Divide Alpha Four

According to my notes, I haven't knitted Divide Alpha since 2012. Time does indeed fly. I remember working on this for weeks, and being completely perplexed about how the transitions would cross. I remember the imperfections, and subsequent improvements that led from Alpha One to Alpha Two, and then to Alpha Three.

I modeled Shear Echo Three inside out. I wonder if those buyers noticed? They never said anything, but then maybe it was obvious. I did the same for this one. I like all that bloat on the purl side. There's something masculine about it, maybe because it reminds me of dragon scales or toad skin, or clumpy earth.

I still have yet to find fault in this vintage Caron 100% wool yarn. It's still strong enough to pass pull tests. There are no inconsistencies in color. It's still springy. Despite not being recycled like the rest of my yarn stash, I think I'm gonna miss it when it's gone.

Oh, and if you haven't already, check out my interview on the Woolful Podcast. Ashley was kind enough to feature me on this new podcast for fiberists, so if you're reading my blog, then chances are you'd definitely want to give it a listen. It's a perfect accompaniment to your knitting.

Etsy Shop Listing


Shear Echo Three

I have to say, Shear Echo has been rather exploratory for me. Prior iterations of Shear have had their variations, but Echo Series takes that design foundation of parallelograms, and demonstrates the most variation of all of them.

The design might just be perfect. I've been able to scale it into higher density and lower, by way of lighter and heavier yarns. I never do that, at least with the previous versions. I believe it is because the math is essentially harmonious. I won't bother getting into the specifics of that, but essentially the ratios of pattern repeats and row totals seem to scale quite elegantly.

If you've been following me on Instagram, you may have noticed how I started with one design for Echo Three, and ended up changing it. This was because I tried to change that math, and it just didn't work. You can't turn a multiple of three into a multiple of two. It's mathematically impossible. Well, okay, it can, but not within the confines of the row totals necessary for a proper fit of a hat on a human head. The convergence of the multiples simply doesn't happen enough to meet the target numbers. I'm starting to sound like a crazy person, so I'll just move on to the next paragraph.

I decided to model the work inside out. I've been reluctant to do this in the past out of fear of confusing people. I think people are capable of noticing that my branding tag is on the outside and come to that conclusion without difficulty. If I were to flip it right side out, you'd (probably) instantly recognize the triple columns I always do that converge into a trefoil. I like how subtle it looks with the purl side out.

When I recycled the sweater for this yarn, I made sure to get every inch of it because it was a sweater vest. No sleeves. One of the things I worried about while knitting this hat was whether or not there was enough yarn here to make two. Now that I've finished the first one, I can say now that there is. Why two? because I need to make one for myself. That's why.

So this item is one of one, and will not be made for sale again.
Etsy Shop Listing


Divide Bravo Nine

My Instagram feed has been green lately. I'm sure you've noticed Divide Bravo 9 flashing it's brightness over the past week among the olive drabs. It almost seems out of place among my usual color saturation preferences. I've always felt it was too bright. Maybe I also harbored some irrational resentment because it was recycled from an A&F sweater. But hey, that's not its fault.

The design hasn't changed, but it's interesting to note that this yarn opens up the design a little bit. It's slightly bigger in proportion than previous versions. I think this is due to the two-ply structure of the yarn. When I did this design with that amazing Italian wool I had before, it did the same thing. I don't have too many of these plied yarns, as manufacturers of the sweaters I recycle tend to prefer a more practical yarn structure consisting of two or more thread/lace weight strands machine-knit together. Consequently, the multi-strand versions of Divide Bravo have tended to be more stable, keeping shape longer. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, quite the contrary. I love how plied yarns create a fabric that opens up and drapes with wear. It basically means more slouchiness. And I like slouchiness.

Etsy Shop Listing


Armer Class

I've been calling these "Armers," much in the same way I've been calling my leg warmers "Leggers." They function pretty much in the same way, adding warmth to the area of a garment where all the drafts happen (the openings). If you ride a bike, then you know what I'm talking about.

The idea has been rolling around in my head to make these since last year, so it's nice to have these done and ready for the upcoming Fall/Winter seasons. I knit these to fit snug at the shoulders so I can layer them underneath a shirt. In the past, I've found wearing sweaters over shirts to be too warm, specifically in the chest and underarm. Maybe it's just me, I don't know. Anyway, I'm anxious to see how these will work themselves into my wardrobe.

