looking back at 2018

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I’ve been taking some time to look back, as one is wont to do at this time of year. Yesterday was the winter solstice, which means this year has almost drawn to a close. 2018 has been quite a year. I released a lot of patterns this year. I knew I had done more work than usual, and kicking it up a notch in the first full calendar year after finishing my master’s degree was the plan, but still, when I sat down to count out how many new designs I actually released, I was stunned to realize there were twenty-four of them. 24 new patterns in 2018! Fifteen of those came in the form of three collections. I am absolutely astonished at my own productivity. Of course, there are some things that helped make this achievable – working with third parties always makes the work less for me, and tied to that is the fact that the work for some of this year’s releases was actually done in 2017 (or in the case of Fog & Frost, even earlier). Sample knitters also knit a few of these samples. These are all things I’m grateful for as someone designing and writing knitting patterns. But here’s a look at my 24 patterns of 2018 (a list with links will follow in case something piques your interest):

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From left to right –
Row 1: Frost FlowersLyngenAlice Mittens
Row 2: Mountain HumPolar NightNorth Wind
Row 3: West WindCloud PineAdrian
Row 4: OpalDortheaTurlough
Row 5: DrumlinWeekend Walking MittsCaithness
Row 6: Tremblant ToqueLe Massif ScarfSutton Slippers
Row 7: Stoneham PonchoBromont MittsBrave at Heart
Row 8: Just and LoyalWit Beyond MeasureGreat Ambition

The collections are definitely all highlights – Fog & Frost, the Chalet Collection for Espace Tricot, and Lion, Badger, Eagle, Snake. The reception for the latter two in particular has been incredible, and I don’t know how to say thank you in a way that actually conveys my gratitude. But thank you.

A few of these patterns were published in books, and it is always exciting to see my name and my work in print. Opal and Dorthea were published in the Norwegian book Ruter og Lus: Retrostrikk fra Salhus Trikotagefabrikk (which I wrote about here) and I still can’t quite believe the museum wanted me of all people to be involved with that project. And then Caithness was published in Kate Davies’s new compilation of hat patterns, Milarrochy Heids, and it means a great deal to me to be included in those pages and to call Kate a colleague and a friend.

I also returned to teaching this year, giving a few classes at Espace Tricot and teaching a full weekend of workshops at Twist Festival in Saint-André-Avellin, Québec. I spent eight months of this year working at Espace Tricot as well, getting to know local knitters and making friends and generally becoming a part of the wonderful fiber community in and around Montréal and Québec, so being invited to teach at Twist was a highlight. All the classes I gave were colorwork related, and it brings me so much joy to share my love and knowledge of colorwork with other knitters.

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From top to bottom: teaching my Traditional Mittens workshop, being interviewed by Transistor Media (you can listen here), and hanging out with buds in the Knitting It Up Yarns booth (first two photos by Sébastien Lavallée for Twist Festival, third photo courtesy of Annie of Knitting It Up)

While I’ve been invited to teach at a few retreats and events in 2019, I’m not anticipating very much teaching in the coming year, I’m sorry to say. The reason for that is that I’m likely looking at another big move next summer (which can make event planning difficult-to-impossible), but more on that at a later date.

Plenty of other things have happened this year – I read 30 books, I learned a new craft, I traveled to some new and exciting places as well as some old and familiar ones. I feel I have so much to be grateful for right now. Given the year I’ve had, I’m taking it easy for the last few weeks of the year, and I’m looking forward to spending the Christmas holiday with family and friends. I am especially grateful to you, my readers, followers, customers. You all are a massive part of the wonderful year 2018 has been on a professional level, and I can’t say thank you enough. My birthday falls on the first of the new year, and some of you may remember I held a birthday sale on patterns last year – keep an eye out, because I plan to do the same this coming year. It’s such a nice way to say thank you for the year just gone by.

Whatever the end of 2018 holds for you – travel, festive celebrations, time for quiet reflection – I hope you enjoy it. And I’ll see you in the new year.

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summer days

The longest day of the year in the northern hemisphere is right around the corner (Sunday the 21st, this year).

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The days have been hot lately, too. The entire west coast is in a drought – not just California, which you’ve probably heard about in the news, but up here in Washington, too. The cherries are early this year. Everything’s early. I can’t remember the last time it really rained. Just endless sunshine and 70-80 degree days.

It might sound nice to some, but it can make a Seattleite grumpy. I’m yearning for cloudy days and and some actual, proper rain. Still, I’m doing my best to savor the good parts. Mary Jane is in town, so she and I and Cirilia headed out to the Ballard Locks this week with some treats to do a little outdoor knitting. We hovered in the shade, but it was certainly beautiful. We enjoyed watching the bird life – so many blue herons! – and eating the homemade cookies Cirilia had brought along.

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I’ve been enjoying the lingering light as the days have grown longer, too. It’s hard for me to wrap my head around the fact that when I get to Tromsø, the days will still be quite long and there will be no real darkness my first few weeks there. The days will rapidly grow shorter, though, so I’m enjoying the long daylight as long as I can, whether I’m here in Seattle or in Tromsø.

