Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Old WIPs and new FOs (and a Holi Party!)

Before starting the content of this post, I wanted to thank you all who contacted me after this post was out.  Truly, each and every single comment was read with much thought and appreciation.  I tried to get back at all of you, but I am still not sure how to reply blog comments (?)...
Anyway, thank you thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts and feelings on this, you made me feel I am not walking this path alone, and for that I am forever grateful. ❤️

So what did July bring to this household/office?

Let's see... At the very beginning of the month, I decided to take actions and finally build a small office space at home.  By building, I mean pushing some stuff around an setting up a desk that my Mother in Law gifted me...

Sorry, let's keep it real.
My desk is full of cables, and my office space is so tiny...
This is all that fits in the photo with my 50mm lens mounted onto the camera.
And yes, I am too lazy to switch lenses.

So yes! That's where I am writing to you all from today, and I can tell you that it meant a huge improvement in my work efficiency.  I like to think I have a much higher response rate, whether you contact me by email, on Ravelry or Facebook... Being here and having the computer near me and a place to keep all my junk without having to move around the house like a nomad.  Boy, it did make a difference!

So, a couple of weeks ago I talked here on how I spent the first half of the year feeling a bit burnt out.  And that surely reflected in the work I was doing.  Although I worked on a few collaborations, pretty much no patterns were being made in this pattern factory of my own.  I tried to do too many things at once, and you know what happens when you do that: well, actually you don't finish any of them, and they all lack the quality of the unique products.  So I had very little to show you guys, and to be honest, I was feeling rather sad about it.

I made an effort to organize all the things I had started, and the first one to be out of the oven was a cute little top I made using superchunky yarn.  YES! Superchunky!  NO! It's not a bad word! 
OK, so I visited Madelinetosh's headquarters back in February, when they were in the highlight of their speckled dyeing.  And they had some skeins of ASAP dyed in the Holi Festival colorway that were just exceptional.  

As some of you know, I live in a country where importation of goods is not permitted, so we can't touch these yarns in yarn stores, and we also can't have them mailed home (even if they says they're a present).  So when I get out of Argentina, I try to get as much yarn as I can.  Some yarns I order online to be ready to pick up when I get wherever I go.  
But superchunky is a different story, cause it's a big investment money-wise, and it can go so totally wrong.  So being there was great, because I got to touch and see this ASAP yarn in person, and it's so amazing.

So I only got 4 skeins of it, don't ask me why, I already told myself off too many times.  I had this image of a shawl or a big cowl in my mind, but then I figured out I wanted to make a small garment out of it.  And yes, I only had 360 yards of it!  But, ladies, it worked.  You can make a really great fitting garment with just 4 skeins of ASAP (I am size Medium), and it is probably the item I wear the most at home now that we are in the middle of winter.

My first finished piece in a long time might not be of much significance to many of you, since it is a fairly simple sweater pattern... But to me, it represented the challenge to work an affordable garment that could be made in just a couple of days, with fancy yarn, with good neck shaping (you need those short rows in the neckline to fit properly, and doing so at this gauge is not easy!) and even with positive ease for comfort ;)

So I hereby present you with pride, Holi Party ❤️

I think I look like one of this show business people in a magazine: 'Come in, let me show you my mansion'

Holi Party is a quick little pullover that is worked from the top-down in an absolutely seamless way.
It calls for chunky yarn, which knits up in a breeze. Don’t be surprised if you finish this project in a couple of days, it is that quick. 
The yoke is knit in the round, with raglan shaping for the sleeves. There are no buttonholes in this sweater: the buttons are sewn to both flaps to hold them together. 
Whether you are looking for your first sweater pattern, if you are too anxious to work on sweaters with lighter weight yarns, if you are looking for instant gratification after working on a very long project or if you just needed to get your knitting mojo back, Holi Party is the perfect project for you! 
So get those superchunky skeins out from your stash and cast on quickly, you’ll have a finished project in no time!

Cute buttons on the sides... Things with buttons are always happier.

Sizes: XS (S, M, L, XL, XXL, 3XL, 4XL). 

I am wearing size M and my chest measurement is 36” (90 cm). 
I recommend that you make it with 6-8” (15-20 cm) of positive ease.

So I must say this has been a most enjoyable knit, even though it grew too quickly and almost fell off the needles.  Writing it was a different story, and it took me a while to finally decide to write a pattern.  I usually tell myself everything I design needs to be new and original, and maybe I am perhaps too worried about making things that people haven't seen before.  Maybe it was time for me to make something that's just a good easy pattern ;)

And, as you can see, it made me happy.

