Friday, February 25, 2011

Gridiron Release!
My first-ever pattern in a real print magazine! British magazine Yarn Forward issue 35 just hit the stands, with my pattern for an NFL style sweater for boys, sizes 2-8 years of age. See the little guy on the blue sweater on the side front cover?
The sweater is made in the round from the bottom up. There is an EZ's phony seam at the yoke, and the sleeves are picked up and knitted down. The large numbers are knit separately on tight garter stitch and applied later. A quick knit, with a couple of fun tricks, lots of texture. And fun to personalize with the little guy's favorite team or school colors.
In typical British style, it was released right after Superbowl was over, but the good news is that the rights will be returned to me right before the next season, and I will likely release it as a stand alone pattern... we can even have a fun KAL. Oliver has his Vikings sweater already, but I bet Calvin would love an Arizona Cards one.
And I am also working on a companion hat!

Awash in Silk Goodness
I finally received the yarn for the Aouda shawl - 900 yards of the finest Muga silk, dyed a deep blue. Trish Moon, the dyer/owner of Indigo Moon, was a complete pleasure to talk to - she clearly loves what she does and loves her fibres. For added bonus, she sent me a little pack of snippets and samples of her silks. That, to me, is priceless. Often times I yarn that photographs beautifully, but a photo never conveys the tactile qualities of the material, which is so important in knitting.
So I felt I had to brush up in my silk knowledge. As a child, we used to keep and raise a few silkworms every year. They are wonderful pets - cheap to feed, quiet, undemanding (a shoe box was their palace), clean and oh so short lived. Our street was lined in mulberry trees, and every spring the bottom branches were suspiciously bare of leaves, when all the kids of the neighbourhood harvested them for their silkworms.
Here is the life cycle of the silkworm. The brown guy, or pupa, is what is inside of the cocoon.
Tussah fleck, tussah, muga and blend silk from Indigo Moon

Cultivated silk, or Mulberry silk,(far right, a blend of silk and wool) is the usual kind we are all used to. It comes from silkworms risen in captivity. Before the moth hatches, the cocoons are placed in water to kill the pupa, so the cocoon won't be broken. Because the conditions of growth are controlled, the silk is smooth, round, perfect, and the color can be more or less controlled by the worm diet. It is a strong, lustrous, durable fiber.
Tussah silk (2 samples on the left) is silk from wild silkworms, harvested after the moth has hatched. The worm feeds on trees naturally rich in tannin, so the silk is a soft beige color, and the texture is a bit rougher and more irregular than cultivated silk. Still, a strong and lustrous fiber with an earthy tone.
The region of Assam in India is home to some rarer species of silkworm. Muga silk (second sample from the right) is produced by a special silkworm, and it has a natural shimmery gold color and glossy texture. Due to its low porosity, it can not be bleached, so the gold undertones are retained. It is a very durable silk, often outliving the owner.
Meet my Muga silk sample. The blue color indeed has an earthy undertone,though it is much darker in person,  and has a lovely natural gloss and feel. The beginning of my shawl is on the top... but you can't tell anything by it ;)
I was quite impressed by Trish' new blend, Exquisite Silk, 50% mulberry silk, 50% wool. It is about the softest, smoothest yarn you can imagine. It has a bit of bloom. It would be perfect for any shawl, if you want the luxury of silk but with the shape retention of wool
Exquisite in Blue Jeans, a very close up to show the bloom, and another sample of silk

My cashmere is still in Ireland, being lovingly dyed by Beata from Hedgehog fibers. The first go was a bit too olive for my taste, and she was nice enough to give it another try. I am so impatient, because it will take a while for it to get here.
In fact, I was so anxious to get my Foggy yarn that I ran into a beauty at Fiber Optica Etsy store and I just had to have it. More silk blend, in this moody Winter Solstice colorway. So now i have a real trouble deciding what to use! Owner Sarah was intrigued with our project, so I hope she will keep up with the progress of her "child" once in a while.

The Stages of our Journey
How do you go around the world in 80 days? If you have started the book, you know the answer to this question.  Mr Verne tells us you need:
London to Suez via Brindisi, 7 days by train and steamboat
Suez to Bombay, 13 days by steamer
Bombay to Calcutta, 3 days by rail
Calcutta to Hong Kong, 13 days by steamer
Hong Kong to Yokohama, 6 days by steamer
Yokohama to San Francisco, 22 days by steamer
SF to NY 7 days by rail
NY to London, 9 days by steamer and rail
Add it all up, it is 80 days!
So our “stops” or clues, will be
Hong Kong/China

Be ready with your inspirations!


  1. What about London?

  2. Aaaahhh... we haven't forgotten London. It is where it all began and I promise it will be portrayed

  3. I love the story of your childhood experiences with the silk worms.

  4. Love the pattern! Congratulations.