Knit


Following on my recent menswear design for Knitscene, I jumped into another menswear-inspired project, the Breakwater Pullover, for the Maine-based Swans Island company.

Swans Island specializes in heirloom blankets and organic yarns, dyed with all-natural dyes. The Breakwater Pullover is part of the All-American Collection, ten designs to highlight their all-new 100% American worsted weight wool yarn. I was pleased to be part of the collection alongside fellow Maine designers Bristol Ivy, Alicia Plummer, and the Swans Island team.

Breakwater was inspired by classic Aran sweaters, but distilled to it’s most essential elements. This project is a great introduction to cables, as the center panel keep things interesting, but never overwhelming. The menswear-inspired styling means there’s no side-shaping to worry about either (though it’d be easy enough to add if you wanted to). The loose gauge, slouchy fit, and raglan shaping make it a a quick knit and a great weekend sweater. With a size range from 35¾ to 50¾” – this one will work for the men too!

Not sure how to pull off the boyfriend sweater look? I’ve pulled together some styling inspiration here.

Pattern uses 6 (7, 7, 8, 8) skeins Swans Island All-American Collection, 75% USA Rambouillet wool, 25% USA alpaca; worsted weight (80 gms, 210 yds each) Color Shown: Newport #AAW416

Breakwater is available via Ravelry for $6.00 USD

All photos courtesy of Swans Island.

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Coming soon to a newsstand near you, the Malaga Pullover in Knitscene – Winter 2014.

Malaga is my first sweater design for men, and I’m pretty proud of the way this one turned out. Inspired by a rather stylish co-worker of mine, Malaga is a simple, wearable raglan that shifts in both color and texture, but is easy to knit the whole way through. The instructions for this bottom-up raglan are written so there’s a minimal amount of purling (ribbing and short rows only) – so it’s a quick knit too – plenty of time to whip one out before the holidays and it’s available in sizes 37¾ (39½, 43¼, 47, 50¾, 54½)” chest circumference (shown in size 39½”).

What really makes this pattern work though, is the yarn selection – shown here in Harrisville Designs Shetland. The bottom half is knit holding two strands of the same color fingering weight yarn held together, and swapping one strand for a contrast color and marled effect for the sleeves and yoke. Harrisvile has a ton of wonderful earthy and saturated colors to choose from, and Brooklyn Tweed’s Loft would be another beautiful option for folks in the US. I’d recommend picking a dark and a light version of the same color family (i.e. a forest/pale green combo, or light blue/navy) for a similar effect.

While Malaga is the only men’s pattern in the issue, there are a ton of other great designs in there. I’m particularly fond of Kiyomi Burgin’s Tongshan Sweater and the Haubergeon Sweater by Featured Designer Emma Welford.

To purchase the Malaga pattern, visit your local yarn or book store for the latest Knitscene issue, or purchase a print or digital copy via Interweave.

Want some more men’s sweater inspiration? Check out my Pinterest Board!

All Photos © Knitscene/Harper Point

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As a designer, my ideas often flow from or build on a previous idea. Picassco had a blue period, I get obsessed with colorwork, or texture. But usually, because of the diversity of my publishing outlets, this is less obvious because the order I design something and the order they’re released are often vastly different.

This past week’s release of Maian by Quince & Co. makes for a rare exception, as it was both designed and released on the heels of Lamassu. Like it’s predecessor, Maian was inspired by an ancient culture. But where Lamassu looked to the Near East, Maian takes its inspiration from the areas due south of the US border.

Maian is knit in Quince’s new’s yarn, Piper, which is an entirely Texas-sourced wool/mohair blend. With that info about the yarn and ancient cultures on the brain, it only seemed natural to make a shawl inspired by Aztec and Mayan stair-stepped temples.

Maian is worked from the tip up, with 1/2 the increases in each section worked as end row increases, and the other 1/2 worked as cast on increases at the end of each section. The lace is a super-easy chevron-style repeat that results a graceful and not overly-literal take on its inspiration.

If you’d like to make one for yourself, the Maian pattern is available through Quince & Co. or Ravelry for $6 USD.

All photos courtesy of Quince & Co. by Emma Sampson

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What is a Lamassu?

  1. A winged, human headed bull frequently seen in ancient Mesopotamian (modern Iraq & Syria) myth and art – most frequently as looming sentinels at the gates of major cities.
  2. My latest shawl design for Quince & Co. yarns

How does one morph into the other? Where that’s where the fun of designing comes in!

Back when I was in college, I was a Theatre major and the midst of my Senior year, I decided to swap my English minor for one in Classical Studies, following my increasing interest in the topic. I had an excellent Latin professor (Ortwin Knorr), who got me interested in the subject beyond the language and introduced me to Roman Cookery and the Archaeological Institute of America (of which there are sadly, no Maine chapters).