So there you go!  Knitters of the world, give chunky yarns a chance!  They are super rewarding and beautiful to wear.

Now, it's the time for the old WIPs and new FOs.  In an effort to organize my work and finish some of the writing and testing I had to do, I was brave enough to finish 1 new and 2 VERY old WIPs!

1) I did finish the Socks for Nano, which are currently being worn out and very well loved by my deserving 8 year old kid ;)

He's got the cutest smile in the world, but I think he might be in need of a haircut!

You can read more about how I made them on the previous post.  This yarn was Punta Yarns Merisock Handpainted, and I knit it double-stranded (to make them faster, I am a lazy Mom).

2) I finished His Cowl!

I started this project over a year ago motivated by a KAL started on Instagram by Fringe Supply Co. I impulsively CO for a cowl for Charly, no pattern required, just alternating ribbed cables… 
I guess I lost motivation about halfway through (or even before that), so this project stayed languishing in my WIP closet for a whole year (and more!). 
At the beginning of July, I decided I needed to give myself a bit more time to finish a lot of writing work, and to keep me from starting new designs, I decided to pull out those old WIPs and finished it in about a week or 2.

The yarn is Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool in Brown Chocolate colorway.  A gift from a very dear friend (Kim), who I did my first ever swap with.
Of course, when I was done with it, Charly tried it on and absolutely hated the feel of the yarn… :( 
But hey! I have a kid who does indeed love any yarn I use and anything I make him! So this one is for Nano, my best recipient in the whole world and the love of my life ❤️
BTW, I do love the yarn ;)

3) And my favorite FO for today, is the Sweatercowl.

This was my longest ever Work In Progress. 
I started this on September 2011, and it was going to be a Folded Pullover, a design by Veera. 

This design is built from the bottom up, so I worked every now and then on it. Whenever I wanted to take a break from whatever work I was doing, I would knit a few rounds on it. But oh boy, was I bored with the body and the yarn was not helping much… Even though I loved the colors, I couldn’t quite get over the scratch factor. 
I finished the body (got to the armholes), started the sleeves, and then I started thinking I might never actually wear this… So I wasn’t happy working on it any more. It just sat there in the closet for sooooo looooong. And I don’t think I’ve ever put up and down a project so many times as I did with this one.

Finally, a couple of weeks ago (4 years after I started it!) I finally decided this was going to take a new life… With renewed strength I knit another 6 inches into the body, worked a k2p2 band to mimic the bottom hem and…. voilá! The Sweatercowl was born! 

And you know what? I LOVE IT! 
And I will wear it, I am sure… But I might be the only person in the world with a cowl that has waist shaping ;)

The yarn I used is Noro Kureyon Sock in colorway... Nope, sorry, I lost the tag.  But it's pretty much blue ;)  And I think I used 3.5 mm needles along the whole thing, but I might have used 3.25 by mistake too.

Anyway, it's super great and I am so happy I finished these 2 cowls right before our family winter holidays!  We are going to go skiing to San Martin de los Andes in Patagonia.  So more news when I come back!

Last year's ski trip I survived... Let's hope I can make it this year in one piece too.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Knitting socks

Hello everyone,

I know I have told this story maybe too many times, but here it comes again ;)
Last October, my family and I traveled to Finland to meet Veera and her family.  We had to do a photoshoot for our second collection, Interpretations 2, and we decided to get to know their country and do the photos there.

We had a wonderfully amazing time.  Just imagine and Argentine family living for a week in Finland's countryside.  Everything was just magical.  And so one day Veera told me she and I were signed up for a sock class one of her friends was teaching in town.  We drove to this sweet cottage (or villas, I don't know the exact term for their beautiful wooden houses) in the middle of the woods, and we enjoyed a wonderful evening learning how to make socks by the candle lights.

I had learned previously how to make them (like 9 years ago I made 2 pairs), but I had no idea what I was doing when I took this short class.  I took some notes in a tiny notebook I was carrying with me, and I started to make my so-called first pair of socks.  

For these ones, I don't have many notes...  I just wrote down that I CO 56 st, and I think I should have CO 48 or even maybe less than that.   But I adored them.  SO MUCH!  They were really special to me.  For the 'body' of the sock, I used Cascade 220 in a heathered gray colorway that Veera kindly 'borrowed' me (like I was going to give it back to her, right?)... And for the toes I went bright and I used Madelinetosh Tosh DK in Chamomile colorway.