I hope whatever your summer is like so far, you’re enjoying it!

lately

There’s been a lot going on behind the scenes for me recently, and I’ll share more about that soon, but in the meantime, here are some things I’ve been up to lately:

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I started a pair of socks with some of the new Arne & Carlos sock yarn from Regia. I’ve never been one for self-patterning yarns, but this line – and this colorway in particular – totally won me over. The colorways are all inspired by paintings by Edvard Munch with ties to the Norwegian landscape through the seasons. The colorway pictured above is called Summer Night, and I basically want to live in it.

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I’ve been thinking about sewing quite a bit (after all, Me Made May is coming up). I’m so pleased with how this Chardon skirt I finished a month ago turned out, box pleats, pockets and all. I haven’t had a chance to sew anything since, but I did buy a walking foot for my machine so that I can try out sewing with knits. I have a striped grey knit fabric I was originally planning to use for a Linden, but I’ve decided it’s going to be a Hemlock tee instead, because that seems more beginner friendly and still totally fits with my wardrobe. If you have any advice for sewing knits without a serger, I’m all ears!

But back to the Chardon skirt (or Jupe Chardon, as Deer and Doe is a French company) for a moment. This is marketed as a beginner pattern but even so, it was kind of a big project for me. There’s not a ton of guidance on how to deal with pressing the box pleats, and the belt loop instructions are literally just a sentence telling you to sew on the belt loops. I know in this modern age of internet tutorials and craft blogging we can expect a lot of hand holding, but if you’re taking on these skills for the first time, expect to spend some time doing research on the best ways to go about it. Still – the box pleats and belt loops are acceptable, if not fantastic, and the skirt is super wearable!

I used an amazing fabric I picked up at Drygoods Design – this Pickering International organic lightweight duck cloth in grey (which now appears to be sold out). It’s a 45/55 blend of recycled hemp and organic cotton, so it’s going to make a fabulous warmer weather skirt (and it’s been doing great in the winter to spring transition with a pair of tights). I love this fabric and would definitely work with it again. Perhaps it’s the hemp in it, but it manages to hold the pleats well it doesn’t wrinkle anywhere near as easily as a plain cotton or cotton/linen blend would.

If I make this skirt again (and I might, because it’s so versatile) I may add a little bit of length. I have a high waist on a 6′ (182cm) frame, so the hem falls a few inches higher above my knees than might be ideal, proportionally. But I’d love a version of this skirt in a darker color – maybe a charcoal or a navy? Or even black?

You can check out the photos in more detail with some progress notes over on my project page on Kollabora.

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And lastly, the main recent development in my world is that spring has come screaming into Seattle. It came early this year for us (sorry, east coasters – especially you Mainers who I know just got more snow) and the whole city has been in bloom for weeks. I can’t deny I’ve been enjoying it; Seattle on a sunny day in spring or summer is one of the most beautiful places on earth. I hope spring is finding its way into your world, too!

swedish pancakes (pom pom spring 2015)

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The preview of the spring 2015 issue of Pom Pom Magazine went up today, and I’m thrilled to have a design in this issue! When the call for submissions was first posted, I have to admit I got pretty excited. “Clean lines and shapes and Scandinavian minimalism” were the key words, so I was all over it. I had time to put a couple of submissions together, and fortunately one of them made it in! Here’s Swedish Pancakes:

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I’m so happy with how these sweet little mitts turned out. One of my favorite things about working with third parties like Pom Pom or Brooklyn Tweed is that they often push me to work outside my comfort zone with colors (leave it to me and I’ll work with blue, grey, and green forever). My swatch for this stitch pattern was worked in white and blue, which is very typical for me, but I think the subtle pink and warm silver are a beautiful combination and I love the effect of the softened colorwork.

To explain the name of the mitts, we have to turn to the pattern motif. I’ve wanted to work with this colorwork stitch pattern for quite awhile – it’s very directly inspired by the exterior of a building here in Seattle: the Swedish Club. It’s a box of a mid century building which was completed in 1961 (around the same time the Space Needle was nearing completion, the year before the Seattle World’s Fair in 1962), and situated on the west side of Lake Union with a beautiful view of the lake and city. I first encountered the club when a friend suggested we try out their Swedish pancake breakfast back in 2010. Once there, we learned that the pancake breakfast is a monthly event that brings a thousand people through the doors in the space of a few hours, complete with folk bands and people of all ages, and it’s bucketloads of fun. I joined the club that very day. My relationship with the club goes beyond pancake breakfast, though – it’s also a pretty special building to me because it’s where I got married. If you’re in Seattle, I highly encourage you to check out the rather large calendar of events and find an excuse to go to the club. (Seriously – weekly happy hour, fiber arts open studio time, and dinners, movies, Swedish classes, car shows… there’s a lot to choose from.)

The south and east walls of the building feature an exterior layer of metal latticework in a geometric design of overlapping circles. It’s one of my favorite things about the building and I’m so happy to finally feature it in a colorwork pattern.

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You can check out more views of the building on Flickr.

