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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RFF pass

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I am already looking forward to next year…

XO CR

P.S. …can you spot me?

RAGGAROSEWEST

If anyone can peer pressure me into participating in a fashion blog, it’s these two! Ragga and Stephen are two of the liveliest, most exuberant people I know and I have a daily pity party about the fact that I only see them a handful of times a year. We live in very different cities but we all love having fun with what we wear, so Ragga had the brilliant idea for us to start a Tumblr where we can share our outfits and discoveries and basically hang out online.

It is called RAGGAROSEWEST and I’m super happy to have an excuse to be a bit more adventurous. Here in the Pacific Northwest it is all too tempting to retreat into a comfortable cocoon of grayness and practicality, and while you’ll still see plenty of that from me, I hope you’ll find some novelty as well. Welcome!…

Hat Love

Hello! It’s almost November and I’m in the Windy City for Vogue Knitting Live, one of my very favorite knittish happenings. I love Chicago, and I love exploring it on foot. I especially love its blustery reputation because it all but REQUIRES a hat! 

How many times have you heard someone declare, “I’m not a hat person”? I’ve always found this idea ridiculous, since there are SO many styles of hats to choose from. While its true that finding a hat that flatters you can be a bit trying, knitters are uniquely equipped to do this, and Wooly Wormhead’s latest collection is just another tool in our arsenal. 

Taboosh

Taboosh © Woolly Wormhead/R. Paisley 2012

Available now in print and digital, Classic Woolly Toppers is a collection of wearable, diverse hats that will also help you build your skill repertoire. Woolly has included clear illustrations that walk you through some of the more complicated techniques, as well as a helpful guide to the art of hat pairing. Face shape and hair style come into play, and I’d like to add “a dose of confidence” to the list. If you decide you ARE a hat person, you are! 

Ravine

© Woolly Wormhead/R. Paisley 2012

I am not alone in loving the dramatic, turban style hats in the collection, Ravine, shown above, and Imagiro, shown below: 

Imagiro

© Woolly Wormhead/R. Paisley 2012

The gorgeous model channels the screen sirens I think of when strolling past Chicago’s famous movie houses. Imagiro is a movie lover’s dream project, since it is basically a garter stitch rectangle that almost any knitter could complete in a darkened theater. The true test of your mettle comes when you assemble it. I confess, I haven’t mastered it, but I have an origami savvy friend on the case, and I can’t wait to wear it! 

I’d love to donate some of my favorite yarns so that you can knit these patterns, too. I’ve hand selected a Skacel Collection yarn for each of the hats in Woolly’s book (on-trend shades from Schulana, Schoppel-Wolle, Zitron and HiKoo). Leave a comment below with your favorite hat style or Woolly pattern and I will choose one grand prize winner on November 5th (the winner will also receive the Classic Woolly Toppers e-book, of course). And if you don’t win this time, stay tuned, I just might offer a second prize package at Skacel Fiber Studio

Happy hat knitting, everyone! 

CR

Iceland, day one

Well. I have been back from Ísland for three weeks now. You may have already watched my ebullient haul videos, but I’ve been putting off writing an actual blog post. I don’t know why, exactly, it could be because I’m really and truly sad that this wonderful visit is behind me now. I have so much to share, I’ll be breaking this into several posts and you can be sure that I will return to Ísland as soon as possible…

I arrived just after 6 in the morning and stocked up on Brennivín and Gull Lager (check out the stockinette stitch background on the logo) at the duty-free shop. Ragga, my friend and the founder of Knitting Iceland informed me that Brennivín is sort of the malt liquor of Ísland. Whoops! I’d tried some of the caraway flavor schnapps on the plane and really enjoyed it…

After a brief nap I met up with Stephen and Marc, two darlings I don’t see nearly enough of in America. We walked over to a café that we would positively haunt for the next 2 weeks, Kaffismiđja Íslands. Besides incredible amenities (ahem, nail polish, knitting, music on vinyl) and a constant parade of beauty and style, the coffee and pastries put Seattle’s to shame. They roast their own beans, their baristas win awards, and the pastries seem to be 85% Icelandic butter, and they’re served with even more butter on the side.