OK, and these were my notes, check it out: they are very impressive ;)

It's the evening already, so the colors are home are tinted by winter lights...

So (if anyone is interested to know), what I think I did with these ones was:
Using 3.5mm needles, I CO (using a cable CO probably?) 56 st, and then worked for about an inch in 2x2 ribbing.  Then I continued with the 'leg' pattern, which was the same ribbing, but interrupted by a 'purl to end' row every... maybe 4 or 5 rows.
When the leg was long enough (and this is where the notes came in handy) I worked the heel flap:
1 (RS): K 28 (and kept working only over half the stitches)
2 (WS): (Sl1, p1) 14 times.
And then repeated rows 1 and 2 13 more times (so I needed to have as many rows as stitches I had on my heel flap).
Then I had to do the short-row thingy you do to shape the bottom of the heel flap correctly.  So:
1 (RS): K20, ssk, turn work.
So, let's see what I understand happened here (remember my teacher was Finnish and she spoke Finnish most of the time, so I felt a bit embarrassed to ask too many questions).  I think you need to leave 25% of the stitches unworked before getting to the end of the row, right? So that would be 7 stitches.  But then I have to knit the first of these 7 stitches together with the last stitch from the row I am working (if that makes sense).  So let's say I had to knit 21 st and leave 7 st unworked, I worked a ssk and joined together the st number 21 and the 1st st of the remaining 7 st.
2 (WS): P1, (sl1, p1) 6 times (13 st worked), p2tog, turn work.
Here happens the same thing.  I need to leave 7 st unworked on the other end of the heel flap.  I have 21 st on my needle after turning on the previous row, so I will join st number 14 with the 1st of the remaining 7 st.
3 (RS): Knit until you find that ssk you had work on row 1, remember?  Do not knit it!  Work a ssk with the following st from that segment you had left unworked.
4 (WS): P1 (sl1, p1) until you find that p2tog you had worked on row 2 and purl it with the following st.
And then continue to repeat rows 3 and 4 until you have used up all st from the segments at each end.
When I finished my heel, I worked a RS row, and then I picked up 1 st from every 2 rows of the side of the heel flap, then I worked over the st of the lef I had put on hold, and then I picked up the same amount of stitches from the other side.  This brought me to a total of stitches I don't really remember, but I think I had to decrease about 6 st on each side to get back to my original 56 st count to work the rest of the foot.

Yeah, they were really big...
So then I worked the foot until I considered it long enough, changed colors, and then divided the stitches in 2 halves.  I worked one decrease on each side of each half until I had left about 10 st on each half.  Then I grafted both halves together and voilá!
I am proud to say that I gave my first pair of socks as a gift to the person who introduced me to this lovely technique again: Veera.  Hope she's enjoying them!  (See?  I did give the yarn back to her!)

So after these were done I was kind of hooked with it, so I decided to make a second pair ❤️.

These socks are so dear to me. They took a while to make cause they were on hold for several months, but they are also reminder of my trip to Finland.
The yarn I used is made by one of Finland’s most famous dyers, Knitlob's Lair, and it is called Väinämöinen Sport.  The colorway is called Tammi.
It was gifted by my friend Tiina, who owns a yarn store in Jyväskylä called Titityy. As soon as I arrived home I felt this urge to keep the memories of Finland alive by knitting with this extraordinary colorway something cheerful and totally not related to work. The socks were put on hold during my Argentine summer (and fall, which is also really warm), but winter stroke a couple of weeks ago and I quickly finished them in order to wear them as soon as possible. 
For these, I more or less did the same (I am so damn original)...  I CO 48 st on 3 mm needles (see?  they fit a tiny bit better, hehe), and I work for about 4 cm of 2x2 ribbing.
Then I decided to work a faux cable, which is done by breaking the ribbing: work 4 rows in regular ribbing.  On the 5th row: K1, yo, k1, p2.  On the 6th row: K3, slip the 1st st over the other 2, p2.  And then you just repeat that..
When I got to the heel, I worked it over half the stitches (so that's 24).  And for the short row thingy, since I had to leave 25% of the st unworked at each side: k17, ssk, turn... and on the WS row: P1, (sl1, p1) 5 times, p2tog.  Then everything else I did exactly as for the previous one, only using fewer stitches.  
I just love them.  I know, socks?  Really Joji?  Are you just going to knit socks?  Well no, I am going to knit socks only every now and then, but I am thoroughly enjoying these!

