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 ;)
Anyway!
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!
~Joji

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,

~Joji

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Gather Together

http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/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.
Joji 

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.

APPROACH TO SWEATER DESIGN
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).


DON'T BE AFRAID OF SHORT ROWS!
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). 


SWEATERS THAT FIT (YOU!)
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!...

http://www.sundarayarn.com/products/romeo

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

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Very delayed recap: Unwind Brighton!!

I finally have some time to write here about Unwind Brighton!  It might be a long post, but I don't want to forget what a fantastic time July was because of this Festival, so I'd better make it as long as it deserves.



Let's begin by saying that this was a Knitting and Fiber event held in Brighton (south coast of England) during the weekend of July 12-13th.
Well, for starters, all the comments I'll make will be written from an attendee perspective, since I did not work while I was there.  I had never been in a event of this kind, or taken any classes of any sort, so I decided to treat myself and come to England for my first time.  I believed I needed to know why people loved these events so much... After all I work full time in the knitting industry now, and I needed to do some research, right? ;)

Well, even though just before leaving life seemed to be conspiring against my departure (I swear, so many things happened at home, like being without electricity and water for a week!), once I was on the plane, it all started to work out perfectly.
I had planned a project to travel with me.  I had started it 2 weeks before leaving, which would have been enough to finish the upper half of the sweater, and just bring with me the "mindless" part of the knitting...

Japan Sleeves, working with Tosh Merino Light in colorways "Astrid Gray" and "Dirty Panther"
However, this is how far I had gotten by the time I had to jump on the plane.  I was certain I was not going to be able to do all the knitting and note-taking required to design-as-you-go on the plane.  But amazingly, the couple next to me were adorable, they just shut their eyes as soon as they got on, and I could enjoy countless hours of uninterrupted knitting...  In fact, I think I had never been so focused in work!  Needless to say, the travelling project didn't get any attention during my weekend in the UK, and it was finished 2 weeks later during yet another trip... But that's another story.

I arrived very happily awaited by my friend and hostess Julie (a.k.a. evieandlily on Ravelry),and we took an afternoon to relax and knit before driving to Brighton.  I always say this, but I am really blessed to have so many friends around the world.  And the weather was splendid!


On the way to Brighton, we picked up Veera, and we were all set for a long drive full of stories and laughter.  We arrived late at night to our accommodation, a super chic apartment we found via airbnb, in a very trendy and playful street in the North Laine of Brighton.  We met our other roommate Sarah who made us laugh at her enthusiasm all weekend!

So Friday arrived.  I had considered jumping on the Brighton wheel and sitting on the beach knitting all morning... But the weather had not contemplated my plans and it was cloudy and overcast.
It probably made it a magical morning all the same.  Just being there, standing on that beach, contemplating the sea... Thinking how far I had travelled the day before, and yet it always felt like Brighton was so close to home.  I am sure we all feel this way, the world has become so small.
I looked down, I couldn't believe it was really all the way across the ocean from my family.  My friends were there, the language was not unfamiliar... And then I see this little pebbles below my feet.  Yes, I was away from home indeed!  (we don't have pebble beaches here)


After visiting the incredible Royal Pavilion, we went for Lunch, and it was quite a shock because... Well, people started arriving! 

I met a group of amazing women, including Ysolda, probably my all time knitting idol.  I have knit only a bunch of her patterns (although probably more than from any other designer), but what I admire the most is her way of transmitting an idea and standing up for what she does.  -This is where my English fails me... I know I can communicate very well in English, but I lack the creativity I have when writing in my mother tongue.  I wish I could express this better!- I strongly believe that Ysolda's work has changed the way knitters perceive a knitwear designer's work during the last few (or not so few!) years.  I think her example and hard work has inspired lot of admiration and I know for a fact she was the first designer I kept looking at, wondering what new projects she was going to come up with.  I do remember waiting for the next issue of a magazine, or a book to come out, but Ysolda was the first independent designer I remember admiring.
I know she has inspired a lot of knitters like myself to work hard to become designers...
It was a very big table, and it was a very busy weekend.  I wish I could have said this to her! (Though I have a feeling she's been told this lots of times)

Sarah and Julie (my roommates), lovely Tiina from Titityy, Ragga, Bex, Bristol Ivy, Ysolda, that little head behind me is Veera, but in my defense she said she knew she was not in the photo, Ce from The Uncommon Thread, and Emma, one of Unwind's organizers.
As you can see, it was a table full of awesomeness, and I got to meet the über-adorable Bristol Ivy, who looks super cool, and is even cooler.  I just loved that I had time to hang out with her so much!

Friday was a parade of knitting celebrities, and I felt like such a fan girl all the time... I met so many designers, dyers, and all kinds of makers of the knitting industry!  I was so so excited that I had completely forgotten that I was jet-lagged, and suddenly crashed in the sofa before getting ready for dinner...  I was lucky to have my roommates, who took care of me as if I was a teenager with 2 mothers.

