May 2, 2013
I've been following The Fiber Factor, and I thought it'd be fun to put together a post of some of my favorite moments so far.
If you haven't heard of it yet, The Fiber Factor is a knitting design competition being put on by Skacel Knitting. Think Project Runway, but for knitting, in the form of contestant-filmed YouTube videos. Skacel selected twelve contestants to compete (out of around a hundred entries, I believe), and these contestants will participate in six design challenges over the course of the next several months. After challenges 1-6, three finalists will compete in a final challenge in which the winner will be chosen. There are a whole bunch of opportunities for the contestants to win prizes along the way, and the grand prize winner will receive a trip to Germany.
As I'm not affiliated with Skacel in any official capacity, I can show blatant favoritism, and I have to admit I already have a few favorites. Challenge #1 is almost wrapped up, and we'll get to see the contestants' final pieces pretty soon, but there have been some progress videos to keep us updated along the way. I'm totally excited to see everyone's finished pieces, and I'm especially excited to see more from these guys:
New York, NY
Meghan is a 21-year-old student at the Fashion Institute of Technology, and I love her simple sense of style (and I think she's totally adorable). Challenge #1 is to "knit your life," and Meghan's knitting a cat sweater, intarsia and all. Really, can you ask for any more? Because she's studying at FIT, I think she approaches knitwear design a little differently than a lot of us do. I'm curious to see how she puts her background to use.
Steve is an especially exciting contestant because he learned to knit last summer. Yep. Also, being a dude in the handknit design world makes you automatically interesting, because you're in the minority. He works in a yarn store, shares a dance background with Stephen West, and I get the impression he's really not afraid to try anything. Seeing what Steve comes up with is going to be pretty fun.
Katie was an immediate favorite because of her sense of humor. First of all, her application video featured Nyan Cat, knitted:
And here are a few choice quotes from her introduction video:
"I'm 24 years old. [pause] . . . I was 24 years old three years ago, and I am currently not looking to age any more than that."
"I have one pet, Sam Cat, and he is phenaminal. Phenaminal? He's . . . a phenomenal animal. He's a phenaminal."
"Oh, hello! I just got off work, and now I'm ready to show you Sarasota, Florida. Come with me! It'll take about four seconds."
She's also got a background in fashion design, and I'm really curious to see what she comes up with.
Apr 11, 2013
It's been a little quiet around here, but only because I've been working away! I have a couple upcoming patterns that should be ready for release in a few weeks, plus a few other projects I've been working on, so I don't have so many finished things to show off at the moment. I figured I'd take this opportunity, when I'm mid-project on so many projects, to share a little bit about an independent magazine I totally fell for while in New Zealand.
I found my way into a textiles bookshop while in Wellington (I know - it was just as dreamy as it sounds) called Minerva, and I walked away with a copy of a little publication called Extra Curricular. It's an independent quarterly magazine focused on creative folks and the way that people bring creativity into their lives. I picked up a slightly older issue, because I was especially interested in the self-publishing featurette inside, but I can tell that any issue I picked up would've made me fall in love with them. The content is really fantastic, inspiring, and well-curated.
On a purely aesthetics level, it's great too. Smaller in size than a typical magazine (I believe it's just shy of A5) with matte paper and full color throughout - well laid out, good font choices, crisp photos. Rounded corners complement the aesthetic without feeling trendy. I'd be hard pressed to ask for more.
I learned about some fantastic stuff in one little issue, particularly Conversations with Creative Women (though I wish the hard copy wasn't sold out!), the photography of Elle Sendall, and there was a short feature on The Hungry Girls' Cookbook (I had actually picked up volume 3 a few days before in Sydney). The issue also featured how-tos, a few recipes, and so many interviews with creative folks that felt more like stories than magazine interviews. The focus on supporting local creatives in and from New Zealand and Australia came through strongly.
Sometimes you come across something that drives you to want to be better at what you do, and Extra Curricular is one of those things. It's a very personable publication, and I just might have to order myself a subscription.
The most recent issue (#11) came out a few weeks ago and you can pick up your own copy here.
