The Yarn Documentary

This SXSW Official Selection now has a trailer up for the public. I can’t wait to watch it!

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The Great Northern Knitwear Collection

Being a knitter and a fan of Twin Peaks, I was excited to hear that Teresa Gregorio and Leah Coccari-Swift were writing a book of patterns based on the show. Twin Peaks is known for its many, many sweaters. One fan counted as many as 118! It’s therefore surprising that Teresa and Leah are the first knitwear designers to pursue a Twin Peaks project. However, it’s ideal that they are going to be the ones to do it, since both designers’ aesthetics are well-suited to Twin Peaks. They are not afraid to experiment and tackle the odd and unique, which results in interesting designs that are not run-of-the-mill. All qualities that also describe Twin Peaks.

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Both designers are also clearly knowledgeable when it comes to fashion, culture, and history, which is reflected in their work. This is ideal, since Twin Peaks is very much steeped in time and place, albeit one that is not far removed from our own. Masterful clothing and set design is what signals the subtle shift in time and place to the viewer effectively. It’s part of what I love about the show, and these ladies have recreated the feel of Twin Peaks perfectly. While none of the patterns in the book are going to be slavish reproductions of specific sweaters seen on the show, it is evident that Teresa and Leah have done their research and are true fans. Just check out these obvious sources of inspiration.

The Last Evening wrap channels some early Maddy.

The From Another Place sweater has clear nods to Lucy’s first sweater,

in addition to a few other peak-filled (get it?), high-contrast, chevron-y numbers.

log-lady

And just like that, Log Lady makes her first appearance in this blog post: setting up the perfect segue to…

Cherry Pie. Yes, the Cowichan-like jackets the ‘lady wears while ambling around town and eating the iconic Twin Peaks sugary fare are an obvious inspiration for Cherry Pie, the sweater.

They most definitely informed this design as well.

I’m sure these other cozy gems had something to do with it too.


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I love that Gregorio is opting to update this classic look of the Cowichan with more modern colours from Rain City Knits.

I CANNOT WAIT.

Then there’s Audrey’s cropped, fitted little numbers translating well into the design for a sweater called Too Dreamy.

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The sketch even LOOKS like Audrey.

Lastly, we have the cleverly named Lynch Pin sweater.

With its lapel collar, use of see stitch and deep beige colour, it’s also very reminiscent of several sweaters in the show.

Well done, ladies!

This fan is impressed.

For more information and to fund the Kickstarter head over to greatnorthernknits.com

New Tricks

So it’s been a WHILE. I finally got a permanent full time position, moved work locations twice, blah blah.

Also took the time to learn a new crafty skill: sewing!

Danger, Will Robinson. I need another thing to stash like I need a hole in the head.

Behold, my first real sewed thing:

A project bag! I wanted something that could hold a medium-sized project (because I rarely do anything small) and the pattern and notions needed for it. I had been specifically thinking about the beaded shawl I was test knitting for a friend and the amount of stuff I needed to cart around for it: yarn, beads, a crochet hook, and a highlighter with copies of the charts (yeah, I’m old school – I actually mark off rows on a physical copy as I go). I followed the great free tutorial available on Sew Mama Sew.

London Trip

So my husband and I did this honeymoon do-over (let’s not talk about the first one, which was full of sickness and tropical storms) in August. Yes, that is over two months ago. My life has been crazy busy.

London was fantastic. We did so much in the nine days we were there, but could definitely have spent more time.

Not only did I most definitely find a knitting store:

from whence I got some lovely English yarn.

(it’s called Bowland DK by Eden Cottage Yarns. I fell in love with the colour. I also picked up a shawl pin, plus they gave me the bag for free!)

but I also chronicled my fibre-related exploits for y’all. In true librarian fashion.

The sign says:

               This door was at Westminster Abbey, if you’re curious.

I’ll start with a very cool find at All Hallows-by-the-Tower. Though it’s right by the Tower of London, it’s easy to miss. I only found out about it through an obscure blog post. Even my guide book didn’t mention it, but it’s totally worth a visit. Not just for the fibre-craft related objects I’m going to show you, but it’s a beautiful old church. In fact it’s the oldest in London. It was built on the remains of a Roman house and road, which you can still see in the basement. An added bonus? It’s one of the few churches that lets you take photos inside.

See the weird rectangle-shaped objects hanging below the pews? They are cushions: each handmade by a member of the congregation, going back generations. Here are some close-ups:

There is also this lovely weaving near the altar.

Another very cool find was the textile collection at the Victoria & Albert Museum.

I was SO excited to see these very famous ancient Egyptian socks made for wearing with sandals (ignore the “shoes” description. That’s for another item). These socks are often cited as an example of early knitting made using one needle, much like nålbinding.