I was thrilled to learn that the word “og” meant “and,” not “or” as I’d assumed. It was breaking my heart to choose just one for my daily brioche: “sultu og smjöri.” They probably had a polite little laugh until I finally figured out that I could have my fill of BOTH. 

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After a good long, Euro-style sit and knit, we set out to do some shopping, for our photoshoots, ourselves, for inspiration. Marc and Stephen picked up new Campers at Kron but I struck out. The cookie-like scalloped flats I wanted were sadly out of stock

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Our view of Hallgrímskirkja from our borrowed balcony…

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More errands! Stephen doesn’t stop knitting for anything.

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Next stop was FARMER’S MARKET! I’d known about this design company for some time now, so I was thrilled to be visiting the flagship with Stephen, looking for items to use in our upcoming shoots. They have helped to increase the popularity of Icelandic wool both locally and abroad; even the non-wool items they carry seem to exist to heighten the beauty of hand knits. 

Farmer's Market

Farmer's Market

My first day ended at Kex Hostel (you will hear plenty more about this wondrous place in future posts). We met up with dear Jared, aka Mr. Brooklyn Tweed himself and we all feasted on salted cod with arctic thyme with plenty of Icelandic beer on the side. 

(Ragga on the left, Jared on the right, beautiful Reykjavik behind them) 

Ragga + Jared

Jet-lagged and blissed out, I set to knitting…

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We arrived back at our apartment to witness a killer sunset…

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…at MIDNIGHT. 

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More soon,

XO CR

Ticking Cowl

Ticking Cowl

When Jared Flood asks you if you’re a Wool Person, you say YES!

Kidding and Ghostbusters references aside, I am over the moon to share a little project I came up with using Loft, the gorgeous fingering weight wool from Jared’s line Brooklyn Tweed. I’ve long been a fan of Jared’s and I’m honored to be a sometimes collaborator. I styled the first Wool People collection last summer in the Pacific Northwest. This summer, I knit up a lightweight cowl for Wool People 3 and shipped it off to New York. Bicoastal, transcontinental, it doesn’t matter, wool works for me wherever, whenever. 

I submitted several ideas, each playing on a theme of lightness and utilitarianism. Since this collection was set to debut in summer, I wanted to promote the idea that wool is a part of daily life throughout the year, not just in blustery winter. Jared picked up on a simple ticking stripe, coaxing me through fears about its plainness. He reminded be that good stripes are shockingly difficult to design, and the swatching process verified that…

Traditional ticking fabric was used for mattresses and for upholstering furniture. The densely woven striped fabric contained feathers or straw and prevented painful pokes. The clean lines and simple palettes have kept this a decorators favorite. The versatile look is practical and pleasing, with a reassuring homey feel.

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While the Ticking Cowl imitates these traditional fabrics, the light, airy hand of Loft knit at a loose gauge has nothing in common with upholstery. Worn doubled or even tripled, it is a floaty layer of warmth that adds interest and a bit of textile history to whatever you’re wearing.

Ticking Cowl

XO

CR

ticking cowl photo used with permission, © jared flood / brooklyn tweed

Lincoln Woods

Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom opened this past weekend. While I haven’t seen it yet, I already know that I’m going to love it. Besides being a devoted fan of this aesthetics obsessed auteur, the film was shot in a location that is very dear to my heart. Seeing my beloved Rhode Island Lincoln Woods in the trailer is a surreal feeling. To know that a director I admire so much enjoyed the same landscape that sustained me through 3 trying years of my twenties, and to know that it will be immortalized in his trademark style…well, I’m over the moon about it! 

