Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Complements Collection

Kristin Omdahl's latest booklet, Complements Collection, does a few nifty things.

First, so many of us knit AND crochet, why don't more books include both crafts? She combines the two here beautifully.

She also showcases a the yarns of a really great company, Bijou Basin Ranch. Their claim to fame is amazing yak yarn. I know what I'm talking about here. I've had the privilege of dyeing some of it myself and I can say it's remarkable. 

The last thing that really intrigued me was that she kept all the projects in the 1-3 skein range. Perfect for those of us on a budget. Plus it means portable projects. Summer is all about being on the go so portable the timing is perfect.

I had a chance to ask Kristin a few questions about herself and the book. I'll let her take it from here. 

Tell me a little about yourself, what's your background? 
I am a very curious person and love to dive in and learn new things all the time - and I've always been that way. I don't take classes, but rather enjoy jumping right in and figuring things out myself. I've taught myself piano, guitar, 2 of the 4 languages I've learned have been self-taught, and on and on. I'm not big on taking classes, because I like to learn at light-speed when I'm passionate about a new subject. I've been sketching wedding gowns and formal evening wear since I was a little girl. Studied architecture and CAD in high school, and taught myself to sew in my late teens. I think this is how I was able to grasp pattern writing. Not to mention I love spatial math - that helped, too. When I learned to sew, I was working as a waitress at the time. The other waitresses were older than me, and liked to go dancing at clubs. So as a side business I custom made cocktail dresses for them and sold them for $100. I eventually made a couple full-length evening gowns. It was a lot of fun. I originally went to college for pre-med but backed out towards the end of my BS because I was afraid I'd finish school and be too old to have babies. So I changed my major in the last year for business. I learned to knit and crochet while pregnant, married and living overseas with virtually no access to yarn hooks needles or patterns. My mom sent me a couple of baby layette booklets and I figured it out! When my baby boy was born, I no longer needed stuff for him, so I began making shawls and manipulating the shapes with geometry and other mathematical skills. It was such an exciting moment for me to combine math and stitching! My passion for knit and crochet design was born :)

This book has both knit and crochet...do you have a favorite? 
Not at all! I've been knitting and crocheting for about the same amount of time (learned both within a month) and have been designing in both ever since. Almost every day I pick up both my needles and my hooks. There are things I like better about one craft over the other, but I would never want to have to choose one over the other!

What was your first crochet  project? What was your first knit project?
My first projects were baby items. The first crochet project was a baby bootie with a complicated stitch pattern. It took me HOURS to make it and it was HUGE when it was done. But I realized it was the proper shape and that it was a gauge problem so I took it as a victory!! So hard for a first project! LOL The first knit project was a baby sailor sweater. It was adorable but also a complicated first project. 

What project have you learned the most from? 
I learned the most from writing "Seamless Crochet" because I had to explore and experiment so many times to make the seamless technique work with shaping within a project for either increasing or decreasing for the shawls or 3-dimensional shaping for the hats. It took months but it was so worth it to me in the end! 

What is your "go to" project. Is there anything you've stitched over and over? 

 Actually, NO! I don't think I've EVER made the same thing twice. I've made the same kind of project for various gifts, like booties & a hat & blanket for a baby, numerous blankets for my son, hats for friends/family, but never the same, identical design twice. Funny that my son requests GIGANTIC blankets for presents, though. Could he choose a larger, more time consuming project???

Can you tell me a little about the genesis of this book? How did you come up with the concept? 
The concept for the book was an introduction to these beautiful, luxury yarns by developing a collection of patterns that use 1-3 skeins of yarn. But I also wanted to see how far I could actually  go with that amount of yarn, so I stretched the yardage as best as I could to make bigger, or more voluminous, projects with the 1-3 skein limitation. And then I wanted to cross over between both knitting and crochet with the same challenge. 

Tell me about your design process. Does the yarn inform the design or the other way around?
It is different every time! I wish I could just sit down and write the patterns for an entire collection first, but my design aesthetic is often to come up with a texture or construction pattern I haven't seen before so there is a trial and error period when I'm exploring an idea to see if it will actually work. Sometimes, I will be inspired by the color of a yarn, or the loft, halo or even the yardage. I get excited about skeins of yarn in high yardage because I like to challenge myself to come up with things that only have 2 ends to weave in! Sometimes I'm inspired by a texture in my front yard or at the beach and I will grab a sketchpad or yarn as soon as I return to my workspace.