I had taken a lot of Latin courses, but to complete my minor I took two additional classes: Introduction to the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible and Introduction to Ancient and Medieval Art History.

My textbook for the Art History class is the only one I regret selling back, but it was the Old Testament course that has had one of the longest lasting impacts of any of my school courses. Taught by professor and archaeologist David W. McCreery, this 100-level course was the hardest course I took in my college career. But, as they say, nothing worthwhile is easy.

One day while discussing Noah’s flood in Genesis, Professor McCreery mentioned that there was an much earlier, but very similar, version of a Great Flood story that appeared in the Epic of Gilgamesh (c. 2100–2000 BCE). Following class that day, I stayed late to express my interest in the Gilgamesh tale, but as the professor was busy with another student at the time, I merely stated my interest and left conversation for another time.  It was to my surprise then, when at the next class session, he handed me one of his personal copies of the tale (Herbert Mason’s verse narrative), with the following inscription:

October 2004
Dear Leah
There is a lot to learn from this “oldest story ever told.”
Enjoy!
Dave McCreery

I fell in love with the Gilgamesh story, particularly his adventures with the wild-man Enkidu, so much so that I wrote and produced a play about it. It’s a story that’s stuck with me ever since. So when I was talking to Quince about doing a new shawl design, it was Gilgamesh, and his Mesopotamian brethren that sprung to mind.

As is the way nowadays, I started collecting some images on Pinterest and I kept coming back to two things, the lamassu and king’s beards. There was a distinct texture and style of the beards that the more I looked at it, the more knitterly they seemed. A stitch dictionary provided the trinity stitch that mirrored the curly portion of the beard by the mouth, and some time with swatches and graph paper yielded the banded columns and feathery bits I call Gilgamesh’s Beard and Lamassu Feathers.

Since Mesopotamia was part of the fertile crescent, a gentle crescent shape  for the shawl seemed only natural and of course, when given the option to pick my yarn, I had to go with that ancient near-eastern fiber: linen.

—-

And that is a long story behind a fairly simple shawl.

If you’d like to knit one for yourself, the pattern is available now from Quince & Co. or Ravelry.

And to make the long stretches of trinity stitch go faster, I suggest you listen to the following while you knit (I did!).

 

 

Photo Credits:

  1. Quince & Co.
  2. Lamassu  by Jasmine Ramig
  3. Quince & Co.
  4. Iran 2007 Persepolis Gate of all Nations by David Holt
  5. Quince & Co.
  6. Untitled by E.N.K

Minoru Jacket

Minoru Sleeve Mod

Minoru Jacket

Minoru Cargo Pocket Mod

Minoru Jacket

Minoru Jacket

I finally made something for myself and it’s a doozy! I loved the Minoru Jacket pattern from the moment it came out (back in late 2011), so much so that I bought the pattern, the fabric, the lining, and special ordered the zippers shortly after it came out.

Three years of sitting in my stash and five weekends of sewing later, I have a bright and beautiful new jacket that does some much-needed filling of a long-outstanding hole in my wardrobe. Of course I finished it just in time for summer, but being as I live in Maine with it’s often cool nights and mornings, I’m sure it’ll still get plenty of wear before getting a real workout in the Fall and Spring.

The jacket is a spring green twill of forgotten origins, lined with some silky polka dots purchased at JoAnn’s, and riri metal zippers. I made the pattern in a straight size 14, which is a little bit roomy, but it means I can wear it over sweaters come Fall. It’s comfy and the right amount of warm for the in-between seasons.  I found the instructions clear and concise (though missing a few metric to imperial measurement conversions in the text and there’s something funky about the placket length/hem length). I pretty much made it exactly as described, with the exception of the following modifications:

  • Flat felled all the seams noted as top-stitched in the pattern – seam finishing and top-stitching in one!
  • Lined the hood
  • Moved the waist elastic up 1″/2.5 cm from pattern marking
  • Removed the cuffs
  • Made the hood zipper opening shorter
  • Added cargo pockets
  • Accidentally placed the interior pockets about 5/8 inch too low

One of the great things about sewing a pattern three years after it came out is that by then, a ton of other people have made it and you can steal their ideas and learn from their problems. About half these mods were inspired by other blogger. Case in point, I can no longer remember the blogger who mentioned it, but the hood zipper opening was indeed too long for my zipper, which I was able to check, before cutting it out. I do wish  I had headed the warnings to reduce the hood, as it is overly large. Some more direct copy-cats include borrowing Lladybird‘s idea to lose the cuffs (which were way long, even on me) and after I flat-felled my side seams before I inserted the side seam pockets I had planned on, I stole cutcutsew‘s cargo pockets idea.

The cargo pockets were a happy accident, as I love the way they turned out and they really make the jacket. I constructed my pockets largely based on this tutorial by 21 Wale. Should anyone want to copy me in my copy-catting, I’ve made up a PDF Cargo Pocket Pattern and Instruction Sheet  (tiled for US Letter-sized printing).

