cirilia rose

writer. designer. bricoleur.

May Reset

Is anyone else feeling like it's New Year's Day all over again? Spring is kind of a moody slog for most of us, and I am definitely ready to shake off that feeling. Before moving forward though, I'd like to thank Fringe Association again for choosing my L'Arbre Hat pattern for their second Hatalong. I decided to join in and knit one using Zealana Yarns Kauri. I blog for Zealana as well and you can read my post on yarn selection here

I used a really clever 1 x 1 Ribbing cast-on that I learned from my friend and mentor Norah Gaughan. You can see her use it in her Creativebug Cabled Hat Class. I've also done some Creativebug classes if you're looking for a new project. I knit the ribbing on a US size 6, a common technique that somehow didn't make it into this pattern (you'll see that mistakes are a theme with this one...) 

I started my hat with Zealana Kauri K13 Ashen, a lovely dove gray-blue. I often knit in the semi-dark while watching movies or television and...well, when I ran out of yarn, I accidentally grabbed K01 Natural to finish the crown shaping. When I noticed my error in daylight, I actually decided that I really loved the subtle colorblocked effect. While I was knitting the last few rows I discovered ANOTHER tiny error (sigh): Rnd 1 of the crown shaping should read *K1, s2kp2, k1, p3..." to maintain the garter pattern. I also worked Rnd 14 as ssks because I thought it looked better than the k2tog I originally called for. WTH, past me? 

You might not know this but patterns for books and magazines are tech edited, but usually not test knit. Test knitting is a relatively new phenomenon in the knitwear design world, most commonly used by indie designers. Knitting up this hat showed me the value of test knitting, and while it's often not possible within the time constraints of traditional publishing, it's clearly a valuable process. 

Moving on to new business! It's been a busy year for me so far, but most of the work is sadly behind the scenes, to be revealed later this year. Much of it forced me to set aside fun projects like the Loro KAL. A handful of really great Loros have been finished, and I'm hoping to get mine done in the next few weeks as well, in time for TNNA. I've decided to work a cropped version (read more here), so I feel like that's a reasonable goal.  Fingers crossed!...

XO CR

L'Arbre x Fringe Association

Karen Templer, the editorial maven behind the Fringe Association blog has picked my L'Arbre Hat for her next Hatalong. I'm thrilled about this!

  © Jared Flood from Magpies, Homebodies, and Nomads by Cirilia Rose (STC Craft, 2014)

 

© Jared Flood from Magpies, Homebodies, and Nomads by Cirilia Rose (STC Craft, 2014)

As the years pass I find myself with less and less time to read blogs, but hers is one I try to keep up with. Karen is a researcher, a compiler, an educator and a zealous knitter. She also happens to sell some of my favorite knitting supplies through Fringe Supply, a sister site she runs alongside the blog. They're no nonsense and starkly beautiful. Karen has taste for days, so I'm tickled she picked my hat out of the zillions out there. 

Real talk: books take a long time to make. My book took an especially long time to make. I designed L'Arbre in 2011. It was one of the very first book pieces I finished. When I design something so simple, I do a thorough Ravelry pattern search to see if a particular stitch pattern or technique has already been covered before. At the time, this one (Little Tent from Barbara Walker's 1st treasury) hadn't been used for a hat. I was shocked, and proceeded with what is one of the simplest designs in the book. 

Since there is such a long lead time between designing book pieces and seeing them in the world, I knew that a parallel design was probably going to happen. Norah used to call this "the ether." If someone published a design that looked a lot like one we were working on, she'd just say, "it's in the ether," meaning we're all working from the same sources. 

I consider knitting a shared language, and I no longer concern myself with reinventing the wheel every time. I love homage, and bricolage and anyone who reads my book will gain a deeper understanding of that. Some designers intentionally avoid looking at other people's work, but I don't. I look at as much as I can, every day. If someone or something inspires a piece, I'll cite my sources. I didn't finish my master's degree, but I kept that habit. 

For me, the originality lies in the combination and execution of whatever elements I've gathered. That said, I did reach out to the people who published very similar hats in between the time I knit mine and when the book hit the shelves [Citadel by Beata JezekLiftOff by Julie HartBlythbourne Hat by Susie Allen. I sent them messages letting them know and apologizing for any inconvenience it might cause. So far, there have been no issues, and everyone had a wonderful attitude about the unfortunate coincidences.

