Tolovana: the making of


I put a lot more time into planning my wedding shawl than I did my actual wedding and to be honest, that's not saying much because my wedding planning amounted to sending an email to my closest family, booking a hotel room, getting a license and hoping for the best. If only knitwear design were so easy. Though, to be fair, I find designing pretty fun but would be entirely content to never plan another wedding.

So to start, I pulled out my entire collection of stitch dictionaries looking for motifs to pair together. I didn't have a strong sense for what I wanted but I knew I wanted to take what I learned from designing La Cumparsita and expand on it, making a project that had more details, and a strongly scalloped hem. I ended up choosing only a single motif and scaling it up and down to form three versions, a border and transitions between each.

At the same time, I started to think about yarn. I wasn't sure what I was going to be wearing but I thought red might be pretty so I ordered three Grafton Batts from Amy.

sweet batts are sweeter with candy

It was a little challenging but I did my best to work all three batts as one to maintaining the color transitions these batts are so well known for.

I ended up with about 1100 yards of rich glorious fingering/sport weight singles and began the swatching and knitting and charting and calculating. I was cranking along and doing great until I actually decided to start looking at dresses.

I suppose this my have been an acceptable reason to consider a white or ivory dress, but as I am already a brilliant shade of "fish belly" and since *ahem* the symbolism associated with wearing white most certainly wouldn't apply to me, I was determined to wear some other color and some other color I found. It just turns out that blue-green doesn't actually go terribly well with red and burgundy.

so sad, don't let the door hit you on the way out

At this point, spinning another 1000 yards or so of fiber just wasn't going to be an option, but I had some purple Handmaiden Seasilk burning a hole in my stash that was more than up to the task.

The final shawl is incredibly delicate and actually snagged quite dramatically right before the wedding. But really, what's a wedding without at least one moment of panic? The fibers smoothed out as easily as they snagged, but it was clear to me that this would always be a special occasion sort of wrap, not one to to throw around my neck before heading out to the city.

When Kate asked me if I'd like to publish the pattern in Twist Collective, I jumped at the chance. Instead of the delicate seasilk we decided to go for two uniquely different yarns and offer two variations of the pattern.

The green version is worked in Sundara Sock. The lace has larger expanses of stockinette for a warmer, denser feel. This is the version I'd use as my all purpose, scarf/wrap on chilly winter days. It's washable, strong, tightly spun and the colors are rich, yet it unfurls into a beautiful shawl that looks great wrapped around your shoulders while you are out on a dinner date.

The violet version is more true to the original, and worked in Sundara Silky Merino which offers the drape and sheen of the prototype with a little of that merino resiliency I love so much. The more delicate and open version of the lace pattern makes it a great option to wear for more formal occasions, but it's not so delicate that you'd be afraid to put it to good use.

It was really a fun design to come up with and as someone who knit the pattern twice (I did hire a sample knitter to knit the third one) I found it really enjoyable too. This may have something to do with my fond feelings for the whole project but I do hope that others will find it equally enjoyable. If you are interested in knitting Tolovana, you can get it here. And of course, don't forget to check out all the other beautiful patterns available at Twist Collective.

Well, mostly I'm working and often I'm also knitting more super secret stuff.

Secret Project Yarn

Beautiful yarn, though, don't you think?

I also canned for the first time.

Blueberry jam

Some of the 10 jars of blueberry jam I made from berries we picked locally. We've already gone through three jars in, um, an embarrassingly short period of time and berry season is pretty much over. Next year, we get serious.

And of course, the dogs are making sure we don't forget to go to the beach.

Manzanita, Oregon, August 27, 2010

Pacific City, Oregon August 21, 2010

Next post will be a little behind the scenes on Tolovana.

New Twist Collective


If you haven't heard the news, the new Twist Collective is up. I feel really proud to be a part of this edition. My dear friend Julia has the cover design and rightfully so, because it's gorgeous.

And speaking of gorgeous, my friend Mary-Heather not only has a brilliant design in this edition, but she also modeled an entire story.

My modest contribution to the edition is Tolovana about which I'll post more soon.

Photo copyright Caro Benna Sheridan

For now, go go go, go look at the edition, it's a fantastic one, I might even be so bold as to say it's the best to date.

A couple years ago, I did a tutorial for creating schematics in Illustrator, which is my preferred method. But I realize Adobe products are expensive and not necessarily easy to learn, while almost everyone has Microsoft Office, or a less expensive or free alternative. This tutorial will walk you through creating simple schematics in Microsoft Word. You may also download the file I created so you can play around with it and use it as a jumping off point for your own schematics. Links at the end of this post.

This tutorial is a two part video tutorial. I strongly recommend you enlarge these to full screen and watch them in high definition, if your computer will allow it.

There are usually a dozen different ways to get the same or better results so play around with the program and feel free to experiment. If you have any tips, tricks, suggestions or questions, leave them in the comments below, I love to hear what you think.

Download a copy of the sample file for MS Office 2008 here
Download a copy of the sample file for older versions of Office here

Check out all my design related tutorials here.

Cowl Swap


This post is so late I might as well be reporting about those new fangled talkies and the steam engine, but what the heck, it comes with a puppy fix AND a beautifully knit finished object so it can't be all bad.

Back when I lived in LA, there was a small group of us who met somewhat regularly for general crafty goodness. Many of us have moved away and a few have had children and other big life changing events, but we still stay in contact, at least by email. About a year ago, someone suggested a cowl swap and Mary-Heather was assigned to knit my cowl.

Well, she couldn't have produced a more perfect piece. In a luscious deep purply wool with a delicate blend of lace and cables this slim little cowl adds that bit of extra warmth one want on those particularly blustery days.

I've had this lovely in my possession for a while now but it wasn't until Mary-Heather mentioned she could use a shot for her project page, that things got serious(ly silly).

A  beautiful cowl from a beautiful person on two beautiful dogs
1. Modeling is very serious business, 2. What are you photographing? Why is it not us?, 3. Panda is sweet and chic, 4. Cowl from Mary-Heather
Created with fd's Flickr Toys

I never realized it but it appears that dogs and cowls go together like dogs and shawls. Or maybe I'm just a crazy dog lady. Are the two mutually exclusive?

Anyway, it was a great gift, received in time for winter and packaged with some extra goodies to warm the new house. Lucky lucky me.

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