Showing posts with label unusual knitting techniques. Show all posts
Showing posts with label unusual knitting techniques. Show all posts

Thursday, 12 November 2015

Give to Me Your Leather (and Wool)

This blog's third anniversary, which was two days ago, was its leather anniversary. I did a special cotton anniversary post last year and so this year calls for a leather post. And it turns out that leather and wool are the combination Stevie Nicks and Don Henley should have sung about. One won't get much joy from actually knitting *with* leather (the result would be unwearably stiff and bulky), but my research tells me there are a number of great ways to enhance knitting projects with leather additions, so let's have a look at them. If you are ethically opposed to using leather, it should be possible to use these ideas on vinyl substitutes.

The bottom spool in the photo above shows leather strips being French knitted into cord. This would be a great way to make pull strings for hoods, plackets, waists, and cuffs of knitted garments.

The above video demonstrates how to French knit a cord. The demonstration material is paracord rather than leather, but this won't affect the technique.

One very practical way of adding leather to your knitwear is to add leather bottoms to slippers or bags or baskets, or palms to mittens and gloves, to make them more durable. This Craftsy tutorial offers two techniques for knitting onto pieces of leather.

These fingerless gloves, which are from Anthropolgie, would be relatively easy to copy as it appears that the leather (or possibly vinyl?) is simply stitched on top of the knitted pieces.

Another way to use leather when making knitwear is to add decorative trims or pockets or patches. I very much like this crocheted cowl, with its leather snap band. This cowl was made by Delia Creates, who offers a free pattern and tutorial. A knitted version of this cowl would be made in much the same way: one would crochet a line of stitches onto the leather band and then pick up and knit the stitches from it.

Fabric stores routinely carry leather handles like those you see here. It would be a straightfoward task for a competent knitter and sewer to replicate this commercially made handbag from Paper to Cloth. If I were to make this, I would consider putting a leather bottom on it as well.

Love this basket, made by the bloggers at Alice & Lois. The leather handles really kick it up several notches. The basket is made of coiled rope rather than knitted (and there's a tutorial), but leather handles would look just as good on a knitted basket and would be attached to it in the same way.

This isn't a knitting-meets-leather project, and I don't much care for these particular items (which are available as a DIY kit from Etsy seller Red Gate Stitchery) but I thought it such a great idea I had to include it. Punch some holes in a leather item and you can cross stitch any design you like into it.

This Tory Burch bag is commercially made, but it offers another idea for how to marry knitting and leather. I'm wondering if it might not be possible to create a bag similar to this one by upcycling a thrift shop purse and cabled sweater.

Adding commercially made snaps and buckles to knitwear is probably the easiest way to combine leather with knitting, but it can be a telling addition. As you can see, this piece from Alexander McQueen wouldn't look like anything very special without its leather buckles, but putting them on instantly turned this coat into a distinctively stylish piece.

This wrap, from Brooklyn-based designer Sunghee Bang, offers us another inspiring way to incorporate leather in knitwear. It looks to me as though a large piece of leather was simply sewn on top of this large needle knit wrap.

I rather like this cardigan, with its leather neckline trim and leather cuffs and body. This photo is from, which also features more pictures of this item. Adding leather to knitwear is an area in which you can get creative and have fun. It needn't be expensive either. Got an old handbag or leather jacket or skirt you love that's getting past being presentable or that no longer fits but that you can't quite bear to let go? Here's your chance to give that leather a new purpose in life and make a beautiful new usable item.

If you're feeling extra adventurous, you could always try making something like this piece from Balenciaga's Fall 2014 collection. This is really quite ingenious. I notice that by adding knitted elements, the designer has cleverly made this garment stretch where it needs to be -- through the waistline and neckline -- so as to make it possible for the wearer to get it off and on. Balenciaga hasn't exactly offered us all a tutorial on this could be replicated, but you might be able to figure it out how to make a similar piece with some experimentation and reference to the other techniques mentioned in this post.

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

I See Knitwear and I Want to Paint Its Back

If adding colour to your knitting via intarsia, stranded, or even duplicate stitch techniques isn't your thing, or if you just love dabbling in paint, there is another way to add colour to your knitted items. Twist Collective offers us a tutorial on how to paint knitted pieces with dyes and foam or stencil brushes. This is a technique that will take some time to master, because dyes can create a halo effect or have sediment or blend with each other, creating a new colour that may not be what the crafter wanted — and don't forget that your "canvas" or knitted item took time to make. Twist Collective recommends that knitters trying this technique take the time to experiment with the paints on paper towels first.