So what happens when you finish a pair of socks?  Apparently you feel compelled to start another one.  Who would've guessed...
In Argentina, people don’t usually take their shoes off when they get into their homes. We stay with our shoes on all day long, while working, cleaning, cooking, chilling, studying… It’s just the costum here, and the way we were all brought up.
I have been thinking lately, however, that everyone at my house gets really annoyed with shoes. I personally struggle to find shoes that are comfortable, and I have such chubby feet that everything is usually tight. And so do my children. The moment they get inside and take a break from whatever they are doing to chill… They just take their shoes off and kick them anywhere.
So today we were talking about it, and we decided we are going to start taking our shoes off as soon as we get inside too, like most other people do around the world. I have a feeling that will help my kids be happier and keep their shoes always at the door (which will make their mother happy too).
Anyway! As first step I tell Nano ‘Look, see? Mommy has hand-knit socks, so it’s alright. I can do it too’… And he sais ‘Oh! Those look so cozy and warm!’
So here I am, casting on a pair of hand-knit socks for my boy, to wear and tear while barefoot around the house ;)

I am using a beautiful yarn my friend Vero gifted me years and years ago!  It's called Merisock, (it used to be made by Punta yarns, from Uruguay) and it's a blend of merino and nylon.  Very sturdy looking.

I tried knitting this with a single thread of yarn, but it was just too skinny, these socks would never be finished!  So I am using the yarn held double.  Nano wears a shoe size Eur 35 (Wait, what??? Where did my baby go?), and I CO 40 st onto 3mm needles. I will probably make the same recipe, you know...  It is a bit intimidating to search Ravelry for sock patterns, there are millions of them!  So I will just make him what I call the Finnish sock, made with Uruguayan yarn ;)
So this goes a bit off topic from the regular content of the blog, but I am having so much fun with these that I thought I'd write about them.

Hope you are having a great week!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Work in progress and some other thoughts

It has taken a big effort to get the time to do things like write on the blog...  I have so many thoughts I need to put into words, and even though I am very happy with my knowledge of English, when I come to this space and try to put everything I feel into words... It's just not good enough.  It's funny, I blame my English, I wonder if I'd be able to put everything I think into words if I tried to do it in Spanish...

For some reason, I see the space of the blog as a more serious space... A place where one is expected to elaborate things more in depth, right?  That's why the immediateness of Instagram and Facebook is always so tempting, and I end up communicating with my readers in a shorter way.  But then, it seems that all is joy, all is knitting, and all I do is sit down on the couch and create this bunch of patterns out of nowhere... With perfect smiles and perfect skin... Well, you see, I have a very imperfect skin ;)

Life has been sort of stressful on this side of the computer...  I have been blessed with many opportunities and with many offers to work with my all time idols.  To try the finest and most exquisite yarns.  Who would say no?   I have made many friends, I have met the most amazing people over the last couple of years.  I have travelled to places I never thought I would go to.  But of course, it also meant an amount of work that maybe I was not prepared to do so quickly.  I always say this: I work slowly.  Many people on the are amazed at my speed, but the truth is that this is my day job, I knit and write for a living, and sometimes I just work too many hours a day.  I love my job so much that it's even harder to put things down and take short breaks.  That means that many times I've had to ask loving friends to lend me their helping hands to finish things in time.

I started to realize I was feeling a bit stressed towards the end of last year.  I kept seeing people meeting all around the world, and in my head there was this need to be part of everything that was happening.  As Helen from Curious Handmade cleverly called it: FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out).  It stressed me not to be part of anything cool or awesome happening, I wanted to know more and possibly work towards it.  But it also stressed me to do so.

I told myself it was time to slow down last year, and I am still working with projects I committed to before that day.  I am starting to see the end of this pile of knits and patterns I had to work on, and it is finally looking like soon I'll be able to go back to my old pace, calm and quiet.  I am, after all, too far away from where most of the knitting world is, and I think I still need to learn a lot to work in such rhythm.  I am certain I am not prepared to do many of the things I've already done...  And when I look at myself with objective eyes, I am an Argentine mother, who one day decided to write a pattern and see how it goes. ❤️

gratuitous kid photo ;)

But! This doesn't mean I don't have anything new or exciting coming up.  In fact, I do believe that all I have in the works is super fabulous, and I am still partnering and collaborating with the most awesome people in the world, and still getting to know new friends and still taking some opportunities!  I just wanted to share with you that I do feel sometimes the social media give this false impression that we can grow indefinitely and work on countless projects with no effect on how we feel....