I also thought it would be fun to share a bit of memoribilia from the club. My husband Chris and I picked up this plate at one of their antiques & great finds sales:

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It’s hard to make out in this photo, but I love that the plate features the original signage on the front of the building over the doors.

We also have a handful of these vintage swizzle sticks, which were handed down by Chris’s grandmother:

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Pretty swanky.

Thanks for indulging my love of this Seattle institution, and I hope you’ll feel inspired to check out the spring issue of Pom Pom! It’s available for pre-order now from the Pom Pom website, and you can check out the rest of the patterns on Ravelry. (I especially love Joji’s hat Vitsippa and the adorable Elske socks by Merrian Holland.)

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north x west

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I’m starting to get back into the Pacific Northwest vibe now that I’m home. It’s been a typical PNW winter since we returned last week, with lots of clouds and drizzle, but that makes the sunny days all the more beautiful. It’s a good excuse to get out and go for a walk (especially in the middle of doing business taxes.)

With days in the upper-40s Fahrenheit (~10ºC), it feels positively balmy after spending new year’s in Montreal. I hope those of you on the east coast of the States and Canada are bundling up and staying warm in your sub-freezing temperatures!

nordic knitting conference 2014

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I have a little announcement to make today. It’s a rather exciting announcement, actually! There’s an event coming up in October that I’m really looking forward to…if you know me well (or if you read the title of this post), you might already know what it is!

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I’m teaching at this year’s Nordic Knitting Conference! Do you like Nordic knitting? Like the lace and mittens of the Baltics? Fancy some fair isle? Then it’s time to start thinking about coming to Seattle this fall. I’ll be teaching along with some pretty fantastic folks, I must admit. That’s reason enough to knit a pair of announcement mitts and take silly photos, don’t you think? This year’s conference takes place October 3-5You can find the class schedule and more details at the Nordic Heritage Museum website right here.

Arne & Carlos are the headliners this year, and it’s possible I squealed a little bit when I found out. You might’ve seen their book on knitted Christmas balls, or their Space Invaders Mariusgenser. These guys are masters at putting a new twist on old techniques, which I love. As headliners, they’ll be delivering the keynote speech on Saturday night, which is always worth attending.

Also on the teacher’s bill are Swedish-born technique master Susanna Hansson, handspinner extroadinaire Judith Mackenzie, all-things colorwork muse Mary Jane Mucklestone, the creative and talented yarn maven Cirilia Rose, and Laura Ricketts, an expert knitter who has lately focused her attention on Sámi knitting, which I find very, very exciting. It is an honor to be teaching alongside all of these folks; aside from my initial excited squealing when I heard about Arne & Carlos, as a colorwork lover I’ve been following Mary Jane’s work for years, and Cirilia and I actually met and became friends at the last Nordic Knitting Conference in 2012 (and come to think of it, Laura was in our Latvian mittens class, too!).

We’ll be teaching a variety of classes over three days, the class schedule is here (subject to change at this point). You’ll find classes on everything from introductory stranded knitting to spinning with Icelandic fleece, choosing colors for your colorwork, knitted braids, or even Lopapeysa-pimping. The only bummer about teaching myself is that I can’t take any of the classes! If you’re not a knitter or a spinner, there are also a few lectures you might be interested in attending. The conference is hosted every two years by the Nordic Heritage Museum, an organization right in my own backyard in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle, and one of which I am a proud member. If you attend other knitting events like Vogue Knitting Live, Stitches, or Madrona, you’ll find that the Nordic Knitting Conference is much smaller – as evident by the much smaller list of instructors – but a cozy, friendly, and absolutely worthwhile experience. There’s an upside to specialization. Here’s a quick run-down:

– Classes take place over three days: Friday, Saturday, and Sunday (this year that’ll be the 3rd, 4th, and 5th of October)

– Friday night features a Happy Hour event so that you can get to know other conference attendees; mix, mingle, and knit, of course!

– Saturday evening is the keynote presentation, with dinner included. I’ve attended both times I’ve attended the conference and it’s always a wonderful experience.

– There’s a marketplace, featuring a variety of great local vendors!

– Registration opens June 2nd at 10:00 AM, so mark your calendar.

If you’re coming from out of town, the Hotel Ballard and the Ballard Inn (both on Ballard Avenue, about a 20-30 minute walk away from the museum but with easy bus access) are offering a 15% discount on rooms to conference attendees. Just ask for the Nordic Knitting Conference discount when reserving your room. If you’d rather not stay in a hotel, the Sunset Hill B&B is very close to the museum and would be a lovely place to stay. Other options could be found via airbnb.com, or if you want to try and room together with someone, you could try and coordinate lodging by posting in the Ravelry group for the 2014 conference.

Feel free to shoot any questions you have about the conference my way as well – if I don’t know the answer, I can direct you to the people who do. I hope to see some of you there! And for those of you who want to know about the mitts in the photos – I know you’re out there – I’ll be posting about those a little later on.

Tangentially related: if you’re in Seattle, or the Seattle area, the Nordic Museum hosts a monthly Knit & Spin gathering. Typically it’s the first Sunday of the month but you can check their Ravelry group to find out when it’s happening. I haven’t been for aaaages but I hope to make it back this year at some point!