Mar 27, 2013
I wanted to round up a list of a few favorite discoveries from Sydney, Australia. Five days is not a long time to explore a new city, and though I did my best to get out and around different areas of the city, many of these favorites are located in the neighborhood where I stayed, Surry Hills. It's a neighborhood I can heartily recommend visiting, though, and I enjoyed strolling up and down Crown Street, checking out a myriad of awesome local shops and restaurants. But without further ado, on to the favorites:
Hyde Park / Metro St. James
Hyde Park is in the center of town, a gorgeous green couple of blocks full of tree-lined walks and fountains. I found myself in Hyde Park every day I was in Sydney, but the walk through the park early in the morning my first day there was pretty magical. We stopped for breakfast at Metro St. James, a brand new French cafe built into an old building that's part of the entrance to the St. James metro station. The cafe opens up onto the park so that even when sitting inside, you feel like you're out on the terrace. And this place is good. Great coffee, and I had the best avocado on toast of my life. Both the park and the cafe are worth your time.
It's relatively rare to see Hungarian restaurants, bakeries, or shops outside of Hungary, so after my year spent living there I get really excited when I stumble upon one. Kürtősh isn't specifically Hungarian themed, but the prioprietors did take its name from the Hungarian pastry kürtőskalács, one of my favorites (anglicizing the name with an 'h' at the end, so that you might come close to pronouncing it correctly!). They even traveled to Hungary in order to purchase the traditional oven kürtőskalács is baked in, and they trained with Hungarian bakers to learn how to make this specialty properly. I can vouch for the authenticity: their kürtőskalács is super good and exactly like what I've had in Hungary. The philosophy of this cafe, which has a few locations, was to create a cozy space that feels like home, reminiscent of childhood memories of a kitchen filled with the smell of fresh baked goods. The selection of treats reflect that, with a mix of different offerings, from the aforementioned kürtőskalács and traditional Hungarian dobos torta to the less exotic but totally comforting 'mum's chocolate cake'. I visited the Surry Hills location three times in five days, where the staff was super friendly and amazing, and they have two other spots, in Randwick and Crows Nest.
During an afternoon downpour we took refuge inside a little shop called Follow. I didn't get any photos of the shop interior itself, which is a shame, because it's tucked inside a beautiful old pharmacy storefront - and I mean old. All the old wooden pharmacy cabinets lining the walls have been preserved and now showcase beautiful products by independent Australian designers. This is one of the best curated boutiques I've come across in a long time, carrying clothing by independent designers, a range of artwork and other handmade goods, paper goods and stationery, and jewelry. This spot was another Surry Hills find.
As far as zoos go, this one's pretty spectacular. Taronga Zoo is a short ferry ride from downtown Sydney, so the journey to the zoo is a trip in itself, with great views of the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge. Everything about this zoo felt so well done, and there's a huge emphasis on education and conservation, helping park visitors to learn about the impact our everyday lives as humans have on the natural world and ideas for how to reduce that impact. (Public thank you to my mom for suggesting a trip to this zoo - we wouldn't have made it over otherwise.)
Mardi Gras Parade
This last one's kind of cheating, because it's time-dependent, but I couldn't not include it in this list. We had no idea until right before we we left for the trip that we'd accidentally booked ourselves into Sydney Mardi Gras's culminating weekend, but I'm so glad we did. Mardi Gras in Sydney is basically a three week-long pride festival, drawing hundreds of thousands of people every year, with a big emphasis on LGBTQI rights and equality. The parade was immensely fun and while I didn't make it to any of the other events going on, this festival is both one big party and a great opportunity for discussion and education. It was hugely inspiring and I encourage anyone interested to check out the official Sydney Mardi Gras website.
Mar 25, 2013
Instagram photos are a poor excuse for blogging, I know, but on a sunny day like this in Seattle it was too hard not to take my work outside. Fortunately for me, I knocked out a bunch of bookkeeping/business-end work I needed to get done in the morning, so I had a chance to get outside and do some sample knitting in the sunshine for a design I've been working on.
It's pretty hard to beat Seattle in the springtime! The top two photos are my own (I'm @cakeandvikings on Instagram) and the bottom one is by my friend Kathleen. For those of you who are stuck underneath fresh snow and wishing for warmer temperatures, I hope these photos give you something to look forward to. Seattle will probably be shrouded in a thick chilly mist from April to June, so we've got to get out and enjoy nice weather when we get the chance.
Mar 20, 2013
The biggest impression that Sydney, Australia left on me was one of color and life. This city felt like it was brimming with vivid saturation, a reflection of the vibrant, bustling, and creative communities that have sprung up over the last decade. I have more to share about my time in the city, but I wanted to put some of the examples I collected of that color and life around the city into one post.
Mar 19, 2013
I'm still putting together my posts on Sydney and New Zealand, but in the meantime I've been working on several knitting designs (it's submission season for everyone's fall/winter collections). I really enjoy the process of putting together a design submission for a publication, but it does mean lots of sketching and swatching and not a lot of project-oriented knitting. It's left me itching to put a project on my needles and work from somebody else's pattern for once!