I am currently working on a few things I thought I'd show you.  The first one is a design for Madelinetosh, and it's currently waiting for the final editions of the pattern.  I don't know many details about how or where this will be released, but I wanted to show you how amazing the yarn I got to work with is:

On the top one, I used their Tosh Merino Light, one of the most versatile yarns I've worked with, and definitely one of my favorite.  I do enjoy working with single ply fingering weight yarns A LOT.  They make super lofty garments, and I do feel these sweaters are ones that I could wear in Buenos Aires, where the temperature never goes below 0ºC.  The colorway I used is called Kitten.  I didn't know this color (not that I know all of their colors anyway), and it surprised me in such a lovely way. It's the perfect mix between brown and gray.  Really, you need to try it.  I don't think it can look bad on anyone ;)
Also, it was a surprise to realize, when I swatched for this, that even though I am a huge fan of Madelinetosh's yarns, I had never worked with their Vintage base before.  Again, I loved it, and it's a problem, cause now I need to go buy more...  The color I used is called Moonglow, and icy blue with some gray base.  Just... perfection, I do love these colors for myself so much.  :)
The top sample took 4 skeins of fingering weight, and the bottom sample took 6 skeins of plied worsted weight.
So yes!  I am currently immersed in some serious pattern writing.

Particularly today I am knitting a shawl.  This is a design for Sundara's luxury yarn club for 2015, called The Petals Collection.  My design is for the November installment, and the yarn Sundara sent is blissful.  I can't show you the color, since it's an exclusive colorway, and I am pretty sure she'll want her customers to be surprised, but I don't think she'll matter if I show you a peek of the texture in my project.

Remember I said this was a luxury yarn club?  Well, I think the description runs short, since the yarn I am working with is a sport-weight blend of 65% white cashmere and 35% silk.  On top of this, Sundara's dyeing always makes yarn look even finer.
The club features also Veera Välimäki, Kirsten Kapur and Thea Colman, as designers for the other 3 installments.

Hmmm, let's see, what else am I working on?
This is one project that is not related to work, even though I designed myself.  And it's one that fills me with joy.  My friend Nash, from Fiber Crafts with Nash, finally gave the news that she is expecting a baby!
I almost never take knitting time to work on projects for others, but this girl and their baby are too special to me, so I decided to make them something with my hands (cause I never do anything with my hands, right?).

I decided to make them a shawl/blanket following my own design So Close.  I love this design so much, it's one of my all time favorite knitted garments, so I wanted Nash to have one too.  I didn't use mine as a baby blanket (since my boys where grown already when I designed this), but I did use it as a scarf, as a shawl for knitting during the cold evenings, and also as a blanket for myself when watching TV.  I thought such a project would be useful for nursing, and Mom can wear it after the baby doesn't need it any more.  So yes!  I am quite excited about this gift.

I am going to try to make it with just one color, but my yarn might not be enough and there's no chance of getting more of it, so we'll see...  I am using Juno Alice in Goldmine colorway, but sadly Asti (the dyer) is not making yarn any more.

I am working on 2 projects that require buttons:

The one in the left was finished, but I tried it on and realized that the front is actually 4 rows longer than the back (???), so I need to undo the bind off and fix that.  I wouldn't have mind if it was the other way around... Oh well.
This is a super quick project that was inspired just because I wanted to play with the yarn: the beautiful ASAP from Madelinetosh, in the most playful colorway: Holi Festival, hehehe... I love it!
The project itself is so silly and simple, that I am not sure I should write a pattern for it... What do you guys think?

The one in the right has me completely crazy in love.  It is, again, a collaboration.  This one is with The Uncommon Thread, another of my love affairs with yarn.  The yarn I am using is another example of single ply fingering weight yarn, and the colorway is called... Baby Elephant Walk.  Seriously, you just want to knit with this yarn because of the name!  Lots of texture for this one, but hopefully it will turn out super flattering too ;)

So what's next?...

As I said, there are a few things coming up (there should be a new pattern of mine out there next week, hopefully), but I have been thinking of doing some designs on my own for the next couple of months.  I have been dreaming of using up some great yarns I have in my stash to make a little collection... like I used to make in the past.  
I even went ahead and put together a color scheme.  This is how excited I am about having some creative time!

