Category Archives: Fashion

My Fiber Ed at the Knit and Crochet Show

I attended the Knit and Crochet Show this week and was fortunate enough to take two classes.

Fine shaping in crochet with Lily Chin. I recommend taking this class to anyone who has felt frustrated or limited with construction and design options in crochet. Lily’s excellent class helped open doorways to understanding how to shape garments in crochet.

Part of our homework including making an eight inch swatch of a crochet stitch pattern of our choice and making several Xerox copies of the stitch. She showed us how to create a graph template using inch grid chart paper from any garment. She also demonstrated that we could carefully lay out the Xerox copies of our stitch pattern and estimate or plan out our design on the template.

Lily truly is a talented instructor and a storehouse of knowledge about her craft. She shared some of her design stories and swatches.  She told the story of her adventure of crafting a beautiful metallic thread crochet dress and the trial and error process she went through to make a stunning evening dress worn by Cindy Crawford. I scoured the Internet looking for an image of the dress but I could not find it. I honestly think this was one of the most helpful classes in fiber craft I’ve ever taken and I recommend this for anyone who’s itching to boost their skills in crochet and garment design. I can only imagine that her knitting classes are just as enlightening.

I went home and ordered a copy of Couture Crochet as soon as I got home.

Click the image to view the book at Interweave Press

Click the image to view the book at Interweave Press

Designer Day with Janet Szabo. I got a lot of important and useful information and insights on launching one’s own career in the world of fiber design. It was a really valuable class for anyone who is interested in becoming a designer of knit or crochet.

She was able to dispell some of the myths lodged in my brain about getting started as a designer and self-publishing. One of the most important lessons I learned: if you want to insure that your patterns are the best and secure a good reputation as a designer, hire a tech editor to check your patterns.

This class was a good start to understanding what it takes to launch a business as a designer but I would also encourage those who are interested to check SCORE or the SBA (Small Business Association) for classes. I took a class a year or so ago on writing business plans that was very helpful.

On another note, Janet has written two books that I’ve found indispensable:

I Hate to Finish Sweaters &

Aran Sweater Design

Click the image to view the book at Janets site.

Click the image to view the book at Janet's site.

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Filed under Aran, Challenge, Creativity, Crochet, Fashion, Garment Design, Knit

Getting back into my Delorean

At knit night last week, I really tried give an adequate description of the lileks.com site. I have sort of an odyssey back through fashion and time when ever I look at the lileks website. It’s true that much of the stuff here comes from way before my time, but I still enjoy the trip. This site houses one of my most favorite kitsch visuals on the web:

The Grooviest Motel in Wisconsin.

You need to click through the entire site, as you get a ‘walking tour’ of this fabulous hotel (which no longer exists). It looks like an architectural nightmare. I can picture indoor astroturf and red shag carpet. So many beautiful things came out of this era… and so many terribly ugly things too. It seems that this was really a time when people were experimenting with style. Is it me, or have we only been re-hashing styles and reliving nostalgia for the past two decades? Maybe the unique elements of fashion are as imperceptible as the impact of history to contemporary individuals.

Were havin Big Hair

We're havin' "Big Hair"

I sometimes think that the Old Navy and “That Seventies Show” together brought back some of the seventies fashion. And just fading from the limelight (hopefully) has been the obsession with the Eighties. I noticed that despite this ‘dip into the past,’ people are still being selective about what the bring back. Fortunately, there’s been no resurgence of ‘bell bottom’ pants or tidal wave bangs. On the other hand, all these people who adore 80’s music revivals seem to listen only the crap top 40’s. There’s no accounting for taste. Perhaps people want to embrace the vacuous and vapid culture of the 80’s because it’s as good an escape as anything else. Perhaps the nation’s young adults are regressing into their childhood because with the impending doom of failed economies and global warming there’s little else where they can run but to the past.

I barely remember the early to mid seventies, my memories include this polyester pantsuit my mother wore that had the following colors in it (avocado green, mustard yellow, and orange-red). I used to call it her “Del Monte brand” outfit. I also remember the old Betty Crocker Cookbook we had (in a ring binder). I think I tore out the page with the space cupcakes by accident. You could see my greasy little finger prints all over the page, all evidence of my obsessive pleading to make them. My mother, wasn’t much of a cook back then you see, plus she was incredibly health conscious so making cakes and cookies was almost always out of the question.

Famolare Shoes - the ones I had looked like loafers with the wavy soles.

Famolare Shoes - the ones I had looked like loafers with the wavy soles.

