, but that's it.
In a way, this was like a test. Based on all the previous work, can I just pick up the materials and tools and just improvise something? Apparently, yeah. I can. There are some new variations to the technique like mid-row transition origins, and transition-dependent stitch changes, and transition breaks. I don't expect you to understand any of that, they're just things I threw in there because they popped into my head.
Fiber preparation ended up being very time consuming. You may recall that tumblr post from way back where I split the native double strand that the sweater had been knit up with. Well, that's what took forever. It was ridiculous, really. But in order to achieve the appropriate gauge, I needed a three strand, and that meant I had to split at least some of this yarn lot. It was infuriatingly time consuming, and I cursed a lot.
So with the Fiber Prep, and the level of craftsmanship of the work, this particular piece proved to be more work than what I typically produce for the shop. And all that work makes it more valuable to me than I could ever convince a buyer to see.
NOT FOR SALE
This is the other color of that vintage Caron from the eighties I scored a while back. Compared to the khaki yarn, this one was of much better quality. Big Box yarn companies are notorious for knots and slubs, and apparently it's been happening (at least) since the eighties when this yarn was produced. From the four skeins in the khaki color, there were seven hanks (the twist donuts) produced. That's three knots that had to be cut. In contrast, the brown had no knots at all. Color was also consistent, as a whole. There were no faded areas, or inconsistencies.
So this is Divide Bravo Eight. I really need to go over my notes and see how many Divide Bravos I've made because it's way more than eight. That's just the number of modifications/clarifications to the design. I think it could also be the best seller in my shop, but I barely pay attention to such things. I've made a lot of these, let's just leave it at that.
The design has four different pattern stitches dispersed into intersecting dual speed simultaneous transitions. Does that make any sense to you? No? Good.
Etsy Shop Listing
This is one of those colors that defines the power of accessories. As a sweater it was markedly feminine. In fact I avoided using this yarn because of that reason. But while I was putting my Fall Palette together, I realized that apparel and accessories don't contribute to a look in the same way, especially for menswear. When paired with neutrals, pretty much any color will work, and men rock neutrals. It's our thing.
Modern DSLR camera sensors--and all modern digital cameras for that matter--have this annoying tendency to oversaturate reds and oranges, and mine is no exception. The color of this 100% lamb's wool isn't nearly as intense as some of these images demonstrate. The color is best demonstrated in the detail shot below (the close-up of the stitches). As you can see it's quite muted. This makes it particularly harmonious when paired with khakis, completing the look with their warm neutrality.
Etsy Shop Listing
So the prototype I did last week taught me a few things about distributing stitch elements across the design of Shear Echo, and doing it a little more eloquently.
Since the trefoil crown extends down the length of the entire work, it defines the three sections in between them. That much is obvious. What's less obvious is that the stitch totals of these sections are not equal. This inequity exists in all my hats, and occurs as a result of the trefoil (a multiple of three) being combined with the stitch compositions (typically multiples of four or twelve). Some stitch patterns will fit, others won't. That's the gist of it. It all comes down to the math. Either it harmonizes with the existing inequity or it doesn't.
For Shear Echo One, I took the garter rib sections further into the legs of the trefoil by converting the inner knit columns. It sort of looks like a giant chevron of garter ribbing. The two sections essentially connect each leg of the trefoil to each other by opening up the columns.
The yarn I used is 100% wool, recycled from a sweater made by Hollister & Co. The original weight of it was bulky, consisting of five strands which I split back into lace. It's extremely soft. The deep richness of this red reminds me of roses.
There are still a few modifications I'd like to make to this design in it's future iterations. What I've been referring to as a 'full trefoil crown' has apparently evolved. I guess this would be fuller. Hmmm… It's a 'complete trefoil.'
Etsy Shop Listing
This is something I've been meaning to try, two things, actually. One is to extend the trefoil crown all the way down to the brim, and the other is an isolated parallelogram.
As the trefoil crown developed over the course of my work, I came to realize that it solved a lot of problems in terms of marking where the decreases would ultimately go. To take the concept further, I decided to define these parameters from the beginning: the brim. This effectively eliminated the need for stitch markers for this aspect of the work. It also increases the potential for design exploration by introducing this idea of intersection.
That's where that isolated parallelogram of garter stitch ribbing came from. By defining these three sections so succinctly, my instinct was to differentiate further. Why not? But since this was essentially a design prototype (hence the 'zero' designation), I wanted to explore these new elements in a very basic way. The garter stitch ribbing section only occurs on the side that is shown in these images. The other two sections were worked in 2x2 rib.
This yarn is a scratchy 100% wool that it seems no one ever seemed to want. The pieces I've done in this wool over the years have never been bought. Personally, I really like scratchy wool, at least for hats. When it's really cold, that prickly bite of wiry wool is a welcome sensation.