I have also been trying to go back to my camera and take proper pictures of things...  Take TIME to make things better, or at least in the way I was used to... slowly and carefully.

All this traveling I've been doing has inspired me to bring some of the ideas and yarns from the Northern Hemisphere and mix them with my own colors and make something with a Southern spirit. I want to use more South American yarns, so you might see some Malabrigo popping up in this collection (if it ever comes to be true), and I might also get some Manos, both from Uruguay.

But the surprise in this mix is my best friend Ale, who launched this year her own hand-dyed yarns, Pura Hilados, using minimally processed merino wool from Patagonia (in Argentina).  Her yarns are super amazing, but I was waiting for her to create the perfect colors for me to work with.  And she came home with these precious a couple of days ago:

Pura Fina: sombra (top) and petalo (bottom)
This, folks, is 100% merino fiber of 18 microns, in a weight that is somewhere between sport and DK.  Super super beautiful, and non-superwash yarns are exquisite and buttery soft as cashmere.
This is my next project!  Pura Fina in colorways Sombra (charcoal) and Petalo (nude), ready to become a striped wrap.  I decided that I have had too many secret projects going on already, so whenever I work for this collection, I might show you some of the projects and not wait until all of them are done...  Hope it doesn't get me in trouble! ;)

What I do know is that I am going to take my time with it, and it might take a loooong time.  I won't stop working on other things to favor this project, it has to grow organically, and when it's ready, it will be ready!

I would really love to hear from you if you are reading this... it makes me feel I wrote all morning for someone out there ❤️

Thank you for reading,


Sunday, April 12, 2015

Gather Together

My designs are always driven by something in me that I feel passionate about.  It might be a concept, a story, a feeling, even a cool stitch pattern, but something is always there to ignite the idea and get me going.

Like others before me, the occasion comes along when I don’t have an idea.  I might be tired, under pressure, grumpy or just uninspired.  It is a horrible, sad feeling when that wonderful creative light flickers, fades away into hibernation.

In my slump, and feeling sad, I turned to my faithful testers and asked them what they would like to see in my next design. They unanimously wanted a cardigan with pockets and cables and they wanted it for Rhinebeck.

That was all I needed to get going for this one.  I had decided on the same construction as Jenica but to improve the design this time I have added some additional neck shaping to offer a more roomy shoulder/chest measurement.

The beautiful cabling that hugs its host represents all of us. It illustrates the creative process and continuous support and contributions of everyone involved.  The yarn I used was also an example of this: the chosen yarn was Shasta, by Baah Yarns, a company that generously reached out to me a long time ago and sent me this beautiful batch of worsted weight in my favorite shade of gray.  The amazing dyer kept in touch with me the whole time and was involved in the process in the sweetest possible way.  I can't tell you how beautiful each stitch was knitted with Shasta.  I like to recommend a yarn when I find it simply amazing: this is one of them.  The colorway was called Gray Onyx.

This design will be their Rhinebeck sweater for their gathering together.  A special one that will be woven through friends' stories and discussions, their laughter and sometimes tough times (eventually you run out of money to spend and the shopping ends). This one will always remind them of their trip, and they will reflect back to their influence on the sweaters inception.

Their love for this sweater is what will make it truly special, they will be more fond of it now that they are a part of it’s inception, it’s creative process. They all tested this sweater to help me out make it perfect, and this process also led to new friendships and to plan new gatherings.

This design shows that it is never just one but many of us that are required to make these designs happen, to bring them to life.  Our creations will be our legacy, a little shadow of us left behind when we are gone.

This design is for my testers, for the love of knitting and for the friends we have made on this journey our knitting takes us on, day after day.

This is our connection and we invite you to be a part of it, to help pass on this love for generations to come.


About these words:
I am not such a good writer, and my dear friend Jenica always writes exactly what I want to say.  Thank you for your wisdom and friendship all these years, and for making the texts we read so maningful and beautiful.  I love you.

Friday, January 16, 2015

I will be teaching for the first time! ♥

This is something I didn't expect...

I have always had mixed feelings regarding teaching.  I have not been asked many times whether I would teach a class... But when someone did ask me, I kept wondering to myself... 'What could I teach someone?  Everything I've learned, I've learned it from the internet...  What could I possibly know that someone hasn't already written about it?'