The works below are woven tapestries from Byzantium.

The above is a woven silk piece depicting a bishop. It dates to 12-1300’s Germany or Italy. The very modern (i.e.: cartoon-like) looking face (complete with what looks like spectacles!) just kills me.

These woven pieces date to early Christianity in Egypt, around 400-600:

Here is a close up of the tapestry on the left. It depicts ankhs – an ancient Egyptian symbol of life that was adopted by the Christian Copts around the 4th century.

Below we have a quilt dating to 1360-1400. Probably made as a wedding gift, it depicts fourteen episodes from the adventures of Tristan. It was hard to take in all the detail on our camera, but you get the idea: lots and lots of stitching BY HAND. So gorgeous. It really has to be seen in person.

This next one is obviously a passion of the Christ scene. Probably from France around 1400-25. Once again woven BY HAND, folks. Our tour guide told us it took a professional weaver about a month working full time (sunrise to sunset) to make 1 square meter. Remember, most of these were big enough to cover a castle wall!

By the way, if you’re curious why tapestries were so common in the medieval period, here’s an answer: no central heating. Well-to-do homes that could afford tapestries were also typically made of stone. That sh*t gets cold!

We also got to see the famous, and enormous, ‘Boar and Bear Hunt’ woven wool tapestry, probably made in Arras, France or Tournai, Belgium around 1425-30.

The last fibre arts related stop that we made was at the Globe Theatre. I was super stoked to find a whole reproduction of an Elizabethan costume textile workshop in the museum.

Can you say “heaven”?

I really doubt that the following close-up images need introduction. Fleece, yarn, dye pots, sewing, pattern drafting, embroidery and lace work, it’s all here.

Pssst: the velvet above is authentic 15th-17th century Spanish and Italian handmade velvet.

And here we have the costume worn by an actress who played Queen Elizabeth at the Globe re-opening.

Check out the handmade lace!

I’ll end with this cool video my husband took of the Swiss Glockenspeil in Leicester Square near Piccadilly Circus/Covent Garden. Not textile related, but still a pretty cool handicraft.

Up in the northcountry

Only the weekend after Rhinebeck my knitting group had our annual cottage trip.

It’s always a great time, but an added bonus was that this year was especially productive for me.

Exhibit A) I learned how to chain ply on a spindle! In beautiful surroundings, no less.

You might recognize the Briar Rose roving and David Reed Smith spindle from my last post.

PS: if you haven’t heard of chain plying, you should look into it. It is magical, time saving, and generally awesome.

Exhibit B) I  learned how to use my spinning wheel. A big undertaking considering last time I tried it was at the Frolic.

After a bumpy start I finally got something that resembled yarn 😀

Exhibit C) Happy Seamstress let me use her drum carder!

Wensleydale + second quality angora I got at Rhinebeck, plus some firestar = pretty AND pretty soft.

But perhaps the best part of the cottage is the time away from the city with friends, fibre, yarn, and good food.

Yes, that is a chocolate marshmallow. A HOMEMADE chocolate marshmallow.

I’ll leave you with the doodle Lynn left in the cottage owners’ guest book.

Ingenuity

I haven’t honestly been working on much this summer, besides GOING TO LONDON, ENGLAND. More on that later though, I digress.

Happy Seamstress gave me this lovely hand-spun skein for my birthday.

It got turned into these:

Here is the pattern I used.

I also came up with this cute little pouch for my mom. She has both rheumatoid arthritis and type 1 diabetes. The case they gave her for her needle is a) huge and hard to fit in a purse, b) falling apart and they don’t make it anymore. All of the make up and eyeglass cases she’s tried are too short. Hence I knit her an easy-to-open pouch and using a very tight gauge so that it is a bit of a thicker fabric to protect the somewhat fragile needle and needle toppers.

I cast on with Turkish cast-on 15(30) stitches and then just started knitting in the round. Once it was as deep as it needed to be to fit the needle (plus a little room for closure) I added created eyelet holes through which to thread a drawstring (I made 8, but any even number would work).

The most beautiful thing about Turkish cast on?

NO SEAMS.

Have I gone on about the awesomeness of this cast on before? I feel I may have…

Anywho, here is a great tutorial I found on Turkish cast-on.

The Most Canadian Sweater Ever

So I was shopping at a flea market with the family and my mom pointed this out.

Bless her.

As soon as I saw it I HAD to have it.

It’s Cowichan (see more about Cowichan in my post here) with maple leaf and curling motifs. CURLING.

Did I mention it’s handmade? And IN MY SIZE?!

It’s a bit bulky, but then that’s how cowichans are supposed to fit. At least it’s not a man’s size and I’m swimming in it.