About Woolly Wits

I am a hand-knitting designer and teacher. See and purchase my published designs on Ravelry.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Ahhh . . . To Be Vogue With Only Basic Knitting Skills

Have you seen the April issue of American Vogue?  They feature a number of dead simple designer knits at designer prices. 

Here's the most basic - little more than four rectangles with exposed seams and an I-cord belt from Calvin Klein:

It's also the cheapest of the lot, a mere $795 retail.  The yarn is a mix of alpaca and cashmere, so some part of the price reflects the luxury fiber.

Next on the scale of both skill required and price is this number from Nina Ricci:

This sweater is wool and tags in at $990.  The construction here is more sophisticated, with raglan arm shaping and decorative increase/decrease 'princess seams' through the body. 

Here's a super-quick knit cardi in bulky mohair.  This has patch pockets and the same skinny belt seen in the first design.  And this Michael Kors design can be yours for just - well, see for yourself.




















And, at the top of the price scale is this fine weight cabled sweater dress (shown as a tunic) from Dior.  No mention of the fiber, but at $3,700, I hope it is qiviut.  Gently combed from newborn baby musk oxen.

We knitters whine a lot about the cost of fine hand knitting yarns.  But, here we could buy merino, silk, cashmere, etc. yarns, bill out our knitting time at $10 an hour and still come in less than retail.  Heck, for the Dior sweater, we could bill our time at quadruple minimum wage.  I'll take $40 an hour for knitting any happy day of the week.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

New Pattern! Cuthaig Plaid Mitts


Just in time for chilly spring days is my new fingerless glove pattern, Cuthaig.  It's the next in my obsessive line of plaid knitting patterns.  The three yarn /four color technique is the same as my Gait's Haire cowl & wrap, but here the gloves are worked in lace weight wool for the ladies size and sock weight for the men's size.

 I am very pleased with the results, especially the feather weight of the ladies glove.  (But then, I suppose a guy would appreciate the beefier weight of their glove.)  Choose for yourself!  Available on Ravelry.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Crafty Projects in Process

The best thing about taking a little break from blogging (I was off costuming a show) is that your next post back can be filled with follow up from the last post.  So, we have . . .


Remember that J Crew sweater I bought for less than a buck at an estate sale?  It had a large hole in the back, so from the start I planned to rip it and salvage the yarn. 

Here's the yarn after unravelling.  It turned out to be much thinner than I imagined.  While I realized that the fabric was a reverse side, it wasn't reverse stockinette stitch, but the reverse of a brioche-type pattern.  It wasn't the thickness of the yarn making the denseness of the fabric, but the stitch work. 


And here it is in (part of) its new life - my Farwen hat.  I used the merino yarn doubled and it came out perfect, thanks to the loftiness of the yarn.  The beads were also a bargain purchase when the bead store down the street form my LYS went out-of-business. 

The fate of the remainder of the yardage is yet to be determined, but I do love this dusty blue-green color.








The other work-in-progress is a second altered cashmere sweater.  This one began life as a man's sweater that gathered at the bottom, so that had to go.  Once again the stash yielded a matching sock yarn for the new crochet hem and bands. 

I think I may only be mid-way through this project.  This sweater is telling me that it wants to have elbow length sleeves.  And, if I have the fabric from the lower arms to play, I think they just might become pockets. 

My plan is to wear this when I teach at YarnCon Chicago on April 5th & 6th, so I better get out the SCISSORS!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Season Opening: Estate Sale Shopping

After a long, rough winter, estate sales are back in season, to be followed by garage sales in six weeks or so.  I got off to a great start:

This is my favorite find, a chunky silver and bead multi-strand necklace.  It was in pretty rough condition when I found it - crusty with tarnish.  I purchased some tarnish remover, which cost more than the necklace ($5.00 vs. $4.50).  After 15 minutes of polishing to little effect, I went to the expert, my friend Melissa.  She suggested mild dish soap, possibly followed by toothpaste on an old soft toothbrush if that didn't work.  I went right for the toothpaste.
In this photo, the left beads and top of the medallion are untouched, while the right beads and lower medallion have one pass of toothbrush scrubbing.  After two passes with the toothbrush and two with the silver polish, I am thrilled with the results.  I don't mind a little tarnish, as I think it lends character, so I may love this even better as it ages again.

The second successful sale yielded some great crochet hooks and a J Crew merino sweater in my favorite blue-green - and all for $3.  (You gotta love the half-price bargains on the last day of the estate sale.)  The sweater has a hole in the back (just visible between hooks in pic), so the yarn will be recycled.  I am always on the lookout for nice yarn in a hand knitting gauge.  The crochet hooks are a happy addition to my collection as I much prefer the wider handles.  And, the never-used vintage long wooden hook is a size I didn't own - P - and should work for Tunisian crochet, too.  All in all, a great shopping day.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Woolly-Wits Crochets Too!

It's been a busy week for my design releases.  This one is crochet:
Lantana Scarf front
From the Spring 2014 issue of Interweave Crochet.
Lantana Close
I love lace weight silk and mohair yarn for a wrap because it is light as air, but surprisingly warm.  I love it so much, I am planning on a striped knit pattern, too.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

My Contribution to VK Spring/Summer 2014

VOGUE Knitting Spring/Summer 2014,
photo by Rose Callahan
See what I did?

This is the cardigan I designed for the Spring/Summer issue of Vogue Knitting.  The cardi features very large eyelet holes laid out in a diamond pattern, which were inspired by the mesh that was all over the Spring 2014 runways.  My own twist was the contrast band.  The diagonal lines of the v-neck band flow into the vertical button band for a slimming line.

VOGUE Knitting Spring/Summer 2014,
photo by Rose Callahan
 This would be a great shrug-ish sweater over a sleeveless sundress or summer top.  Just enough fabric to keep you warm in an over-air conditioned room, but enough openwork to keep the air flowing when you step back outside.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

The Power of Blocking

As knitters, sometimes we forget those powerful lessons we learn early in our careers.  As a designer, I will not proceed to a project without knitting, washing and blocking a good-sized swatch.  But, it's always fortunate to have a little reinforcement of those basic concepts, especially when they are not biting you in the backside because you forgot or ignored them.

For this project, I am using a different yarn for the sleeves and bands of the sweater (Cascade Heritage Silk) than for the body (Miss Babs Windsor sock yarn).  Since it was purported to be the same gauge, I decided to play fast and loose and cast on a sleeve, work the ribbing and a few inches of stockinette, and then slip the piece to scrap yarn (without cutting working yarn!), wash and block.  After drying and a quick gauge check, I put it back on the needles and continued on my way.







Lesson reinforced.  Even with my over-lit photo, I think it's still pretty clear how the blocking smoothed the fabric.  And the difference in the ribbing is remarkable.

(In case you are wondering, this project is slated to be my first self-published sweater design.  Shhh. . . . )