Natural fibres are best for hand painting. Blogger Lynette, of Le Tissier Designs, shows us some samples of her hand painted knits and comments on how the different fibres took the dye.

It's also possible to use paint rather than dye (though dye is likely preferable to paint as paint will stiffen the knit as dye will not). In this video, YouTube user The Answer Lady demonstrates how how to paint knits using spray paint, Sharpie markers, and stencils.

In this video, The Answer Lady uses a stencil and a sponge dipped in paint to stencil her knitwear project.

In this video, The Answer Lady uses rubber stamps and an ink pad to add dragonflies to her sweater.

In this video, colour is actually removed from the knitted item with the aid of rubber stamps dipped in bleach. The bleached design can be coloured in with sharpies afterward if desired.

Then again, knitting itself can become a tool for painting on other items. This blog post tells us how to use knitted swatches to stamp knitting pattern on paper to make knitting-themed wrapping paper.

Friday, 2 January 2015

When First We Knit to Deceive

Recently I've been stumbling upon some trompe-l'œil knitwear, and because I wanted an excuse to spend several hours drooling over researching trompe-l'œil patterns, I decided to do a post on trompe-l'œil patterns. Trompe-l'œil (French for "deceive the eye"), is an artistic technique that employs realistic imagery to create an optical illusion. The Wikipedia entry on trompe-l'œil is interesting, but doesn't even mention knitwear design. The very first trompe-l'œil knitwear design appears above, and most of you will probably recognize it as an iconic Elsa Schiaparelli design from 1927. It was a startling innovation and became an immediate success after Schiaparelli wore it to a luncheon. The bowknot sweater pattern is available for free.

Less recognizable but as well-designed are these later trompe-l'œil designs from Elsa Schiaparelli. I was disappointed to find that Ravelry had only a handful of trompe-l'œil patterns and that of those there was only one I cared to share, though I suspect that there are quite a few more in Ravelry database that just aren't tagged by any term that would allow me to find them. I resorted to a general internet search and to using images of trompe-l'œil knitwear for which there are no patterns, as well as sewn trompe-l'œil designs to fill out my post, but then this is a simple and easily replicated technique. In a case like this an inspirational photo is nearly as valuable as a pattern.

Other designers were to take up the trompe-l'œil torch. This is a Hermès trompe-l'œil dress from 1952. It is not knitted, but sewn fabric with the scarf and collar design painted on to it, and it's possibly my favourite of any design in this post. I'd love to see this one translated into knitwear.

This is a 1966 design from U.K. knitwear designer John Carr Doughty.

Trompe l'oeil sweater and dress from 1975, as they appeared in an issue of American Home Crafts magazine. I can't say I like either of these items exactly, but they are interesting examples of what can be done with trompe-l'œil. And the hot pants are optional.

This is a 1970s trompe-l'œil "coat" dress that was listed on Etsy and has sold. It's another example that's more useful as a starting point than as a design to copy.

To get to some contemporary versions of trompe-l'œil, here's one from Vogue's May 2008 issue.

This cute little number is the Trompe L'oeil design, by Gyorgyi Suta. It's available on Ravelry for $7(USD).

A t-shirt designed by Paule Ka. I'd love to see a knitted trompe-l'œil "trench coat" coat design.

A Moschino Cheap & Chic crepe jersey dress. Incorporating jewelry into trompe-l'œil is another possible direction for designers.

A Paule Ka machine knit mini-dress. The great thing about trompe-l'œil is that one gets to add dimension and visual interest without adding bulk.

Spectator socks, source unknown. The one draw back to these is that the effect would be spoiled by putting shoes over them, and it would be a shame to only be able to wear them around home.

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Portuguese Knitting

Most knitters in Western society are familiar with the two most common styles of knitting: English style, in which the yarn is kept at proper tension using the right hand; and Continental, in which the yarn is kept in play using the left hand. A number of knitters employ both, switching to either hand as the other tires, or using both hands when working with two different colours. But there is another common method you may not know about called Portuguese knitting.