And, proving my point, our hats all have slight differences! Contrast cast-ons, linings, brim patterns, crown decreases, embellishments, construction--all different. The only thing we really have in common is "hat" and that stitch pattern. There is room for all of us.  

XO CR 

P.S. I'll be knitting up a new L'Arbre, too! Find my yarn pick on the Zealana blog

LOROMAS

Hi everyone, happy solstice, and merry LOROMAS! If you're knitting along with me, you're probably puttering along on the back, somewhat bored of the massive moss stitch landscape you're creating. Don't forget to follow my favorite knitting advice from Maggie Righetti

Stop often and admire your work.

This is where you'll catch your dumb mistakes, but it's also where you'll feel that awesome sense of pride, and pure enjoyment as you revel in your chosen materials. Or maybe you'll decide you need to switch gears entirely. Better to realize that now, no? I love Maggie. 

While we settle into the busiest bit of the holiday season, I thought I'd share a few Loro related treats. The first is the namesake for the comforting sweater that's hardly more than a scarf. Loro by Pinback is one of my favorite songs. It's thought-provoking, rhythmic and dreamy all at once, qualities I felt while working on the vest. This is a fan-made video, by the by, but you can find much more Loro on Spotify and the like. 

Bonus! Here are some images that were on my mood board while I designed the pieces for the Homebodies chapter of my book. Keywords were languid, warm and (ever-so-slightly) coquettish. 

Have a lovely holiday season, home-bound or otherwise! 

XO CR

Loro KAL | Casting-On + Making Mods

Hello! We're ready to cast-on for Loro! If you're been following along so far, you'll know that I swatched five yarns in preparation for today. I forgot to mention that I picked up four of them at Tolt Yarn and Wool, my semi-local LYS (Cascade Ecological Wool, Madeline Tosh Vintage, Peace Fleece Worsted, and Quince & Co. Osprey Heathers). They should all be available online soon, or you can call and place an order over the phone. I've decided to use Zealana Tui, a soft single-ply which is slightly too heavy at 3 stitches to the inch knit on size 9 needles. Lucky me, as Zealana's Brand Ambassador I was able to get this gloriously fluffy possum/merino/cashmere blend on a cone, meaning I'll have very few yarn ends to weave in (truth be told, I swear by spit-splicing, so I rarely have many ends). 

The fabric on 9s is already rather firm, and to get to the stated gauge of 4 stitches to the inch, I'd have to drop at least a needle size, which would probably yield a cardboard-like fabric. I decided to do a bit of tinkering on my calculator, coming up with a new cast-on number that would work with my gauge. It was very easy, and I'll walk you through what I did in case you're having trouble getting gauge, or, like me, you fancy yourself a rebel.

Oh! One more note: in my last post I said that matching row gauge isn't all that important and that's not exactly true. I'm shortening my vest, and since the pattern calls for decreases every 12 rows (approximately every 2"), I needed to figure out how many decreases will be eliminated in the shortened version so I can adjust my stitch count accordingly. 

I'll be knitting a medium, which measures 21.5" across at the lower hem. The medium back as written is 29" long and I'd like to shorten my vest to about 21", which means eliminating 4 decreases. First, I need to find my new cast-on number. I know that the original back measures 21.5" across at lower hem, so I multiply this number by my new gauge and get 64.5. I need a whole, even number to work Moss Stitch and the built-in garter selvedge, so I round down to 64. I subtract the decreases I'm omitting and get 60. This is my new cast-on number. I'll cast on 60 and proceed with the pattern as written. 

Leaving a 16-18" tail of yarn when casting-on is a great way to facilitate neat seaming later, but that long tail can get in your way while you're knitting. I wind it into a small bundle called a yarn butterfly, a technique that can also be used in lieu of bobbins when working intarsia. The whole process is pictured below: 

Good luck with your cast-on! Let me know if you have any questions, or if you're making any mods of your own. Comment here or in our Loro KAL Ravelry thread, and be sure to hashtag #LoroKAL on Twitter and Instagram so we can all keep tabs on each other's progress. Have fun!