My other memories of the 70’s include Famolare shoes, culottes in rusty orange corduroy, page boy haircuts for boys, satin roller derby jackets, the old blue Bel Air my dad used to drive, Holly Hobby and “Love Is…” posters, Jaime Lee Curtis, and Magic Rocks and Sea Monkeys. I don’t think we ever owned a circular bed or had a patch of shag carpet in our house. I’m assuming my mother probably immediately saw that as a dust magnet and allergy hazard.

Still sometimes when I look back into my childhood, I find it reassuring. Perhaps it’s because all those old things seem fresh and new again. It’s as if I was looking at them with the eyes of youth.

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Deciphering Japanese Patterns: an Adventure

My husband has this habit (a bit irritating to me) of watching foreign movies without the subtitles. He’s perfectly happy enjoying the movie by watching and interpreting facial impressions and physical gestures. Sometimes he just likes to sit back and enjoy the cinematography or art direction. I realized the other day that I should be a little more tolerant and sypathetic of this habit of his because I’ve been known to buy books and magazines in foreign language because I simply enjoy the designs, the artwork and photography. Any item that has clearly drawn and organized symbolic instructions just leaves me in awe and appreciation. Perhaps it because these instructions effectively transgress any language barriers and effectively present the task or material in a truly universal language.  Even though Japanese knitting patterns have elements that are indecipherable to me, I still think that a non-Japanese speaking individual can glean more from the design of the object than one could from patterns written in English.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I bought a few knitting pattern books as well as a stitch dictionary (for both knitting and crochet) in San Francisco’s Japantown a two weeks ago. I am planning to attempt one of the hat patterns soon with the help of some of the translation resources (see below) and the stitch dictionary. If I attempt to work on any of the garments in these books, I’ll have to strategically place darts or increases in the patterns to accommodate the ‘curviness’ of my figure. 🙂

The cute little hat, I’d love to make (it’s crochet)

Resources for using Japanese Patterns:

A helpful PDF guide that walks you through the process of understanding and using Japanese Patterns. There are also several web resources on the subject listed at the end of this document.

http://www.needleartsbookshop.com/InterpretingJapaneseKnittingPatterns.pdf

Wonderful Guide including translations of needle sizes and common terms:

http://www.tata-tatao.to/knit/japanese/e-index.html

Legend for Stitches:

http://www.tata-tatao.to/knit/stitches/e-index.html

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Filed under Crochet, Fashion, Garment Design, Knit, Knitting, Pattern Links, Techniques

Frothy pink French chic

I finished this scarf over the weekend to wear at the wedding I never attended. It’s the Lala scarf in the Greetings from Knit Cafe book. It was a pretty quick knit until I got to the ruffle, but knitting picot after picot actually put me into a meditative state. It was sort of like knitting an endless Rosary.

I’m actually, really enjoying the Knit Cafe book. In order to be set for mid Spring, I intend to finish the Kat Coyle “Lacey Skirt with Bows.”

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Filed under Fashion, Knit, Knitting, Lace

Weekend in San Francisco

I went to SF to attend a wedding, unfortunately, I drank some chai tea drink this morning that had bad milk in it. I spent a good part of the afternoon being ‘sick.’ I don’t think I’ll ever be able to drink chai again. So I was too sick to attend the wedding, and I’m sitting in the Hotel room recuperating, watching BBC comedies and drinking Genmai-cha (green tea with brown rice).

Though I did have a great time yesterday. I’ve scored yarn, books, and a few Samurai videos. We’re staying in Japan Town at the Kabuki Hotel, and it’s quite a lovely spot. I highly recommend it for anyone who wishes to stay in SF and be pampered at a reasonable price. Each hotel room has a traditional Japanese bath. I was able to scrub up and relax in the tub before curled up and fell asleep yesterday… complete heaven – near Nirvana. The Hotel also has a lovely little garden to sit and knit in for a moment or two.

The hotel is part of the Japan Town complex that includes a mall complete with several Japanese restaurants, a huge bookstore and a number shops with Japanese goods. On Thursday night, I spent a few hours pouring over the books in the Kinokuniya bookstore. There are so many wonderful inspirations and designs in these books.  I wanted to pull out my notebook and jot some of them down, but I felt a little self-conscious. I do think that I’ve noticed that many Japanese styles featured in some of the books didn’t seem fitted. It must be a style adaption that comes from Japanese fashion history. Clothing in Japanese culture wasn’t really fitted until they adopted styles from Westerners.

I did buy a knitting stitch pattern book which was a little spendy, but well worth it because all the stitches were diagrammed in charts. I absolutely hate reading instructions to lace and cables line by line. The Japanese really understand how to explain things visually and with symbols. The only thing I get more joy from is the instructions for some IKEA products. There’s something comforting about not having to use too many words to explain things.

