yarn love

Lessons I've Learned: Importance of Swatching

Knitting is an expensive hobby. Designing knitwear might be even more so, at least in my case. Why? Because at least one skein of yarn is going towards just the swatches, meaning I have to make sure to purchase one more skein of yarn on top of the set amount. I'm quite particular about my swatches, since different yarns will produce different results. Once I swatched a lace/nupp design using wool-based fiber and it didn't work out at all. Then I swatched it on linen yarn and the results were remarkable.

I still wasn't satisfied with the top two swatches. The bottom one doesn't count since it's pretty much needed.

I still wasn't satisfied with the top two swatches. The bottom one doesn't count since it's pretty much needed.

Sometimes, however, when I am working on a design and I already have all the yarn I need for the project, I have to make extra swatches, apart from the standard stockinette swatch. The pattern I had envisioned to use for the project doesn't work well with the yarn and I can't simply just use a different yarn because... I have already invested quite a bit of money into the skeins. So I have to make changes and adjustments and use up just a bit more yarn until I have swatched a design that is to my satisfaction. Designing knitwear has taught me to be patient and flexible. I believe that the more I work with different yarns, fibers and weights, I'll be able to know which ones are best suited for different types of projects, like lace, cable, colorwork, accessories, garments and even seasonal knits. 

Confession time: I actually enjoy swatching for garments (I never swatch for accessories unless it is to test a pattern), since the information I gain from them is rather invaluable - gauge, how it reacts to blocking, drapiness of the fabric, etc. It's just a part of the process of designing!

Creating a Mini LYS From Home

I want to fill this to the brim!

I want to fill this to the brim!

Living where I am, the closest LYS is located in Kyoto, a few hundred dollars and six hour trip by bullet train. The retail craft stores don't carry yarns that I'm interested in as the majority of their stock are scratchy wools and acrylic blends. I purchase all of my yarns online so whenever a package arrives, it is like receiving a small bundle of happiness and homely comforts. Or big bundle depending how much yarn I splurged on. Until recently, I had been keeping the yarns a paper bag or in plastic containers but 1) it's not very slightly and 2) sometimes I lose track of my yarn stash. What to do?

As a solution to my dilemma, I asked my husband to buy me a small bookshelf. I was slightly embarrassed to ask him for this, as almost all my purchases now are yarn or knitting related. My husband has to encourage me to ask for other things, as he cannot always grant my requests for "x yarn right now". He really likes to dote me and buy me gifts (he has really spoiled me). However, he was more than happy to oblige my request for a $9 bookshelf, which was then purchased and assembled in my small office room.

I'm still playing around with the set up of the yarns, but the top shelf is dedicated to the most recent yarn purchases and skeins. The first time I walked into the office after setting everything up, I got the smallest inkling of a feeling that I had just walked into a LYS. A messy, tiny LYS but an LYS nonetheless. It made me oh so very happy and it was nice to see all my yarns in full view and in easy access. 

I know I'm not the only knitter in the world how doesn't have quick access to good yarns. Currently in my Ravelry forums a yarn swap is going on, and some knitters are more than happy to swap and receive new yarns that are not easy to get to and support each other. We all understand our love and need for yarns. 

Yarn Shipment: Brooklyn Tweed

I honestly cannot remember how many skeins I got of this yarn. Six? Either way, soon I'll be selling my soul in order to pay for yarns like these!

I honestly cannot remember how many skeins I got of this yarn. Six? Either way, soon I'll be selling my soul in order to pay for yarns like these!

Another well regarded yarn has finally fallen into my hands - Brooklyn Tweed! I got some lovely skeins of Shelter in the color way Blanket Fort. I'll be using this yarn much later on in the year for an autumn/winter release. It will mostly likely be a top-down, seamless raglan pullover. As always, I'm very excited to be working with this yarn. Every yarn line has it's own characteristics, personality and feel that are best suited for certain projects (cable, lace, color work, or even the type of garment you want to make) - and I am still learning which combination of yarn and pattern go the best together. Thankfully it's a fun endeavor to discover these possibilities (though maybe not so on my bank account!).

I love the flecks of color in this gorgeous purple.

I love the flecks of color in this gorgeous purple.

While we are on the topic of Brooklyn Tweed, I love looking through their look books for every knitwear collection they release. The designs, photography and the models are just perfectly done and so well executed. The designs they release are remarkably innovative and unique and make me think "Huh, how did I not think of that before?". That's the remarkable thing about designing - while there are so many possibilities for patterns, sometimes the deceptively simple patterns are the best ones (I say deceptive because the construction on many of their garments look a bit challenging but they use simple design elements - cable, stockinette, or striping...). 

I would be lying if I didn't say that I would love to be a good enough designer to even have the chance to work with that company. However, as I haven't reached that point yet that's not going to happen anytime soon, but hey, that's not going to stop me from learning, growing and (most importantly) trying!

Yarn Shipment: Madelinetosh Tosh Merino Light

I feel like it's a crime to live in Texas and not have knit with madelinetosh yarn (I am very guilty of this). Thankfully, my LYS in Austin is stocked to the roof with this yarn so I got my mother to pick up a few skeins of madelinetosh's tosh merino light for (another!) upcoming design. I'm not going to give too much away but it's a shawl that involves short rows, lace and these three colors. This is going to be a new design challenge for me, considering what I have in mind. Hopefully it all comes out well! I'll be working with this yarn near the end of the summer for an autumn release.

Colorways: Heartbeat, Dandelion, Antler. All so squishy, all so soft, all so delicious and I want to eat them.

Birthday Yarn Shipment, Part 2

My yarn order of Julie Asselin's Gradient yarn set came in over the weekend (merci Mont-Tricot!), but I could only get around to taking photos of it today. The majority of the weekend was spent away from home: on Saturday, my husband and I met up with a fellow knitter and Ravelry user halfawake, a lovely woman living about two hours from the main city. It was absolutely amazing meeting her and getting to know her, and it was a lot of fun walking through the clothing stops deconstructing knit sweaters, and eating lots of delicious food. On Sunday, my husband had to get up early to go to a Junior Judo tournament. He is one of the assistant coaches and this was his kids' first tournament. I also tagged along and spent the entire time swatching and gauging knits. 

I still haven't started the actual knitting of the linen top, but I can expect to begin this week, finally! I've been swatching so much for other secret designs that I've been preparing to send in to knitting publications. My submission to amirisu was rejected, but I was surprisingly not torn up about it (I do admit that my design wasn't that exciting and I honestly wasn't looking forward to knitting it again). But I am definitely putting more thought into my submissions for these other publications as I'm still serious about my goal of getting at least one of my designs in a knitwear magazine this year.

Anyways, to the yarn! This is Julie Asselin's Leizu Fingering Nuances set. Its soft and bouncy and I love the heather color ways. I took so many photos of this lovely yarn, and its going to be transformed into a crescent shawl. I've already got a design idea lined up for it. A simple design because I don't want to take away from this wonderful and beautiful gradient set.

Once again, I took my husband's camera and snapped a million photos of the yarn, along with a bouquet he bought for me for my birthday.