Monday, 19 May 2014

Moving On

Moving On is a stop-motion video from BAFTA-nominated animator, writer, and director Ainslie Henderson, which she created as a music video for the song of the same name by the British rock band James. In it, Henderson uses yellow yarn to tell a story about the inevitable cycle of life, death, grief, and joy. As Shakespeare put it, "the web of our life is of a mingled yarn, good and ill together." (All's Well that Ends Well, Act IV, scene 3.)

Friday, 16 May 2014

Magic Knitted Carpet Ride

Have you ever knitted a rug, or considered knitting one? It's an idea with great possibilities, because you can make a rug of any size or shape or colour that you want. (Speaking as someone who spent ten months searching for a satisfactory bedside rug, I feel this is a quality not to be taken lightly.) Rug knitting is usually technically much easier than knitting a sock or a sweater and probably also faster, because you'll be using a bulky weight or at least a worsted yarn, or even multiple strands of worsted or bulky. I would be inclined to put a hand-knitted rug in an area of the house where it's not going to be likely to meet up with any muddy shoes, such as the bedrooms, the bathroom, or the living room. If slippage is an issue — as it's likely to be on tile or wood floors — you can always get an inexpensive mesh grip mat to put underneath. For a more toe-pleasing experience, you can even buy padding to put underneath the knitted rug.

I'd encourage you to go ahead and design your own rug, but let's look at a selection of rug patterns to get an idea of what can be done. The photo above is of the Seed Stitch Rug, by Kerin Dimeler-Laurence, which is so evocative of the traditional rag rug. This pattern is available for download for $4.99(USD).

This pattern is Absorba, The Great Bathmat, by Kay Gardiner and Ann Shayne, and it was published in Mason-Dixon Knitting: The Curious Knitters' Guide: Stories, Patterns, Advice, Opinions, Questions, Answers, Jokes, and Pictures. This pattern uses three stands of double worsted Peaches & Creme held together, and the pattern promises that it's "the sort of mat that will absorb two or three gallons of bathwater".

This is the Grass Rug, by Kim Hamlin, and it's also a good pick for someone who likes the shag style. This pattern is available for free.

This is the Ocean Currents Rug, by Moira Ravenscroft of Wyndlestraw Designs. I like it for its beautifully blended colourway. This pattern is available for $4.50(USD).

The Odds and Ends Rug, by Kim Russo, must be the ultimate in stash-busting projects. It's knitted out of many little balls of leftover worsted yarn, which work together beautifully. This pattern is available for $6.00(USD).

The Log Cabin Quilted Rug, by Donna Druchunas, is another very traditional style re-imagined as a knitted rug. Garter stitch pieces are sewn together to make this rug, which is then lined with a fabric backing and interlined with quilt batting. This pattern was published in The Knitted Rug: 21 Fantastic Designs.

Here's another wonderfully cushy-looking bath mat, the Spa Bath Mat, by Black Cat Designs. This pattern is available as a free Ravelry download.

The Slip-stitch Kilim-style Rug, by Black Cat Designs, is another example of a traditional rug design translated into a knitting pattern. This pattern is available as a free Ravelry download.

This rug is the Elegant Celtic Cabled Rug, by Donna Druchunas. This pattern is available for download for $2.65(USD).

The Circular Rug, by Alison Barlow, has a more complex construction than most of the rugs in this post, but looks totally worth the work. This pattern appears in Fashionable Projects for the New Knitter.

If you like a little touch of mid-century modern in your decor, the Retro Wallpaper Rug by Cristen DiPisa may be for you. This pattern is available for download for $1.99(USD).

Here's another fun take on a traditional rug style, and even better, it's one that won't mean the death of some poor animal. There are several bear rugs on Ravelry, but unfortunately my favourite pattern was only available in Finnish. I went instead for my second favourite, the Bear Hug Rug, by Phyllis Smith, which looks perfect for a kid's room because it's both a rug and a toy and should be machine washable and dryable. This pattern is available for $14.95(USD).

I'd want to expand the size of the Annie rug, by Sarah Hazell, considerably, but I love that interesting, cheerful pattern. This pattern is available for free.

This You're a Star! rug, by Minttu, borrows from traditional Fair Isle knitting patterns. This pattern is available for $2.00(USD).

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

How to Knit Like an Icelandic Man

Þórgnýr Thoroddsen has a name that is very hard for non-Icelanders to say, but he makes up for it by being a very manly knitter and Tunisian crocheter. In this video Þórgnýr tells us how an Icelandic man knits and invites us to look him up if we ever visit Iceland.