In other news, I'll be opening my Etsy Shop this week, and no, these won't be for sale because I made these for me.


Worth Doing

My studio has been a mess lately because of this apron. Now that it's finished, I can get back to the other stuff that got back-burnered because I got a sudden urge to use up all this denim I recycled.

If you've been keeping up with me on Facebook, or more recently on Instagram, then you've seen all the in-progress images that I've been posting. There are a few you haven't seen, though. Namely the sashiko section I used to stabilize the lower hem. I've been pinning some images while researching Sashiko technique, and have found more decorative demonstrations than reinforcement stitching which is what I've tried to do here. I say "tried" because despite the gathering tendencies of spiral stitch, the edge still curls slightly. I think I'm just going to leave it curled. I plan on adding more stitching to other areas, but I want to get a few washings in first, and see how things develop.

The white thread is a 100% cotton recycled from a Fa├žonnable men's sweater, and the black is a 100% silk recycled from a Banana Republic women's sweater. You may notice from those images that each garment was knit with a multi-strand structured yarn, so I had to separate each strand to use the thread individually.

This project was pretty hard. I could have used my sewing machine, but the beauty of hand stitching cannot be denied. And if you don't know me by now, then yes: I do hard things. They're worth doing. Now I think I'm going to clean up my workspace.


Just Make

So that denim I showed you the other day was sitting around within my field of vision the past week because I wanted to sew something out if it.

I don't know what to call this, but I'm currently using it as a mouse pad. The physical parameters indicate that it's a bag. That's fine. If I feel like sliding a piece of paper into it with web passwords, then so be it. If I want to use it as a divider inside another bag, fine. There's no specified purpose for this object. Making it was far more interesting to me.

Measure, cut, iron, stitch. It's like a creative meditation.


I Call Them Gaunts

I need to catch up with all these projects that I finished and never blogged about. These gaunts were completed around the end of last year, and I tucked them away like so many other personal projects. They're a simple improvisational project with more experimenting than planning. Color block stripes, spiral jog stripes, and an angular transition thrown in for good measure. That's really all there is going on here.

The yarn is a 100% Scottish Shetland wool recycled from a beat up sweater that I never took a picture of before unravelling. It was destroyed. I remember there were so many breaks in the yarn that I had to repair every few feet with a russian join. I almost gave up, but at the time this was the only light and medium gray yarns I had. I still have a few ziploc bags full of short strands that I kept. Maybe I should make a pin cushion with some of it (I've been saying that for years).


Delete Bravo

As you may recall from the Alpha, "Delete" is a designation I've developed to essentially bust my stash. And if you know me well enough by now, you'd know that I'd never name a scarf something so obvious as "Stashbuster" or whatever because that would be stupid.

The names I give to my work have very specific origins. The hats are named after tools and processes in Adobe Illustrator. The scarves: Photoshop. The sweater I just finished was named after a command in InDesign. Of course, I follow these naming guidelines somewhat loosely, but it gives me a good foundation for the thought process. This is, after all, about design. None of this is about knitting.

I suppose it's worth knowing that this yarn came from the first sweater I ever recycled back into yarn. I never even took a picture of the original sweater. This was back in 2010 when I was first learning how to knit, and consequently learning the prices of modern yarn. That's when I saw the necessity of it. I remember being skeptical of the whole yarn recycling process, but the thought of spending time rather than money appealed to my good sense.

So here I am, busting stash. Half of it, anyway. Maybe I should just make another one. Delete Bravo is an improvisational knit. The only preparation I did was a general gauge swatch, and a few mathematical equations to govern the potential variety of stitch patterns. The stitch pattern repeats essentially duplicate themselves from two to four to eight, while the angular transitions divide the compositions into sections of sixteen and thirty-two: 2 4 8 16 32. The consistency of the math unifies all the visual elements quite well, with the eight stitch sections fitting puzzle-like atop pairs of four stitch repeats. I like how this turned out.


Place Alpha Zero

After writing up a heavily technical post filled with knitting jargon and shop talk, it occurred to me that those of you that would understand it would just be hearing what you already know: calculations can only take you part of the way, but you have to dive in and just do it if you want to see how well a project will turn out.