These prototypes help me to iron out the kinks, and see how new design elements translate to the actual production of the work. I can scrutinize this manifested idea, and see the potential iterations of Shear Echo. In fact, I started Echo One this morning while waiting for the proper window light to take these photos. It's red.
Hmmm... what can I say about Shear Charlie Five that hasn't already been covered? Oh right: it's knit with that ever present charcoal lamb's wool that I haven't run out of yet.
Aside from that, there's the obvious addition of the fully textured trefoil crown. That's it. Oh, and I've been experimenting with yoga poses, but uh... that has nothing to do with knit hats. But yeah.
Etsy Shop Listing
This is another first for me. Up until now I've been offering knits made from recycled sweater yarn, but this particular version of Divide Bravo is made from a vintage 100% wool yarn. Based on the packaging (and a little research), I'd guess it dates back to the eighties.
It really is a testament to the resilience of wool fibers though, isn't it? When I found these skeins, I was really skeptical, not only because I never buy yarn, but because I just didn't think it would be that good. Honestly, I don't know why I thought that. I just never buy yarn this way, all packaged and ready to knit. Maybe that's it.
In terms of quality, this yarn is on par with the italian worsted I used on Divide Bravo One: soft but with just a little bite. Like most store bought worsted weights, it consists of a four ply structure which creates a lot of springiness. I like the springiness.
Etsy Shop Listing
This was one of the first pieces that I started adding full trefoil crowns to. You can see the previous crown design in the last image of the Etsy Listing. It was a plain column, a simple 3x1x3, but still a full trefoil, reaching from the crown all the way down to the angular transitions.
To further unify the design elements, I've added the garter stitch ribbing to the trefoil. I think it's got more visual "Umph" to it this way. Aside from that, it's still the same hat as the previous iteration, structurally.
The J Crew sweater that this yarn was recycled from was in great condition, and the sweater construction was easy to undo. With the exception of a few yards of chain stitching, there was barely any waste from this yarn lot. There is still quite a lot of it left, so Charlie Four will be around in the shop for a while.
Etsy Shop Listing
This really isn't anything spectacular. I'll admit that right now. I don't even know for sure what the fiber content of this yarn is. Burn tests have lead me to believe it's acrylic, but I honestly don't know. The original garment was a hideous vest that some knitter somewhere must have thought was a good idea, and I'm hoping said knitter doesn't take offense to the first half of this sentence, or the next. It was ugly.
So anyway, I got ahold of it way back in 2010, when I was just starting to recycle yarn from sweaters. This was the first time (and the last) that I unraveled a garment that wasn't mass produced. I guess it was an early lesson to stick with the bigger brands that have wonderful little labels that state in no uncertain terms what fibers a garment is comprised of. That's valuable information.
After sitting in my yarn stash for the past three years, I dug it out while looking for craft materials to bring to a craft swap I attended recently. I just wanted to get rid of it. The mystery of it all was driving me nuts.
But I didn't. I decided to just make something out of it as a personal project (not for sale). As a 'bulky' weight yarn, it knits up ridiculously fast, and there was enough for a decent loop scarf. So I said "Screw it. I'll just bang it out, and be done with it."
The pattern is pretty straight forward. I've used that 3x1 ribbing I never shut up about to stabilize a reversible composition, and threw three seed columns into the mix. I finished it in two days.
I call it "Delete" because I just wanted to use up this yarn. I did end up using all of it. I also call it "Delete" because I might just end up giving it away. It really isn't anything spectacular.
I don't know why I seldom do reversal compositions like this. Maybe I just don't want to over-use the idea. This re-design of the first iteration of Reflect incorporates a reversal of a ribbing stitch I've grown quite attached to, a 3x1. I like the way it stabilizes itself. Ribbing with an equal ratio (such as in the original Alpha's 2x2) does what we all expect it to do: it contracts the fabric. This is a characteristic I try to avoid.
The structural rules of Reflect dictate that the stitch at the brim match the stitch at the crown, and by using a 2x2 rib on the original, I made a crown that scrunched up into a point. Sort of. Okay, not really, but it was way more pointed than I'd have liked. The 3x1 resolves this visual peeve by horizontally widening the crown section.
The Full Trefoil is in full effect here, extending the three columns to the angled stockinette banding. From a production standpoint these lay a foundation for the crown decreases before they actually happen, which is pretty great. It means I don't need markers when it's time to work them.
Okay I better stop, because I'm getting too technical, and I probably confused all the non-knitters with my yammering. This won't be available for another three months. Connect with me on Facebook for notifications of new listings and first looks at upcoming work.
Etsy Shop Listing