As with any coat/jacket, this was a time-consuming project. All said, it probably took me somewhere in the realm of 16 or so  hours to complete, but I love the outcome and consider it time well-spent as I can see myself wearing this coat all the time.

Speaking of wearing me-made things, I’ve completely missed Me-Made May, but I realized after I took the photos that everything in my outfit in these shots (not including underthings) was handmade either by me (cardigan, skirt, tank) or someone else (necklace, shoes). The fact that I didn’t realize it until I took the photos is a nice nod to how the right handmade items can really become an intrinsic part of our wardrobes.

Continuing on the theme of handmade wardrobes, there’s a neat little story behind the striped sweater LMC’s wearing. When we first moved back to Maine, my mother-in-law gave me a bag with some random knitting stuff in it: a few sets of straight needles, some old yarn, and all the pieces to a blue and white striped baby sweater.  When I was pregnant, one of the first things I did was seam the otherwise complete sweater together, so now LMC has a Memere-made sweater, even though her Memere hasn’t knit in years. The original yarn and ball bands (Reynolds Giselle) came with the sweater, but I’ve been unable to definitively date them and my MIL has no recollection of making the thing, so my best guess is that it was originally made for either one of her three sons, or my nephew – meaning it could be anywhere from 20 to 50 years old (quite the range, I know).  The best my google-fu can find is that the yarn was at a minimum available from 1981-1984. Doesn’t look too shabby for some never-worn 30 year old yarn, does it?

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Little Miss Cleaver turned one this weekend, and it’s hard to believe it’s been a year already. The days can be long (3:30 wake up calls, anyone?) but the weeks and months, and now year (!), just speed by.  It seems not so long ago she was just this tiny squishy thing and now she’s walking and babling, and has opinions and is just a tiny little person.

To celebrate her first birthday we made a weekend of it. First on Friday, Mr. Cleaver and LMC met me at work and we went out to lunch at the Olive Cafe, picked out some birthday presents at the local toy store, and LMC tasted her first ice cream – Gelato Fiasco of course!

For her actual birthday on Saturday we kept it fairly low key. She wore a new mom-made birthday dress. There was breakfast and cards. Then we went to LMC’s very first swim class, the first half of which involved a wet baby clinging to me like a barnacle, until we got to the picking up and splashing into the pool part and especially the singing part. During the singing she clapped her little hands with joy and looked at me as if to say, you didn’t tell me there’d be singing mom, I’d have been more open to this whole thing if I knew there would be singing! The swim class totally wiped her out and resulted in a nearly two-hour mom lap nap.

In the afternoon Memere joined us for a few balloons, a few presents, and a cake. In honor of her birth on Maine Maple weekend, I made a applesauce cake with maple buttercream frosting. I modified the original recipe to use 3/4 cup of whole wheat flour, less sugar in the cake, and no nuts/raisins. I’d probably cut back on the whole wheat flour next time, as it got a bit dense. I also added a bit of water to the frosting to get it to a spreadable consistency, but it was otherwise delicious.  The frosting tasted almost exaclt like maple sugar candy. The cake decorations I made myself out of some scrapbook paper. The birthday crown was a free pattern on Ravelry that took about an hour to make.

Later in the day our neighbors, who watch LMC two days a week and are like second family to her came over for a while.  Then we ate some pizza, gave LMC a bath, and everyone went to bed about a half an hour early and slept in late.

Today was Maine Maple Sunday itself, and we made our usual jaunt up to Sebago for a pancake breakfast and sugar shack visit. All in all it was a sweet time with a sweet little girl and a very good first birthday/first year of parenting celebration.

HeartRose Cardigan by Leah B. Thibault

HeartRose Cardigan by Leah B. Thibault

HeartRose Cardigan by Leah B. Thibault

HeartRose Cardigan by Leah B. Thibault

HeartRose Cardigan by Leah B. Thibault

Introducing the Heartrose Cardigan

A simple seamless cardigan with heart-cabled panels along the button band. Available in sizes newborn to 4T.

Sample shown is in size 12-18 months on tall (then) 11-month-old with sleeves cuffed.

Shortly before the Little Miss was born I picked up two skeins of the Woolen Rabbit’s Pearl in woodrose, which eventually became this little cardigan. The color and heart cables are sweetly subtle and the simple shape, short repeats, and small size make this a quick knit.  You could whip one up before Easter!

The pattern uses 1 (1, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2) skeins Woolen Rabbit Pearl in Woodrose [80% Superwash Merino, 20% Nylon]; 400 yds [266 m] per 100g or approximately 340 (390, 430, 480, 545, 600, 665) yards of lightweight sock yarn.

Available for $6 USD

Or queue it up on Ravelry

HeartRose Cardigan by Leah B. Thibault

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