I am, however, the kind of person who really enjoys listening to people and learning from someone's voice and experience.  I believe that when something is written, it always sends out the same message, but when we learn from someone who has learnt something before, we can hear a few tricks here and there, and we are free to discover what their true perception about something is...

I am also the kind of knitter that believes we will never ever learn all there is to know about this art.  I still feel a beginner knitter for so many reasons... There are so many techniques I haven't tried, and I am not talking about complicated stuff... I haven't tried, for example, to steek a sweater...  And I have never learnt how to design a shawl with different lace patterns...

So whenever someone asked me if I would teach a class, I would normally answer 'No way!  There are still so many classes I need to take myself!..'

Well, life is full of surprises and in one of my latest trips, I was very kindly invited by Madtosh Crafts and Happy Knits to come to the US with my partner in crime Veera and do a series of events.  The main reason for this is that we are working on a new collaboration together (I'll post more about that in due time!!!), and they invited to feature it at their stores and host some Trunk Shows and Meet & Greets...
And, of course, the question was asked again: 'Would you teach a class?...'
I looked at Veera, who was there with me... I looked around... And without giving it much thought I said: 'Why, yes!'

So there you go, folks.  I am teaching not only 1, but 3 different classes, in 2 unknown to me cities, in a country very far away from home, in a foreign language, in just... 2 weeks.

There will also be some free events, so there's no need to sign up for a class if you don't feel like!  Veera and I will be there and we'll be showing Interpretations 2 for the first time!
Call the yarn stores to get the proper timetables for these.

So, in case you are in the area, and want to come say hi... Here are the topics I will be talking about.  I am not sure I can call these classes, I feel more comfortable calling them talks, or conversations.
Hopefully my theory is right, and I'll learn from the attendees as much as they'll learn from me.

Madtosh Crafts (Dallas): Wed, Feb 4th - 9 to 12 AM
Happy Knits (Portland, OR): Sat, Feb 7 - 10 AM to 1 PM

In this workshop we’ll discuss my sweater design process from start to finish.   This is a fun class for anyone thinking about designing their first sweater (for fun or for work), but also for those who are interested in knowing what goes on behind the scenes. 

We’ll talk about:
  • How to find inspiration (Pinterest, fashion designers, brands).
  • Following trends and adjusting them to what knitters want to knit. 
  •  Important measurements to consider when designing (shoulder span, full bust, sleeve circumference, hip measurement, etc).  Tables of measurements and their meaning. 
  • What is ease (garments don’t always need to be the same size as the table of measurements!). 
  • Making notes for knitters on how to customize their garments (e.g. sleeve length, body length). 
  • Overview of different sweater constructions and how to choose the one that best suits your idea. 
  • What makes a design unique (small little details that make a design stand from others). 
  • Discussing some samples and their construction techniques.
  • Basic concepts on grading patterns to different sizes. 
  • Using spreadsheets to grade a very basic pattern (converting it to different sizes instructions).

Madtosh Crafts (Dallas): Tue, Feb 3rd - 1.30 to 4.30 PM
Happy Knits (Portland, OR): Fri, Feb 6th - 3 to 6 PM

This is a fun class for anyone who’s been intimidated by this awesome way of shaping your knits, and also for those who want to better understand how to use them. We’ll discuss:
What are short rows and why do we want them in our knitting?
Different techniques for you to try: wrap and turn, German short rows, Japanese short rows, etc.
How to use wrap and turn effectively to customize your sweaters by adding:
  • bust darts
  • shoulder shaping
  • curved hems
  • collars that fold….
  • seamless top-down sleeves Circularly shaped sweaters that use short-rows as basic construction technique (Opposite Pole, Ecuador, Make a Wish, Meridien). 

Madtosh Crafts (Dallas): Mon, Feb 2nd - 9 to 12 AM
Happy Knits (Portland, OR): Sunday, Feb 8th - 3 to 6 PM

In this friendly workshop, we’ll talk about how to choose a sweater that will make you really happy after spending so much time knitting it. We’ll discuss:
How to choose the best shapes for your body.
How to take measurements of your body and choose the right size of the pattern you want knit.
How to customize a sweater to your own body according to your:
  • Waist length
  • Arm circumference
  • Bust measurement
  • Hip measurement How to add:
  • Bust darts
  • Waist shaping
  • Curved hems
  • Length to the back so that it doesn’t ride up 
How to choose the proper length for you.
How to choose the right yarn for a project.
A quick look at some of my samples and their sizes, shapes, lengths and styles.