I was invited to a Designer/teacher meet-up the night before the festival actually began, (even though I was not supposed to be there! It was only for people working!) and I totally freaked out.  I arrived to this restaurant, which took me ages to find, hidden among the mysterious and playful South Lanes, and was directed to the upper floor.  As I climbed up the stairs, I started spotting Ravelry celebrities all around: Added to the same stars I had met at lunch, Carol Feller was there, Amy from Madelinetosh!, Felicia from Sweetgeorgia, the sweet ladies from L'OisiveThé, Susie Myers, Karie Westermann!  I am probably forgetting so many people that I really loved meeting... And I felt like such an intruder.  The shy person took over, and I sat quietly at the end of a table, to sip wine with my recently acquired friend Tiina.  I thought so many things during those moments... I wondered whether I belonged in that dinner, everyone else seemed to know each other so well... and they looked so comfortable talking about their life and work.  I was coming from so far away, my country was so different! (For starters, don't freak out, but everyone would have given me a hug and a kiss in Argentina, even if they had never met me before)...
I wanted to meet people but I kept thinking whether I should just say hi and sit next to them, or shake hands (which we never do at home)?  Probably as soon as the glass of wine kicked in, I was able to speak to the lovely lady sitting right in front of me, discovering she was no less than Sharry, the creator of Buttonalia.  Amazing woman, she told me the story of her life, moving around the globe and how she came to create such special little treasures.

I only have phone pics of that dinner... This is me, totally freaking out in the corner. :D
After a while, I took courage and went to meet a few people I really wanted to say hi to and I shook hands with all of them.  I wonder if that was as awkward to them as it was to me, trying to restrain myself from kissing everyone (you MUST know I am very latina!)...
It was an amazing evening...  Just the perfect prelude for what about to come on Saturday.

On Saturday, the marketplace opened early, and we were all allowed into the Brighton Dome, a magnificent venue!
Oh my goodness... Just imagine.  Just imagine!  You know how crazy I am about yarn, right?  You've seen me take luscious pictures of skeins of wool, silk in every color... I adore independent dyers, I live for them!  Just imagine this little girl in a massive candy store!
I forgot to change the lens in my camera (stupid!), so my photos were very artistic, but not really descriptive...  Good luck the phone is quite good at replacing the big old camera sometimes... ;)


I won't bother you with the details of who I found there, but there were many favorites, and I discovered many new ones too!  Just check out this amazing list.  I got lots of beautiful skeins and inspiration for new patterns to work (after I am done with the things I needed to finish even BEFORE coming here!).

As always, one of the best parts was to hang out with my loved ones.  I met one of the knitters I admire the most in Ravelry, my dear Anne... And also my dear Vera who I had already met in February.  I think we made a beautiful bunch, the 3 of us.  We just couldn't stop crying!  I bet people could tell we were long time friends...

I was upset at first that this photo was out of focus, but then I really liked the way our skin looks perfect with the blur ;)
And, one of the happiest times was spent also with Ce and Veera, when we did a small meet and greet to show everyone our samples from our collection Interpretations, in The Uncommon Thread's booth.  LOTS of people came over to see the garments, and I felt really overwhelmed.  It was a good thing Veera was by my side.  I feel much more confident when she's around!

There was a theme going on with our patterned tops, apparently...
The afternoon had even more good stuff: I took the Color Theory class with Amy Hendrix, creator of Madelinetosh yarns!!


Oh yes, so totally worth it!
I have long time felt that my color choices are, well... Too comfortable.  I have my favorite palette, and I always tend to choose the same stuff.  Why? I thought that it was because I was afraid of color... Because I wasn't brave enough to try something different and that I was missing stuff!
Well, Amy's class was an introduction to color, which was amazing for someone like me who had never studied this before... I learnt how to combine colors, how to pair them up... and also how to choose colors that are good for me.  And guess what? I was not too mistaken ;)
So now I feel more confident, and I will try a different palette if I feel like, but I know I'll stick to my grays and blues and purples.  Apparently, I choose them cause they're good for me!
It was an amazing, amazing class, and Amy was a warm and stellar teacher.  I had a total fan girl moment at the end of the class and we took a photo of all of us together.


On Saturday night we went to the Pompom party, in a very cool pub near the beach.  Awesome times!  We hang out with friends, visited the pier at night and saw people dancing on the streets.  It was a long great day!

Sunday was more relaxed... And that's when I completely left the camera at the apartment... It looked like all the highlights of the event had already happened, so I took the opportunity to finally sit down and knit (and eat!) while talking to Anne and Vera.  I was getting ready for the FIFA World Cup finals, which took place that night, and which we sadly lost (although the whole country was very proud that Argentina took the second place!).

The whole feeling about the festival was that it was fabulous... We kept meeting people everywhere saying 'can you believe this? or that?'.  Everything was close there, just a few steps away from wherever you might be.  So we could be having lunch and someone said: 'Have you seen this or that yarn? or needles? or patterns?'... You could just get off your seat, run back to the Marketplace and get it... And that's what happened to me (too many times to admit!).  What a fantastic weekend it was, oh God!  I'd give anything to be able to do this again!

Right after the game, Veera and I took the last train to London.  
We spent the most amazing couple of days there.  Visiting museums, walking bridges, drinking coffee and wine and making plans for the future (hint!)...  We were too busy to bring the camera around, so we only took snapshots with the phone, but really cool ones ;)




So, I just checked the clock and I've been writing this post for the last 2.5 hours... I'd love to tell even more (cause honestly, there's so much to tell!), but my boys will be here any minute and they will want tea and cookies...

Hope you enjoyed the recap, and stay tuned for  more news... For starters, the travelling sweater is finished (and it's SO AMAZING!), full of travelling memories, and will be published in a couple of weeks...  And many more exciting things to come!

Have a great week!
~Joji