XO CR

rhinebeck 2014

I'm back from a wonderful trip to Rhinebeck. It was great to be back on the East Coast while it was at its finest. I was there to sign my brand new book Magpies, Homebodies and Nomads: A Modern Knitter's Guide to Exploring and Discovering Style, but I did manage to take a few laps around the fairgrounds.

I found all my usual favorites, adorable outspoken sheep, delectable fried foods and happy, happy knitters. This time I channeled my inner Garance Doré and took quick snapshots of my favorite style moments. They weren't always handknit or even knit but they all celebrated wool, fiber and fun. Some standout trends were mixed media scrap projects, vintage inspired Americana, classics gone neon and art yarn as jewelry, the last one completely bolstered by spinning instructor and imagination ignitor Esther Rodgers. I was remiss in not getting people's names so speak up in the comments if you spot yourself or a friend (I DID let them all know I'd be posting their amazing knits on my blog). Enjoy! (click to see my Rhinebeck snaps)

XO CR 

P.S. Bonus: find my Rhinebeck video footage on the Zealana blog!

fólki

Now that the Winter issue of Twist Collective has been released, there is no denying it--winter is here. That's perfectly fine with me. As you'll see in my very first Twist Notebook, I happen to relish the season of silent snowy walks and cold early sunsets. That is, of course, if I'm swaddled in wool! That was the guiding principle behind the Fólki tunic and cowl I designed for this issue of Twist. 

I was inspired by an outsized tunic that I bought in Iceland. Its proportions are generous and the sleeves abbreviated. The neckline is slightly Flashdance, which invites clever layering (the one of a kind shawl shown here is by the incredible Liber, an Icelandic fiber lover and pattern mixing phenom). I can never anticipate how much I'll love any given item I buy, but this one shot to the top of the list. With tights and boots it is an effortless, unique uniform for the coldest, darkest days. 

I was also inspired by Iceland's next door neighbor, Greenland. After spending so much time obsessed with Iceland, I realized I knew little about Greenland. I'd only skimmed the surface when I noticed their incredible national costume. The intricately beaded cowls, embroidered boots and warm dresses and tunics were so striking in stark neutrals and the boldest primaries. I especially love this photo of beautifully badass teens. 

I won't lie to you--this isn't a quick knit! But it's a massively enjoyable one when knit with Kenzie, the yarn I developed with a friend from another far away place, New Zealand. The lightweight worsted has a bit of all my favorite fibers--merino wool, alpaca, silk, nylon and angora, which lends a gorgeously subtle insulating halo. It's soft and knits up quickly, and even the dark shade has a complexity that can only be appreciated in person--the faintest glimmer of emerald green heathering brings a spark to otherwise pitch black yarn. If you just can't bear to knit with such dark yarn, take comfort, we've just expanded the range to 20 shades

One of my favorite features of Twist is the way they quiz their contributors. I love reading strange little factoids about my fellow designers. Click here to see what keeps me warm in winter (besides giant wool tunics and furry cowls)...

Andrea Rangel

I’d like to introduce you to one of my favorite knitters in the PNW, Andrea Rangel. I met Andrea very soon after I moved to Seattle in 2011, but I’d followed her career for years before that. I’ve always loved her aesthetic, which is rooted in practicality. Her commitment to wearability is verified every time I spend time with her—she is often clad in multiple handknits, and manages to not look like a schlumpy mess (always a risk when you’re wrapping yourself in yarn, let’s be honest).

Andrea has a spark for life that is fueled by travel, exercise and a passion for self-improvement. I find her working in the areas most people avoid, working with plant fibers to create figure baring dresses, or knitting insulating, masterfully detailed leggings. Her tenacity and energy are inspiring, so grab a cup of genmaicha (she’s a lil’ crunchy) and a croissant (her husband is a baker).

By the way, Andrea would love to give one lucky reader a copy of her latest collection, Woodsmoke and Ash: Knits for Men. To enter take a look at Andrea’s designs and leave a comment to let us know which one is your favorite, AND, as a tribute to this active, utilitarian lady, let me know what activity you’d wear it for! I’ll pick a winner on 5/15.

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Andrea shows off her cabled Kalaloch Leggings.

CR: When I first moved to Seattle you told me that the dominant style was “aggressively plain.” What does that mean for you?