Portuguese knitting, also known as Turkish Knitting, Incan Knitting, Andean Knitting and "around the neck knitting", originated among Arabic knitters. The technique gradually spread north from Africa and the Middle East to the Mediterranean, the Balkans (especially Bulgaria and Greece), the Iberian Peninsula and eventually came to South America via Spanish and Portuguese colonization. Knitters in these countries sometimes use hooked knitting needles but it's not necessary to do so as the Portuguese style of knitting is often practiced with the standard knitting needle.

When using the Portuguese knitting technique, the yarn in play is wrapped around the right hand, and then strung around the knitter's neck or through a pin fastened to the knitter's shirt or sweater, before continuing to the piece being knitted. It's a smooth, easy, fast technique involving only a flick of the left thumb to wrap the yarn around the needle for the next stitch, and it could be of great help to those who can no longer knit English or Continental style due to injuries to their hands. In the video above Andrea Wong demonstrates knitting and purling in the Portuguese knitting style.

Andrea Wong says in the above video that she uses knitting pins (such as the one above) "for comfort" rather than running the yarn around her neck, and she uses more than one pin if working in different colours. But I would be concerned about the holes it would create in my clothes.

There are also Portuguese knitting pendants available, which look like a better idea to me. These pendants can be strung on a cord and worn as a necklace, such as the one above, which is from Knitting Boutique.

Another option is to use a magnetic pin that can be fastened to your clothing (the magnet goes on the underside of the fabric) without risking any damage to the garment. This magnetic pin is from Etsy vendor Flighty Fleurs.

There are some very pretty knitting pins and pendants available on the net that could almost pass for jewelry, such as the pins above, which were made by Etsy vendor Lazy Cat Fibers, but if you just want to try out the technique before investing in some beautiful pins or pendants, you can always begin by simply stringing the yarn around your neck. If that irritates your neck, try making your own pin by fastening a bent paper clip to a safety pin, or making a Portuguese knitting pendant necklace by slipping a bent paper clip onto a cord.

Friday, 8 November 2013

Skants and Swants

Once upon a time, these "skants" were posted to Etsy by one of their vendors. Yes, that's a sweater being worn as a putative combined pants and skirt (pants + skirt = skants), and this unique one-of-a-kind piece was offered for sale to some lucky Etsy buyer for a mere $780(USD). The marvellous and sadly now defunct site Regretsy (which, if you've never heard of it, existed for the sole purpose of making fun of Etsy's more ridiculous listings and twee excesses) did a post about it that spawned something of a meme. Many Regretsy readers sent Regretsy owner April Winchell wonderful pictures of themselves posing in their own skants, which they had "made" from whatever sweaters they had sitting about.

I only wish I could link to the skants posts on Regretsy, which if I remember correctly had me laughing until tears streamed down my face. Alas, Regretsy is gone and we're left with only a scattering of photos to remind us of all its crazy former glory. I remember this one as being one of my favourite Regretsy reader skants photos. And I just had to post it for the benefit of my American readers, whose Thanksgiving celebrations are in the offing. Why create some time-intensive, tasteful Martha Stewart-esque centrepiece no one will even notice when you can do something like this that your family will remember for years to come?

Though we no longer have Regretsy, we do have knitting designer Steven West, who has taken up the skants baton by taking them to the next evolutionary level and calling them "swants". West's swants are not quite like their predecessor skants. Unlike skants, swants involve some sewing, and feature a crotch. West has posted a tutorial on how to make your own swants on his website. He's also posted a video of the swants-wearing Westknits Fun Squad demonstrating how one should wear swants to the tune of "On and Ever Onward", by The Dirty Projectors and Bjork.

If you should get inspired and proceed to make your own skants or swants, be sure to link to a picture of you modelling them either here in the comments or on this blog's Facebook page, so that we can be sure this brave new crafting direction is getting the level of workmanship and respect it deserves.

Saturday, 2 November 2013

A Puff for Hexapuffs

Stephanie Dosen, the designer and blogger from Tiny Owl Knits, has come up with a new concept in knitted blankets with her Beekeeper's Quilt. Over the course of a year, she made about 500 "hexipuffs", or little double-sided, poly-filled, hexagon-shaped pieces knitted in the round, and then fastened them all together with quilt ties to make a quilt, as seen above.