Yesterday I visited Art Fibers for the first time. What a joy! They have the most wondrous array of fibers and yarns. I bought a few things including a silk and mohair blend yarn called Tsuki that knits into an absolutely dreamy cloud. I’ve never knit a mohair lace shawl before, so I opted for something very simple: a triangular shawl with daisies. I started it yesterday and I’m about a third of the way done. I’m really quite pleased with the look and feel of this yarn. The silk catches the light beautifully.

Artfibers is a wonderful place, they actually allow you to ‘taste’ the yarns in house by swatching them yourself. Also, Kira Dulaney was there to offer advice and guidance on the yarns. She even helped me design a custom pattern for a tank top. If you have a chance, do check out her pattern site as her work is absolutely gorgeous. My only regret is that I don’t live close enough to frequent the shop regularly. Here are a few of my scores from the store: Mozambique, more Tsuki (in bright teal), Baccarat, and Golden Chai …

Addendum 4/1 – the scarf/shawl in Tsuki is nearly finished. It took only 40 grams and at $14 for a shawlette, that’s quite a bargain.

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Filed under Craft, Creativity, Crochet, Fashion, Fibers, Garment Design, Knitting, Travels, Yarn

Went to the Beach.. and reflections on what I want in a sweater.

Last weekend… it was pretty cruddy and rainy most of the time, but we were able to get a wee bit of sun towards the end of the trip. I finished my Elizabeth Zimmerman Fair Isle sweater en route to the beach. Eric took a picture of me on the beach wearing the sweater, but I will not post it (because I look fat in the picture…. heheh, vain me). Instead you just get a picture of a very happy pug:

beachbumotto.jpg

I was just listening to Episode 44 of Stash and Burn, and it sparked some consideration of my tastes in sweaters for knitting and my taste in fashion in general. I love some of the beautiful patterns in Interweave Knits, but I find myself not wanting to knit many of them because my gut tells me that they can be dated given a few years (not to say there aren’t good classic patterns in IK). I think I’m a bit conservative when it comes to the sweater style. I don’t want any really distinguishing features in the sweater that might date it and I tend to go for a classic look a.la Sarah Dallas and Erica Knight patterns. I adore 1920’s and 1930’s style knitted goods and accessories. I might try to alter the stitch pattern or use a different yarn, but I really don’t want to veer away from classic patterns because I spend so much time knitting the darn things, I don’t want to wear it five or six years later and realize that I look like I need to unburden myself in a thrift store.

Really, if I’m going to spend up to three months making a garment I want to make good use of it for a long period of time. I feel like I’m going to have this sort of relationship with my Central Park Hoodie (even though it took me only a month to knit).  Having a good sweater is a lot like having a really good friend. They’re dependable, they go with you most places, and they make you feel comfortable and good about yourself.

Recent search of sweater images on line revealed the following treasures for inspiration:

Fair Isle Cardigan

I recognize this image… it’s from the Book: The Art of Fair Isle Knitting

I have this book and absolutely love it! Love it! I recommend it for anyone who wants to learn more about the art and history of Fair Isle.

leafcardigan.jpg

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Filed under Fashion, History, Knit, Knitting, Patterns, Reflection, Sweater

New projects and cartoon musings on a sweater for the original dork

Addendum: I found the link to the Scooby Doo parody from the Venture Brothers. You can view it here: http://www.adultswim.com/video/?episodeID=8a25c392134976fa01134a830e52003e

I want to knit for me…. for me and no one else! This selfishness usually occurs right after the holiday knitting frenzy and does not subside until maybe May. I’ve been ill lately and on some days I was too weak even to pick up the needles. Work has been keeping me busy and it’s been about two weeks or so, so I’m in a serious state of withdrawal and the selfish knitting thing will probably help me recuperate. I think I want to make a quick sweater so i’ve been considering making Marilyn in Gianna. I thought of using coral color… but then I paused and thought… orange sweater… why doesn’t ‘orange sweater’ feel right or sound right? OH,yeah… the chunky black glasses, you dork!

Every time I wear an orange sweater I feel like Velma from Scooby Doo. Yes, an Asian Velma. Curse that Velma! I shall never wear an orange sweater again… at least until I get a new pair of glasses.

Scooby Doo stopped being cool when Sarah Michelle Gellar and Freddy Prinze became involved… though most will argue that this happened long before this when the evil little character whose name shall not be mentioned was introduced to the cast.

So how about red? A red sweater would be nice.

All this talk about the Doo reminds me of that great episode of the Venture Bros. with the parody cast from S.D. I couldn’t find a clip of it on the Tube, so here’s another favorite clip:

Come on… he’s in Depeche Mode!
[YouTube=http://youtube.com/watch?v=KmgrquvVYSk]

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Filed under Fashion, Fun Stuff, Knit, Knitting, Pattern Links, Rambling, Yarn