Do you have a favorite design in the book? Or is that a question you don't want to answer? ;-)
Ha! That is always a hard one, because as a designer you pour your blood sweat & tears into the collection. I love the inspiration behind the Gladiolus Hat (being the solution to the Boyfriend Curse Sweater). I 'tattooed' X's and O's into the crown of the hat as a symbol of hugs and kisses, but they would probably go unnoticed by the recipient thus making it a romantic gift while only looking like a regular, ribbed hat. 

The Aster Cowl is knit in separate strips of edging that are joined into tubes, then picked up and knit simultaneously with a simple, circular cowl for a no-sew project. The tiers of petals are so pretty and in the vibrant pink color, it looks like a cheerful, happy framing to your face. I can't wait to wear this one :)

The crochet cowl Tulip Cowl is similar in the respect that it has tiers, but that is where the similarity ends. The construction is completely reversed. The ancient, Turkish inspired lace tiers are picked up and knit onto the existing cowl that is worked in the ultra simple "granny stitch" style crochet. This project could be easily modified for increased width to create a caplet or even a skirt! 

I love the Apple Blossom Shawl (the cover design pictured at the top of this post) because I think the pop of bright teal against the natural yak colors is so bold and beautiful. This shawl is inspired by a scallop sea shell at the beach, but utilizes the ultra simple feather & fan stitch pattern and simply increases within the pattern for perfectly growing scallops throughout the shawl. 

Thanks Kristin! 

So, are you wondering how to get your hands on a copy of this beauty? You can get it directly from Ruby at Bijou Basin Ranch. Or if you're feeling lucky, you can win a copy from us. Just tell us which design you want to make first and you'll be entered into a drawing. Comments will close at midnight on May 31st. I'll announce the winner on June 1. (Don't forget to tell me how to reach you.) 

Saturday, May 26, 2012


It's my wedding anniversary. This poem was read sixteen years ago:

With a red hat which doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me.

And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we’ve no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I’m tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells

And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick the flowers in other people’s gardens
And learn to spit

You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go
Or only bread and pickle for a week
And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes

But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
And pay our rent and not swear in the street
And set a good example for the children.
We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.

But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.

by Jenny Joseph

Friday, May 25, 2012

Twiggy Dress

Did it take your breath away? I literally said "Oh, my" out loud when I opened this picture last week.

This lovely is Kathy Merrick's design and will be on the COVER of Interweave Crochet's Summer 2012 issue. It went live today. You'll be able to buy a paper copy on June 12. Did I mention it's on the COVER?!

I decided to ask Kathy about her thoughts on this design. Here's what she came back with:

There are so many intriguing colors--I especially love the Ysolda Red and Growth (green). I love anything to do with stripes and splitting them up the middle gave me a chance to include even more combinations. I also wanted the top to fit well in the neck and arms so it would be worn alone without having to buy strange underwear. Last thing...I really enjoyed working with Solemate. It has a smooth, dry hand and the perfect amount of twist. 

Before I'd talked with her, I made a list of why I thought I liked the dress so well. We were both all about color and stripes but I had a few more ideas:

   1) The colors! Kathy has a great eye, doesn't she?
   2) The stripes! I love stripes. If you walk into the studio on any given day, the odds of me being in a striped shirt is about 75-25. I probably wear them too much... but I'm not going to change my ways.
   3) The broken stripes! Because the stripes are broken, it tricks the eye and you don't have to worry about the old conventional wisdom of stripes making you look wide. These are slimming!
   4) The 60's vibe! 'Nuff said.
   5) Crochet! It's so hot right now. Have you been hooked yet?

Friday, May 18, 2012

Interweave's Knit Scene Accessories Issue

Knit Scene's Accessories Issue went live today. The hard copy issue will hit news stands on June 5th. 

Reservoir Mitts shown here are by Allyson Dykhuizen. They use our Shepherd Sock in 70 Vera and 23ns Berry. Cute don't you think?

I knit all year 'round. I've never quite understood the idea of putting it down for the summer. That said, I do like small, portable project for the months when I spend more time outdoors. You could toss mitts like these in your  bag and work on them during a ballgame or at the park. 

Something about the entrelac seems to make sense for summer too. Nice small chunks of work that you can easily start and finish.