AR: “Aggressively plain” means that an REI rain jacket can be worn with any outfit, be it sporty or dressy, for work, or on the weekend. The implication is that you’re ready for anything, and won’t let fashion norms stop you if a garment is functional. After all, we might go hiking later. We probably won’t, but we’d be ready if we wanted to.

I think Seattle fashion is driven by practicality, but also by a desire to be seen as sporty and outdoorsy. It’s okay to be unfashionable as long as you’re fit and adventurous. I pretty much dress this way, except that I wear wool sweaters instead of my rain jacket unless it’s really raining because I am a knitter, and because wool is miraculous.

CR: Do you see any exceptions to that rule?

AR: Definitely! Of course it’s a huge oversimplification to suggest everybody dresses that way or for those reasons, and there are lots of more fashion-conscious people in the city. The outdoorsy thing is a Seattle cultural norm, but lots of people don’t fit into it, and would rather look good than prepared. But with boots, leggings, and that bright-colored rain jacket, you’ll blend right into the crowd. (Accessorize with a yoga mat to raise your Seattle status even higher.)

CR: How does your knitting scene in your new home compare to the Seattle one? What do you miss most about Seattle (if anything)?
AR: My knitting scene here is much more online than in person. I haven’t started teaching regular classes, and I really haven’t gotten a regular knitting group yet, so I’m home most of the time, designing full time. Even the local knitters that I’ve gotten to know are far enough away that we don’t see each other often. I miss my knitting students and getting to hang out in person with my Seattle folks, but it’s extremely fulfilling to get so much creative time. I still can’t seem to get everything done, but I have a lot of freedom to work and explore on my own schedule.

It is exciting how much knitting history there is in this area too. The Cowichan sweater is part of a major knitting tradition that I think hasn’t gotten as much attention as other traditions because it really hasn’t been written down in the same way that Fair Isle or Aran traditions have.

CR: Speaking of Cowichan sweaters, you are well known for your Dude sweater. Any other famous knits from cinema that you enjoy?

AR: I love the sweaters in The Matrix. That ragged, dropped-stitch look is the perfect post-apocalyptic fashion, especially in combination with the plain fingerless gloves some of the characters wore. And there was this kids’ movie from a few years ago called City of Ember that was just packed with really colorful knitwear. I was drooling through the whole movie. It’s a good movie on its own merit, but I’d watch it just for the knits.

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The Dude, Andrea’s most well-loved pattern on Ravelry.
CR: How much does your environment affect your design work?

AR: My environment definitely impacts my work, but mostly in subtle ways. My new home has so much natural beauty, and now that I’m riding my bike for transportation, I get lots of opportunities to take it all in.

Getting the chance to be outside and be active quite a bit makes me want to design things that will work for that. I’ve always designed garments and accessories that are visually appealing to me but also practical, and now practical is starting to mean: good for bike riding. That being said, I can’t bring myself to specialize; Orixa, for instance is a very dressy lace shrug - more for evening wear than outdoor wear.

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Cowichan Bay, Andrea’s new home in the Pacific Northwest

Being in such a quiet, tucked-away place has also allowed me to really invest in my designs. I feel like I’ve had more opportunities to give as much time as an idea needs, and to trash ideas if they don’t turn out as expected.

CR: Where to next? Any dream destinations?

AR: I’d like to teach more, both locally and abroad. Traveling to events like Rhinebeck, Squam, Madrona, and the various Vogue Knitting Lives and Knit Labs would be amazing. And I’d love to teach in Iceland and New Zealand. Places with that many sheep are definitely on my list. I’m also dreaming of an extended bicycle tour down the west coast of the States (stopping at yarn shops, farms, and festivals along the way, of course!)

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Andrea’s first design, Bamboo Agave.

CR: Are there any types of garments that you haven’t tackled? Any capturing your interest at the moment?

AR: I guess you’ve noticed that I definitely don’t stick to a theme in my design work. I like to make everything. Right now I’m feeling really drawn to loose-fitting garments like shrugs and over-sized sweaters. I think my fashion aesthetic is evolving and I’m excited to try some more relaxed shapes.

CR: You do a great mix of self-publishing and traditional—what are some of your favorite aspects of both? Downsides?