When I bought Elizabeth Zimmermann's Knitting Without Tears a while back from Amazon, there was this customer review on there that still bugs the crap out of me to this day. The customer bashed the book for not giving step by step instructions or tables for the percentage system, and how Zimmermann's conversational approach to patterns was basically inappropriate.

But that's not what knitting is about, is it? That's not what knitting is to me, anyway. I've come to realize that within the community of knitters, I'm in that minority who believe in technique more than pattern. I don't need a pattern to tell me how to increase or decrease, pick up a selvedge, or even to graft an under arm. As knitters, we should already know how to do these things, and if we don't, well this is the Internet Age, isn't it? There are so many resources out there that (at least in my opinion) explicitly concise pattern writing comes off as a demonstration of over-thinking, much like the way this blog post initially started before I came to my senses, and started typing these rambling sentences. I write like I knit.

So this pullover started out, really, as a curiosity. I had always wanted to knit a sweater, but the last time I tried it, I killed the project. This time, I just happened to be knitting along on some giant thing that really didn't have a pre-determined outcome. Mainly, I was interested in seeing how the angular transitions I tend to do would translate to higher stitch counts. Once I completed it, however, I realized that this circular thing I'd just made was a perfect fit for my chest. At that point I casted on some sleeves. I wanted to use up this yarn anyway.

As things progressed, I started over-thinking things (like a shawl collar that didn't work out), trying other things, and ultimately ended up back where Zimmermann had initially led me to: a Seamless Raglan Sweater. Were there hiccups along the way? Yes. They were technical, so I looked up the answer. Was it a lot of work? Yes, especially after joining the body and sleeves into a humongous row of stitches. Did I learn something? Well, Duh.

Regardless of the size of a project, there is a constant truth: what you are knitting is a confluence of various techniques. Each technique has variations. What you decide to perform is entirely up to you. That's the beauty of handmade clothing. Research the technique, practice the craft, unify the elements. And be creative enough to make up your own mind when you have to.


Playing Darts

Yet when I say 'darts,' the term is used rather liberally. Frankly, I don't know what to call this. I've sewn horizontal darts into my jeans for years, and they are what you'd expect if you're familiar with darts on men's shirts. The goal is to reduce and shape the garment to fit better, but I use them on jeans because I don't like losing the ankle hems by folding them under. I also don't like the excess material that ends up there.

Contrary to having plotted the entire dart as seen in the pictures, I've decided to employ them differently this time around. Instead of sewing the entire section shut into a 'closed eye,' I've sewn just the center points together. By doing so, the fabric can drape more freely around the knee. At the same time, the reduction in the leg length is maintained where it's supposed to be (the back).

Due to the height of the 'pinch dart,' (good a name as any), there is a jodhpur silhouette that forms at the thigh where the excess denim drops forward. The folds gather at the knee, and push down in opposition to the darts. The resulting drape gathers rather nicely at the shins and ankles.

I typically wear a 28x30 in jeans, but for this particular alteration, I bought a 28x32 in order to guarantee enough length to work with. The cut is a boot fit made by Guess Jeans called "Jayce Slim Bootcut." I'm curious to see how these jeans age with this particular modification. Since the denim is so raw, there will definitely be some interesting whiskering.


Shear Echo Two

I've mentioned before that each hat series has a distinct design structure. But what you may not have noticed is that each series also follows a particular gauge structure. From highest to lowest it goes Reflect (diamond shapes in high gauge), Shear (parallelograms in medium gauge), and Divide (crosses in low gauge).

Shear Echo Two follows the same design structure of the Shear Series, but mixes things up by utilizing the lower gauge of Divide. It's a mash-up. In terms of design structure, it's nearly identical to Echo One, but with a thicker yarn, and a slightly simplified sequence of angular transitions.

The yarn is a 100% wool tweed. It's the lighter, sandy colored one in the image, and comprised the yoke section of the original sweater from which it was recycled. I honestly didn't know for certain whether I'd have enough of it for a hat which is why I simplified--and consequently reduced the number of rows of--the design. So I guess it all worked out in the end.

Oh, and I have a mustache now, in case you haven't noticed.