This is a very portable project (at least until one gets to the assembly stage), would be a great way to use up odd balls of sock yarn, the maker can get artistic as she or he likes and play with the colour scheme or add embroidery to the hexipuffs, and because of the way this quilt is assembled, any hexipuffs that become stained or damaged can easily be removed and replaced. It could be made machine washable and dryable if only easy care yarn is used; otherwise dry cleaning is an option. And damn, would the resulting Beekeeper's Quilt be warm. This pattern is available for $5.50(USD) via its Ravelry page and there's also a knit-a-long for this design.

I think the main appeal of the Beekeeper's Quilt pattern for me personally is that it reminds me of the English paper piecing my grandmother taught me to do when I was a little girl. I still do some occasionally. I think nearly all my friends and family who sew have pincushions I pieced, and in a couple of cases when there was a family wedding in the offing I've been able to make a pincushion from scraps of the wedding and bridesmaid gowns being sewn for the wedding, which made a useful and special keepsake to give the bride in question. There is something very gratifying about making and piecing together all those cute little hexagon shapes, but my tolerance limit for making pincushions is usually two or three at a time, which I suspect means I shouldn't undertake to knit a Beekeeper's Quilt myself.

Friday, 1 November 2013

Fun With Rubber Bands

Here's a video from Lion Brand Yarns on how to make a rubber band bracelet with a simple knitting loom. This looks like a great kid's craft project.

Monday, 21 October 2013

You Bet Your Buttons You Can Make Buttons

If you've ever had trouble finding just the right buttons to finish off your knitting projects, you might consider making your own buttons. There are several basic methods for making your own buttons and you can embellish the basic button in any way you like and create the perfect button to finish off your item in less time than it might take to scour all the button stores where you live and then the internet button resources.

One button-making method involves making buttons from polymer clay. This tutorial explains how to make the buttons above.

Polymer clay buttons can be painted in any style you like. This tutorial explains how to make these buttons.

I don't have a tutorial for these hand-painted buttons as the original post seems to be down, but I'm including them for inspiration.

A second method for making buttons involves using shrink plastic. The blogger who made these buttons has posted a tutorial on how to make them.

Method number three involves cutting wooden buttons from a tree branch. The resulting wooden buttons can be painted.

A fourth button-making method is to make fabric-covered buttons with a kit that should be available at any fabric store and the fabric of your choice. Alternatively, you can make a little knitted or crocheted circle and use that as the fabric with which to cover your button.

Fabric buttons can also be embroidered.

Fabric buttons can also be beaded, either lightly or to the point of being completely covered in tiny beads. You can find a tutorial on how to make beaded buttons here.

Lastly, one can crochet buttons, though I find this the least attractive method of any I have listed as the buttons tend to look crude. But if you're interested in this method, Crochet Today has a thorough post on all the possible crochet button methods with links to tutorials. The most successful crocheted buttons I have seen were crocheted with thread with a very small size hook.

And thinking back to the time I had this past spring finding just the right teddy bear buttons for my grandniece's teddy bear dress, I totally wish I'd thought of researching and writing this post a long time ago.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

The Knitted Jewelry of Niiro

As some of you might have gathered from my knitting magazine reviews, I'm not often kind to designs involving knitted jewelry made out of yarn. It tends to look like something made during arts and crafts hour at summer camp, which is to say it's cute on children but is generally too naive a look for adults. However, knitted jewelry made from metal wire can be a brave new world for a knitter, and one designer who has tapped into knitted wire's potential is Rosanna Raljević Ceglar, also known as Niiro.

Niiro is a jewelry designer located in Slovenia. A graduate from the Academy of Fine Arts in Venice, she finds inspiration in the forms and textures found in nature, and her work does have an organic quality to it, as though the pieces were rare species of sea creatures cast in metal.

To view more of Niiro's work, you can visit her website or check out her Facebook page.

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Comb Knitting

Have you ever tried knitting with a comb? Craftster member Mieljolie has, and the results aren't bad. She details the process here.

If you'd like to see a demonstration, YouTube user Theanswerladyknits has created a comprehensive video showing how she knits on a dollar store comb and demonstrating several different stitches. Comb knitting looks too limited and slow to interest me, but it does look like an excellent project to do with children — it's easy, it will give them a sense of the general knitting process, and they can have fun making simple scarves for themselves.