On my trip to Japan for Summer Sonic music festival last summer, I spent an inordinate amount of time in bookstores looking at Japanese knitting books (they're hard to resist). I fell in love with Michiyo's knit and crochet designs and picked out one of her books to bring back home, vowing to learn the basics of reading a Japanese charted pattern so I could knit the projects from it I was interested in. This is the book in question, and in English the title is Enjoyable Patterns Knit Daywear (or so Ravelry tells me - rav link). As we're heading into spring, I opted to knit the lacy wrap top/cardigan (S. Cardigan) pictured on the right side of the cover below, probably the first piece in the book I fell in love with.
cover image from amazon.co.jp
The boxy construction and repetitive lace pattern mean it's wonderful TV/movie knitting. I'm knitting it up with wool from my stash, some old Te Awa Natural Wools 8-ply gifted to me by my aunt. It's undyed natural New Zealand wool, and given my recent trip, it's nice to be knitting with! After learning a few basics and taking some notes, I find the chart pretty simple to work from. I'm excited about this, because it means I'll be able to knit from more Michiyo patterns in the future. Because I bought this book on my Summer Sonic trip, I've dubbed my lace top 'Summer Sonic' (サマーソニック) and you can follow my progress on Ravelry here.
Mar 13, 2013
I've just gotten back from a two-week trip to Australia and New Zealand! It was an inspiring trip in a million different ways, and I'm working on a post rounding up some of my favorite things and places, but I've got a bit of work to catch up on before it's ready to go!
In the meantime, I'm super happy to announce that the Paper Tiger Store is now accessible right here on paper-tiger.net and it can be accessed at any time by clicking "store" at the top of the menu on the left side of the page. It's still set up through etsy.com, but being able to carry my products right here on the website rather than linking to an external site is a great move forward for Paper Tiger! In conjunction with this move, I'm really happy to announce that my knitting patterns that are available for purchase on Ravelry are now also available to purchase as instant downloads in the Paper Tiger Store (free patterns won't appear in the store). While most knitters I know seem to be on Ravelry these days, plenty of people do still purchase elsewhere so I'm glad to be able to offer another option!
Lots of stuff is in the works, so look for more updates soon!
Feb 18, 2013
I have a new pattern to share with you today! In an attempt to keep using up the endless skeins of yarn around my studio, I knit up this simple lace rib beanie over the course of two evenings (I love an instant gratification project). The yarn is Berroco Ultra Alpaca in Tigers Eye Mix, a really rich, beautiful colorway and a truly tricky color to do justice to in a photo. Elam uses less than half a skein, so perhaps I'll make another for a friend! Or maybe some matching mitts are in order?
My wonderful friend and fellow knitter Alex Stokes shot the photos and Elam is available for purchase on Ravelry here.
Feb 7, 2013
February 2012 in Debrecen, Hungary.
Jan 30, 2013
I was thrilled when my friend Cirilia Rose, creative director at Skacel Fiber Studio, asked me if I'd be interested in designing a pattern for Skacel's newest yarn, Kenzie, a tweedy DK-weight wool-nylon-alpaca-angora-silk blend from New Zealand. I couldn't help saying yes after she brought over a few sample balls in different colors, and I fell head over heels in love with this blue and green together (#1009 Oceania and #1007 Kiwifruit, respectively). I started swatching some of the stranded colorwork ideas I had bouncing around in my head, and landed on this diagonal pine bough motif. Trapped bar stripes break up the zig-zagging pine boughs that run the length of this oversized cowl. It's large enough to wrap around your head twice to keep your neck nice and cozy, but it drapes nicely and really shows off the stitch pattern when simply worn down (in the January chill of Seattle, I have to admit my favorite way to wear it is doubled up - it's so warm!). Pine Bough Cowl took seven 50g balls of Kenzie (four blue, three green), so it truly is a sweater for your neck.
Cirilia also designed two patterns for Kenzie, and we shot the mini-collection this past weekend in Ballard, my favorite neighborhood in Seattle. I modeled the Pine Bough Cowl, Cirilia is modeling her gorgeous Cedar Leaf Scarf (how good is that orange?!) and our friend Kathleen modeled Cirilia's Tayberry Hat. We're thrilled with how the collection turned out and I hope you like Kenzie as much as I do. The patterns are all free and are linked to their ravelry pages below.
All photos copyright 2013 Skacel & Kathy Cadigan, except first two, which are mine.