I spent a lot, a LOT of time in these woods and I loved watching them change every day. Here are a few of my favorite memories, more on view here

Meditation Rock

Happy Ria

Autumnal

Marge Gunderson

Rhode Island Rose

The only cinematic excitement that will top this is watching Safety Not Guaranteed, where a few of my favorite actors shot scenes in Discovery Park, my Seattle counterpart to Olney Pond. 

XO CR

Midgard

It is APRIL, how did THAT happen?! We are firmly entrenched in 2012, and I am excited about the travel filled summer ahead of me. This month I’ll be visiting Atlanta for Stitches West, then San Francisco for the very first time. I don’t have much of an agenda there besides eating and seeing yarny friends.

June of course means TNNA, a sort of summer camp for professional knitters. I look forward to copious ice cream, the best in the world, and the affordable, unique boutiques, especially Substance

July is when a lifelong dream comes true and I head to ICELAND for Body, Mind & Lopi. There will be shopping, sight-seeing and all sorts of Icelandic treats, but there will be work as well! Stephen, Ragga and I will all teach. Stephen and I have also been working on a collection that we plan to shoot in Iceland. I’ve been calling it Miðgarðr, or Midgard, and it will feature Skacel yarns! We share a love for neutrals with BOLD colors, and a desire for dramatic scale, something that Icelandic landscapes certainly offer. 

Here is a peek at some of my favorite images from our collaborative mood board. It has been so interesting to work across an ocean, and I can’t wait to see what emerges…

XO CR

geek girl

This post has been sitting in my draft pile for eons, probably because I’m afraid to write it! Writing about a favorite writer is all kinds of daunting, and not something I do often. Exactly 166 days ago, I saw Jane Espenson speak at the first Geek Girl Convention. This happened right on the heels of the day I discovered that the Hellmouth is in fact Los Angeles

geekgirlcon

It’s been a good long while since the talk so I’m afraid my memories are dim. What I do remember is that she was wickedly, adorably funny. When she dropped an F-bomb within minutes of taking the stage she purred, “hey guys, sorry for the spicy talk!…” 

She went on to tell stories of her early days writing spec scripts for shows like Star Trek and M*A*S*H. Many of her “breaks” came from her putting herself out there. It reminded me of the quote “the harder you work, the luckier you get.” 

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Most of us know and love Jane for her work with Joss Whedon on Buffy the Vampire Slayer (note Spike + Buffybot, just out of view, below): 

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Eventually the conversation turned to slang and voice, two areas where Jane is pretty much unparalleled, in my opinion. Her fascination with language is backed by years of serious linguistic study, and she shapes her characters with specific verbal tics that always sound authentic and new. 

All in all, Jane confirmed that writing for a television show sounds like some of the hardest and most fun creative work around. During the Q&A I raised my hand and asked her what she likes to watch if and when she has the time (she loves reality shows like Amazing Race and Project Runway).

Time management is just one more thing I have learned (or rather, am fighting like mad to learn) from Jane. If you follow her on Twitter @JaneEspenson you will have the option of joining her in a writing sprint (you could also learn how to revive a day-old sandwich—Jane is a woman who takes snacking seriously).

These sprints are bounded times where you resolve to eshew distractions and work on a specific task, uninterrupted. I haven’t joined in on a sprint in a while but I LOVE working on something knowing that Jane is tinkering with a script in tandem. She’s an incredible digital cheerleader, and so gracious with her fawning fans (askmehowIknow…)

I’m such a Jane fan that I had to name a knit after her. Last year I designed the Espenson caftan tee. It wasn’t necessarily inspired by Jane the lady, but by Jane’s ladies. She has a habit of writing for sci-fi and fantasy and this comfortable striped tee looks like something an ass-kicking woman of the future might wear while slaying demons or exploring a new moon. 

Espenson Caftan

Speaking of geeky fashions, I am absolutely LOVING Geek Chic, a nerdy and well-researched fashion column from Boston University junior Shannon Kiang. My personal favorite is Lord of the Rings round-up, but I can’t wait for her to tackle some Espenson material! 

XO CR 

all text and images © cirilia rose 2017