In the meantime, I keep swatching and learning the few tricks I still needed to learn about short rows... ;)

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

A January Love Story

As you know, I have a hard time writing on the blog... I am not the most fluent when writing longer things...  I feel more confident with little captions, and therefore I am always more drawn to let out my news on the social media...
But, from time to time, something starts growing in me and I feel compelled to write a little bit more about it... Sometimes a caption is not enough to tell a whole story.

I have had the honor to meet thousands of beautiful talented people on Ravelry... And of course, as more people got to know my work, I met a lot of dyers and other designers who I ended up working with.  Some of these people, however, really liked what I did before my designs were popular... and one of them was Sundara.  For some reason we fell in love with each other's work from the very beginning.  
I must say the first time she commissioned some work for her, I was in total shock!  I couldn't believe she considered me good enough for the job, and she put my design on a Luxury Yarn Club, together with two of my all time favorite designers. 

Getting Sundara's parcels... It was always exciting.  Why?  Because we talked about the color she wanted to make, but she would never send me a photo of the finished yarn.  Her parcels were always stopped by the customs office in my country, so I had to spend a couple of hours trying to get them out, filling forms and waiting in line... It only added to the excitement!  And when they finally gave me her parcels, I would always leave the customs warehouse, sit on a fence and open them slowly... They were always MAGICAL!

Her last parcel (containing the yarn I used for today's design) was sent to an apartment while I was staying in New York last year... And of course, it was not delivered in time!  Since our flight ended up being delayed, we stalked the USPS truck all around the Upper East Side, until we finally found it on a doorstep.

Una foto publicada por Joji (@jojilocat) el

The little box contained two skeins of her Fingering Silky Cashmere in the Romeo colorway, and her note said: Try to make something with just 1 skein, as this is a very special yarn!...


As I wound the skein into a little ball, I remembered all the collaborations we had made together... They are not that many, but they were all really meaningful for both of us.  We always invest a lot in each of these, and they always came in very special moments of our lives, either good times or hard ones.  As I reflected on the colorway's name (Romeo), I thought of ours as a love story, and I decided a wanted to design something that spoke about it.

I didn't have many yards, so I needed to make something meaningful, but small...  The yarn's qualities were enough to make it special: being 65% white cashmere/35% silk, it was by far, the most luxurious yarn I had ever knit with... It didn't need much stitch action to glow...
I thought of the revesible cable to represent our work stories enwtining and growing together, and a flared body to show off the fabric's softness and sheen.  With a slight wing shaping, it reminded me of Juliet's wings on the movie... one of the most romantic ones I've seen.

This brings up the story of another friend, one of the best ones I've had the honor of meeting, Jenica.  She's been the sweetest friend to me since my early Ravelry's days, and many times she's borrowed me her talent to write texts for the introductions of my patterns.  When I told her what I was working on, she decided to write some poems for this design... She has a true talent!  Sometimes it is difficult to include everything we write with the pattern, so here it goes just some of her magical words.  Hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

Curious about Romeo and Juliet's time together, we thought up this design…

Fortunately, you don’t have to be an emotionally unstable Romeo to appreciate the unique characteristics of this shawl. Its construction is not complicated and due to its side-to-side assembly you won't have to manage hundreds of stitches at once, making this one a good beginning cable and short row project. For those more experienced knitters there is just enough romance and action going on to keep the plot interesting.

Although a sacrifice was made on Romeo's behalf, you won't have to surrender too much of your time to complete this adventure. The reversible cables are a character in this story that will require your attention, keeping your interest like any good productive relationship. The gentle drifts of stockinette in between will be your solace to help keep the knitting sailing at a good pace with an occasional wrap and flip for some short row shaping.

Choosing a marvelous yarn will be your only important decision.  A romantic look and feel calls for a delicate yarn, one that is sumptuous. Since you will only need to commit to one skein, I encourage you to go ultra luxurious, in a perfectly complimentary colorway that makes the love in your eyes shine like a beacon.

As Romeo looks down on his love one last time I imagine him sweetly wrapping her up in a shawl to keep her warm during her final slumber. As he puts his arms around her and kisses her one last time we reflect on those relationships in our lives that we should take more time to honor.

Romeo and Juliet were together for three days before their time together ended. How long will your romance last?

We hope you like our new story together...

~Joji, Jenica and Sundara