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Pom Pom Quarterly Summer 2014: A Review

Pom Pom Quarterly has released their Summer 2014 issue. Let's have a look at it, shall we?

This is the Creamsicle design. I'm not too impressed with it because I'm not a big fan of bobbles at their best, and this is a rather unimaginative use of them. The shape isn't great either, what with the boxy body and too long sleeves. The pattern looks a little amateurish on the whole.

The Sombra design. I like this one. The colourway is so well blended and a loose sheer top like this can be useful for summer, as a coverup for the beach or to be worn in lieu of a shawl.

The Seaside Sundae throw is quite attractive. It looks like a baby blanket in these colours, but of course there's no reason to use pastels for this project if you'd prefer another colourway.

The Sceles pattern. As I've said in a number of past reviews, clothing designs should not look like repurposed afghans.

The Flora design. I'm not taken with this one either. It has good points, such as the striped garter stitch collar and the attractive lacework through the body, but the design isn't quite working together as a whole. I think the problem might be the colours, which don't do much for each other, and make the garment look visually chopped up. I think what I would do is make the body of the sweater and the sleeves in a solid colour, and use a second variegated colour as the stripes in the collar and for the button bands and hem trim.

The Emery shrug. I very much like this little wrap. Pretty colour and texture.

The Ananas Comosus design. I'm probably the wrong demographic for this pineapple tank top, which is likely intended to appeal to some cute young hipster type. All I can say is that the pineapple motif is fairly well worked out.

The Baya shawl is a good piece of design. I'm impressed with whomever put these colours together, because it's a risky combination that really pops. The lace pattern is really lovely.

Monday, 5 May 2014

Interweave Knits Summer 2014: A Review

Interweave Knits has released their Summer 2014 issue. Let's have a look at it.

The Starboard Sweater. This standard fit mesh pullover is a pretty basic summer knitting pattern.

The Driftwood Tee is an elegantly casual piece that will go nearly anywhere because it can be paired with a skirt, shorts, jeans, or trousers.

Love the texture of the Nautilus Hat.

The Prow Pullover. I'm not sure how I feel about the inverted triangle of reverse stockinette stitch on this design. It doesn't seem to me to be adding anything. The rest of the sweater is attractive. I very much like the deep, lace-trimmed neckline.

I'm torn as to whether the Sand Dollar Cardigan sits badly or whether it's the victim of poor styling. The only thing I'm sure of here is that the trousers the model is wearing are the most horrifically unflattering I ever saw.

The Sand Dollar Cardigan shows to much better advantage here, but then the model is holding the one side in place while the other side is crumpling up.

The Coralline Jacket is a lovely piece with good lines and interesting details and it will look good worn over a variety of summer outfits.

The Crustacean Shawl has a rather interesting construction and colourway.

The Estuary Tank is one of those designs that started out with an interesting concept but didn't quite get the execution it deserved. The garter stitch panels look slapped together rather than playing off each other as they ought.

There are several things to admire about the Sea Anemone Jacket (i.e., the gorgeous colour, the beautiful lace stitchwork), but it's all for naught when this item is such an unwearable shape. This is an unflattering item that will look like a botched project.

The Ocracoke Cardigan is a wonderful piece of design. The lines are great, the Art Deco-style interlocking cable stitch is stunning, and it's a useful item that will look good on any woman. It's a perfect pattern.

The Inlet Cardigan. This piece had some interesting points (the lace from the front that continues on to wrap around the shoulders and join at the back is an interesting concept), but I don't think it's quite successful over all. The dropped shoulders seem to be the culprit. I think I'd either raise the shoulders or omit the sleeves.

The Forrester Socks have an inventive construction and look like a good way to showcase a handpainted yarn.

Quite like the Lobelia Socks, which have what I can only describe as a cubist Harlequin pattern.

The Kayleen Pullover is the cover look, and it's definitely a worthy candidate with its good lines and modern take on a Celtic knot detail.

Love the Bell Yoke Tee. The yoke is so striking it carries the whole design.

The Hay Bale Tank. The lacy back of this tank is lovely, but I think the front needs a little detail, because it looks plain to the point of frumpiness.

The Bluebells Lace Shawl is a lovely piece of lace.

The Go To Market Cardigan is a cute little number with a vintage feel. If you don't have a waist you care to emphasize, I'd recommend that you make the lace border just an inch or two deep rather than making it waist height as it is here.

The Farmstand Tee. After some pondering, I think I've decided I like this one. It's interesting and flattering. It's fairly wearable too, though I would have concerns about possible side boob showing through those long, loose armholes. I notice the model has her arms clamped to her sides.