AR: I love having that mix. Independent publishing gives me a fantastic amount of freedom to do work that I feel strongly about and to have control over every step in the process, which I really like. But, working with a publisher helps me to stretch in creative ways I might not otherwise do or even think of. Publishers choose colors and ask for modifications to design ideas, which requires a different kind of creativity. And it’s nice to get a break from being responsible for photography, layout, and editing.

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Heartwood, part of Andrea’s latest collection, Woodsmoke and Ash: Knits for Men.


The downside of independent publishing is that I take the whole risk myself.  If a design doesn’t sell, I don’t get paid for my work. With publishers I get a flat fee without having to invest in photography and editing. On the other hand, if a design does really well, I get less of the reward if I worked with a publisher.  Doing both spreads the risk and brings me a little steadier income.

Visit Andrea’s website to learn more about her process and to see her full pattern line.

Nederlands

Travel is a soul-bolstering, character-building endeavor, that’s a given. I happen to delight in one of the more frivolous side effects, the opportunity for wardrobe expansion and sartorial inspiration. A recent trip to the Netherlands meant plunging headlong into a situation that could only be called gezellig, a Dutch word that encompasses a feeling of well-being that comes from seeking delights with loved ones (view many more photos here).

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I landed in Amsterdam and took a tram to meet my fiber-obsessed friends and colleagues Ragga Eiriksdottir and Stephen West. After trading presents and gorging on local candy and beer, we collaboratively composed outfits for our first strut around town.

image Rozengracht was our first stop, a street in the Jordaan district filled with craft supplies, professional grade cosmetics and my favorite find, The New Label Project. Stephen is a regular at the boutique, calling it a “real-life Etsy,” greeting Italian curator/owner Giulia Elena Bessone with a big hug and rapid fire inquiries about new products.
 
 
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Fashion sketches decorate the walls and one-of-a-kind accessories pepper the shelves, some of them about the same price as a couple of doner kebab. I couldn’t pass up a striped faux-fur cocoon that I first mistook for a skirt. I also loaded up on conversation piece necklaces. There are few things more fun than answering a compliment with “thanks, I got it in (insert exotic locale here).”
 
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Later we ambled over to Penelope Craft, a thriving yarn store owned by American expat Malia Mather. The store is a cozy enclave full of delightful oddities like a macro friendship bracelet made with super-bulky yarn. Custom products like neon tapestry needles and Netherlands-themed kits designed by Mather herself round out the well-edited selection of  American and European yarns. I can’t wait to knit my Noordermarkt Mittens.

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After refueling with some street frites, we headed into the dizzying People of the Labyrinths showroom where the sun-soaked palette of spring enveloped us. Sugary pastels cut with pulsing touches of neon gave us a collective buzz. Affordable? No, but when it comes to wearable art, frugality is harder to uphold.

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Before we could empty our wallets in exchange for their tie-dyed silk dresses, we moved onto Laura Dols a well-stocked, incredibly organized vintage store. Creaky narrow stairs connected colorful rooms organized by theme: childrens, wedding, Feestkleding or party clothes, linens, outerwear, etc. I limited my treasures to fur collars from the 1940s, but I was very tempted by a stack of fluffy mohair throws and a fur jacket that just happened to resemble a lopapeysa.

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It was only a handful of hours and a skimming of what the city has to offer, but the Amsterdam vibe stuck with me. Carefree but considered, the locals look self-assured and colorful. This is a city that revels in classic design executed with exuberance. It makes total sense that Mr. West has landed on such stimulating stomping grounds. Wherever you are, grab some friends and get your gezillig on.

(expanded version of my Style Spotting column first published in Knitscene Magazine Summer 2013; reprinted with permission).

RFF 2013

As a hand-knitting designer, I usually admire fashion from afar. There is something esoteric about couture that makes a humble DIY enthusiast feel solidly on the other side of the velvet ropes. Not so in Iceland, where I recently attended HönnunarMars and Reykjavik Fashion Festival, two effusive, egalitarian celebrations of Icelandic fashion and design, especially items made with local materials from fish bones to wool. There is no risk of sailing over anyone’s head when designers are so rooted in the land and there is no risk of boring anyone when that land is as singular as Iceland. Here are a few of my favorite photos from the weekend (view the entire set here)…

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I am already looking forward to next year…

XO CR

P.S. …can you spot me?

all text and images © cirilia rose 2015